A Nez Perce Tribe hunter had minor injuries when a bullet from a non-Native hunter ricocheted and struck Jackson Wak Wak as he dressed a bison he had shot near Yellowstone National Park, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Three agencies ruled the incident an accident but are continuing to investigate. No charges have been filed, according to the paper.
The incident occurred outside of the town of Gardiner, Montana, in Beattie Gulch, which is just northwest of the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
While there is no hunting in Yellowstone, bison roam outside park, and hunters are allowed to hunt them from Nov. 15-Feb. 15. There are strict requirements to hunt bison. The Nez Perce Tribe has treaty rights, and 85 non-Native hunters are awarded licenses, including 40 for the area in which Wak Wak was hunting.
Buffalo Field Campaign executive director Peter Holt said limited places to harvest bison have led to a greater concentration of hunters in the area, according to the Bozeman newspaper.
‘I am so relieved the treaty hunter was not severely injured or killed by this avoidable circumstance – this time,’ Holt said in a news release. ‘But wildlife officials were on record as early as 2017 warning that ‘the fear for injury or death to hunters is real’ due to the restrictions placed on hunting and migration by Montana’s Department of Livestock. It is now incumbent on all the federal agencies in the region to review and update their management plans to protect and restore buffalo, without regard to the wishes of Montana’s livestock industry.”
Bison outside of Yellowstone National Park are limited to a 400-square mile zone of public land to prevent the spread of brucellosis, a serious infectious disease, to livestock.