Did anyone else see this? I picked up the link from a tribal web site. What is concerning is that they say the state is also doing this in other areas as well, so even if your area is not on the coast, it does not mean increased tribal hunting will not occur.
For Immediate Release—October 18, 2019
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Proposing Unlawful Expansion of Hunting
Areas for Some Tribes in Unwritten Side Agreements
Department Determined in 2015 Those Tribes Had No Evidence of Treaty-Based Hunting
Rights in the Expanded Areas
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering entering into unwritten
agreements granting expanded hunting areas for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Port
Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (the “Klallam Tribes”). The tacit
agreements would allow the Klallam Tribes to hunt without a state license in certain Game
Management Units on the Olympic Peninsula even though WDFW determined in 2015 that those
tribes had presented no evidence of treaty hunting rights in the GMUs. WDFW is proceeding
with this approach despite strong objections by the adversely affected tribes. It is apparently
planning to take similar actions in other areas of the state.
WDFW has been down this road before, and it did not end well.
In 2013, WDFW secretly entered into two written agreements that allowed the Klallam Tribes to
hunt in the Sol Duc, Dickey, and Pysht GMUs. The Department did not provide advance notice
to sport hunters, the public, or the tribes native to those areas, and with treaty hunting rights in
them—the Quileute Tribe, Hoh Tribe, and the Quinault Indian Nation. Those tribes all signed the
same treaty, which allows them to keep hunting in their aboriginal areas between Cape Alava
and Westport, extending east to the Olympic Mountains. The Department did not inform the
affected tribes about the secret agreements with the Klallam Tribes until after those tribes
independently discovered the agreements.
The earlier agreements violated Washington Supreme Court precedent. Under State v. Buchanan
(1999), a full review of evidence and proof of treaty rights must be established before such
hunting can be permitted. Instead, WDFW’s agreements with the Klallam Tribes in 2013 only
required a promise to submit their evidence to the Department months after the agreements
After discovering the secret agreements, the Quileute Tribe and numerous other tribes, sports
hunters, and other concerned citizens called and wrote to the Department expressing their
outrage. Due in part to this public backlash, the Department finally required the Klallam Tribes
to submit evidence. The Department also allowed affected tribes to review and respond to the
Klallam Tribes’ claims. However, before it reviewed the evidence or made its determination
regarding the Klallam Tribes’ rights in the area, WDFW allowed the Klallam Tribes to deplete
game in the three GMUs, without requiring them to help manage game populations or address
In 2015, the Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that the evidence did not support
Klallams’ claim for hunting rights in these GMUs. Specifically, the Department’s own expert
anthropologist determined that “none of the information [provided by the S’Klallam] provides
evidence of S’Klallam aboriginal hunting in those GMU locations.” This conclusion was
reiterated several times in two written reports the Department sent to tribes. Two other expert
anthropologists for the Quileute and Quinault tribes reached the same conclusion. In the face of
this evidence, the Department finally withdrew its approval for Klallam Tribes to hunt there.