4. Hunting and Fishing

Habitat co-management plans for wildlife and fishery resources are attractive to the federal government, state governments, and some tribes in order to better protect the animal resources Indians and non-Indians enjoy. These agreements pose certain risks to both parties and raise nettlesome issues for tribes. In many cases, intergovernmental agreements can cut through the knot of confusing jurisdictions and reduce waste in the management of game and fish resources for the benefit of all parties. Intergovernmental agreements also can provide tribal members with better access to traditional hunting and fishing areas, including off-reservation sites, and can help tribes protect reservation areas from non-Indian sportsmen. Given the ongoing debate regarding which entity has management authority over wildlife resources, state-tribal agreements may best meet the needs and rights of multiple user groups. This trend will accelerate as the successes of recent cooperative efforts become more apparent to stakeholders.

The most comprehensive compact relating to fisheries resources is the Columbia River Compact, developed in the wake of the Boldt decisions, comprising the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the various tribes that have developed substantial fisheries. This compact ensures tribal participation in decisions that may affect their fisheries while providing an institutional mechanism for the coordination of recovery and resource management plans and the sharing of tribal expertise.

Promoted by Governor Gary Locke through the Office of Indian Affairs, the State of Washington signed a series of agreements with tribes relating to both subsistence hunting and fishing as well as recreational fishing and hunting licenses. The agreements were a product of the 1999 Centennial Accords implementation plan that institutionalized a government-to-government relationship between tribes and the state. The parties to the agreements include the Departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and various tribes across the state.

An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report describes cooperative agreements and efforts ranging from hydropower licensing to access to game for ceremonial purposes, with many other cooperative efforts in between. Arizona has signed seventeen separate agreements with eight tribes relating to game and fisheries management, ranging from hunting permits to turkey capture and relocation programs, and from predator management to wildlife law enforcement.