On June 8, 2012, the Department of Justice (DOJ), in the attached Dear Tribal Leader Letter, formally initiated the tribal consultation process requesting further comments on the DOJ’s proposal to clarify and formalize implementation of the “Morton Policy” – a statement developed by the Department of Interior in the 1970s providing guidance on how to handle cases involving American Indians in possession of migratory bird parts and feathers. This initiation of consultation follows the DOJ’s October 21, 2011, Request for Tribal Input.
The attached framing paper which accompanies the Dear Tribal Leader Letter provides the DOJ’s answers to questions raised during the initial solicitation of comments and highlights areas where further input is requested from tribes. Of note, the framing paper clarifies that:
• Members of federally recognized tribes are free to possess, exchange, and travel domestically with migratory bird parts and feathers (the DOJ proposes to add a description of the requirements for international travel with such items to the policy)
• The “taking” of live migratory birds is legal for members of federally recognized tribes, provided that they obtain and comply with appropriate Fish and Wildlife Service permits
For clarity, the DOJ proposes defining a number of terms including “buying and selling;” “compensation;” “exchange;” “federally protected birds;” and “American Indian.” Both the Departments of Justice and Interior propose to clarify that the term “American Indian” is only interpreted to mean a “member of a federally recognized tribe.”
• June 18, 2012, 1:30-4 PM, at the National Congress of American Indians Mid-Year Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska
• June 22, 2012, 2-4 PM EDT, via telephone
• July, 11, 2012, 2-4 PM EDT, via telephone
• July, 19, 2012, at a meeting of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes in Tama, Iowa
Those wishing to attend consultations in person or to participate in the telephone consultations should register using the information in the attached letter. In addition, the DOJ is accepting written comments received on or before close of business on August 1, 2012.
Joint Tribal-Federal Law Enforcement Training
On October 15, 2012, a joint tribal-federal training session on the enforcement of wildlife and other environmental laws will be held at the DOJ’s National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information on the Department of Justice’s proposed policy or assistance preparing comments.