Wisconsin tribes sue to stop wolf hunt, claim it violates treaties

The tribes say the hunt violates treaties with the government going back to the 1800s.
Gray wolf in northern Norway.
Gray wolf in northern Norway.
(Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The latest lawsuit over Wisconsin’s wolf hunt is coming from the state’s Native American tribes.

Six communities in the Ojibwe tribe filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday to try and stop the hunt, which is scheduled for November.

The tribes say the hunt violates treaties with the government going back to the 1800s.

“The Ojibwe first entered into a treaty with the United States in 1825,” the suit explains. “Governor of the Wisconsin Territory Henry Dodge convened further treaty negotiations with members of the Ojibwe Tribes in July 1837. Dodge sought to obtain tribal land cessions encompassing, among other areas, a broad swath of land that today constitutes western Wisconsin north of the Wisconsin River.”

The lawsuit claims those treaties guaranteed the tribes half of the state’s wolf quota.

“Under the 1837 and 1842 Treaties, all harvestable resources within the Tribes’ ceded territory are, with limited exceptions, to be apportioned equally between the Ojibwe bands and non-Indians,” according to the lawsuit.

Tribal leaders say they want to protect the wolves, which they consider sacred, from hunters.

The Lac du Flambeau band of the Ojibwe, along with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin all joined in the suit.

Wisconsin’s wolf hunt has been the topic of several lawsuits over the years. Lawmakers passed a 2012 law that required the state to have a wolf hunting season. When the wolf was put on the endangered species list in 2014, the hunt stopped. But the law required another hunt if the gray wolf was ever taken off the endangered species list, which happened in January of this year.

Since then, several lawsuits have been filed by hunters, conservationists, and others working to stop the hunt. Wisconsin’s current wolf hunting season is set to begin in November. The quota this year is 300 wolves.