Six Ojibwe tribes filed a federal lawsuit against Wisconsin on Tuesday, accusing the state of violating their treaty rights by allowing large wolf hunts, nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, who is representing the tribal nations, said. The treaty protects tribal nations' rights to an equal share of harvestable resources and species conservation.
According to the lawsuit, the Wisconsin Natural Resource Board approved a 300-wolf quota for an upcoming hunt scheduled to begin on November 6. The tribes said it exceeds the quota of 130 proposed by the Department of Natural Resources, and they accused the defendants of infringing on the Ojibwe tribes' "inherent sovereign rights of tribes."
"In setting a quota for the upcoming wolf hunt, Defendants purposefully and knowingly discriminated against the Ojibwe Tribes by acting to nullify their share," the lawsuit stated.
In February, hunters killed more than 200 wolves within three days, exceeding the state's limit of 119, Earthjustice reported earlier this year. A member from Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources later called the hunt an "abomination," the lawsuit stated.
"In our treaty rights, we're supposed to share with the state 50-50 in our resources and we're feeling that we're not getting our due diligence because of the slaughter of wolves in February," John Johnson, Sr., president of Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, said in a statement Tuesday.
"We're looking out for the next seven generations of our children," Johnson added. "When we know it's wrong to hunt, we don't harvest. We step back and assess the damage. We take care of our community in a good way as others should."
The six tribal nations that brought forth the allegations include Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.
"The state trampled the tribes' rights, and we are in court today to try to make sure it doesn't happen again," Gussie Lord, Earthjustice managing attorney of tribal partnerships, said in a statement.
An official from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources told CBS News the agency is reviewing the lawsuit but that it has "no further comment at this time."