Tribes with treaties giving them the right to hunt in their aboriginal hunting grounds are part of the management plan for the Yellowstone National Park bison herd.
It’s been a rewarding experience for members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes according to Tom McDonald, CSKT’s manager of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation, the Missoulian reports.
It wasn’t just that the area was a part of aboriginal hunting grounds, (McDonald) explains.
The Yellowstone herd, which once fell below 25 bison, had been supplemented in part by bison from the Allard-Pablo herd on the Flathead Reservation.
“Some of the Yellowstone bison came from here,” McDonald says.
The hunts remain controversial, but not to the degree they were in the 1980s, when McDonald says Montana got a “black eye” for the way bison were hunted. The old way equated to a “Step into Montana and you’re dead” policy for bison, he adds.
The hunts were begun in response to a disease some of the animals carry that the livestock industry says threatens cattle.
McDonald gives tribal hunters who obtain bison tags a two-hour orientation to acquaint them with rules, regulations and the controversies surrounding bison hunting.
The Nez Perce and Umatilla Tribes also participate in the Montana hunts.
- Vince Devlin