Native Americans join bear hunt fight
March 25, 2012
RENO – A group of Native Americans is joining the fight against Nevada’s black bear hunt and criticizing what they call a wildlife official’s racist remark about it.
The group complained about a comment made last week at a Washoe County wildlife advisory board meeting by the board chairman, Rex Flowers.
Flowers told the group of about eight Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone tribal members that he didn’t want to “hear of bows and arrows” because his panel was committed to the bear hunt, said Raquel Arthur, spokeswoman for the northern Nevada chapter of the American Indian Movement. Arthur said she also was personally insulted by being addressed as “sir” at themeeting.
“We were offended,” she said. “It was racist, pure and simple.”
Flowers declined to comment Friday.
Opponents of the state’s bear hunt called Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office to complain about the remarks.
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“The comments are not reflective of the governor’s position,” Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said Friday.
“If remarks like this were made, he believes they are offensive and have no place in public or private discourse, and Mr. Flowers owes an apology.”
Randal Massaro, spokesman for Union Members for the Preservation of Wildlife, said Flowers phoned this week and apologized for the remarks.
“He stated in no way did he ever mean to insult, degrade or disrespect Native Americans … and (he) would be more than happy to make a public apology to them and anyone else that took the (bow and arrow) comment the wrong way,” Massaro said.
Someone else made a comment that bears would be shot with AK-47 assault rifles, said Massaro, who helped coordinate Native American opposition to the bear hunt.
Friday’s hearing, held by state wildlife commissioners in Reno, was on a proposal to close portions of the Lake Tahoe Basin to bear hunters. The commission was expected to act on the proposal Saturday.
“We believe bears are sacred,” Arthur said.
, adding that her group thinks the state’s black bear population is insufficient to sustain a hunt.
Fourteen bears were killed during Nevada’s inaugural bear hunt, which ended Dec. 31.