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Conservation Groups: Tribal Nations Should be Partners in Wolf Management


Friday, November 26, 2021   

HELENA, Mont. -- To honor the Biden administration's steps toward greater ties with tribal nations, conservation groups are calling on it to list the gray wolf as an endangered species again.

More than 60 groups want the federal government to manage the species alongside tribal nations.

The gray wolf was delisted during the Trump administration.

Rain, author of "The Wolf Treaty" and director of the film "Family," which explores the ancient connection between human beings and wolves, said the delisting under President Donald Trump was illegal because the administration did not consult tribal nations.

"People need to understand that government-to-government consultation from federal agencies to tribes is not optional. It is mandated. It is the law," Rain asserted.

Rain is concerned President Joe Biden's nominee to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Martha Williams -- who served as head of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks until 2020 -- has not recognized the requirement as fact. The Trump administration argued protections were no longer needed because gray wolves have successfully recovered.

Last week, the Biden administration held the White House Tribal Nations Summit for the first time since 2016. At the meeting, Biden released a memorandum of understanding on Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Federal Decision-Making.

Rain pointed out the administration can look to "The Wolf Treaty" as an embodiment of this knowledge. It has been signed by more than 700 tribal and first nations in both the U.S. and Canada.

"'The Wolf Treaty' has been described as a blueprint for 21st-century wolf management, and 'The Wolf Treaty' itself is heavily based upon indigenous traditional ecological knowledge," Rain added.

In Montana, new wolf-hunting regulations could reduce the wolf population by 85%. There are about 1,200 gray wolves in Montana, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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