Fall 2019 – Native American Fish & Wildlife Society

Native American Fish & Wildlife Society


FALL 2019


Elveda Martinez, Southwest Region Board Director


Society Members: Fall is in the air. It’s great to see all of the pictures and FB postings of archery hunts in Indian country. Hunters and fishermen are anxious for this time of year. In August we had a conference call to discuss the use of lead free ammo and fishing supplies. The Society passed a Resolution on Support of Tribal Efforts to Reduce or Look for Alternative Non-Lead Ammunition for Taking of Wildlife on Tribal Lands in 2015 in Juneau during the national conference requesting that tribes not allow lead to be used. Lead is not good for Eagles, birds or wildlife that is hunted. The National Wildlife Federation is doing an educational page on their website and is working on a film to get out information to hunters and fishermen; this is funded by a steel shot manufacturer. Lead was banned in 1987 on the Flathead reservation. Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has also been working on this; they are selling non-lead ammo to their hunters; they got a BIA grant to buy back ammo as well. This is a public and wildlife health issue. This is something that we need to include onto agendas at our regional and national conferences; we need to continue to educate hunters, fishermen, tribes and conservation law enforcement officers.

Thanks to the US Forest Service that serves the Southwest Region, the Society received $5,000.00 to help with the Navajo Nation Youth Hunt in September. Young hunters are mentored by staff and others so they can go out and get a deer to help feed their families. They learn how to shoot, track, field dress and take a deer in the traditional way.

The main issue on our plate right now is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). If this act is passed in Congress with the Tribal language that has been included that asks for $97.5 million annual dollars for Tribes, we are all going to benefit. This will allow us to work on many fish, wildlife, habitat, conservation and educational projects; it will be a historical win for us. We need more letters of support from our member tribes sent to their Congressional representatives and senators. Tribal representatives will be traveling to Washington, DC in late October to participate in hearings on the RAWA. We are also working to bring this issue to the forefront at the upcoming NCAI Convention in Albuquerque.

In July Senator Udall of New Mexico introduced the “Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019” with the main purpose of conserving and protecting wildlife corridors. There is a Tribal title included in the bill. The Society may need to coordinate outreach to tribes and draw attention to press releases and legislative hearings as this bill moves through Congress.

The Society has been busy on many fronts with CLEO trainings, regional conferences, soliciting for scholarship applicants, holding the youth practicums, revising policies, researching investment opportunities for our foundation money, seeking funding, hiring an Office Manager/Membership Coordinator, planning next year’s annual conference and holding regular Board calls.

I want to hear from you on what you’d like to see from the Society; please email me at [email protected]. Thanks for all of the work that you do in Indian Country.

Respectfully….Elveda Martinez, President & NAFWS SW Regional Director




Julie Thorstenson, NAFWS Executive Director

Hello from Denver!  It’s been an exciting and busy past few months as we work to reinvigorate and grow the Society.  I traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota in July to attend the Great Plains Regional Conference.  It was so good to see everyone and hear of the hard work being done.  A shout out to Jeff Kelly and Charles Wilkinson for hosting.  The Great Plains Region voted to name their scholarship in honor of one of the Society’s long-term members, the late Alvah Quinn, Sr.  Many of you may remember Alvah and the work he did for his Tribe the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in Northeastern South Dakota.

The Society continues to work on HR 3742, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA).  We have been working with the coalition to serve as a clearinghouse for Tribal letters of support.  To date, we have 26 letters of support representing 59 Tribes.  We still need Tribes to get involved to ensure Tribes are included.  The bill will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-based wildlife action plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.

The National Summer Youth Practicum was held in conjunction with the Yakama Youth Wilderness Camp near Mt. Adams at Camp Chaparrel in Washington.  This year we hosted a week-long camp for boys and one for girls.  Thank you to the Yakama Nation for this wonderful experience for our Native youth.

We traveled to Wisconsin in September to attend the Great Lakes Regional Conference hosted by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.  Don Reiter, Terry Metoxen and planning committee put together a top-notch conference.  The return of the softball game was a big hit amongst participants.  Please see the article in this issue for a recap of the conference.

