By Jonathan Brunt, Tom Sowa
The vice chairman of the Spokane Tribe of Indians poached two bison north of Yellowstone National Park in February and lied about his identity to officers investigating the hunt, court records show.
Rodney W. Abrahamson, 41, was cited for poaching and obstructing while hunting with members of the Nez Perce Tribe near Gardiner, Mont. He was fined nearly $3,500. Abrahamson’s cousin also was cited on a poaching charge during the hunt.
The Nez Perce Tribe holds an annual bison hunt outside the national park where the animals are protected. Nez Perce members have hunting rights that are protected by an 1855 treaty.
But Abrahamson is not a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Spokane Tribe does not have bison hunting rights in Montana, said Sam Sheppard, who oversees enforcement of bison hunting as the warden captain in southwest Montana for the state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. Sheppard said he learned during the investigation that Abrahamson is married to a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.
Attempts made to reach Abrahamson, vice chairman of the Spokane Tribal Business Council, and Chairman Rudy Peone were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday. The business council is the elected government representing the tribe.
Sheppard said tribal agencies work closely with the state to ensure a “safe and ethical hunt.” Tribal hunters understand that they must have tribe-issued identification to take part in bison hunts, he said.
“This was a very serious violation,” he said.
Tribal Councilman Greg Abrahamson, a former tribal chairman and a distant cousin of Rodney Abrahamson, said he heard rumors about the hunting incident but that he could not comment on it because he had no official information about the case.
On Feb. 21, two Montana wildlife officers came upon a group of hunters in the Eagle Creek area near Gardiner, Sheppard said. More....