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House Approves Licenses for Traditional Tribal Bison Hunts

The Montana House on April 3, gave final approval to a bill to provide two licenses to each of seven Montana tribal groups for the traditional hunting of wild bison.

House Bill 108, sponsored by Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, specifies that such hunts must be done under traditional hunting and harvesting practices.

“Montana Indians have an ancient, spiritual connection with the bison and these hunts should be a part of the state’s management of this majestic animal,” Smith said. “Tribal communities want to experience the age-old tradition of these hunts, as well as harvesting the animal according to tribal custom. These licenses will be a great step to help bring this experience back to the people and help the tribe renew and protect this age-old practice.”

Under the legislation, if Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issues 40 or more licenses to hunt wild bison, it must also issue licenses to two tribal members named by each of the seven tribal governments in Montana: the Blackfeet Tribe; the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation; the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck reservation; the Chippewa Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy's reservation; the Fort Belknap Reservation; the Northern Cheyenne Reservation; and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe.

The House gave final approval to the bill on an 87-12 vote. It goes next to the Governor for his signature.


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