We have a new employee, Heidi McCann.  Heidi will serve as the Office Manager/Membership Coordinator for the Society.  We are very excited to have Heidi and the wealth of knowledge and experience she brings.  Heidi, and the position she holds, are vital to growing our membership.  I hope you will have a chance to meet Heidi in the future.

As I read the interviews of the Society’s founding members and historical documents, I was reminded of the need and intent of the Society.  The need for networking and partnering to ensure the Tribes have a national voice is still relevant today.  I have been working on identifying and developing partnerships to serve our membership and mission.  I look forward to all the possibilities in the future.

I have a busy travel schedule in the upcoming months and hope to meet some of you in person.  As always, if you have ideas for the Society, please contact me or your regional director(s).

I hope the Winter is kind to you.

Julie Thorstenson, PhD

Executive Director

DNR’s Fisheries Program stocks walleye fingerlings in lakes around the region

By Vivian LaMoore Director of Public Relations


The Mille Lacs Band Department of Natural Resources Fisheries program has come a long way since casting a line in the development of the fish hatchery in 2015. This spring, Mille Lacs Band Aquaculture Biologist Keith Wiggins-Kegg has been working closely with Aquaculture Intern Harvey Goodsky at the hatchery and giigoonh (fish) ponds. This year’s giigoonh-rearing efforts have resulted in some highly successful results so far with many months to go before winter takes hold of the rearing ponds.

The DNR launched the aquaculture (fish farming) program in 2015 by designing and building a hatchery using mainly donated equipment and by purchasing other needed equipment with a modest budget of $10,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). By fall of 2017, Band biologists successfully released an estimated 3,442,000 fry into area lakes.

Keith joined the MLB DNR fisheries department in 2018. “What we’ve done in the short time I have been here is nothing short of miraculous,” he said.

Keith earned his degree from Mount Hood Community College in Oregon. He left Oregon on a four-day journey pulling his boat and drove straight through to Mille Lacs. “I was so tired,” Keith recalled. “It is great to work with this group of biologists and staff. They are all very supportive. We are building on the existing hatchery and really establishing some very unique concepts with significant importance.“

Keith went to work immediately using funds from the BIA to update the hatchery with new equipment. Keith removed excess tanks, engineered a new nine-bag filtration system to eliminate debris, built a new system to eliminate gas, made new tank screens to prevent fry from escaping, installed a wood heater, constructed an aeration system, and more.

Despite all of the new improvements, in the spring of 2019, the laws of nature intervened. During the final stages of the incubation phase, a passing storm overwhelmed the new filtration system. The flow was lost, causing an ogaa (walleye) fry mortality rate of 50 percent.

Despite the loss, 1,000,000 ogaa fry still survived. These fry were successfully stocked into three of the six rearing ponds and are currently 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.

Keith was mainly assisted this spring by Harvey Goodsky, the DNR’s aquaculture intern. Harvey was attending Fond du Lac Tribal College fulfilling basic academic courses. He knew his ultimate goal was to gain an education and work in a field that was culturally significant such as education or language study. When he saw the aquaculture internship position open up, he said he thought it would be a good opportunity for the summer.

“I come from a very culturally traditional family. I sing and dance, my children all dance. Our Ojibwe culture is very important to me and my family. I was drawn to the job description because of the word ‘culture,'” Harvey said. “I really didn’t know what to expect. But I really enjoy it. I am learning something every day. I know all of these things are important because walleye and the lake are such an important part of our culture.”

Keith and Harvey have been busy this spring and summer keeping the hatchery healthy and studying specific issues that affect the health of not only Mille Lacs Lake, but other area lakes as well.

“I have assisted with sub-sampling for aquatic invasive species to work towards preventing the spread of AIS,” Harvey said. “At the hatchery, I work with maintaining egg jars and have learned how to keep out ICH (a fish disease caused by the ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis), fungus, and mold. The hatchery and all projects and equipment associated with it, such as jars, tanks, and filtration, have to be monitored every day.” Keith, Harvey, and the fisheries team attend to the hatchery and ensure all projects are monitored multiple times a day, every day, even on weekends.

