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No tribal deer shining... for now


MADISON, WI (WSAU) - Lawyers for the Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin's Chippewa tribes met with Federal Judge Barbara Crabb Wednesday to discuss the dispute over night shining and shooting of deer.

Crabb ruled that the DNR can continue to enforce night shining laws that have been in place for 22 years, pending further court review at a later date.

Quinn Williams is the Section Chief from the DNR’s Bureau of Legal Services.  He says Judge Crabb’s ruling is a good first step.  "It's our understanding that the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which oversees implementation of those off reservation rights, intends to recind its order allowing night hunting, so what it does is it puts us back in the position that we were in prior to last Wednesday which is that the tribes prohibit shining deer at night and so does the state."

There is a December 12th hearing in Federal Court. Williams expects the court to look closely at the night hunt order issued by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  He says, "The issue is going to come up as to whether or not this is the appropriate mechanism that the tribes are trying to use and also whether or not the basis for their regulation is founded on health, safety, and welfare principles."

Williams says he’s confident they can make a solid case before the federal judge to make sure the 22-year ban on night shining and hunting is continued.  "The state's position is that the commission order was inappropriately issued and we still have remaining concerns related to some of the safety aspects proposed in what the tribes have put out in their commission, although it's currently been recinded.  I like to think that we've got some pretty strong arguments.”

Again, the night shining and shooting ban for Chippewa tribal members is in place, but it could change December 12th when the issue is again before a federal judge.

The State's says night hunting and shooting is dangerous, since hunters cannot see what's beyond their target or outside of their lights. The tribes stated last week that they see this no differently than hunting wolves at night.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp issued a statement after Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision Wednesday. We have that attached to this story on our website, WSAU.com.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp issued the following statement after Crabb's initial decision Wednesday November 28th:

“This afternoon Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District Federal Court ruled that the State may enforce state shining laws against any Chippewa Tribal member hunting deer at night within the Ceded Territory (roughly the northern third of the state) until the preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for Dec. 12 and further order of the court. Chippewa Tribal members have been prohibited from night hunting/shining deer since 1990 in line with a 1989 federal court decision. The State is pleased that shining will be prohibited until such time as we can adequately address these issues within the appropriate court setting. We will continue to try to work with the Tribes to resolve this issue.”