Summer 2022 – From the Eagles Nest Newsletter
From the Eagle’s Nest
Message from the President
Message from the Executive Director
Celebrating the 39th Annual National Conference
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Passes the House
Tribal Highlight: Menominee Nation’s 30 Years of Black Bear Management
Tribal Highlight: Penobscot River Rebound: Tribal Trust Lands and the Return of Sea-Run Fishes
Conservation Law Enforcement Officer Updates
NAFWS Welcomes CLEO Intern
New NAFWS Member Resources Page
Upcoming Events: Regional Conferences
Fish & Wildlife News: Invasive Species, Wildlife Disease, and Endangered Species
NAFWS in the News
Happy July! Here we are in the HEAT of summer and the midst of fireworks season. We’re experiencing some 90+ degree days here on the Walker River Paiute Reservation in Nevada. The drought is limiting us to only 4 irrigations for our alfalfa crops, but so far so good. Some positives are that we’re seeing the milkweed growing and our pollinators are out in force – a lot of bees.
Tribes have been busy applying for funding from numerous agencies for fish, wildlife, conservation and natural resources. The Society staff has been providing webinars and helping Tribes with some of the application processes. We’re hoping that a lot of the infrastructure and other funds make it to tribal programs and lands. It is our vision that Tribes will be able to develop their capacity to get the important work done.
There is so much progress by our Society in the past few months and I appreciate our staff, contractors, Directors and members for all they do. They are working on our 2021 audit, CLEO training, planning the Summer Youth Practicum, assisting Tribes, attending conferences and meetings, and a lot more. It takes a great team to plan, develop programs and get the work completed for our Society and membership.
We saw the RAWA pass the House in June, which was a great win for all who have been working on this legislation for years. Our focus is now to work to get it passed through the Senate. It would be great if you all contacted your state’s Senators to ask them to co-sponsor the bill or to support it.
Our Southwest, Pacific, and Great Lakes regions are planning for in-person regional conferences and are now soliciting for sponsors, award nominations, and abstracts. We hope that our members will be able to attend these informational and educational conferences. They are a great place to network with others and rekindle old friendships. Learn more and register using the links below:
- Southwest Regional Conference – Santa Ana Pueblo, NM, August 22-25, 2022
- Pacific Regional Conference – Loleta, CA, August 22-25, 2022
- Great Lakes Regional Conference – Hayward, WI, September 18-23, 2022
Summer is a favorite time for me, as I get to work with some awesome College Interns. This is the 12th year of our internship program. They are busy learning about our natural resources, attending meetings, learning about cultural sites, developing work plans for working with public agencies, mentoring elementary students, assisting with our department’s water camp and more. I think that anyone who works with young people understands the importance of sharing knowledge and stressing the importance of our tribal resources. They are the ones who will carry the torch to protect what is important to us. It is great to see other Tribal programs working with their youth in similar programs.
Please continue the important work on your tribal lands. It does not go unnoticed.
President & SW Regional Director
Greetings NAFWS members, partners, and friends. I cannot believe we are halfway through 2022. NAFWS continues to keep busy with events, technical assistance, initiatives, and trainings.
A major highlight since our last newsletter was a very successful 39th Annual National Conference in Miami, FL May 9-12, 2022. I want to thank NAFWS Southeast Regional Directors Mike LaVoie and Mitzi Reed for their leadership and WOPILA TANKA to the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida for hosting us on their beautiful homelands. A special thank you to Craig Van der Heiden and his staff at the Miccosukee Natural Resources Department. We have received wonderful praise and feedback from participants.
We celebrated with many others working in fish and wildlife as the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (HR 2773) passed the House floor vote 231 to 190 on June 14, 2022. Although this was a great step forward, the work is not finished, we are hoping to see a similar vote in the Senate (S 2372) this summer. It is amazing how many people still do not understand the inequities in fish and wildlife funding for Tribes. Please continue to educate on the importance of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and what it would mean for Tribal fish and wildlife programs.
We have spent the majority of our time the past few months discussing funding. We are excited to see new funding opportunities for Tribal fish and wildlife programs such as the Zoonotic Disease Grants Program and the America the Beautiful Challenge Grant along with existing grant programs like the Tribal Wildlife Grant and Tribal Climate Resilience Grant. However, we recognized there are still many barriers, in addition to a lack of capacity to accessing these funds, such as timing, different application platforms, and the Tribal approval process. In an attempt to help bridge these gaps, we partnered with First Nations Development Institute to offer weekly webinars and workshops for Tribes on the America the Beautiful Challenge Grants and with the help of our Wildlife Disease Consultant, Dr. Tolani Francisco, DVM, we hosted a workshop for Tribes to help with the Zoonotic Disease Grant application.
