Friday, March 23, 2012 | 6:32 p.m.
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 at a Washoe County wildlife advisory board meeting last week by its chairman, Rex Flowers.
Flowers told the group of about eight Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone tribal members 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 also was personally insulted by being addressed as "sir" at the meeting, she said.
"We were offended. It was racist, pure and simple," Arthur said.
Flowers declined to comment Friday.
Opponents of the state's bear hunt called Gov. Brian Sandoval's office to complain about the remarks.
"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 is expected to act on the proposal Saturday.
"We believe bears are sacred," Arthur said, adding 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 that ended Dec. 31.