DNR hoping judge blocks tribal members from deer hunting at nigh - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

DNR hoping judge blocks tribal members from deer hunting at night

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- The DNR is hoping a judge says lights out to night deer hunting.  Wisconsin Chippewa Tribal Members are now allowed to hunt deer at night.  But the DNR is not happy about it, saying it's too dangerous.  Tribal members say hunting at night is part of their tradition and have wanted to hunt deer in the dark for the last 20 years.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission approves a night time deer hunt for those tribal members.

The change resulted because of this year's wolf hunt.  Wisconsin hunters were allowed to begin hunting wolves after dark beginning Monday.  The commission says if it's safe to hunt wolves at night, it should also be safe to hunt deer. 

The commission says it's an extra opportunity to put food on the table.  Tribal members must pass a marksmanship test and also have a plan that shows a safe firing zone where they plan to hunt.  As of Tuesday morning, no permits have been issued. 

There are concerns about tribal hunters shining deer with powerful spotlights, which makes them freeze up, providing an easy target.  But the commission says tribal members can only illuminate deer from a stationary position at the point of kill or to trail a wounded animal. 

For example, they could sit in a tree stand and bait deer, but wouldn't be allowed to shine deer while moving or driving.

The DNR says it does not approve of the night hunt. It has filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to stop tribal members from shining. 

The DNR says it also hasn't had enough time to alert the public of the change. That is important because hunting could take place on public lands in 29 counties, including all of Chippewa County and the northern parts of Eau Claire and Dunn Counties.

Wardens will be on the lookout for hunters who are illegally shining deer this week.  But the DNR says it will not write citations if it catches a tribal member shining deer.  The DNR believes the hunt goes against a 1989 federal court ruling that prohibited tribal members from hunting deer at night, even though others could hunt coyotes at night because they are considered predators and deer are not.  A judge is expected to make a ruling on the court order Wednesday.

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