Problems with the regulation of wildlife, as in other areas of public land management, have often been ignored until they became a crisis. Only in the past two decades has there been any significant attempt on the federal level to protect and manage wildlife. One of the most significant and, perhaps, broadest wildlife laws of recent origin is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The ESA is the result of a growing national concern for wildlife whose very existence is threatened with extinction. The wolf, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and grizzly bear are but a few of the more well known wildlife species receiving attention under the Act. Because some Indians claim the Endangered Species Act does not apply to them, the effectiveness of the Act could be seriously hampered unless this legal question is resolved. This comment will deal with that question as it relates to Indians in the lower 48 states because Alaskan Indians are excluded from coverage under the Act. Some believe the ESA should and does apply to all persons not specifically excluded by the wording in the statute. To develop that conviction, it is necessary to review the history of public land legislation, the unique status of American Indians, the development of wildlife law with respect to the federal government, the states, and the Indians, and, finally, conclusions on why the ESA must apply to Indians.
|Publisher||University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law|
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