As the federal government prepares to announce its decision to remove protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes has signed onto a treaty opposed to removing the iconic species from the Endangered Species Act list.
The local tribes signed the treaty on Oct. 18. Initiated by the Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the so-called grizzly treaty rejects post-delisting trophy hunting of the grizzly. Elected and traditional leaders of the Eastern Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and Northern Arapaho – the three tribes with seats on Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee-Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee — have all signed the treaty. All three tribes have previously issued or been party to resolutions opposing the delisting of the grizzly bear.
“The CSKT is in agreement with the aspirations and goals of the Grizzly Treaty particularly regarding the reverence that tribes have for the grizzly bear, and the spiritual, cultural and ceremonial role the grizzly plays in the life and history of each signatory tribe,” stated CSKT Chairman Vernon Finley.
The Obama administration is seeking to lift protections under the Endangered Species Act for more than 700 grizzlies around Yellowstone National Park, saying that specific population has sufficiently recovered in a 19,279-square-mile area spanning southwestern Montana and parts of Wyoming and Idaho. On the heels of the proposal, Montana has prepared for state management of the species by crafting guidelines and details of a possible limited hunting season, similar to how wolves are now managed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce its decision to strip federal protections for grizzlies near Yellowstone National Park in the coming weeks or months. The agency received more than 278,000 public comments during the scoping period.