Archive for December 30th, 2006

by Jay Stevens

Over at Left in the West, jhwrlgirl notes that the Department of the Interior stepped in over the Bison Range kerfluffle, and reversed the Fish and Wildlife’s decision to nix the handover of the refuge to the Confederated Salish Kootenai tribes.

jhwrlgirl’s got all the salient facts — and, IMHO, should either get her own blog already or should be bumped up to main contributor status over at LITW — but here’s a couple of things that stick out for me:

First, the Interior’s assigned an ombudsman to negotiate the takeover. Good news there; in a recent post I suggest the current Range manger — Steve Kallin — should be replaced. An ombudsman makes more sense. Why hire a new manager now in the last stages of the USFWS’ control over the Range?

jhwrlgirl’s also mentioned in the LITW post and in the comments at b’birds that the federal employees’ viewpoint can be found at peer.org. Apparently USFWS employees are worried that the CSKT takeover of the Bison Range augurs an impending movement towards privatizing control of our wildlife refuges, and that’s what jhwrlgirl suspects is driving USFWS reluctance in this case:

Personally, I think this was/is nothing more than a turf war, instigated by the Feds, and fed by the irrational fear of job loss.

I suspect she’s right, but she also dismisses this fear. Personally I wouldn’t put it over the Bush administration to use the Bison Range and our sympathies for Native American takeover of bison management to slip through a plan for the wholesale giveaway of our public lands.

That said, the Bison Range takeover should be considered now, for what it is, not what it might be. And right now, in this case, the Salish and Kootenai peoples should have the right to steward bison on their land. Period.

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