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Bill Allows Tribal Members To Continue Traditional Buffalo Hunt

A bison standing off the road in Yellowstone National Park.
Jackie Yamanaka
Yellowstone Public Radio

The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill to continue to allow tribal members to hunt buffalo near Yellowstone National Park in accordance with the traditional ceremonies of each tribe.

There had been a sunset on the original legislation that granted 2 free state issued buffalo hunting permits per year to tribes. House Bill 108 seeks to continue the practice.

During the Senate debate, an amendment was offered that would remove a provision in the bill that said all parts of a wild buffalo must be removed from the site of the kill.

“To put this in code where we select out a certain group of people who are doing this type of hunting in a tribal manner, in a traditional ceremonial manner that this is highly discriminatory to have that requirement,” said Senator Cary Smith of Billings. He said while it might be a good idea for hunters to be responsible, especially in a populated area, this provision in the bill unfairly targets tribal hunters.

After Senators approved the amendment, HB 108 was passed unanimously.

The bill faces a third and final Senate vote. If it passes, it will return to the House for consideration because of the Senate amendment.