Citing free speech laws and a violation of the First Amendment, a trio of animal rights activists did what many similar folks do best; they threw some litigation at a law they don’t particularly agree with.
Passed last year, Wisconsin has made it illegal for people or groups to specifically target and harass hunters in the field. After repeated abuse, Gov. Scott Walker signed bill SB 338 into law over a year ago which set out to protect law-abiding hunters while in the field. The broad reach of the bill went on to identify hunting as “scouting, target shooting, dog training and animal baiting or feeding,” giving outdoorsmen and women the freedom to go about routine activities without any nonsense from those in disagreement.
In addition to expanding the definition of hunting activities, it also identified a number of different types of conduct it deemed as harassment as well. In addition to the harassment of hunters in the field, the law also protects lawfully placed hunting stands, bait piles and prohibits the use of drones used to record hunter activity.
Joseph Brown, Louis Weisberg and Stephanie Losse have slung a lawsuit at Gov. Scott Walker, along with state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp and Attorney General Brad Schimel.
The heart of their lawsuit is filled with claims of First Amendment violations, and according to Matthew Liebman of the Animal Defense Fund, the law should be struck down as such.
“Nobody has a right to physically or verbally assault somebody else, but we already have laws that prohibit that,” Liebman told WPR. “This is just an extra content-based attack on the free speech rights of activists. We want this statute declared unconstitutional.”
While many of these activists are making claims that they are only trying to engage in conversation with hunters, the fact remains that often, their actions are more of an aggressive nature.
While there may be some civil folks among them, there are others who have shown a blatant disregard for any laws in their conduct with hunters.
In addition to verbal abuse, the most common assault on hunters, some take it to a whole other level.
In February of 2016, a Wisconsin woman was arrested for shouting and pointing a shotgun at a group of coyote hunters. According to reports, the deputy stated that the woman was so irate that she “began to foam at the mouth” as she was so overcome with anger.
Are these the kind of folks we want to unleash on the hunting community?
I suppose the fate of the well-being of Wisconsin’s hunters will soon lie in the hands of a judge.