Tribes allowed to hunt bison on refuge

Jackson, Wyoming (AP) 5-08

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted two Idaho tribes permission to hunt for bison on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole.

The Shoshone-Bannock tribes on the Fort Hall Reservation near Pocatello, Idaho, will be allowed to take five bison of either sex and of any age at any time this year, according to Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Kim Greenwood.

The federal agency is requiring the tribes to work with refuge managers to coordinate the ceremonial hunt. 


While the hunt agreement is only for 2008, refuge manager Steve Kallin said his staff expect to consider allowing ceremonial hunts in future years.

The hunting of up to five bison by the tribes was proposed in a bison management plan approved last year for the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. Unlike other bison hunting in Jackson Hole, the ceremonial hunt is not intended to control bison numbers.

“It is a religious ceremony,” Kallin said. “We are basically following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Native American policy to provide reasonable access for ceremonial activities.”

He said no other tribes had contacted him about conducting a ceremonial hunt.

Kallin said the tribes will be allowed to decide for themselves how to kill the buffalo – using guns or some other method. He said if the tribes use guns, the refuge might close the hunt areas but not in a way that affects other people on the refuge.

“We are going to ensure that when this ceremonial hunt takes place, we are involved and engaged,” he said. “We are not going to have that take place next to town or along Flat Creek if that is open for fishing.”

The refuge is just north of Jackson and south of Grand Teton.

Hunters with state-issued licenses killed 222 bison on the refuge and a total of 266 bison in the area last fall. It was the first state-run bison hunt on the refuge.