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After pressure from MN DNR, Grand Portage Band drops moose hunt

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The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has announced it will not hold its planned moose hunt this fall, avoiding an arbitration process with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the band in August had announced it would issue 21 permits for a bulls-only moose hunt Oct. 5-20 on lands in the ceded territory covered by an 1854 treaty.

The DNR opposed the band’s plans for the hunt based on an agreement between the state and the 1854 Treaty Authority, which represents both the Grand Portage and Bois Forte bands, according to the Duluth paper.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, the move underscores tensions between the state and some Indian bands over moose hunting and declining population.

Since DNR officials cancelled the state's moose hunt in February -- citing a declining moose population -- three Indian bands in northeast Minnesota have debated whether to proceed with their more limited tribal hunts. Last month, the Grand Portage band, in the far northeast tip of the state, decided to move ahead with a hunt this October, reports MPR.

The Duluth paper also says that under a court-approved agreement between the DNR and the treaty authority, the bands may not hold a big-game hunting season for which no corresponding state hunting season is being held.

Minnesota's moose population has been on a long-term decline and fell 35 percent from 2012 to an estimated 2,760 in the DNR's survey this past winter, according to the Associated Press.

The state pays the Grand Portage and Bois Forte bands each year to limit their exercise of some treaty rights, says the News Tribune. The Bois Forte Band has opted not to hold a moose season. During fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, the DNR paid $2.68 million each to the two bands.

The Fond du Lac Band still plans to hold a moose hunt this fall on lands covered by 1854 and 1837 treaties. The tribe will offer its members 77 permits for a maximum of 25 bull moose.

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