By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Chippewa tribes in Wisconsin will be allowed to hunt deer at night with firearms after they persuaded a federal judge to reverse her 1991 ruling that found the practice was unsafe.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Tuesday in favor of the Chippewa tribes, which vowed to take precautions such as providing safety courses and shooting tests and using lights and backstops during hunts.
"Member tribes welcome the night hunt as an additional opportunity for members to put meat on the table," the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission said in a statement.
Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources said in a statement it was disappointed in the appeals court decision that allows "tribal night hunting despite the concerns raised over public safety."
The tribes also agreed to have hunters file a shooting plan before their hunt, according to court documents.
The ruling allows the 5,100 members of Chippewa tribes to hunt deer at night from Nov. 1 to the first Monday in January. They are still prohibited from night hunting for nine days at the end of November during Wisconsin's regular firearm deer hunting season.
It covers hunting by tribe members across a large part of northern Wisconsin in a territory they ceded to the U.S. government in the 19th century before Wisconsin became a state. Night-time deer hunting is already permitted on some reservations.
Crabb had ruled in 1991 that night hunting was unsafe and Chippewa tribes were not exempt from a Wisconsin state ban on the practice. Her ruling on Tuesday follows a U.S. appeals court order in October 2014 to reconsider the case.
Tribes are also allowed to hunt certain animals at night in Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)