Eagle rehab, feral hog control and gauging the environmental impact of invasive marijuana cultivation are among 29 conservation projects receiving $5 million in Tribal Wildlife Grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
The grants, which were awarded to Native American and Alaska Native tribes in 16 states, range from $50,000 to $200,000 each. In announcing the funding on March 25, USFWS Director Dan Ashe noted tribes’ unique role as guardians of wildlife and habitat through traditional knowledge.
“Tribal lands protect some of North America’s most important remaining blocks of wildlife habitat, encompassing more than 100 million acres of land home to hundreds of native species,” Ashe said in a USFWS statement. “The Tribal Wildlife Grants Program helps us work in partnership with federally-recognized tribes, state wildlife agencies and other federal government agencies to restore and sustain important habitat to benefit all Americans for generations to come.”
The Hopi Tribe received $200,000 to safeguard ecology of golden eagles on their lands in 2017. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians also got $200,000, which they will use for wild pig control, an issue facing many tribes.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe will use its $200,000 to assess the p?otential impacts of trespass marijuana cultivation on tribal and public lands to fishers, spotted owls, mountain lions and the forest environment in general, the USFWS said. The tribe has been battling the problem with criminal cultivation of pot plants on its sacred lands, and the detrimental effect of associated pesticides and raticide on wildlife, for years.
As for eagles, Tribal Wildlife Grants have helped tribes in previous years as well. The first such recipient was the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, the USFWS said. Today the tribe houses 45 bald and golden non-releasable eagles, and it has rehabilitated and released 17 others. In addition the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma used its money from a prior year to build an aviary that today shelters 14 eagles that cannot be released into the wild. Such aviaries allow tribes to collect molted feathers for religious and cultural ceremonies, while caring for the iconic birds.
A full list of all USFWS grantees and their projects is available for download on the agency’s website.