Gray wolf (copy)

A gray wolf is pictured at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota.

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A Dane County judge on Friday blocked the state’s forthcoming fall wolf hunt, which was set to begin on Nov. 6.

Dane County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost issued a temporary injunction freezing the hunt, saying that the hunt cannot take place until the DNR engages in formal rulemaking surrounding hunting wolves.

Wisconsin is the only state in the country that mandates a wolf hunt, and is only one of five that allow wolves to be hunted. Wolves can only be hunted in Wisconsin when the animals are not on the federal Endangered Species List. Wolves were removed from the list in January, and a court ruling forced the state to host a hunt earlier this year.

“DNR needs to stop it,” Frost said during a hearing on Friday, ordering the department to issue no wolf hunting licenses and set the wolf hunt quota to zero.

The judge’s ruling was lauded by animal rights advocates. 

"The court brought sanity and balance to the wolf debate in Wisconsin by requiring DNR to follow the Constitution and stop taking unlawful actions related to wolf management, including its reckless approach to the planned November wolf hunt,” Paul Collins, Wisconsin state director for Animal Wellness Action, said in a statement. 

Wisconsin Ojibwe Tribes — the tribes will appear before a federal judge this week asking him to also block the wolf hunt — also supported the ruling.

“We applaud today’s well-crafted decision and we also understand that it may not be the last word on this issue in the Wisconsin court system,” said Gussie Lord, an attorney working with the tribes. “We intend to pursue every opportunity to protect the Ojibwe tribes and the Wisconsin wolf population.”

However, the decision was met with ire by pro-hunting groups. 

Hunter Nation President and CEO Luke Hilgemann said in a statement that “the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must acknowledge state law and immediately appeal this case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to get this matter cleared up.”

“State law clearly calls for a wolf hunt, and Hunter Nation will not sit by while the opponents of common sense predator management try to violate the constitutional rights of hunters in this state by denying that,” he said. “We are reviewing our options for how to best continue the fight while Wisconsin's hunters wait for the DNR to do the right thing."

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