Clam Lake elk center of tribal feast

Clam Lake, Wis. — An elk that was harvested near Clam Lake by an Ojibwe tribal member Sept. 14 was served as part of a thanksgiving feast and ceremony on the Bad River Reservation last week, according to an official with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in Odanah.

The elk was shot with a rifle by a tribal elder from the Lac Courte Oreilles band, though a number of Ojibwe tribes were represented in the hunting party, according to Sue Erickson, GLIFWC public information office director.

“About 45 minutes after a ceremony, a young elk showed itself for a clean shot through the heart,” Erickson said.

She said the spike bull, estimated at 11⁄2 years old, weighed 182 pounds, dressed. Erickson said a photograph of the harvested elk was not made available to the media.

Erickson said the tribe received the harvest permit Sept. 13 from the Voigt Intertribal Task Force, and the small hunting party held a ceremony the morning prior to harvesting the elk.

“The tribes felt that one elk can be harvested without causing any biological impact on the herd,” Erickson said. “There is no indication if it will be an annual hunt. The elk feast included a very nice ceremony. It was a positive thing.”

The tribes’ decision to harvest an elk drew criticism from the Wisconsin DNR. State wildlife officials said they would consider a limited elk-hunting season once the herd reaches 200 animals. The herd was estimated at 180 animals in late August.

Kurt Thiede, DNR Division Administrator of Lands, said the department was informed the spike bull elk was harvested by members of the Chippewa tribes.

“Our position has not changed: We do not condone nor agree with how the Chippewa tribes unilaterally proceeded to carry out this harvest without consultation,” Thiede said.

“Their decision to proceed leaves us with deep concern and disappointment.”

Prior to the hunt, the department issued a letter to the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission noting the lack of consultation and communication on the proposed ceremonial elk harvest.

“This action is a setback for the state-tribal relationship and partnership on elk that has been steadily improving over the years,” Thiede said.

“We currently have no agreement on elk, and now with the tribes stepping outside of the agreed-upon stipulation process, it makes discussions on elk and a host of other issues more difficult. It is truly a lost opportunity to continue to demonstrate cooperation and shared purpose with the tribes now that they have carried out this hunt. Considering the potential safety concerns that we raised, we are pleased that the tribal harvest took place safely and without incident.”

The state DNR, UW-Stevens Point, and U.S. Forest Service coordinated the reintroduction of 25 elk in 1995 near Clam Lake in northwestern Wisconsin. As part of the Voigt decision, the tribes are entitled to half of the elk harvest in the ceded territory.

Some have said the harvesting of the elk by an Ojibwe member may be retaliation by the tribes because the state is planning its first modern-day wolf hunt to start Oct. 15.

Though the six Chippewa tribes have the right to 50 percent of the wolf permits, the wolf hunt has been condemned by tribal officials. They say the state’s wolf plan to reduce the wolf population from an estimated 880 animals to a population goal of 350 is reckless and unnecessary.

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