Shoshone-Bannock Tribes take 4 bison in hunt

Jackson, Wyoming (AP) March 2010

Members of the Idaho-based Shoshone-Bannock Tribes harvested four bison during a ceremonial hunt on the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming.

About 60 tribal members participated in the ceremonial bison hunt during February.

The tribes, headquartered on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, have conducted the limited hunt for three years. The National Elk Refuge is located within the tribes’ aboriginal lands, and historically tribal members lived and hunted in the Yellowstone region.

The tribes are allowed to harvest up to five bison during the year as part of a traditional ceremonial activity that is closely coordinated with National Elk Refuge staff.

The tribes will use the robes from the harvested bison bulls for ceremonial use.

“The hair on the bison is in its prime right now,” refuge manager Steve Kallin said, “since thick winter coats are one way bison adapt to the long, cold season.”

Claudeo M. Broncho, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy representative for the tribes, said, “It was a good day to be here and take these buffalo. We take them in a good way and with good feelings. I know the Shoshone and Bannock people will use all what we harvested for ceremonial and subsistence needs.”

The tribal hunt was approved in the 2007 Final Bison and Elk Management Plan because it was determined to be compatible and an appropriate use on the National Elk Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy encourages reasonable access to its public lands for Native American ceremonial activities.

However, the National Elk Refuge does prohibit the ceremonial activity from taking place during the supplemental feeding season. If the tribes express an interest in harvesting a fifth bison later this season, the limited hunt will be delayed until spring, when the feeding program has concluded for the winter.