The Grand Portage and Bois Forte bands of Lake Superior Chippewa have asked the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to allow the bands to harvest moose this fall, according to Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations manager.
Merchant said Wednesday that the DNR has been in discussion with the bands and that a decision on whether to allow their taking of moose for subsistence or cultural reasons is “imminent.”
Merchant didn’t specify the number of moose the bands might be allowed to take.
“Initially, we didn’t see eye-to-eye on that,” he said.
Under an agreement between those bands and the state, they may not hold hunting seasons for a species unless the state is holding a hunt for that species, too. The DNR has not authorized a state moose season since 2012 over concerns for a decreasing moose population. The state is not holding a moose season this fall.
Discussions with the bands have revolved around the number of moose that the bands could take and under what provisions, Merchant said.
“We’re trying to figure a way we can help them sustain their cultural heritage of harvesting moose, but we can’t allow them to have a moose hunting season because of the agreement (between the state and the bands),” Merchant said. “One potential way to allow them to do that is to allow them a scientific and educational permit to take some moose. That’s what’s going on.”
The Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands are paid $1.6 million each by the state annually under the agreement, for which they agree to give up some of their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands ceded to the U.S. under an 1854 treaty. The bands’ hunting and fishing seasons are conducted under a hunting framework administered by the 1854 Treaty Authority based in Duluth.
Members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa took 25 bull moose this fall under the band’s hunting season structure. The Fond du Lac Band is not a party to the 1854 Treaty Authority and does not receive payments from the state in return for restricting its hunting and gathering rights. As such, it may hold seasons for a wildlife species whether the state of Minnesota holds a season or not.
Calls to the Grand Portage Band and the 1854 Treaty Authority were not immediately returned.