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Federal judge sets hearing on blocking Wisconsin wolf hunt

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday scheduled a hearing for later this month on whether to block Wisconsin’s fall wolf hunt.

Six Chippewa tribes filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Wisconsin on Sept. 21 seeking to stop the hunt, saying hunters killed too many wolves during the state’s February season and the kill limit for the fall hunt isn’t based on science.

The tribes filed a motion Friday for a preliminary injunction blocking the hunt. U.S. District Judge James Peterson scheduled hearing on the injunction for Oct. 29, six days before the season is set to begin on Nov. 6.

The Department of Natural Resources’ policy board set the February quota for state-licensed hunters at 119 wolves. Hunters blew past that number, killing 218 wolves in just four days. The DNR was forced to end the season early.

DNR biologists proposed setting the fall quota at 130 wolves, saying they’re not sure what effect a spring hunt had on the overall wolf population. The board set the limit at 300 animals. The Chippewa are entitled to hunt half of those animals, but since the tribes consider the wolf sacred and won’t hunt it, the working quota for state-licensed hunters would be 150 animals.

The latest DNR population estimates put the state’s wolf population at around 1,000 animals. Those estimates were compiled over the winter of 2019-2020.

A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in state court in August seeking to block the fall hunt. No hearings have been scheduled in that case yet.

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