A federal court hearing about the right of Chippewa tribal hunters to hunt deer at night continues today. At issue is whether new tribal regulations include enough safety precautions, and whether the tribes have the right to enact the rules without consulting state wildlife officials.
The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission informed the state of its new rules just before Thanksgiving. The state filed a suit to block the plan and Judge Barbara Crabb ordered the tribe to suspend the hunt until a hearing was held. At Wednesday's hearing, the judge heard conflicting testimony from both tribal and state game wardens on whether the new tribal rules are safe enough. Lac Du Flambeau Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson says the training the tribe is requiring for tribal hunters goes far beyond the regulations in place for non tribal hunters who are allowed to hunt wolves at night.
We have all the plans that are necessary to acquire a safe hunt in the ceded territory vs no plan that the wolf hunters have no matter if it's six wolves, or the full hundred wolves.
But the state's chief game warden testified that there were many fewer wolf hunters than tribal deer hunters and few if any of the wolf hunters actually hunted at night. It's likley today's closing testimony will focus on how broad the sovreign right of the tribes is to adopt rules for night hunting on public land that was ceded to tribes by treaty for the purpose of hunting. Maulson says the tribes have proven their abilty to manage their own hunters.
"We've been at it for a long time I think we've got credibility. We've been doi8ng this for years on our reservation.. shining... we haven't killed anybody."
But the state contends a federal court ruling in 1990 grants the state the right ot sign off on all hunting safety regulations .