Dawn Villella / AP
MADISON, Wisconsin – Dozens of Native American tribes on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to immediately enact emergency protections for gray wolves, saying states had become too aggressive in hunting the animal.
Groups representing the tribes sent a letter to Home Secretary Deb Haaland asking her to act quickly on an emergency petition they filed in May to put the wolf back on the endangered species list or threatened. They also asked Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and the first Native American to run a Cabinet agency, to put the wolf back on the emergency list for 240 days, providing immediate protection.
The groups say states have adopted “anti-wolf” policies that have “real potential to wipe out wolf populations.”
The letter does not name any specific state or policy. But Izzy Baird, spokesperson for Relist Wolves Coalition, which has worked with tribal nations on the issue, noted in an email that Wisconsin hunters exceeded their quota of 119 by nearly 100 animals during the spring season of this state; Montana allows hunters to kill up to 10 wolves each and allows private payments for dead wolves which recall bounties; and that an Idaho law passed in July allows hunters to kill up to 90% of that state’s wolves.
The letter notes that wolves play a key role in many Native American tribal cultures and accuses the federal government of not listening to their concerns about removing the wolf from the endangered species list in January.
“If the Trump or Biden administrations had consulted with tribal nations, as required by treaty and trust responsibilities, they would have heard that as a sacred creature, the wolf is an integral part of the earthly identity that shapes our communities, beliefs, customs and traditions, ”the letter reads. “The earth, and all that it contains, is our temple.”
Wolves in much of the contiguous United States were deprived of federal endangered species law protections in the final days of the Trump administration. Wolves in the Northern Rockies region – including Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and parts of Washington state, Oregon and Utah – lost their protection a decade ago under former President Barack Obama.
Groups include the North West Indian Affiliate Tribes, the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Navajo Nation, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, the Native Justice Coalition, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association and the Inter Tribal Council. from Arizona.
Home Office spokesman Tyler Cherry declined to comment on the letter.