Native Groups Sign Historic Bison Accord

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

Oct. 8, 2015

Native groups from the United States and Canada have signed a historic treaty intended to establish intertribal alliances and restore free-ranging bison to Tribal and First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands in both countries. This week, you’ll also read about how hunters in the Show Me State can participate in a study to track chronic wasting disease, and much more!

Where The Buffalo Roam – Again
The Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty — the first among Native American tribes in 150 years — was signed in Blackfeet territory in Browning, Mont., September 23, coinciding with the Autumnal Equinox. The event brought together members of the Blackfeet Nation, Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indian Reservation, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

Tribes hope to restore the ability of bison to roam freely between the U.S./Canada borders.
Tribes hope to restore the ability of bison to roam freely between the U.S./Canada borders.

The last treaty signed by the assembled tribes, The Lame Bull Treaty of 1855, established a large common hunting ground and focused on preserving native cultures and ways of life.

The Native American tribes and their indigenous Canadian counterparts – known as the First Nations in Canada – hope to restore the ability of bison to roam freely between the U.S./Canada borders and “reestablish the animal’s important position at the center of the tribes’ cultures.” Collectively, they own and manage about 6.3 million acres of grassland and prairie on both sides of the border.

“This is an historic moment that we hope will translate into a conservation movement among Great Plains Tribes,” Keith Aune said in a press release. Aune is the bison program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, chairman of the IUCN Bison Specialist Group and an American Bison Society spokesperson.

The species American bison (Bison bison) is referred to in the treaty and by the native tribes as “American buffalo.”

Some bison herds currently exist on national grasslands and in U.S. national parks such as Yellowstone, and often pose problems for ranchers and wildlife managers, as they can carry brucellosis, a fatal disease that can be transmitted to cattle and elk.

Presently, sportsmen can take part in limited, fair-chase draw hunts for bison in Alaska, Arizona, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Alabama Hunters Asked to Pass on Orange-Collared Deer
Alabama deer hunters are being asked not to shoot orange-collared research deer in four locations that are part of an Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) and Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences study.

The project, which aims to determine the adult survival rates and movement patterns of Alabama whitetail, utilizes brown (VHF) or orange (GPS) radio neck collars on deer of various ages. Deer fitted with the brown VHF collars may be harvested and consumed during the 2014-15 hunting season. The WFF is encouraging hunters to avoid harvesting deer wearing the orange GPS collars.

Deer in the following locations have been fitted with the brown or orange collars: the Oakmulgee Wildlife Management Area (WMA); Barbour WMA; Pioneer Deer Management Cooperative, a collective of hunting clubs in Pickens County; and Rembert Hill Road, southwest of Linden, Ala., in Marengo County. It is possible that the deer may not stay in the locations in which they were collared.

Hunters are encouraged to return the collars if they harvest a deer fitted with the device.

“It is very important for us to retrieve each of the collars after a deer is shot or dies of natural causes,” said Ray Metzler, WFF wildlife section assistant chief. “The data collected by the device can help shape deer management decisions for future hunting seasons.”

Missouri Hunters Can Help With CWD Sampling
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is again working with hunters and landowners from around the state, along with taxidermy shops and meat processors in north-central Missouri, to collect tissue samples from adult deer harvested during the fall archery and firearms deer seasons. The cooperative effort is part of MDC’s ongoing work to detect cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Missouri’s free-ranging deer.

The Conservation Department encourages hunters to take deer harvested in MDC’s CWD Containment Zone of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan counties to one of numerous cooperating locations in the region to have a tissue sample taken for testing. Sampling locations include area taxidermists and meat processors, and the Northeast Regional MDC office in Kirksville during normal business hours.

Removing a tissue sample is free, takes only a few minutes and will not reduce the food or taxidermy value of harvested deer. The sampling effort ends Jan. 15, 2015.

Hawaii Court Favors Legal Immigrants Obtaining Firearms Permits
In late September, a federal judge overturned Hawaii’s law prohibiting legal immigrants from applying for a firearm permit after an Australian citizen and permanent resident living in Honolulu filed for relief from the restrictive state statute.

The judge ruled that the discriminatory state law prohibiting legal immigrants from applying for a firearm permit violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Allowing lawful permanent residents, in addition to U.S. citizens, to apply for a firearms license will permit law-abiding individuals to exercise the guarantees of the Second Amendment in Hawaii.

The ruling marked the latest in a string of court rulings across the country overturning similar laws protecting individuals legally and permanently residing in the U.S.

Quote of the Week
“The essence of being a really good hunter is, paradoxically, to love the particular species of game you’re after and have enormous respect and consideration for it.”
– Hugh Fosburgh,
One Man’s Pleasure, 1960

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at


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