Thursday, May 17, 2012

Montana tribes seeking more input at National Bison Range

Tribes are being included more and more in roles within the Department of Interior.

The buffalo at the National Bison Range are hybrids: descendants of those crossed with European cattle breeds.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have sought more active participation rather than just through an annual funding agreement. The US Fish and Wildlife Service wants an environmental impact assessment before proceeding; that proviso shot down the last agreement in 2010.

Vince Devlin brought readers of the Missoulian up to speed:
That agreement “relied on a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) document from 2004 that the judge determined was not adequate,” said Dean Rundle, the Moiese refuge’s manager. “This is based on that ruling.” It will give interested parties the opportunity to comment on the draft funding agreement, first in a scoping period Rundle said is designed to identify “issues, problems and missed opportunities” that can be more easily addressed before a formal public comment period. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which filed the lawsuit that got the last agreement thrown out and has long fought any tribal involvement at the Bison Range, indicated it would again oppose a funding agreement.
The comments in the Missoulian story thinly veil the predominant prejudice implied in a deeper tribal role.

Dismissing those and approaching this on a strictly environmental tack, this interested party believes that enhanced tribal involvement should be tied to a future where genetic purity in NBR animals becomes such that they could join in broader rewilding efforts, especially after a judge blocked transfer of Plains Bison to reservations at the behest of entitled invasive species producers.