We continue to expand our efforts to engage Alaska Tribes and are planning a NAFWS Alaska Regional Conference in October, 2022. Justin Leon is working with the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center – USGS and The Tribal Climate Learning Network on shared priorities around climate change and adaptability for Alaska Tribes. We are currently advertising for two Assistant Tribal Climate Resilience Liaisons and an Alaska intern to help increase our capacity and membership value and benefits for Alaska Tribes.
I feel very blessed to have spent some time in the homelands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and assist NAFWS Southeast Regional Director Mitzi Reed with their Summer Youth Conservation Corps. Spending time outdoors with Native youth interested in natural resources, what can be better than that?
We continue to increase our capacity so that we may better serve our membership with the conservation, enhancement and preservation of Tribal fish and wildlife resources. As always, if you have ideas for the NAFWS, please contact me or your regional director(s).
I hope our paths cross soon.
Julie Thorstenson, PhD
On May 9-12, 2022, 216 people representing 56 Tribes across all seven NAFWS Regions, traveled to Miami, FL for the 2022 NAFWS Annual National Conference hosted by Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming.
Attendees enjoyed a keynote address from Native American Everglades Educator, Conservationist, and Miccosukee Tribal Elder Betty Osceola who spoke about Traditional Ecological Knowledge, the natural world, and the need to approach environmental problems through healing. We hosted workshops on Tribal Climate Resilience, Tribal Fish & Wildlife Program Development, Wildlife Disease Biologist Training, and a CLEO Illicit Drug Response Awareness course. There were also more than 50 presentations from Tribal natural resource professionals and partners and 8 students presented at our Tribal Student and Professional Mixer and Poster Session.
Our host Tribe provided incredible experiences showcasing their cultural and natural resources with a visit to the Miccosukee Cultural Center for a demonstration of traditional alligator wrestling, crafts, and the traditional feast. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Miccosukee Fish Hatchery, Everglades National Park, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, and airboat tours. This year we also hosted a 5K Swamp Run/Walk in Everglades National Park which raised money for scholarships for Native American and Alaska Native undergraduate and graduate students.
CLEO Highlights: Tribal Conservation Law Enforcement Officers from Tribes across the country attended presentations, trainings, and competed in the 2022 National Shoot Competition. Teams from four regions (Southeast, Southwest, Great Plains, and Great Lakes) competed in the shoot competition with the Great Lakes Team winning 1st place followed by the Great Plains and Southwest teams. Great Lakes shooter Don Carrick Jr. of Bay Mills Indian Community took home the Top Gun Award. Learn more in the CLEO Update.
National Awards: Each year, NAFWS accepts nominations for our National Awards to recognize the outstanding individuals in Tribal fish and wildlife conservation. The 2022 recipient of the Chief Sealth Award was Shawn Grassel, PhD, citizen of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe who recently became the Director of Programs for the Stewarding Native Lands Program at the First Nations Development Institute. Biologist of the Year was awarded to Caleb Hickman, PhD, citizen of Cherokee Nation and Wildlife Biologist with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Natural Resources Department. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida Wildlife Sergeant Sergio Najera received the Conservation Officer of the Year Award.
Election Results: Elveda Martinez of the Walker River Paiute Tribe was re-elected NAFWS President and Mike LaVoie, Natural Resources Manager at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Natural Resources, Department was re-elected Southeast Region Director.
On June 14, 2022, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 231-190 with yeas from 215 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Next step, the U.S. Senate. Read the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife News Release.
A day in the life of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s only wildlife biologist
NAFWS staff joined Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Wildlife Biologist Don Reiter in February to learn about the Menominee black bear project. The Menominee Conservation Fish and Wildlife Department has researched black bears since 1998 with the goal of maintaining healthy bear populations and reducing human-bear conflicts.
NAFWS and the Penobscot Nation celebrated World Fish Migration Day on May 21, 2022 creating a video to highlight the Tribe’s work to restore connectivity in the Mattamiscontis Stream Watershed.
Ashley Carlisle, Education Coordinator
NAFWS Education Program planning is well on the way! The 2022 National SYP is expecting a total of ten students to participate this year. Our agenda is full and will be a great time, sessions include a high ropes course session at the beautiful Colorado State University Mountain Campus to final student group presentations in the Moomau Presentation Room at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO.
