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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued the following statement:
Earlier today, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission issued an Order to allow members of the six Wisconsin Chippewa Tribes comprising the Commission to hunt deer at night – that is, shine deer-- on off-reservation lands in the “Ceded Territory,” which is roughly the northern third of the state. The Order came over the objections of the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”), and despite the efforts of DNR and the Department of Justice to prevent such an order from being issued.
I believe the Commission's Order is illegal. I and my staff, as counsel for the State and its agencies, immediately responded to this Order by filing a motion with the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to make it clear that night-hunting of deer by these tribal members is not allowed and to ask the Court to make it clear that the Commission Order does not prevent the State from enforcing the laws against night-hunting. The motion was filed in Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, et al., v. State of Wisconsin, et al., case no. 74-C-313-C, a case in which the court ruled 18 years ago that tribal night-hunting and “shining” of deer is not permitted. It is our hope that the Court will rule on our motion before Monday, November 26, 2012, which is the first day that the Commission Order allows night-hunting of deer.
The State of Wisconsin has made it illegal to hunt deer by shining at night because the practice is dangerous and poses an unnecessary danger to the people of this State. Under the prior court orders, the tribes may not engage in this unsafe practice without following certain procedural steps ordered by the Court, which they have not done. While I respect and support the federal treaty rights enjoyed by the tribes, those rights do not allow them to violate court orders or to engage in unsafe conduct that puts themselves and others at risk.
A copy of the motion and supporting documents are available at the following links: