ASPCA Files Amicus Curiae Brief in Wisconsin Wolf Hunt Case

Brief supports plaintiffs' motion seeking to stop the use of dogs to hunt wolves without necessary restrictions
November 29, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) has filed a brief as amicus curiae ("friend of the court") in Dane County Circuit Court (Wis.) in support of the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, Inc., Wisconsin citizens and other conservation and animal welfare organizations in their lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The brief, which was filed by the ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy department on November 21, asks the Court to prohibit the DNR from authorizing the use of dogs for wolf hunting unless and until restrictions are enacted that conform to state law.

According to the ASPCA's brief [PDF], the DNR exceeded its authority by enacting regulations that do not impose the necessary restrictions on the training and use of dogs to hunt wolves, and instead guarantee tragic encounters that will mutilate and kill hunting companions and pets. The brief reads in part:

"By promulgating emergency rules that authorize the virtually unfettered use of dogs to hunt wolves, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) exceeded its statutory authority under Act 169 and violated the letter and spirit of Wisconsin’s animal cruelty and animal fighting laws… …Wisconsin should not permit this perhaps unwitting misstep to blemish its progressive reputation in the field of animal welfare. As the first state to allow the use of man’s best friend in an endeavor that is so fraught with peril, Wisconsin should take the steps necessary to minimize the inevitable danger to its canine companions."

The lawsuit challenging these DNR rules was originally filed on August 8, 2012. On August 31, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Peter Anderson granted the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary stay of the use of dogs for hunting and training purposes in this year’s wolf hunt. On September 14, he denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Court is expected to rule on the current motions on December 20, 2012.  

"This is an important case because it asks the court to ensure that when states implement laws allowing hunting practices, they make certain that these provisions do not run afoul of state anti-cruelty laws," said Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief counsel of the ASPCA's Legal Advocacy and Humane Law Enforcement departments. "The decision in this case could have far reaching effects on how these laws are interpreted in the future, both in the state of Wisconsin and across the country."

The ASPCA's Legal Advocacy department focuses on increasing legal protections for animals across the country and shaping stronger animal welfare laws through the judicial system. The department is part of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group, which is also comprised of Humane Law Enforcement, Field Investigations and Response, Anti-Cruelty Behavior, Strategy and Campaigns, Forensic Sciences, and Anti-Cruelty Projects.