RICHLAND, Wash. – A plan to allow elk hunting on the Hanford Reach National Monument is getting mixed reviews from Northwest tribes. The highly-protected area in southeast Washington used to be part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and much of it has been long closed to the public. Correspondent Anna King reports.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s elk hunting plan calls for killing about half the herd to bring it down to 350 animals. The aim is to protect fragile sagebrush wildlands. Skilled hunters would be given permits for elk cows only, and be trained on how to not damage historical tribal sites. The area has long been considered sacred to many Northwest tribes. Harry Smiskin is the chairman for the Yakama tribes. He says the protection of cultural sites there is very important to Yakama members.
Harry Smiskin: “‘Cause it’s their legacy, it’s their history, it’s their forefathers that were in that area. We would hope that our non-Indian hunters would also exercise that same type of discretion and not harm those sites.”
But the tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in northeast Oregon say they haven’t been consulted and have a lot of concerns about hunts on the Hanford Reach. They consider this area part of their traditional hunting and gathering range and are currently consulting with their legal team.
I’m Anna King in Richland.
Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio
On the web:
The draft Hanford Reach National Monument hunt plan may be viewed at http://www.fws.gov/hanfordreach/management.html and paper copies may be obtained by calling 509-546-8300.