Wisconsin’s new law could mean jail time for some liberal activists

A group of activists could face jail time if they continue their activities in Wisconsin’s state parks. The state’s new “Right to Hunt” bill constructed by Republican state Representative Adam Jarchow would make it illegal to photograph or record hunters and would criminalize any activity that was “impeding a person who is engaged in an activity associated with lawful hunting.”

The bill has been constructed primarily to combat the activist group Wolf Patrol, which has spent the last year documenting hunters throughout Wisconsin. The group is focused bear baiting, a legal activity in Wisconsin, which results in increased gray wolf activity. The group’s founder Rod Coronado claims “There’s nothing illegal about what we’re doing now, as long as our intent is not to interfere.” It is important to note his use of the word “now” in his statement since Coronodo was convicted for arson after burning an animal-research facility to the the ground in 1995.

The bill has gained some support following complaints from multiple hunters who have been harassed by Wolf Patrol members. Coronado does not consider his group to be “anti-hunting” but rater in support of ethical hunting practices, which in his opinion do not include baiting.

Those who oppose the bill are concerned that it may infringe on first amendment rights. Animal Legal Defense Fund professor of law Justin Marceau says “The idea you’re going to regulate who can take photos on public land is pretty shocking. You don’t see laws like that anywhere in the free world.” Potential use of the bill to block freedom of speech may prevent it from gaining real traction under constitutional scrutiny.

Coronodo does not believe the bill will become law and plans to continue Wolf Patrol’s activities throughout the approaching coyote season.

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