After the fertilized eggs hatch, 1,000,000 fry were stocked into three of the six rearing ponds as well as 1,000 muskie fry. Fathead minnows were also stocked into the ponds to feed the growing fish. Starting in July, fingerlings were stocked into area lakes within the 1837 Ceded Territory lakes. Stocking of the lakes and ponds will continue into the fall. Lakes that have been stocked include Mayhew, Pierz-Fish, Lehmans-Hidden, and Captive. If time allows, Shakopee, Sullivan, and Platte may be stocked as well.

The netting process has been successful. Survival rates of ogaa fingerlings after harvest can vary from 50-70 percent in the summer due to the heat; however, the fisheries team is seeing greater success having roughly a 95 percent survival rate. “I actually need 100 non-living ones so I can dissect them to study under a microscope for any invasives. But it makes me happy so many are surviving,” Keith said. The invasive species studies are being conducted with help from other DNR interns as well.

The fishery team is helping to ensure sustainability of the ogaa for future generations. In addition to the Elder and youth pond in D1, they are formulating plans for a fishing pond at East Lake stocked with ogaa. The East Lake fishing pond would provide fishing opportunities to Elders and youth.

By the end of the internship, Keith explained, Harvey will have been a part of the entire ogaa-rearing process, including sampling, egg and milt harvesting, fertilization, hatching, and releasing fry and fingerlings this fall.

Harvey said he has found something he is really excited about. He is now considering a career in the environmental science field and possibly fish and wildlife conservation and biology.

“This is important to our culture. I will be able to bring what I learn back to help our community,” Harvey said. “Plus, it is really cool.”

(Below are photos from the Mill Lacs Band of Ojibwe Natural Resources).

Jars of walleye eggs in various stages. Ogaa eggs incubating inside Mcdonald jars inside the Mill Lacs hatchery. The eggs that are yellow were collected within the past 48 hours, while the eggs that are darker were collected earlier in the season. On average it takes the eggs 21 days to hatch, and the eggs get darker and darker until the ogaa fry come out of its egg shell. Mcdonald jars are flow through jars or incubation jars as well.  In these jars water gently flows over the eggs. After 21 days the fry swim up to the top and fall out the jars. They then get carried by the flow to a holding tank where they are collected and put into transport 5 gallon water bags.
Asaawe that are grown in the tribal fish ponds. These asaawe were taken from tribal gill nets.  The eggs are strung over Christmas trees, and when they hatched they grew in the fish ponds. Christmas trees is exactly how it sounds. We tie cinder blocks to old Christmas trees, sink them in the ponds, and then drape the eggs over them. The eggs are in a “ribbon” so we put them on the Christmas trees underwater.
This container are thousands of incubating ogaa eggs, collected from tribal harvesters inside our hatchery during the spring. The little black spots inside the eggs are the ogaa’s eyes and once they get to this stage hatching is only days away.
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The NAFWS Great Lakes Regional Conference was held on September 23 – 25, 2019 hosted by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin.  There were 130 attendees representing 24 tribes from the Great Lakes region. The event began Monday the 23rd with workshops on Chainsaw Safety and Tree Identification, a tour of the LCO fish hatchery and the Conservation Officers Qualification/Competition Shoot.  The Great Lakes NAFWS Scholarship Golf Tournament followed.

The opening ceremony on the 24th began with the parade of colors with the tribal conservation law enforcement officers. The Officers were led in by local LCO veterans and drum group from the Waadookodaading School.

Introductions were given by Patricia Olby, (Acting) Deputy Regional Director for Trust Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs Midwest Region, USFWS Assistant Regional Director, Charles Traxler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Mic Isham, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  Great Lakes Regional Directors Terry Metoxen and Don Reiter welcomed participants to the conference along with NAFWS Executive Director Julie Thorstenson.

Julie Thorstenson, PhD, Executive Director gave an update on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, HR 3742.  This bill will provide Tribes $97.5 million in funding for wildlife and fisheries management.  Dr. Thorstenson encouraged Tribes to become involved and send letters of support.

