Nighttime deer hunting
The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) is playing dangerous politics with its decision to issue an order allowing Chippewa tribal deer hunters to shoot deer at night with the use of spotlights.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has argued in the past — a position that won the support of federal courts years ago — that night hunting for deer with the use of artificial lights is an enormous public safety concern.
There is a long list of reasons for why nighttime deer hunting is too dangerous, not the least of which is that tribal hunters often hunt from vehicles and as such, they are often unaware of residential homes and private property boundaries.
Deer congregate near homes and residential areas at night, making those areas the most likely place for tribal members to locate deer with their spotlights. Besides, one of the cardinal rules of gun safety is knowing what’s beyond your target — something very difficult to determine in the darkness of night.
We believe this is political because it wreaks of tribal retaliation for the DNR’s decision to allow night hunting for wolves as part of the state’s first wolf hunting season this fall. Tribal officials have been very vocal in opposition to shooting wolves, and they are additionally upset that the state legislature authorized a wolf season without consulting the tribes.
For the record, wolf hunting at night is much safer than deer hunting. Like night hunting for coyotes or fox, hunters targeting wolves use specific areas of public and private land when they attempt to attract wolves with calls. These areas are well-defined and the backdrop well-known prior to the hunt. These hunts are not generally accomplished from a vehicle.
Because nighttime wolf hunting did not set a new precedent when compared with other harvest seasons to control predators, we believe GLIFWC is violating the intent of previous court decisions that sanctioned predator control as different than deer hunting. That issue was decided in 1989 over nighttime hunting for coyotes, and nothing significant has changed.
For the sake of public safety, we believe DNR conservation wardens should continue to follow existing law and those previous federal court decisions. Tribal hunters who shine and/or shoot deer at night should be arrested. We believe state intervention is even more crucial when a tribal commission decides to issue an order that provides little time for notifying the public.
Not that it matters in the eyes of the law, but there is ample documentation that most nighttime deer hunting done by tribal members is accomplished from vehicles, which allows them to cover extensive amounts of deer range in search of their targets.
There is no more dangerous hunting method than road hunting from vehicles, as the occupants are often unaware of their surroundings. It is extremely difficult at night to see the “No Trespassing” signs and fences that often signify private land — off-reservation lands where tribal members are not authorized to hunt.
Behind the editorial ‘we’
Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
|Tuesday, November 27, 2012 3:36 PM|