This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed the Yellowstone area grizzly from the endangered species list, pronouncing it a success story. But several tribes including the Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Standing Rock Sioux and Blackfeet are suing over the decision. Ben Nuvamsa is a member of the Hopi Nation Bear Clan that’s also part of the lawsuit. He said, by law, the federal government should have consulted tribes before delisting the bear.
“They already have made decisions and then they come back and say, okay, now we’re consulting. Well, that’s not consulting,” said Nuvamsa. “We need to be talking about how we can co-manage, reintroduce the species in certain areas to where tribes are willing to do that.”
Nuvamsa said other species like the Mexican grey wolf and the Mexican spotted owl were both re-introduced successfully on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. He says the same should be done for the grizzly to make sure that it’s recovered over all of its original range, not just in Yellowstone. He said the Yellowstone grizzly lives in isolation from other populations of the species, but by allowing tribes to re-introduce the species on reservations, they could help bridge the islands of the grizzly’s habitat.
“Where are these species more persistent?” he asked. “On tribal lands because of the way we manage, because of our value system and how we regard species as very important and sacred.”
Several wildlife conservation groups are also suing over the decision.