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The Quileute Tribe is located in La Push, Washington, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The Quileute Tribe has lived and hunted in this area for thousands of years. Although the village of La Push is only about one-square mile, the tribe’s original territory stretched along the shores of the Pacific from the glaciers of Mount Olympus to the rivers of rain forests. Much has changed since those times, but Quileute Elders remember “back in the days” When the “old people” dared challenge kwalla, the mighty whale, and recounted the story of how the bayak or raven placed the sun in the sky.
Because of the remote location of La Push, the Quileute have built a tourism industry that serves those seeking a relaxing getaway or a rejuvenating adventure. The tribe’s Oceanside Resort along First Beach offers ocean-view accommodations ranging from luxurious to rustic. Those who visit La Push come for whale watching in the spring; surfing, fishing, and hiking in the summer; and storm watching in the fall and winter.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife has secretly entered into two agreements that add three outsider tribes to the list of tribal hunters allowed to hunt in the Sol Duc, Dickey, and Pysht Game Management Units (GMUs) numbers 602, 607, and 603. The Department of Fish and Wildlife did not notify anyone that it was negotiating these agreements, including sport hunters, private commercial landowners who issue permits or lease out their land for hunting, and the tribe native to those areas, and with treaty rights to it— the Quileute Tribe.
The Quileute Tribe protested the agreements to Fish and Wildlife because the agreements do not follow the limitations that tribes are supposed to follow. Tribes are not currently allowed to hunt in all areas of the state, and must abide by the limitations of their treaties on where they can hunt. “We told the state that allowing outsiders to hunt in these GMUs would deplete the game, not only for the Tribe, but for everyone,” said Quileute Chairman Tony Foster. “The Tribes and the State are co-managers responsible for conserving the wildlife, and these agreements show a complete lack of respect and disregard for the co-management efforts that have been undertaken on the west side of the Peninsula. The Department completely failed to assess the implications that these agreements would have on the deer and elk populations, by adding potentially hundreds of new hunters to these GMUs.” Chairman Foster added that the flood of new hunters will exacerbate problems already plaguing deer and elk herds on west side of the Peninsula.
You’re probably not aware of these agreements because they were made in complete secrecy with no opportunity for public review. That’s right, there was no opportunity for your voice to be heard on this very important matter. Along with failing to allow for input from anyone besides the outsider tribes, the Department entered into the agreements without the signatory tribes providing any clear evidence that they have treaty rights to hunt in the new areas. State law requires that a full review of anthropological evidence be provided to the Department prior to entering into such agreements. Furthermore, not only were the agreements done in secrecy, they remain in secrecy and are not included on the WDFW public website.
These agreements need to be rescinded while affected parties, tribal and nontribal, have an opportunity to evaluate their legality and their impact to the game, and provide comments to WDFW. Sportsmen, the public and the Quileute Tribe should have their voices heard…….YOU should have your voice heard!
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