The 2019 Great Lakes NAFWS Business Luncheon was conducted with a presentation by Robert Croll, Climate Change Coordinator, GLIFWC.  Julie Thorstenson gave an update for the National Office and David Conner gave the region treasurer report.  The membership selected scholarship recipients and Terry Metoxen was reelected as the Great Lakes Regional Director.

The first day wrapped up with a softball game followed by the Traditional Feast.  The Woodland Dance Group performed to conclude the evening.

Day two featured concurrent sessions on:  Fisheries, Wildlife, Climate Change Fish and Wildlife Diseases and Invasive Species.  There was also a Conservation Law Enforcement Training on the Chai Vang Shooting Incident.

Terry Metoxen, NAFWS Great Lakes Region Board representative said, ““Chief Seattle states that the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth”. Climate change is happening and we can see it occurring in our animals, people and nature. We had several presentations that were about  the effects of what climate change has done. Sooner or later we will have to listen to our mother, the earth.”

(Below are pictures from the 2019 Great Lakes Region Conference.)

(L – R): Conservation Law Enforcement officers shoot competition; Pre-opening ceremony line-up of the tribal officers; opening ceremony; and traditional feast.
Photo 1 & 2: Technician of the Year Awards were presented to tribal NR techncians: (left) Joseph Lyons, Menominee Indian Tribe and Kevin Spears, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians; 3rd photo: Outstanding Leadership Award Winners, Herman and Marian Lussier,Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians; 4th photo: Glen T. Miller Tribal Leadership Award, (For Chairpersons) was presented to Warren Chris Swartz Jr, President, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan. With Warren is Mic Isham, Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe.
Patricia Zakovek Conservation Officer of the Year Award was presented to Matt Robertson, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan; 2nd photo: William Eger Biologist of the Year Award was presented to Lacey Hill-Kastern, Tribal Pest Survey Specialist, Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council; 3rd photo: Harvey Kosowski (Top Gun); Conservation Officer, Oneida; 4th photo: Great Lakes shoot team 2019/2020.

Jicarilla Apache Nation Hosts Wildlife Field Forensics Course


By Karen Lynch, NAFWS

Twenty-eight tribal conservation law enforcement officers from six tribes attended the Wildlife Field Forensics Training held August 28-29 in Dulce, NM. It was hosted by the Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish Department and the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society with support from the BIA. The training was conducted by the Wildlife Field Forensics team from Montana who were: Carleen Gonder, Brian Sommers, and Tony Latham.

Throughout the two-day training, the officers learned how to collect samples from decomposed wildlife, handling and responding to a wildlife human attack, and methods for examining spent bullets and cartridge cases from suspected firearms.  A half-day field exercise was included and the officers took samples from an animal to analyze the stage of decomposition. This information is used to determine time of death and would be of use in an actual field investigation by a conservation officer. They also participated in a mock investigation of a bear attack on a human and what would be involved in this type of investigation.

“The information we have gained will certainly benefit our department as we deal with wildlife, livestock, and human forensics,” said Eldon Martinez, Laguna Police Department, “although we never have had a person trained in the field of forensics at our department, the information has peaked my interest and I definitely want to learn more about this field.” He added, “Now we know that we don’t need to take the dead animals to be dumped in an open pit.”

Ervin Scott, Navajo Nation Resource Enforcement said, “The classes so far, including the training held at Santa Ana in May were very good. Although we don’t benefit one hundred percent because this is primarily for game and fish conservation officers. Our job deals primarily with livestock. In working with the carcasses here in this class, this is something that we do not do. So if there was a carcass of a horse or a cow used, then we would get into it. We asked the instructors and they mentioned that they could bring in other instructors who do work with livestock. If that could be done then it would benefit us one-hundred percent. The Navajo Fish and Wildlife is ahead of us because they take cases and the animals are protected using a federal Act like Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Act, so they work with the federal and the state to get prosecutions. Our prosecutions on our side (livestock) is way down to like one-percent. This is because our prosecutors don’t take us seriously and we have no federal acts to protect us. So when wildlife are killed, there are hefty fines but with livestock there are no laws to protect the livestock.”

