FWS to announce grizzly delisting this June, attempts to dupe Tribal Nations?
“We can apply Chief Red Cloud’s response to that duplicity in 1866 to this situation now," R. Bear Stands Last.
GOAL Tribal Coalition has learned that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) long expected announcement to issue a new rule to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from the Yellowstone grizzly bear will be made in June. The news coincided with FWS’s Mountain-Prairie Region office’s offer to the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council to hold “three consultation meetings.”
According to the letter, written by FWS Deputy Regional Director John Bryan, the proposed meetings would cover “broad areas were [sic] Tribes have expressed interest in this issue.”
The Tribal Nations that comprise the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council were asked to submit “location and venue suggestions for the three consultation meetings” by March 6.
Rather than recognizing that such meetings are merely the start of the mandated process, FWS appears to be attempting to subvert existing protocols and present these three proposed meetings as the consultation process in its entirety, which, Bryan states, FWS wants concluded by “early spring.”
It is clear why FWS wants such a compressed time frame, because it has already made the decision to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear regardless of tribal opposition and input.
“Please accept this letter as our advance notice of intent to review the endangered species status of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) in the Greater Yellowstone Area,” confirms Bryan.
Deputy Director Bryan’s letter contradicts FWS grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen’s recent media claims that FWS had already “done what we are required to do” in respect to consultation with tribes over delisting.
Even if the three meetings proposed by Bryan were not simply designed to enable FWS to claim that it has undertaken a consultation process with the tribes, three “broad area” meetings do not constitute the thorough tribal consultation process required by executive orders and acts of Congress.
Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council Executive Director, Cheryl Belcourt, acknowledged that Bryan’s requested target date for the meetings was unrealistic.
“We’re stepping back to 1866,” says GOAL Co-founder, R. Bear Stands Last.
“When the government opened negotiations with the tribes back then over the Powder River Country and the Bozeman Trail, it had already dispatched the military to seize it,” he explains.
“We can apply Chief Red Cloud’s response to that duplicity then to this situation now: ‘The White Father sends his people out to ask if we’ll sell the road, and yet he sends his soldiers here to steal the road before we’ve said yes or no,’” Bear Stands Last continues.
“I would remind FWS’s Chris Servheen that he is not the White Father, regardless of how much he may like playing the role, and also remind him that a tribal coalition won the day in 1866 as well.”
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