Center for Biological Diversity's Executive Director Slams “SICKENINGLY COLONIALIST” Attitudes of States and Feds on Grizzly Delisting.
Contrary to the spin on its website about “respecting tribal partners” and its consultation claims that have been exposed by tribal leaders as false, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its grizzly delisting GOONS at Idaho Fish & Game and Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WGFD) are continuing with the Trump-esque tactics to not make – but keep – wildlife management in their own image. What began at last April’s meeting of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) in Cody, WY, when prior IGBC Chair and WGFD Wildlife Division Chief, Brian Nesvik, pulled the plug on Northern Cheyenne Tribal Government representative, James Walks Along, and manhandled him from the floor during a presentation on supposed tribal collaborations, now continues with IGBC spokesman, Gregg Losinski, of Idaho Fish and Game, asserting that tribes “don’t understand science” and that GOAL Tribal Coalition is a “problem” to the delisting agenda.
Between times, at the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) meeting of the IGBC (6/15), Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s appointee to the Directorship of WGFD, Scott Talbott, participated in a presentation which attorney Bethany Cotton described as “appalling” and “incredibly disrespectful” to the Tribal Nations opposed to delisting the grizzly from the ESA. With Losinski, Talbott alleged that tribal opposition to delisting the grizzly bear was “staged” and concurred with Losinski’s theory that environmentalists are manipulating tribes, and that tribal objections were being “orchestrated” by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). When subsequently asked to provide any evidence that they had to support their allegations, Losinski could not, and Talbott did not. It is easy to understand why – they have no evidence, as none exists.
“I was really shocked with their tone,” wrote Ms. Cotton, who noted that FWS Director Ashe’s “Grizzly Czar,” Chris Servheen, “just sat there and didn’t say a word.” Another observer, Brian Peck, asked why Servheen and other federal personnel did not challenge what he described as, “Wyoming’s ‘The Only Good Indian is a Silent Indian,’” attitude. Losinski continued with his power-point fiction at the IGBC’s fall meeting in Jackson, WY. The response of the Servheen-Talbott-Losinski axis was as predictable as it was ethnocentric. The same tactics are being employed by the enablers of Rio Tinto, the parent company of Resolution Copper, which is still fighting to lay waste to Oak Flat in Arizona, sacred land of the San Carlos Apache. “Anti-mining opponents have sunk to a new low by using members of the Apache tribe to further their misguided effort,” claimed Representative Paul Gosar, who accused “environmental extremist groups” of “orchestrating” Apache opposition to the mine.
The fight of the San Carlos Apache over Oak Flat is the fight of some fifty Tribal Nations over delisting the grizzly. It is culture, it is spirituality, it is sovereignty; it is that which makes the being of a human. If the Great Bear is stripped of its protections, the land here too will be rendered exposed, and she will be there for nothing more than the taking. Two million acres of grizzly habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) will be open to oil and gas development, with two-thirds of National Forest lands in the GYE then available for leasing. If mining wasn’t enough, over 70% of National Forest lands in the GYE could be opened to logging. The San Carlos Apache will not be the only people to suffer from contaminated aquifers and a landscape irrevocably slashed and burned. All of these activities require service by road, and grizzly bear deaths are five-times more likely to occur where roads exist, and approximately two-thirds of National Forest land in the GYE is open to road construction. Some scars will never heal. The federal government is aware that the twenty-six nations it categorizes as “Associated Tribes of Yellowstone” all have songs that were first heard here, but as Sitting Bull said of the government in 1876, “They have no ears.”
“Losinski and Talbott’s assertions are not only completely wrong, they are sickeningly colonialist. I’m truly shocked and disgusted,” wrote Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of apologizing to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe for disrespecting its sovereignty and culture, Wyoming and Idaho have ratcheted up the condescension by claiming that the tribe’s intervention was ‘orchestrated’ by environmental groups. How much disrespect do they expect the tribes to tolerate? Are they unable to see how condescending and colonialist their attitudes are?” he questioned in a CBD statement. “The IGBC is run by the Department of Interior which has a sacred and legal duty to respect and uphold tribal interests. On two occasions now it has sat by and done nothing. Its silence is complicity. Interior needs to immediately put the committee and the grizzly bear delisting on hold, meet with the tribes on their home ground, and ensure that Wyoming and Idaho are held accountable to the tribes’ satisfaction,” Suckling concluded.