As part of Tribal Day at the Nevada Legislature, Native Americans are letting lawmakers know they are against the bear hunt.
Dozens showed up at the legislative building in support of Senate Bill 82.
They say the bear is sacred and that the hunt violates their rights.
Burning sage for cleansing and protection, the group performed a Round Dance.
“It’s a language of the heart,” Miwok Tribe member Razzle Dazzle said. “It’s a prayer. What it is is a vision. Many people got these songs, before, in visions.”
If approved, the bill would put an end to the hunting of black bears in Nevada.
Raquel Arthur is the president of the American Indian Movement of Northern Nevada.
She says they will continue to fight, regardless of the outcome.
“It’s important because Native Americans do not want the bears killed, based on ceremonies and the bear being sacred to us Native Americans,” Arthur said.
“The bear is, to a lot of people, is courage,” Razzle Dazzle said. “But if you understand spirituality, sometimes that bear kind of guides you.”
They say the hunt also raises safety concerns for Nevada tribes.
The hunt happens when many are gathering pine nuts in some of the hunting areas.
Nevada has had a legal bear hunt for the last two years.
Chris Healy is with the Department of Wildlife and says the hunt was allowed after studies showed the bear population was large enough.
“We will get asked that question, periodically, as we do with every game animal,” Healy said. “Can it sustain a hunt and the answer is yes. The population can sustain a bear hunt.”
20 bears can be killed each season.
A total of 25 have been taken in the first two years.
Only one of those had previously been handled by NDOW.
“That actually tells us that we probably have more bears than we thought, at the beginning of this process,” Healy said. “So, we stand open to answer any questions that the legislature may have.”
The bill will be discussed in the Natural Resources Committee in the months ahead.
Senators say they will listen to all sides of the argument.
“I think you’ve got to weigh them equally,” Senator James Settelmeyer said. “We have to figure out if there are too many numbers of bears out there or not. You have to look at that type of data because, like any natural resource, we need to manage it.”Written by Paul Nelson