Tribal leaders want to see grizzly bears left on endangered list
Published April 21, 2018
FORT HALL INDIAN RESERVATON — On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, the Idaho Fish & Game met with the public in Idaho Falls, Idaho to gain input on the proposed grizzly bear hunt. Fish & Game states the bear population in the Yellowstone area has nearly tripled since the 1970’s and currently there is around 718 bears. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is a Treaty Tribe under the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 and stand strong against the opposition of the states proposed trophy hunt and issued a written declaration on November 4, 2014 opposing the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) intention to move forward with a new rule to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Fort Hall Business CouncilChairman Small states: “No grizzly bears will ever be hunted on Shoshone-Bannock lands, and my Tribe will oppose any attempts to hunt grizzlies in our recognized ancestral homelands.” In the declaration, signed by the Fort Hall Business Council, not only renounces the federal government’s desire to delist the grizzly bear but also is unambiguous in rejecting Idaho Fish and Game’s proposed trophy hunts.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s, the Grizzly Bear status is still in question in regards to legal review of the Distinct Population segment of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes. Whereas the management plan allows for discretionary mortalities, Idaho has 1.4 males and .2 females to harvest. The Grizzly Bear has little to no room for dispersal onto the landscape and migration from any ecosystem to the Yellowstone ecosystem is minimal and not very well protected. The Tribes advocate against trophy hunting and harvesting at this time, which is premature to the status of the Grizzly Bear.
It is undeniable that the grizzly bear holds a unique position in the Tribes traditional culture and ceremonial life-ways. “The Tribes consider the Grizzly Bear to be a brother/uncle to our people and there are ceremonies and songs for this animal. We hold the Grizzly Bear in high regard and harvesting of this animal will affect our Tribe and all other Tribes as well,” says Lee Juan Tyler, councilmember of the Fort Hall Business Council.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ connection to the landscape now known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where the grizzly now survives on less than 2% of its historic range, has existed from time immemorial.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes participate in the Yellowstone Grizzly Coordinating Committee (YGCC), which is a joint federal, state and tribal cross-jurisdictional committee. The Tribes participate in the YGCC meetings and according to Leander “Little Bear” Watson, Tribal member and Big Game Biologist, he states, “Of the 3 states only Idaho and Wyoming will be pursuing harvesting grizzly bear for the 2018-2019 hunting season according to information we received at the last YGCC meeting.”
In October of 2016, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes signed an inter-tribal treaty opposing the grizzly delisting whereas Tribal leaders throughout North America and Canada gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to discuss and sign the treaty. The treaty is one of three treaties that have united Tribes from United States and Canada; the other two treaties deal with bison and the Dakota Access Pipeline.