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Hunting group sues Wisconsin DNR in attempt to allow wolf hunt this winter

The Trump administration delisted the gray wolf from the endangered species list, making it possible for wolf hunts to resume.

A hunting group is suing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to force it to allow people to hunt wolves immediately. 

This comes after the Trump Administration late last year delisted the gray wolf from the endangered species list, which went into effect Jan. 4. Wisconsin law requires a wolf hunt every year from November through February, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has to resume the wolf hunt seasons if the wolves lose their federal protections, which they now have. 

The Wisconsin DNR planned to resume the wolf hunts in November 2021. State Republicans, though, wanted the DNR to not wait until fall, The Associated Press reported on Jan. 19, and now the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of the group Hunter Nation have filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin DNR in Jefferson County Circuit Court, accusing the agency of ignoring state law by not allowing a wolf hunt this winter. 

"Wisconsin law requires the DNR to hold a hunting and trapping season if the gray wolf is not under federal protections. Despite this clear mandate, Gov. [Tony] Evers, [DNR] Secretary [Preston] Cole and the Department of Natural Resources are playing politics and intentionally delaying the wolf harvest to give radical anti-hunting groups time to block the delisting and stop a hunt altogether,” Hunter Nation President Luke Hilgemann said in a statement

The Biden Administration is reviewing all of the Trump Administration's environmental decisions. On Tuesday, though, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote a letter to environmental groups (some had filed lawsuits to restore federal protections for gray wolves) defending the decision to delist the animal, The Hill reports

Hunter Nation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty are accusing the DNR of ignoring and violating state law as well as the Wisconsin constitution that guarantees the right to hunt, saying once the gray wolf was delisted, the DNR had an obligation to offer a hunting and trapping season this winter. 

In Minnesota, the trapping and hunting of gray wolves may be allowed, but the Minnesota DNR isn't going to make a decision on whether one should be held until after it completes its update to the wolf management plan. Meanwhile, a recreational wolf hunt does require state authorization, and it's something Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have said they're opposed to.

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