(The Center Square) – Gov. Tony Evers' Safer at Home order continues to land the state in court.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on Wednesday sued the state's Department of Natural Resources for canceling the state's hunter safety classes.
Wisconsin hunters born after 1973 are required to take a hunter safety course in order to get a hunting license. Because of the coronavirus, and the state's Safer at Home order, DNR canceled those classes earlier this year.
Hunters looking to enroll are greeted with a message on the state's website: "In light of COVID 19 and the Safer at Home order, all DNR sponsored in-person recreational safety classes and R3 events are canceled for the duration of the public health emergency," the message reads. "This is a fluid situation that we are monitoring closely. We look forward to the time when it will be safe to reopen our in-person safety classes and R3 related events. We appreciate your patience during this difficult time."
WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber said that's not DNR's decision to make.
“The DNR’s decision to cancel all in-person hunter education courses occurred without justification or public input," Vebber said.
WILL's lawsuit says:
- The DNR lacks the authority to unilaterally eliminate in-person hunter education courses.
- Even if DNR had the authority, the agency would have to follow the rulemaking process proscribed in state law.
- DNR’s policy relies on the ‘Safer at Home’ order, no longer in effect as a result of a Supreme Court decision in Legislature v. Palm.
- The Wisconsin state constitution provides a ‘right to hunt.’ DNR’s policy violates the Wisconsin constitution by imposing unjustified burdens on Wisconsinites seeking to legally exercise their right.
"This is just another example of Evers administration agencies’ illegally creating, adopting and enforcing policy," Vebber said.
Luke Hilgemann, president and CEO of Hunter Nation, echoed that sentiment.
"We thank the team at Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty for partnering with us to pursue legal action against the Department of Natural Resources for a clear violation of our constitutionally protected right to hunt by cancelling hunter education courses that are required for new hunters to take up the sport and pursue our outdoor traditions," Hilgemann said in a statement.