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NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION COMMENTS ON SEN. JACK METCALF PUBLIC HEARING

 NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION
 COMMENTS ON SEN. JACK METCALF PUBLIC HEARING
 OLYMPIA, Wash., March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) in response to a public hearing called by Washington State Sen. Jack Metcalf, chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The hearing ostensibly was called to look into an allegation of illegal hunting by treaty Indians, NWIFC said.
 State Sen. Jack Metcalf and the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee he chairs have thrown away an opportunity to enact tough new anti-poaching laws, tribal leaders said today.
 While the clock ticks away the final hours of the 1992 Legislature, Metcalf and other committee members instead are wasting the taxpayers' money and time holding "kangaroo court" hearings, designed to give Metcalf maximum visibility as a gubernatorial candidate, and to embarrass Washington State Department of Wildlife Director Curt Smitch.
 The two bills that Metcalf's committee failed to act on include HB 2534, which would have enabled Washington to join an interstate group tracking poachers; and HB 2535, which would have imposed felony penalties for conviction of poaching steelhead and other wildlife. The bills had passed the House 90 to one and 96 to zero, respectively.
 "Jack Metcalf seems to believe it is more important to continue to harangue the tribes, Curt Smitch and Department of Wildlife staff and to grandstand for the benefit of potential voters than to try to address the real wildlife issues that must be resolved," said Bill Frank, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
 Tribal leaders view Metcalf's actions as antagonistic to effective wildlife management, as well as state-tribal relations, said Frank.
 The tribes, in cooperation with the state, have developed sophisticated systems for regulating hunting by tribal members. Each tribe develops its own hunting ordinances and regulations. In addition, the Intertribal Hunting Committee helps to coordinate policies among participating tribes.
 Like the population in general, only a small percentage of tribal members hunt, and of that number, not all are successful in harvesting game. Western Washington tribal hunters comprise less than one percent of the total number of hunters in the state, and harvest less than one percent of the total harvestable deer and elk populations. Non-Indians are responsible for most of the poaching in the state.
 "It's unfortunate that Jack has taken this direction at a time when the state and tribes need to continue to build on the progress we've made," said Frank. "The failure of these two anti-poaching bills just makes everyone's job a little tougher."
 -0- 3/11/92
 /CONTACT: Stephen Lee Robinson of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, 206-438-1180/ CO: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission ST: Washington IN: SU:


LM-JH -- SE009 -- 7576 03/11/92 19:27 EST
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Date:Mar 11, 1992
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