(Photos below are from the Wildlife Field Forensics Training).

Officers and instructor Carleen Gonder (left), view the carcasses that were in the advanced stage of decomposition.
The Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish Department. There are 14 Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish conservation officers that work with the tribe.
One of the classes taught by Brian Sommers on wildlife animal behavior and wildlife crime scene cases.
Officers from the different tribes learned how to take samples from animal carcasses and determine various stages of decomposition.

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Develop New Way to Estimate Black Bear Populations


BY: Don Reiter, Wildlife Biologist, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Environmental Services Department

The MITW black bear population is healthy and growing, with an estimated 250 to 360 animals (1 bear per square mile), the WDNR Population most recent population estimate indicating there are 28,700 bears statewide But how do wildlife biologists determine these figures – and why are they important?

Wisconsin DNR and MITW are completing the first year of a study of black bears. The anecdotal evidence in recent years – including increased bear sightings by both field personnel and everyday citizens, as well as an increased number of requests for Nuisance bear complaints due to bear-human conflicts – seemed to indicate that the population of black bears in Wisconsin was booming and this area would be ideal for scientific research.  Menominee has seen bear complaints go down over the last few years, but there is still a need for information.

The two primary objectives of the MITW Black Bear Project are to estimate black bear abundance in the study area and to determine how black bears use the landscape. This kind of information on black bear demography and space use is essential for wildlife managers to make scientifically sound bear management decisions for the Menominee Indian Tribe.

MITW working in cooperation with WDNR is using a genetic capture-recapture method to estimate the population size. Usually, this involves physically capturing an animal, marking it in some way and releasing it. But this particular study achieves the same goal with non-invasive techniques – specifically by using hair snares, which cause relatively little stress or harm to the animals. Hair snares have been used on many furbearing species to determine presence, to calculate a minimum absolute count of individuals present, or to estimate total population size by collecting a DNA sample from individuals without physically capturing the animal. Unique repetitive sequences, known as microsatellites, within the DNA sample serve as individual identifiers, making it possible to know when and where each unique animal was present.

In addition, because the DNA located within roots of mammalian hair can identify species, sex, and individuality, this genetic technique is ideal for researchers to estimate abundance as well as obtain information on demographics and genetic diversity.

The MITW has 16 hair-snare stations distributed across 4 sampling grids that that are designed to pull a small hair sample from bears that cross the snares.

The contraption consists of one parallel strands of barbed wire stretched around a cluster of three or more trees, about 12-16 inches off the ground. This forms a barbed-wire “corral” in which researcher’s place a pile of logs drizzled with fish oil and peanut butter mixture. The oil/peanut butter mixture acts as an attractant to black bears, who have both a finely attuned sense of smell and a profound love of fish. At two thirds of the hair-snare stations, researchers placed a trail-camera to help verify the effectiveness of the snares at capturing hair samples when a bear is present. The Sample locations were visited once a week for four weeks gathering black bear strand data.  About 100 samples have been taken from 16 locations.  The trail photos also provide demographic (cub-adult ratio) information on bears within the study area.  Results and samples have been sent to a lab for analysis.  Results may not be ready until spring 2020.

The use of hair-snares to collect genetic data for abundance and density estimates has become the gold standard for American black bear.  The hope is for the bear to cross the strand of barbed wire, although some of our video footage from the trail cameras shows bears crossing even jumping, in some cases over the wire. Because bears are big, robust animals, for the most part they pay little mind to the barbs and typically cross them, leaving us a nice big clump of hair. Bears are the ideal critter for hair-snares in this way.

So far it has been successful and we will see what the results bring.  Our hope is that we can receive data from this project that we can use towards the management of black bear on the Menominee Reservation, Wisconsin.
(Photos below are from the MITW Environmental Services).

 (Clockwise top L-R): Black Bear inside barbed wire trap smelling bait; #2 – Black Bear walking perimeter of Barbed wire fence trap; #3 – Black Bear climbing over barbed wire fence to get to scent trap; #4 – Mother black bear and yearlings taking apart scent trap.


