Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tribes oppose quota of wolves

By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel

As Wisconsin moves closer to the scheduled start of its first regulated wolf hunting and trapping season, fundamental differences were brought into sharp relief last week between American Indian tribes and the Department of Natural Resources.
At issue: the quota of wolves in the ceded territories.

The Voigt Intertribal Task Force of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously Aug. 2 to oppose "killing of ma'iingan," or wolves, in the Wisconsin ceded territory.
In addition, the commission claimed "all wolves in the ceded territory as a necessary prerequisite to a population that would fully effectuate the Tribes' rights."
The vote was communicated to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp in an Aug. 9 letter from the commission's executive administrator, Jim Zorn.

Tribal teachings hold that the wolf is a clan member and brother. Further, the tribes' "health and survival is tied to that of ma'iingan."
"The Task Force cannot countenance the killing of the Anishinaabe's brother and views the treaty reserved right as including its presence and function in the ceded territories," Zorn wrote.
"The state does not have unfettered discretion to exercise its management prerogatives to the detriment of the Tribes' treaty reserved rights," Zorn continued. "It proceeds at its own risk if it moves forward with its current harvest scheme."

The DNR responded Thursday with a letter to the tribes.
In the letter, Stepp says the agency respectfully disagrees with the tribal claim to all wolves in the ceded territory. Stepp refers to the Voigt decision's finding that all resources in the ceded territory to which the tribes "hold a usufructuary right, including wolves, are to be apportioned equally between the tribes and state."
In recognition of the tribes' rights, the DNR states it will reserve a quota of 85 wolves in the ceded territory for the tribes.

The DNR set a statewide harvest quota of 201 wolves, 167 of which are in the ceded territory.
If the state reserves a quota of 85 wolves for the tribes, then a quota of 116 would be available to non-tribal hunters and trappers. The state had a population of 815 to 880 wolves in 213 packs in late winter, according to the DNR.
If the non-tribal quota stays at 116, the state likely would issue 1,160 hunting and trapping licenses (10 times the quota) to the public.

Reached by phone Thursday, Zorn said the tribes had received the DNR's response but have not decided what to do next and have left "all options on the table."
The DNR already is facing a lawsuit from several humane societies and individuals over the controversial provision in Act 169 to allow the use of dogs while hunting wolves.

A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 29 in Dane County Circuit Court in that case.
The DNR sold 11,859 wolf hunting and trapping applications as of Friday afternoon. Sales of the $10 applications will continue through Aug. 31.
The agency plans to begin issuing licenses in early September through a lottery. Wolf hunting and trapping licenses will cost $100 for Wisconsin residents and $500 for non-residents.