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Nez Perce Buffalo Hunt Ends After Dustup

The Nez Perce tribe has stopped its winter bison hunt around Yellowstone National Park.  The hunt ended prematurely after the Idaho tribe and the state of Montana got in a dispute over the manner and number of buffalo killed.  Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

The tribal hunt ended a week and a half sooner than planned, with 61 wild buffalo shot.

That makes it the most successful harvest since the Nez Perce resumed bison hunting in 2006.  A little bit too successful in the eyes of the State of Montana.

Melissa Frost: “From the state’s point of view, we believe we had an agreement of an equal share of 41 bison taken by the Nez Perce.”

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokeswoman Melissa Frost says the state and the tribe traded sharply worded letters including a threatened lawsuit.  The tribe’s Joseph Oatman confirms they patched things up in a conference call late last week.

Joseph Oatman: “When we did inform them that the tribe has already taken action to close the hunt down, it would make some of the issues that they were going to raise…much of them would go away basically.”

The Nez Perce are exercising a treaty right to hunt on public land outside Yellowstone after an absence of more than hundred years.

Oatman says the Nez Perce hope that adding a traditional food to their diet improves members’ overall health.

Nez Perce Tribe

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks