Native American tribes sue to stop gray wolf hunt

Ojibwe tribe plans to protect not kill the animals

Jade Bremner
Thursday 23 September 2021 17:01
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6 Native American Tribes Sue Wisconsin Over Wolf Hunting

Six Native American Ojibwe tribes have filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board over the state’s wolf hunts, which they claim are in breach of treaty-protected rights.

Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt in decades came after the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the federal endangered species list in January 2021, which applies to the Lower 48 United States.

The first Wisconsin hunt took place in February and another “wolf harvest” is planned for November, with a quota of 300 wolves.

Hunting quotas are divided between the state and the tribes, with Ojibwe getting 81 wolves in Feburary, which they planned to protect and not kill, and the state’s hunters getting 119 wolves. Hunters killed 218 wolves over three days, during a hunt that was supposed to last a week. Ojibwe leaders are outraged at the disregard for the quota.

Many Native Americans have a deep affinity with wolves, considering the wolf an animal of power, with similar characteristics to tribal members – loyalty to their pack. Folk law suggests that the Navajo tribe, for example, would call on wolves to restore health to the ill.

"In our treaty rights, we're supposed to share with the state 50-50 in our resources and we're feeling that we're not getting our due diligence because of the slaughter of wolves in February," said John Johnson, Sr, the president of Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, in a statement to CNN.

In April 2020, the Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report, released by the Bureau of Wildlife Management, stated that there were only an estimated 1,057 wolves in the state. If planned hunts go ahead, almost half that number will remain in the state.

 “This reckless approach to ma’iingan (wolf) management is why tribes have filed a brief in support of lawsuits that seek the restoration of federal protection for wolves,” Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission executive director Michael Isham said.

“It’s both frustrating and outrageous that the DNR Board is willing to manipulate scientific recommendations in order to deny tribes their share of a science-based quota, undermining Ojibwe tribes’ treaty rights and circumventing the process laid out by federal courts,” said John Johnson, chairman of Lac du Flambeau Band and Voigt Intertribal Task Force.

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