Otters May Thrive on the Trout Stocked in Cherokee Streams
By Maria Dunlavey
      The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Tribal hatchery stocks over 250,000 trout per year on the Qualla Boundary – but not all of them are captured by anglers.  What happens to the trout that die in the streams? In May of 2017, EBCI’s Caleb Hickman decided to find out. The results of his study with colleague Shem Unger, a biologist at Wingate University, were published this month in the scientific journal Fishes. 

Scavengers in our streams

Caleb is the Supervisory Biologist in the Fisheries & Wildlife Management office here at EBCI Natural Resources. His idea for the project

arose from questions about the role of stocked fish in our streams’ food chains. “Fishermen aren’t taking them all. We know that,” he says. “Eventually, they’ll die.” Studies on other ecosystems have found that remains of dead fish are a massive food resource for scavengers – in fact, a whole scientific field of “scavenging ecology” focuses on these communities. Recent studies on streams in western North America and Russia have shown that dead fish – especially salmon, a close relative of trout – support diverse scavenger communities and provide a massive influx of nutrients to their ecosystems. But few scientists have looked at the fate of stocked fish in eastern streams. Shem and Caleb wanted to know what happens to dead fish on the Qualla Boundary – are their carcasses getting scavenged?  What kind of animals eat them?  Does EBCI fish stocking support increased scavenger populations? And – most importantly – how can we find out?


Fish surveillance

They answered that last question with an innovative setup: using GoPro™ cameras to record underwater video of fish carcasses placed out in the Oconaluftee River. Each carcass was attached to a wire mesh tray and weighted down to the river bottom. All in all, Caleb and Shem set out 10 brook trout and 10 rainbow trout carcasses, and monitored what happened to them for five days. They recorded video intermittently over that time, in one-hour chunks, and obtained a total of 77 hours of footage. The most frequent scavengers seen over that time were river chub, which visited during 75% of all videos, and crayfish, which visited during 25% – both common residents of our streams.


The mystery of the disappearing trout

Often, though, when Shem or Caleb went back to check on the trout carcasses, they simply weren’t there anymore. Within a few hours, 20% of

the carcasses were gone. Within two days, half had disappeared. This was far too fast for small animals like crayfish and river chub to eat an entire trout – or even enough of it for the carcass to break up and drift away. What happened? “It was a very big surprise,” says Caleb – but he thinks he knows the answer. At three of their sites, he and Shem put up trail cameras in addition to recording underwater video, allowing them to see what mammals and other terrestrial visitors frequented the sites. Among the most common visitors were river otters – fish-eating scavengers capable of diving to the river bottom and cleanly removing trout carcasses from their trays.


Otters at large

River otters are a relatively new presence on the Qualla Boundary. They were nearly wiped out of western North Carolina before being reintroduced in the early 1990s, and their populations have been growing since. Now, Caleb is wondering if stocked trout is supporting a larger otter population than might otherwise live here – and what effects that has on the rest of the ecosystem. How many otters are there, and what else are they eating? Should we be concerned about their potential impact on at-risk aquatic species like the sicklefin redhorse and the eastern hellbender? The next step is to find out. This spring, Caleb and other members of the Fisheries & Wildlife Management team are planning a study to learn more about the diets of river otters on the Qualla Boundary.
(Below are photos from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians).

River chub (left) and crayfish (right) scavenging trout carcasses in the Oconaluftee River. Photo credit: Caleb Hickman and Shem Unger via Fishes.
An adult river otter feeding on an adult eastern hellbender in Little River, Tennessee, USA. Photo credit: Rick Vollbrecht via the Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Walker River Paiute Tribe College Interns Enriched by Variety of Learning Experiences
By Elveda Martinez, Walker River Paiute Tribe, NAFWS SW Region Board


The Walker River Paiute Tribe’s Water Resources Department continued its college internship program for the 8th year. Funding was received from the BIA Youth Initiative program. Three students from the University of Oregon, with diverse age and fields of study were hired. Walker Ow-Wing was a third year intern who will be returning to Oregon to earn his bachelor’s degree in business administration. Two other interns, Stella Ow-Wing and Mya Murphy are also Ducks who study Human Physiology and Sociology respectively.               During the summer they participated in activities that enriched their knowledge of water resources and Native American culture, as well as give back to the community of Schurz through service and community improvement events.