This year, we welcome Trenton Chalmers, our CLEO intern for the summer of 2022, he is from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Trenton has hit the ground running with attending and passing the Exterior Response to Active Shooter Events (ERASE) training given through the Texas State University ALERRT Program. Trenton is a student at United Tribes Technical College majoring in Environmental Science and Research. Trenton will work closely with Robert Romero, NAFWS’ CLEO Consultant and myself.
We are happy to award the 2022 NAFWS National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI) Scholarship to Danielle Fegan. She is the Assessment Biologist working with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Dani was accepted into this year’s NCLI’s cohort, CONGRATULATIONS DANI!
The last week of June, I traveled to the lands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians with ED Julie and WCC Shailyn to help NAFWS SE Director, Mitzi Reed with her Choctaw Youth Conservation Corps (CYCC) program. The CYCC is a month-long program that provides conservation focused education and duties for Choctaw Youth. We presented on NAFWS, Conservation Careers/Development and Wildlife Corridors. Additionally, we engaged in activities such as Camper Survival, Speed Networking and other activities related to wildlife corridors. It was great to help tear down a feral pig trap, learn about Choctaw culture/tradition and participate in lake cleanup.
Robert Romero, CLEO Consultant
Hello members and friends! This past quarter has been very active with respect to CLEO training events.
From May 9 – 12, 2022, the NAFWS sponsored the 39th Annual National Conference that was hosted by the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida in Miami, FL. During the conference, the Alabama Fire College provided Illicit Drug Response and Mass Casualty Incident Triage Awareness sessions for officers. CLEOs also participated in a Python handling/certification course presented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and an airboat tour of the Everglades National Park.
At the beginning of the week, CLEOs from Southeast Region participated in a Practical Pistol Competition (PPC) to identify a team of shooters that would then compete in the National PPC later in the week. Members of the 2022 Southeast Shoot Team included Miccosukee Conservation Officers Rusty Lacy, Carlos Paz and Anthony Moser; and Mississippi Band of Choctaw Conservation Officers Mitzi Reed and Eli Ketcher.
All Regional Shoot Teams competed in the National PPC at the end of the week. Results of the shoot are listed below:
Third place: Southwest Team – overall score of 8105
Team members: Ruben Peralta, Jacob Mendez and James Peralto from Mescalero Apache Tribe, Elridge Vigil from Jicarilla Apache Tribe and Craig Lujan from Taos Pueblo.
Second place: Great Plains Team – overall score of 8429
Team members: Beaufort Joe and Jordan Yellowbird from Three Affiliated Tribes, Jeff Kelly and Larry Brown from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Morgan Tibbits from Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Champion: Great Lakes Team – overall score of 8459
Team members: Don Carrick Jr. and Brad Cameron from Bay Mills Indian Community, Terry Metoxen from Oneida Nation, Ashley Zurn from White Earth Nation, and Kyle Gunderson from Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
Top Gun: Don Carrick Jr. of Bay Mills Indian Community – high score of 1756
Congratulations to all!
From June 20 – 24, 2022, the NAFWS hosted a 40-hour CLEO training in Billings, MT that was attended by 19 CLEOs representing the Great Plains, Great Lakes, Southwest and Southeast Regions. A team of instructors from Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center taught all aspects of their Exterior Response to Active Shooter Events, Train-the-Trainer course, including tactical medical, extraction, movement, rescue, and hostage barricade techniques using firearms converted for non-lethal, realistic training. Lastly, the participants had to pass a final written exam and work in teams to teach back various training modules to the instructors.
It was a demanding week filled with physical and mental challenges which officers willingly accepted and overcame to successfully achieve their instructor certification. Outstanding work everyone!
I would like to introduce our 2022 CLEO Intern Trenton Chalmers. Trenton is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who is completing his undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences at the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND. Trenton also serves as an SPC in the North Dakota Army National Guard. Welcome aboard Trenton! We look forward to working with you and hope that this experience is rewarding for you!
I look forward to the months ahead as we continue to plan for other conferences and training such as:
- Great Lakes Chief’s Meeting at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, July 25-28
- Southwest and Pacific Regional Conferences, August 22-25
- Great Lakes Regional Conference, September 19-22.
- Drone training in Alaska, dates TBD
Thank you all for your dedication to the protection and enhancement of our natural resources. Take care and be safe!
NAFWS is proud to introduce our 2022 CLEO Intern, Trenton Chalmers. Trenton hit the ground running assisting with the CLEO ERASE training in Billings, MT in June.
Hello all! I am the 2022 CLEO Intern for the NAFWS. I am an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. I am currently in my senior year of my undergraduate degree of Environmental Science and Research at the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota. I am a servicemember with the North Dakota Army National Guard. My children are the main inspiration for me to continue to be better each and every day.
