Hunting Organization Sues State Over Canceled Hunter Safety Courses

Over the last few months, many institutions have been affected by the corona pandemic. The outdoor industry is no exception. Many outdoor programs including hunters safety courses have been canceled and even one state banned fishing.

Now states are beginning to open up, but many feel like the way the restrictions are being lifted is somewhat arbitrary. Some organizations are getting what seems like preferential treatment and getting the green light to open while other similar organizations are having to remain closed. Many of these slighted organizations are turning to the courts to force state governments to allow them to open or continue activities.

This brings us to a law suit that has been filed by the hunting advocacy group, Hunter Nation who is suing the state of Wisconsin for canceling hunter safety course.

In a press release, Hunter Nation states that they received word that any students that attend upcoming hunter safety courses in Oneida County in the state of Wisconsin would not be recognized by the Department of Natural Resources due to Governor Evers’ Covid-19 restrictions.

In addition to not recognizing the student’s attendance of the class the DNR also threatened to revoke the credentials of the instructors.

Hunter Nation President and CEO, Luke Hilgemann said, “After hearing about this decision in Oneida County, we immediately jumped into action and have called on the DNR to reverse course and allow these classes to proceed.  This is a baseless decision that threatens to jeopardize outdoor opportunities for thousands of kids and adults who want to carry on our hunting traditions here in Wisconsin.  We are calling on Governor Evers’ and Secretary Cole to immediately allow all hunter education courses and field training to move forward as scheduled.”

Hunter Nation feels that these restrictions are arbitrary and unfairly target sportsmen. Especially since these classes would be conducted outdoors where social distancing could be accomplished.

“Earlier this week, Governor Evers’ said he “encouraged people to get outside and exercise their rights” in regards to protests that have taken place in Madison and Milwaukee,” said Tyler Ruhland – Hunter Nation’s Wisconsin State Director.  “So, it’s ok for protesters to exercise their first amendment rights, but it’s not ok for kids to exercise their constitutionally protected right to hunt?  This move by the Evers’ administration makes no sense and Hunter Nation calls on the Governor, Secretary, and the Legislature to immediately re-open these vital courses for the future of hunting in Wisconsin.”

The group sent an open letter to DNR Secretary Preston Cole that States:

Dear Secretary Cole,
We recently learned of a situation in Oneida County where your department told the Oneida County Sheriff that their longstanding Hunter Education courses that were scheduled for later this month would not be recognized by the department due to Governor Evers’ Covid-19 restrictions – even though there are no enforceable orders statewide.
On behalf of nearly 3,000 members of Hunter Nation who reside in the great state of Wisconsin, we are calling on you and your department to immediately allow these courses to move forward as scheduled.
We hope this is not a decision that impacts all Hunter Education and field training courses statewide. To block an entire class of young people and adults from participating in our longstanding outdoor traditions jeopardizes our hunting heritage and may be a violation of our constitutionally protected right to hunt, trap, and fish.
Earlier this week, Governor Evers’ said he “encouraged people to get outside and exercise their rights” in regards to protests that have taken place in Madison and Milwaukee. We would hope that it’s not the position of your department or the Evers’ administration to say it’s ok for protesters to exercise their first amendment rights, but it’s not ok for hunters to exercise their second amendment rights or their constitutionally protected right to hunt.
Clearly, this makes no sense and we call on you as the Secretary of our Natural Resources Department to immediately re-open these vital courses for the next generation of Wisconsin hunters. We stand ready to work with your department, other hunting groups, and local ranges to make these courses safe, readily available, and fully open to capture the opportunity to get more folks into our great outdoors.

Hopefully the state of Wisconsin will use common sense and allow these course to go on as planned. Especially since they can be conducted in a safe manner with all proper precautions in place.