DNR gathers input on a new bear management area for the Northwest Angle, Red Lake Tribal Council voices objections

The Minnesota DNR is proposing a new bear management area for the Northwest Angle, and the Red Lake Tribal Council has voiced its opposition.

The DNR held two public hearings last week to gather local input.

Nuisance bears in the area have been reported throughout last summer and fall, an issue exacerbated by the prolonged drought.

Wild chokecherries and blueberries were in short supply, so bears were drawn to acorns, especially on Flag and Oak Islands.

Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr., said in a letter addressed to DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen that the DNR has not yet consulted with the Band on this proposed plan.

Seki says the Band owns 80 percent of the land in the Northwest Angle, and the state-held parcels of land are only accessible by crossing tribal territory.

The Red Lake Nation prohibits the hunting of bears on tribal lands.

The makwa, or black bear, is one of the seven Clan animals and holds tremendous spiritual and cultural significance to the Band.

Red Lake’s Department of Natural Resources only allows seasonal deer, small game and waterfowl hunting within Northwest Angle tribal territories for nonmembers.

The Minnesota DNR currently has designated the Northwest Angle in Bear Management Unit 12, which includes areas in Lake of the Woods, Beltrami and Roseau Counties.

The proposed change would establish a separate BMU for the Northwest Angle, which the DNR says would allow for more flexibility with bag limits and more recreational opportunities.

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