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Judge Crabb rules against night deer hunt


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- There won’t be any legal nighttime deer hunting by Wisconsin’s Chippewa tribes.

The tribes challenged the Department of Natural Resources law against night hunting about a year ago when Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt was allowed to take place day or night. Tribal leaders felt deer hunting should be legal at night, also.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb was at the heart of the issues twenty years ago when the state and the various tribes negotiated the terms of hunting and fishing treaty rights. Now, Crabb says the tribes failed to show that conditions have changed enough to justify changing the 20-year-old agreement.

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp issued a statement after Judge Crabb’s ruling late Friday. She said, “The department has received Judge Crabb’s final judgment. We will spend the next several days fully reviewing the decision. Upon initial review, the department is pleased that Judge Crabb has clarified the law, reaffirming that night hunting of deer by members of the Chippewa Tribe is not a treaty right. An issue of this magnitude justified a close review by the court. The department felt it necessary to defend state interests and in doing so, public safety has been protected.”

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission oversees the Chippewa's off-reservation treaty rights. So far, they have not commented on the court’s decision.