Animal rights extremists are suing the State of Wisconsin over its anti-hunter harassment law, arguing that their First Amendment rights are being infringed. The lawsuit—brought on by three Wisconsin residents—is being funded by the anti-hunting extremist group Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
As reported by The Associated Press, Wisconsin residents Joseph Brown, Louis Weisberg and Stephanie Losse filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Western District Court of Wisconsin on July 17 against Gov. Scott Walker, state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp and Attorney General Brad Schimel. The group is seeking an injunction to prevent enforcement of the anti-hunter harassment law that prohibits people from bothering hunters in Wisconsin’s woods. The law also makes it illegal to film, record or photograph individual hunters on repeated occasions.
In 2015, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) signed into law Wisconsin Act 346, the Right to Hunt Act, which redefined what constitutes interference with lawful hunting, fishing or trapping activities. It prohibits actions such as obstructing a hunter’s line of sight to obstruct hunting and photographing, videotaping and/or confronting a hunter on more than two occasions with the intention of interfering with that particular hunt.
When Walker signed the bill into law, he noted, “Hunting, fishing and trapping are all major pastimes here in Wisconsin which attract tourists from across the nation to our state every year. The bill we’re signing into law here at the Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association Convention provides our hunters with additional protections from interference.”
Acts of hunter harassment were steadily increasing in Wisconsin prior to the Right to Hunt Act becoming state law. “Unfortunately, hunter harassment is a very real thing,” said NRA-ILA State and Local Affairs Director Lacey Biles. “Securing our right to hunt is why the NRA-ILA has been very supportive of adopting anti-hunter harassment laws in all 50 states.”
However, Biles noted, anti-hunter harassment laws can vary widely from state to state. Wisconsin’s Right to Hunt Act, for example, states that harassment occurs if someone confronts or obstructs a hunter twice. Some state statutes define just how close someone may come to a hunter before the scenario can be considered harassment or interference. “Other states’ laws don’t define those harassment thresholds as clearly,” explained Biles. “There can be a lot of gray areas and it often comes down to how a game warden or judge interprets the law. We certainly do what we can to help tighten up those laws as they are being drafted.”
The best advice for if and when you are confronted by anti-hunters while afield? Do not react aggressively. Call the proper authorities as soon as possible and make sure you share any identifying information with them, including license plate numbers and physical descriptions. If the antis persist, your safest bet is to leave the area.
Don’t risk the possibility of the situation becoming turned around so that you are the person who ends up in legal hot water. This is exactly what the anti-hunters are striving to accomplish.