PUBLIC LANDS -- Internet chat rooms were buzzing today with charges that the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe was given access to otherwise closed state lands in Western Washington in order to harvest black bears.
Officially unconfirmed reports say tribal members were hunting with hounds and/or bait -- means that are illegal in Washington without the approval of the Legislature.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bryan Flint said the agency's Olympia headquarters was alerted to the issue just today. At 5:10 p.m., he said he still didn't have enough details to address the controversy beyond the following statement (which doesn't confirm or deny much, but seems to indicate that somebody's headed for the wood shed):
"DNR does not issuing permits for a bear hunt. That's not our role or jurisdiction.
"We don’t have a policy of giving access to tribes that others don’t have.
"It has come to our attention that the Muckleshoot Tribe was given keys by the South Puget Sound Region (officials) to gated (DNR) land in the Green River watershed for puroposes of wildlife management. We are investigating to find out how this happened and why.
"(Headquarters staff) has no knowledge of what activities took place."