One of their favorite activities was the cultural language project supervised by Esha Hoffer, a tribal member. He teaches Paiute to the youth at the elementary school. He remarked on how few people can actually speak the language and how that drives him to keep the language preserved. Using materials and dictionaries that were provided by Esha, the interns were able to create story boards and for the younger students. They used the Paiute language dictionaries to translate everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth or cooking. Then they put them into interactive fill-in-the blank presentations. These would be used to further their education by giving them interactive exercises while keeping them engaged and preserving the language. During this cultural project they were also able to pick up a bit of Paiute including introductions.

Another of their cultural activities included preparation for our annual Pinenut Festival that happens every September. This involved making the annual trip with other tribal employees to go out and scout and look for pinenuts. On this trip they were able to utilize some of the knowledge that they picked up during drone training. The drone training was set up by water resources employee, Roy Begay. They used the Water Resource’s drone to pan above everyone while they were picking pinenuts and documented their hard work in a way that had not been used prior. They shared these recordings with the community as a way to create a sense of connection and accomplishment for those involved. After the pinenut cones had opened up, they helped clean them and prepared it for the festival. They also helped clean in a more traditional method with the elders in the community who still roast their pinenuts underground before digging them up and cleaning them.

One of our more impactful community projects was they helped local tribal members build a hoop house on the reservation. It was not a typical day in the office as the interns cut 2x4s and used power tools to erect the structure with the guidance of Victor Williams, a tribal elder. After its completion the hoop house will be used by community members to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. This is especially important on the reservation as fresh produce is not always  available in Schurz. This project provides the community with a way to eat healthier and is an alternative to processed food.

In addition to group projects the interns also had some individual assignments. For example, our junior intern, Stella, logged all the recreational use permits from April-June and July-September.  These permits are for general use, camping, fishing, ATVs, boats, hunting, and trapping. For the April-June quarter there were a little over 300 permits sold. In the July-September quarter she had logged over 200 permits by mid-September. Mya put all of the Society’s CLEO’s onto a spreadsheet and Walker researched financial investment options for the Society.

They also led a tour of Weber and Walker River. Members from the ACOE Sacramento office came out to look at the river and erosion and non-point source issues. They wanted to see different areas of the river specifically the big dam, little, dam, and flumes. They mainly wanted to see what condition the river was in. It was difficult to show them every part of the river because there is not access along the entire river; they showed them as much as they could using access roads. After the tour there was a meeting to discuss what needs to be done next. The plan is to have another meeting later in the year to talk about solutions, top priorities, and funding for river projects. They then floated the river in BIA kayaks and using a GoPro took footage to see the river condition.

Other projects and meetings that were covered by the interns included: a trip with the BLM and other Tribal cultural monitors to look at pinenut and juniper tree encroachment into Sage Grouse habitat; a meeting with Naval officials to discuss an EIS that is being done for increased land use; and, an Emergency Action Planning meeting in case of a dam failure. They also researched water rights information for the Tribe’s litigation case and did water sampling. They searched for meteorites with NASA representatives and participated in the Tribe’s Safety Day and had the opportunity to speak to high school students about their college experiences.

Thanks to the BIA Youth Initiative funding for making this opportunity available to Tribal students.

Walker River Paiute Tribe Water Resources student interns and Elveda. (Left-Right): Walker Ow-Wing; Stella Ow-Wing; Mya Murphy; and Elveda.
Native American Fish & Wildlife Society Welcomes New Staff 


Heidi McCann joins the NAFWS staff in Colorado as the Membership Coordinator/Office Manager. She is a member of the Yavapai-Apache Tribe. She has lived in Colorado since 1984 and came to go to Colorado to go to college and to ski. She enjoys skiing both alpine and telemarking.

She attended University of Colorado-Boulder and graduated with a B.A. in American Studies and is currently attending Front Range Community College studying the field of paralegal studies. She graduated with a Masters degree in Museum and Field Studies from CU-Boulder in 1996 and has worked at NOAA, AISES,and the UC-Boulder.

