Hunter Nation Takes Legal Action Against DNR to Allow Hunter Education Courses to Re-Open

For immediate release:
Please contact for further comment:
Luke Hilgemann at [email protected] or
Tyler Ruhland at [email protected]

Hunter Nation Takes Legal Action Against DNR to Allow Hunter Education Courses to Re-Open
Outdoor Group Says Illegal Closure of Training Courses Jeopardizes Hunting Heritage

Madison…Hunter Nation, a non-profit organization that works to protect the rights of hunters, filed suit today in state court to force the Department of Natural Resources to immediately allow hunter education courses that had been shut down due to the Governor’s Covid-19 restrictions to re-open. Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty – a state-based legal watchdog group – filed the suit on behalf of Hunter Nation arguing that the Department had violated its statutorily required duty to provide training courses to those who want to take up the sport of hunting. The suit also challenges the validity of the DNR order on constitutional grounds as it may jeopardize the constitutionally protected right to hunt, fish, and trap that is enshrined in Wisconsin’s state constitution.

Today’s court filing was precipitated after Hunter Nation had sent a letter to the Secretary of the DNR last week asking him to immediately re-open courses that had been closed statewide. The agency did not respond to the organization’s request.

Hunter Nation President and CEO, Luke Hilgemann said, “It’s unfortunate that the Evers’ Administration refused to take action on their own to remedy this problem last week. We were left with no other course of action than to file suit today to force this issue on behalf of the thousands of Wisconsin kids and adults who have effectively been barred from participating in our outdoor traditions.”

The group first learned of the DNR’s decision to not recognize hunter safety course completion from a press release sent by the Oneida County Sheriff earlier this week. The Oneida County Sheriff’s office has been teaching hunter safety in that area for many years but was told by the DNR that anyone who completes courses that had been scheduled later this month would not be recognized by the department due to Governor Evers’ Covid-19 restrictions. The Sheriff’s office was also informed that if they moved forward with the program that their instructors may also be decertified by the DNR. As a result, students who signed up for the course were turned away.

Oneida County instructors use a curriculum that is taught on a 40-acre parcel outdoors. If the students wanted to practice social distancing, the Sheriff’s office said what better place to do so than in the great outdoors.

The DNR has a message on their “Go Wild” website that says: “In light of Covid 19 and the Safer at Home order, all DNR sponsored in-person recreational safety classes and R3 events are canceled for the duration of the public health emergency.” The Wisconsin State Supreme Court issued a ruling over a month ago making the Evers’ Stay at Home order referenced by the DNR as invalid. Thus, making the order unenforceable.

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber said, “The DNR’s decision to cancel all in-person hunter education courses occurred without justification or public input. Unfortunately, this is just another example of Evers administration agencies illegally creating, adopting, and enforcing policy.”

Hunter Nation is a membership organization with over 25,000 dues paying members nationwide – 3,000 of whom reside in Wisconsin. Hilgemann said Hunter Nation stands ready to work with the DNR and any hunting or outdoor group and local sporting clubs and gun ranges to make sure these courses are safe, readily available, and fully open for the public.