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Contentious Bill Allowing Non-Tribal Members To Hunt On Private Land On Reservations Tabled

A female elk walks through a snowy forest near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, February 2018.
NPS/FLICKR (Public Domain)

A Montana House Committee has tabled a controversial bill that would have allowed non-tribal members to hunt on privately owned lands within Native American reservations.

The House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee voted 13 to five to table House Bill 241 in a bipartisan vote Thursday (Feb. 11) afternoon.

The House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee heard heated argument on the bill Tuesday night (Feb. 9).

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Joe Read from Ronan said the bill was about private property ownership and was not intended to infringe on the rights of tribal nations. Other bill proponents from the Flathead area spoke about their desire to be allowed to legally hunt and manage wildlife on their own land.

More than 30 representatives from every tribal nation in Montana spoke against the bill. Tribal nation citizens said the bill ignored tribal sovereignty and treaty agreements between the United States and Indigenous nations.

Other opponents included Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, who said the bill overlooked the fact that tribal governments have effective permitting and wildlife management plans in place, and expressed concern that the bill would harm state and tribal relations.

Kaitlyn Nicholas covers tribal news in Montana.