As NAFWS continues with our regular website updates to continue bringing the most up to date news on Tribal fish and wildlife management, we have recently developed a Member Resources webpage. This page serves as center for member exclusive information and resources as we continue to expand our member benefits. We will continue to add additional resources as they are developed.
To access member exclusive resources on the Member Resources page:
- Go to the Member Resources tab and click the resource box you would like to access.
The 2022 Pacific Regional Conference will be held in Loleta, CA on August 22-25, 2022 hosted by Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria at the Bear River Casino and Resort in Loleta, CA. Abstracts are due July 29th, 2022. The Pacific Region will also host a Pre-Conference Workshop: Weaving Traditions from Throughout the Northwest on August 21-22, 2022 featuring artists from throughout the Pacific Region.
The 2022 Southwest Regional Conference will be held in Santa Ana Pueblo, NM on August 22-25, 2022 at the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel in Santa Ana Pueblo, NM.
The 2022 Great Lakes Regional Conference will be hosted by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians during the week of September 19-23, 2022 at the Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge, and Convention Center in Hayward, WI. Abstracts are due July 29th, 2022.
This issues fish and wildlife updates include an introduction to ongoing zoonotic disease outbreaks, invasive species and education efforts of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, and the impacts of wildfires on endangered fishers.
An introduction to ongoing zoonotic disease outbreaks
Dr. Tolani Francisco, NAFWS Zoonotic Disease Expert
Zoonotic Diseases (those that go from animals to humans) are on the rise. Salmonella, which humans can contract by handling reptiles and amphibians, is one of the most widely known examples. These diseases can threaten human health, food security, cultural and spiritual practices, and economic well-being.
Currently in the news is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). As of June 2022, HPAI has been detected in forty of the 50 states in the US, 4 Canadian provinces, and over 60 countries worldwide. HPAI was first reported in large outbreaks in 1996 in wild birds and has since moved into domestic poultry. In January 2022, the H5NI strain of HPAI was detected in South Carolina. One hallmark of this detection of H5N1 is the finding of pathogenicity in raptors, especially eagles. Humans can get avian influenza, or bird flu, from this strain of HPAI. Precautions should be taken when handling any wild birds to prevent human infection and spread to other birds. To follow it on an interactive map click on: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-2022/2022-hpai-commercial-backyard-flocks
The second zoonotic disease many are hearing about this year is SARS-CoV2 virus, which has now been found in white-tailed deer and other wildlife species. Many zoological parks closed during the pandemic as a significant number of big cats, bears, elephants, and mink became serologically positive and some had outward clinical signs (loss of activity, weight loss, not interested in eating). In most cases, the human handlers and care takers tested positive as well. Domestic pets also presented with clinical signs in households where a human tested positive and had symptoms. Additionally, several thousand farmed mink were culled due to SARS-CoV2 outbreaks.
Although not currently considered a zoonotic disease, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a prion disease (fatal brain disease) affecting cervid species, is of concern. Prions are irregular shaped proteins which are extremely hardy and always result in the death of the animal. Typically, by the time animals are experiencing clinical signs, they are infectious. This is the primary reason people have been advised to not handle brain or spinal tissue including cerebrospinal fluid. As of April 2022, CWD has been detected in 29 states including recent detections in North Carolina.
To prevent the contraction and spread of zoonotic diseases, follow any relevant safety recommendations. It is always advisable to wash hands for 20 seconds after handling any animal. The brisk washing of hands with clean water and soap can prevent up to 75% of ALL zoonotic diseases!
Dr. Tolani Francisco is a founder and president of Native Healing LLC, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to serving tribes through animal health. NAFWS contracted Dr. Francisco to assist Tribes with zoonotic disease concerns and she is available for technical support at [email protected].
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Develop Wetlands Education Program and Combat Invasive Species through Grant Programs
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians were featured in an article from USFWS on their Service grant funded programs to develop a wetlands education area and to combat invasive species, including feral hogs. Read more from USFWS.
Examining Impacts of Wildfire on Fishers (Pekania pennanti)
Following major wildfires in the Sequoia National Forest, Sierra National Forest, and Kings Canyon National Park, biologists from the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office are examining the impact of current habitat conditions for the endangered southern Sierra Nevada fisher (Pekania pennanti). Read more from USFWS.
Time is Running out for this Massive Wildlife Bill
NAFWS President, Elveda Martinez, was quoted in an article from Meateater on the urgency of passing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
Bipartisan Wildlife Conservation Bill Passes The House Today—Next Stop The Senate
A press release from the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife highlights NAFWS’ support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. We look forward to seeing a Senate vote.