GIC Issues - Delisting Wolves
The Trump Administration continues its war on the environment, war on Indigenous cultures, and war on truth with its predictable but nonetheless terrible decision to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The gray wolf population in the contiguous US has no more recovered than the Trump Administration has the COVID-19 pandemic under control. We can add the gray wolf recovery claims to Trump’s “we’ve turned the corner” on coronavirus, and his twenty-thousand-plus other lies recorded by the Washington Post during his interminable reign.
The cynical timing of the gray wolf delisting announcement should not escape scrutiny, the wolf being Cony-Barretted to gin up Trump’s base across rural counties in the critical battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes is one of the few regions with anything close to a gray wolf population that pre-delisting held the potential for long term viability.
Any farmer or rancher in the region who thinks Trump cares about their wellbeing and future prosperity should remember that last year alone, the agricultural sector suffered record levels of debt. The USDA tallied some $416 billion in debt crippling US farmers and ranchers, with Chapter 12 bankruptcies rising by 24%. In the previous year, US exports of agricultural products decreased by a staggering 63%.
These are the facts of life for agricultural providers under Trump. Killing wolves isn’t going to feed any farmer’s family, and livestock conflicts are consistently exaggerated. For example, on the Wind River Indian Reservation in 2019, only one calf was lost due to wolves. Wolves have been present on that reservation since 2003.
Lest there be any confusion, tribal nations from Connecticut to California, including many Rocky Mountain, Great Lakes, and Great Plains tribes, have signed The Wolf: A Treaty of Cultural and Environmental Survival. The treaty provides a blueprint for wolf management and the restoration of the species, but as the Grizzly Treaty before, it has been ignored by Trump’s Department of the Interior.
The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, the Native Justice Coalition, the Oneida Nation – Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Global Indigenous Council were among the Indigenous nations and representative tribal organizations that submitted written resistance to this inevitable action.
At issue for tribes are questions of sovereignty, religious and spiritual freedoms, treaty rights, and the continued abrogation of the federal-Indian trust responsibility through Interior’s flagrant neglect of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in formulating management plans for endangered species that are not only foundational to traditional Indigenous beliefs, but are also resident on treaty lands. Many of these concerns were raised at the 2020 Ma’iingan Symposium with Great Lakes tribes hosted by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Instead, the fewer than six thousand wolves in the lower-48, are now subject to the not-so-tender mercies of Aurelia Skipwith, Trump’s Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), best-known for her work in the higher echelons of agrochemical multinational Monsanto, the company that poisoned your kids’ Cheerios and has laid waste to honey bees. Prior to her USFWS nomination, Skipwith was a Senior Advisor to the Westlands Water District that consistently sought to undermine the ESA. Like her boss, Trump’s Secretary of the Interior and veteran oil industry lobbyist, David Bernhardt, Skipwith has ties to extractive industry.
Bernhardt’s recently released Trump propaganda electioneering video portraying Trump as the preserver of “the awesome majesty of God’s great creation,” is not just another potential Hatch Act violation, it made Rudy Giuliani’s version of his Borat experience seem almost credible.
The gray wolf currently survives on less than 10 percent of its historic range in the contiguous US, fragmented and in isolated regional packs, and constrained by habitat loss from housing and industrial development. The gray wolf is already confronting a multitude of threats from a lack of genetic diversity to climate change. With this administration’s decision to delist it from the ESA, the gray wolf faces the prospect of trophy hunting and trapping with little in the way of regulatory restraint. Now, the greatest threat to the survival of the gray wolf is Bernhardt and Skipwith, two Trump corporate shills in the tradition of Scott Pruitt. Your vote on November 3 could be all that stands between the gray wolf and extinction. This is a moment to remember the ancient Indigenous wisdom that speaks to how the fates of the wolf and humankind are inextricably linked. Vote.
Rain Bear Stands Last, Executive Director – Global Indigenous Council -
Tom Rodgers, President – Global Indigenous Council
President: Tom Rodgers. Senior Vice President: Chief Judy Wilson. Executive Director: Rain Bear Stands Last. Deputy-Chief Councilors: Dennis Simmons Chairman Harold Frazier Chairman Ben Nuvamsa Arthur Redcloud. Chairperson of the General Council: Letara Lebeau. Director of Field Operations: Mekasi Camp-Horinek.