She also has an Associates degree in Data Management. While at  UC-Boulder she worked with the National Snow and Ice Data Center where she gained experience working with arctic indigenous native communities. Heidi said, “I look forward to reestablishing the Society’s mission to assist Native American and Alaska Native tribes to work towards conserving, protecting, and enhancing their fish and wildlife resources.”

Heidi McCann

Conservation Officer Retires from Ute Mountain Tribe


On September 11, 2019 Conservation Officer Jack Cantsee Jr. from the Ute Mountain Wildlife Department will be retiring from Law enforcement and the Wildlife department. He began his career as a Tribal Police Officer in 1988 until they retroceded to the BIA and he became a Police officer with the BIA. In 1996 he began his career with the Ute Mountain Wildlife Department.

Jack had highlights during his career, he says, ”One of my highlights was completing the Indian Police academy, the other was working for the Wildlife Department and learning about the tribe’s natural resources, learning about wildlife habitat, and how much land our tribe has. Another highlight was attending the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society seminars and meeting a lot of people from different tribes and learning about how they operate their natural resource programs. Another was competing in the Officer shoot competition and then finally making the team and winning the National Conference Shoot.”

He felt that after 32 years in law enforcement it was time to step away.

He stated that he was very honored to have met many friends at the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society conferences. He hopes to continue to attend the Society conferences.

He’s not going to quit working and will be transferring to a maintenance position within his community. This is a slower pace position that will keep him busy. Jack intends to continue to have a voice in his tribe’s wildlife program.

Elveda Martinez, NAFWS Board representative and President of the NAFWS said, “On behalf of the Southwest Region and the Society, I’d like to thank Jack for his many years of serving in the Law Enforcement field. During those years he shared much of his knowledge with fellow Society members and Conservation Officers. I’m also thankful that during those years he was able to return safely to his family. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe was very fortunate to have such a knowledgeable employee that dedicated a big part of his life to protecting lives and looking out for their natural resources, fish and wildlife. Take it easy Jack and don’t work too hard.”


Jack Canstee in 2013 NAFWS Southwest Regional Conference


Native American tribal first responders are eligible to get training in Hazardous Materials Awareness.Classes include: Hazmat Awareness, Meth Awareness, Responder Safety Awareness, Mass Casualty Incident Triage, Incident Command System, Weapons of Mass Destruction & All-Hazards Awareness, and Radiological/Nuclear Awareness.

The training for first responders are taught by the Workplace Safety Training group out of the Alabama Fire College in Birming­ham, Alabama.  The WST and the NAFWS continue their partnership in providing these trainings for tribes.

The classes are taught by Roy Stover, Workplace Safety Training Instructor with the Alabama Fire College who presents a variety of hazard­ous materials subjects that include, laws and regulations, recognition and identification of hazardous materials (such as placards, labels, container shapes, transport vehicles, to name a few) and, hazardous materials emergency re­sponse.

Roy’s Hazmat Aware­ness class and a variety of other subjects are provided under a grant by the Na­tional Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) and is shared with the Native American tribes in the U.S. The classes are intended for tribal first responders such as police, fire, and EMS) but anyone in the tribe would benefit from this knowledge, and should attend.

If your tribe would like to host a free class, contact Roy Stover with the Workplace Safety Training program at: desk 205-655-6572 ext. 4, or cell 205-617-6090. E-mail: rstover@alabamafirec­ or [email protected] or you may also contact: Karen with the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society toll free: 1-866-890-7258 ext. 5

Job Opportunity – Native American Fish and Wildlife Society is hiring an Education Coordinator at its Denver, CO office. For more information: 

NAFWS Southeast Regional Meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 5th in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary meeting of the United South and Eastern Tribes in Choctaw, Mississippi. For more information, contact: [email protected], [email protected]

Women in Conservation Leadership Summit, March 16-19, 2020, Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado Springs, CO. Women in Conservation Leadership is a diverse, inclusive, national community and a catalyst to elevate and embolden all women in advancing conservation. For more information: For more information please visit: or contact: [email protected]



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