Public Comment Submission to
Gov. Bullock and Montana FWP
"Governor Steve Bullock with tribal leaders at the Indian Days Powwow, July 2015.
From GOAL's submission, this outlines the tribes' alternative plan to trophy hunting the sacred grizzly:
"On November 6, 2015 GOAL Tribal Coalition leaders met with USFWS Director Dan Ashe and Assistant Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor at the Interior Department in Washington, DC (see attachment). On behalf of Tribal Nations in the coalition opposing the delisting and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), we presented an alternative course of action to instituting trophy hunting seasons on the grizzly, if, as speculated, but as yet unproven, the GYE was at “carrying capacity” and the population needed to managed more aggressively to keep the numbers within the very conservative parameters proposed in the rule. Instead of trophy hunting the grizzly, Tribal Nations wish to see grizzlies transplanted from the GYE to sovereign tribal lands in the grizzly’s historic range where biologically suitable habitat exists. The same quota of grizzlies that would be hunted per season could easily be trapped and relocated, removing any possible rationalization for re-instituting trophy hunts.
This plan provides for cultural and environmental revitalization for Tribal Nations, as the grizzly is sacred to a multitude of tribes. Both the physical and cultural environments of tribes have been incomplete since the federal, and respective state governments, eradicated the grizzly from their lands. As outlined by the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council and in numerous individual tribal resolutions, returning the grizzly bear to Tribal Nations will also provide great economic potential to communities most at need for economic impetus and investment. Several Tribal Nations are already working on eco-tourism plans centered upon grizzly re-introduction, initiatives that were recently supported by President William J. Clinton on his recent visit to Billings, Montana. If MFWP opens trophy hunting seasons on the grizzly bear, the State of Montana will not only be killing the sacred bear, but economic and cultural revitalization for tribes in Montana, and across the western United States. In the aforementioned meeting of 11/6/15, USFWS Director Ashe committed to opening a dialogue on this proposal, which so far has not occurred. Director Ashe followed this verbal commitment with a written one, stating in an email of 11/8/15: “I look forward to working with you in the days ahead. Thank you for your care and concern for nature, especially the Great Bear!” It is, therefore, entirely inconsistent, and quite simply an infringement of the federal trust responsibility by a state, for Montana to proceed with finalizing a hunting season for the grizzly before this dialogue between Tribal Nations and the federal government is complete.
If, as MFWP claims, the most likely scenario in Montana will be for “between 10 and zero” grizzlies to be trophy killed per year, with often “only 3” (as stated by MFWP representatives in public meetings, a determination that is frankly absurd and impossible to make at this juncture), Governor Bullock, Sir, you must answer why you are choosing to favor what will allegedly be fewer than “10” trophy hunters per year over all of Montana’s Tribal Nations, and Tribal Nations from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, that will benefit economically, vocationally, environmentally, and culturally from the tribal grizzly reintroduction program that was proposed to Director Ashe? Not only are you favoring a tiny minority of Montana’s population, as fewer than 14% of Montanans identify as “sport hunters," and of those fewer than 5% identify as trophy hunters, you are doing so at the cost of the region’s original inhabitants, those who can rightfully claim to be 54th generation Montanans and beyond.
While it is not surprising that Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke enthusiastically champions the delisting and trophy hunting of the Yellowstone grizzly, given that he is a trophy hunter and Safari Club International acolyte, it should be questioned why Montana Democratic Senator, John Tester is, apparently, favoring the vocal minority of white trophy hunters over all of Montana’s Tribal Nations as represented by the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council. The presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president, Secretary Hillary Clinton, supports tribal economic initiatives; former President Bill Clinton recently discussed such with the RMTLC, and GOAL Tribal Coalition – specifically the grizzly reintroduction and eco-tourism models – propositions that Senator Bernie Sanders has also supported. And yet, Governor Bullock, you, like Senator Tester, appear to favor a handful of trophy hunters and killing, over the perpetuation of tribal cultures, the very lifeblood of tribal survival. It should also be noted that the tribal reintroduction solution would provide a reasonable period of time during implementation that would allow for the continued, fully-funded monitoring of the Yellowstone grizzly, which would provide vital insights into the actual stability and future viability of the species, unsullied by political influence.
The tribal reintroduction plan fulfills the criteria of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which this proposed delisting, and state organized trophy hunting, does not."
CALL TO ACTION: Email Governor Bullock and ask him why he is suppressing this, and choosing to favor what MFWP alleges will be fewer than "10" trophy hunters per year over all of Montana's Tribal Nations, and Tribal Nations from the Great Plains to the Pacific Coast.
Governor Bullock can be reached here:
Click to read GOAL Tribal Coalition's Public Comment Submission to Gov. Bullock and Montana FWP