Conservative group sues Wisconsin DNR for canceling hunter training classes

Conservative group sues Wisconsin DNR for canceling hunter training classes

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A conservative law firm has sued the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over the agency’s cancellation of in-person hunter safety classes, which the group says infringes on residents’ legal rights to hunt.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR this spring adopted a policy prohibiting in-person classes, which are required for anyone born after 1972 to obtain a hunting license.

According to a complaint filed Wednesday by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of the Kansas-based Hunter Nation Inc., the DNR lacks authority to cancel the classes after the state Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order on May 13.

WILL contends the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office canceled a class scheduled for June 22 based on a June 3 email from the DNR saying safety classes remain suspended “until further notice.”

The complaint says the DNR is required by law to issue certificates to those who complete such courses and as such the agency is “refusing to fulfill” its obligations.

The DNR offers online hunter education, which it says “is designed for adults that have prior hunting and/or firearms handling experience.” The agency’s website says traditional in-person training is “highly recommended” for those who don’t.

“Defendants themselves make clear that this online course is inadequate for individuals who do not have prior hunting or firearms handling experience,” the complaint states, adding that not all people have access to the internet.

The DNR did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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