LRB and State of Michigan Enter into Agreement re: Authority of Tribal COs

From the Ludington Daily News:

Any confusion over whether tribal conservation officers have the right to stop state-licensed hunters has been removed.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the State of Michigan have entered into an agreement that satisfies a provision in the 2007 Inland Consent Decree regarding enforcement of conservation regulations, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The issue came to light locally when Ed Haik, a retired Manistee County sheriff and the deputy chair of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners, noted that there was no legal mechanism for tribal conservation officers to stop state-licensed hunters or anglers. Last month, the county board sent a letter to Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposing any cross-deputization measures and asking for a public hearing on the issue.

The agreement, according to a press release from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, allows LRBOI tribal natural resources enforcement officers to receive limited appointments from the state that will assist tribal officers in enforcing the tribe’s inland hunting and fishing regulations under the 1836 treaty.

The limited appointments will not confer general state peace officer authority, but will authorize tribal officers to enforce a provision in state law that requires hunters and anglers to display a hunting or fishing license and picture identification upon the request of a law enforcement officer. This will allow the tribal officer to determine if the hunter or angler is a tribal member subject to tribal regulations. Violations of state law by non-tribal members will be prosecuted in state court.

The agreement also allows Michigan conservation officers to enforce tribal regulations when tribal members are hunting and fishing on non-tribal lands. Violations of tribal regulations by tribal members will be prosecuted in tribal court.

“This is an important agreement supporting tribal sovereignty and implementation of tribal treaty rights in the 1836 ceded territory,” the press release states. “This agreement also represents a major step forward in inter-agency cooperation for the betterment of all citizens and protection of the environment that we all share.”