DNR sued for canceling in-person hunter safety courses

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 10:08 PM CDT
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Hunting is a pastime in Wisconsin.

Before you can go out for a hunt, you have to complete a hunter education course if born after a certain date.

But due to COVID-19, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has suspended all in-person hunter safety courses since March.

“On the state level there’s a statutory right to attend a hunter education course, DNR is required by statute to offer those courses. You need to take a hunter education course to get a license to hunt if you were born after January 1, 1973,” explained WILL Deputy Council Lucas Vebber.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is suing the DNR for canceling in-person courses.

The group says when the 'Safer at Home' order was struck down in May, in-person classes, which include a field day where you learn how to handle a firearm and work on safety skills, should have been offered again.

“The Supreme Court struck down the ‘Safer at Home’ order largely last month and second the health emergency declaration expired last month as well. So DNR's stated reasoning for doing this is no longer there. We are certainly not asking that DNR require anybody to host these courses,” said Vebber

The DNR says it's not commenting on the lawsuit, but did say in a statement to WEAU,

“Our first priority is safety. That includes not only providing educational safety courses for hunting, boating, and off-highway vehicles, but also ensuring the students and instructors who participate are as safe as possible from exposure to COVID-19. We hope to be able to resume in-person classes as soon as possible and the department will be ready to assist our hunter safety instructors to make that happen.”

“We believe DNR has very plainly violated state law and the state constitution. We are hopeful that a judge will step in quickly and remedy the situation and open things back up so that individuals all around Wisconsin can safely get together and learn how to handle firearms,” said Vebber.

Youth gun deer season begins on October 10, while regular gun season runs from November 21 to November 29 this year.

The lawsuit was filed in Marathon County Circuit Court this week.