Update On Spirit Lake Indian Reservation


Published: August - 2004

Remember our notice last month about the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) looking into some deer hunts conducted on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota? We told you that some hunters had reported being interviewed by USF&WS agents about these hunts. Well, we have now confirmed that there is indeed a major investigation into these hunts, and the word we have is it is focused on where within the reservation the tribe is conducting hunts.

We are told that Spirit Lake, like many other Indian reservations, is a checkerboard of three kinds of property: tribal lands, which are owned by the tribe; trust lands, which are owned by individual tribal members; and fee-deeded lands, also called "white" lands, that are owned by non-tribal members. The tribal and trust lands are managed by the tribe and fall under its jurisdiction, but the "white" lands are under the jurisdiction of the North Dakota Game & Fish Department. Hunting on these lands requires a state-issued hunting license for hunting.

A person of authority we trust has told us some of the Spirit Lake deer hunts last season may have been conducted on "white" lands. If so, they were illegal.

Jerry Brooks of Sheldon's Waterfowl and Whitetail Deer, the outfitter who is working with Spirit Lake Indian Reservation to conduct these hunts, tells us that all the hunts he books with Spirit Lake are contracted to take place only on reservation lands and are guided only by tribal members. Clients are issued a hunting license by the Spirit Lake Game and Fish Department. When we asked him about privately owned lands on and off the Reservation where Spirit Lake does not have authority, Brooks told us that the location of all the hunts, deer feeders and hunting stands are determined by personnel of the Spirit Lake Game & Fish Department. "I am not selling illegal hunts," Brooks says.

Here at The Hunting Report, we do not know where this probe is headed and who, exactly, is in jeopardy. However, if you........(continued)

 
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