Just weeks after wildlife activist groups sued to halt Wisconsin’s annual fall wolf hunt, six Native American tribes have served the state another suit. The Ojibwe tribes filed against the Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board, arguing that the hunt violates treaty rights that entitle them to half of the wolf quota in territory they were forced to give the U.S. government in the nineteenth century. The DNR estimates Wisconsin’s wolf population hovers around 1,000. About 218 wolves were killed in four days during the annual hunting and trapping season in February—99 above the state quota. Last month, the DNR set future kill limits at 300. The Ojibwe are asking a judge to nullify a state law mandating annual hunts, using the logic that the statutes don’t allow population estimates to be properly made and adjusted.
Wolves are considered sacred by the Ojibwe, who see them as their “brothers,” according to Marvin Defoe, an elder of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. “The legends and stories tell us as brothers we walk hand in hand together. What happens to the Ma’iingan [wolves] happens to humanity.”