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Grand Portage Band of Chippewa cancels moose hunt

Forum News Service

The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has announced it will not hold its planned moose hunt this fall, avoiding an arbitration process with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The band in August had announced it would issue 21 permits for a bulls-only moose hunt Oct. 5-20 on lands in the ceded territory covered by an 1854 treaty.

The DNR opposed the band’s plans for the hunt based on an agreement between the state and the 1854 Treaty Authority, which represents both the Grand Portage and Bois Forte bands.

As a result, the DNR had begun a formal arbitration process with the Grand Portage Band, but no arbitration hearings had yet been held when the band canceled its hunt.

Under a court-approved agreement between the DNR and the treaty authority, the bands may not hold a big-game hunting season for which no corresponding state hunting season is being held.

The state pays the Grand Portage and Bois Forte bands each year to limit their exercise of some treaty rights, Boggess said. During fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, the DNR paid $2.68 million each to the two bands, he said.

In February, the DNR decided to cancel its moose hunting season because of conservation concerns about the moose population. The population has dropped from an estimated 8,800 moose in 2006 to an estimated 2,760 in this past winter’s survey.

The population suffered a 35 percent drop from 2012 to 2013.

“Our position is that we think the language of the (1854 Treat Authority) agreement is plain and clear,” Ed Boggess, director of the DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, had said of the DNR’s decision to pursue arbitration.

Norman Deschampe, chairman of the Grand Portage Tribal Council, said that a tribal subsistence hunt “is fundamentally different than a sports hunt and should be considered differently.”

Deschampe also said the band was disappointed that the DNR ignored its obligation to consult with the band before cancelling the state moose hunt.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa plans to hold a moose hunt this fall, but the band is not part of the 1854 Treaty Authority. The DNR has expressed its disappointment to the Fond du Lac Band about its moose season this fall but plans no court action against the band, Boggess said.

Fond du Lac will offer its band members 77 permits to harvest a maximum of 25 bull moose in ceded territory covered by 1854 and 1837 treaties.

The Bois Forte band opted not to hold a moose season, said Sonny Myers, executive director of the treaty authority, based in Duluth.

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