Tribal hunters have taken roughly 25 elk near Yellowstone: A group of teenagers seen stabbing wounded bison as it writhed on the ground

In addition to shooting bison, tribal hunters near the Yellowstone National Park border have been killing elk.

Hunters from the Nez Perce Tribe have killed roughly 25 elk near Gardiner this winter, according to multiple sources, in addition to dozens of bison. It’s the second consecutive year reports of hunters taking elk have surfaced. The hunters are legally allowed to kill game animals on public land in the area because of a treaty, but the activity has some Gardiner residents ticked off.

Bill Hoppe, a resident of the area, said four elk were recently shot near his house. He said allowing the tribal hunters to kill elk outside of Montana’s regular elk season is unfair to regular Montana hunters.

“They ought to buy tags just like everybody else has to buy tags,” Hoppe said.

A Nez Perce Tribe wildlife official declined to comment, directing questions to the tribe’s executive committee. A committee member could not be reached before deadline.

Hunters licensed through the state and five separate tribal nations hunt bison in the Gardiner basin each year as the animals migrate out of Yellowstone National Park. It’s part of an effort to reduce the number of bison in the park, and it’s used alongside the capture-for-slaughter operations. Prior to this year’s hunt and cull, biologists estimated there were about 5,500 bison in the park. Thanks in part to a large migration, hunters have now taken more than 400 bison.

The five tribal nations hunt there based on rights granted in treaties signed with the U.S. government more than a century ago. These hunters adhere to their tribal government’s hunting seasons and regulations, and aren’t licensed through the state. The five tribes are the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Yakama Nation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

Reports of hunters killing elk instead of bison also surfaced last year, when fewer bison migrated out of the park. Then, too, people pointed the finger at the Nez Perce Tribe.

The hunting of elk near Gardiner has been a touchy subject in recent years. Elk that live there move between Yellowstone and Montana. A count of elk there in the mid-1990s found 19,000. Now, there are about 5,300, and hunting opportunities are more limited than they once were for hunters licensed through the state.

Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said that while the state agency works with tribal officials on a number of law enforcement issues — trespassing, driving off the road — they can’t tell tribal hunters not to hunt elk.

“The state of Montana has no authority over the rights of tribal governments to take wildlife negotiated under treaties with the U.S. government,” Jones said.

She said the real issue, though, isn’t whether they have the right to hunt.

“This is about how a sovereign nation is exercising those rights,” she said.

She said some hunters have been cited for trespassing and driving off the road. But the agency also has ethical concerns unenforceable by law, like how wounded animals are treated, wasted game meat left in the field and relations between hunters and landowners.

State and tribal officials have a conference call each week about hunting in the area, and Jones said the state has raised their concerns to the tribal governments.

“We’ve expressed our concern about that,” she said. “There has not been much change occurring.”

Some have also criticized the way hunters have been killing bison. Bison hunting happens on small pieces of land near the park border, and some have complained of multiple hunters shooting at once and then leaving behind gut piles. Recently, the advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign posted photos online showing a group of teenagers stabbing a wounded bison as it writhed on the ground.

17 thoughts on “Tribal hunters have taken roughly 25 elk near Yellowstone: A group of teenagers seen stabbing wounded bison as it writhed on the ground

  1. I was just writing on this incident when your e-mail came in! I’ll just post what I had written.

    In an article on tribal hunting in Yellowstone, Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks expressed ethical concerns, unenforceable by law, like how some of the bison are hunted and how the wounded animals are treated.

    Buffalo Field Campaign has graphically described how one unfortunate injured bison was treated by a group of teens:

    “The teenagers came down to the suffering bull with knives in their hands and immediately proceeded to stab him in the neck. The bull immediately jumped to his knees and everyone scattered. The bull fell down, but was actively moving its legs and head. The teenagers once again proceeded to stab him in the neck several more times.

    “He fought for his life as they stabbed him, raising his legs and hindquarters toward the sky in a desperate attempt to get away from his attackers. The three of us are incredibly distraught at having to witness such a horrendous scene. I am certain that we will never forget the experience.

    “These two magnificent bulls had spent their lives living within Yellowstone. They lived their lives grazing and strolling along the rivers and roads of the park. They had become immune to vehicles and people. They lacked a fear mechanism that would allow them to avoid or defend themselves from such a brutal attack. When these two magnificent bison migrated across the park boundary, they were just strolling along a road and grazing like they always did. Hunters then pulled-up in a truck and shot them from a few yards away. This murder continued with the brutal stabbing and final slaughter of one of them. There is no skill to this type of “hunting,” which is really nothing more than a slaughter.

    “Witnessing this brutality makes me wonder how many other bison have succumbed to a similar death.”

    The description of that poor bison’s death, of course, begs the question, “What kind of people could indulge in such savagery, such brutality on an already suffering animal?”

    We know the answer. No matter what religion, what race, what class–they are ignorant and savage specimens of humanity. Their presence on this earth is not worth the damage they do.

    • Here is how I see it, native tribes are pissed off at the recent events with the pipeline. So they get even with the bad white people by stabbing to death innocent animals. They are the same shit as all the other groups in this country who have been using innocent animals to get even with each other. They are all the same shit!
      The white hunter, the red hunter the democrat the republican, they are all the same shit! They are all use innocent animals to get even with each other. If I could I would spit in all of their ugly faces!

      • I don’t think these kids stabbing the poor bull bison are from the same tribe as the people who were protesting the pipeline. This was just a crazed act of depraved cruelty for it’s own sake.

        The motive?: Insane, depraved human cruelty taken out on an innocent, intelligent bison.

      • They don’t have to be of the same tribe to have the mentality of us vs them. All they need is to think they are from a tribe that is not European and they want to show the European ‘invaders’ their ancestral right by stabbing a poor innocent animal to death.

  2. Prepare for more of this type of behavior as ‘sportsmen’ manage to get the “Right to Fish & Hunt” written into state constitutions. “Go to hell officer! It’s my constitutional right to kill elk calves with a club.”

    • I agree, and I think it’s getting worse. Maybe with Trump they think they will have allies in the White House and the Cabinet. But I also suspect they are reacting to the growing numbers of people who object to hunting and trapping, killing contests, etc. They want to make sure they win the battle and that the “bunny huggers” and animals lose.

  3. Well said, Ahimsaforever. What kind of person would do this, indeed? All I can say is that there are demons among us, soul-less beings who do nothing but tear down the world. The expressions on these young men’s faces show that they are giddy and gleeful. I feel like vomiting.

  4. The world is a different place than it was centuries ago – we’ve fucked up the continent so badly that there isn’t enough wildlife around for ‘traditional hunting’. Noone of any ethnic background should be hunting in Yellowstone at all – nothing is sacred anymore.

    • I don’t believe there should be hunting or trapping in Yellowstone or any park or “refuge.” The hunters/trappers and gun groups demand access and the right to kill everywhere. It’s a travesty.

    • As long as there have been and will be human beings on this earth, the animals will pay with their lives. That is our unfortunate legacy to the planet.

  5. Permitting hunting outside of Yellowstone is nothing more than permitting an open air slaughterhouse. Animals never die a quick death; that’s only the stuff of movies. It’s more than sad but instead horrific that humans do this to innocent animals excusing their blood soaked behavior on tribal or perceived constitutional rights.

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