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Ruling in Wisconsin halts wolf season

by The Associated Press | October 23, 2021 at 4:21 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. — A judge on Friday halted Wisconsin’s fall wolf season two weeks before hunters were set to take to the woods, siding with wildlife advocacy groups who argued that holding the hunt would be unconstitutional.

Dane County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost issued a temporary injunction halting the season, which was set to begin Nov. 6. The order comes as part of a lawsuit that a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups filed in August seeking to stop the hunt and invalidate a state law authorizing annual seasons.

Among other things, the coalition argued that the season is illegal because the Department of Natural Resources hasn’t updated its regulations setting up season parameters and has been relying on an emergency rule put in place shortly after then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in 2012 authorizing annual seasons and a wolf management plan that hasn’t been updated since 2007.

Frost said the law creating the wolf season is constitutional on its face, but that the department failed to create permanent regulations enacting it. The law gives the department great leeway in setting kill limits, hunting zone hours and the number of licenses making it all the more important that the department following the regulatory process to ensure it doesn’t violate the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, Frost said.

“I’m not overruling the wolf hunt law. In fact, I’m saying it has to be enforced as it was written and intended,” Frost said. The judge said the injunction will remain in place until the DNR implements updated regulations on determining quotas and the number of licenses it issues and updates its wolf management plan with new wolf population goals for the state.

Hannah Jurss, an assistant attorney general representing the DNR in the case, asked Frost to stay his ruling pending appeal, calling his ruling “unquestionably a dramatic decision.” Frost refused, saying the DNR could still hold a season this year if it can move quickly on new regulations.

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