February 14, 2013
Chairman Jim Owle
EBCI- Tribal Council
PO Box 455
Cherokee, NC. 28719
Dear Chairman Owle,
As you are well aware, the issue of how captive animals are housed and maintained on tribal lands continues to be a public relations problem that must be addressed timely and appropriately. The tribe has existing laws that outline minimum requirements for maintaining these captive animals. These laws have not been changed or addressed in over 11 years and it is time to re-evaluate our standards for maintaining captive animals.
I respectfully request that Tribal Council establish a working session to review Cherokee Code Chapter 19 Section 16 and discuss possible changes so that we are clear on current and future expectations for our business owners. I propose that we consider updating our Cherokee Code to increase the minimum living standards for captive animals including bears. These standards should include setting a minimum number of acres per animal, a minimum number of linear feet of running water per acre, proper winter and summer living quarters (this would include hibernation facilities), a minimum amount of living or non-living trees per acre, a minimum amount of square footage of green space per acre and a minimum amount of food allotment per day.
In conjunction with these ordinance changes I humbly request that Council consider allowing private business owners the opportunity to create a Wildlife Preserve on Qualla Boundary lands. Exhibiting and celebrating our wildlife has long been part of Cherokee’s economy, and I believe it is important to continue to showcase our bears and other wildlife. However, we need to create a more animal friendly environment for these animals. Additionally, if Council makes ordinance changes I would hope this legislation includes a reasonable minimum transition timeframe to comply with new ordinance standards.
I am interested in peacefully resolving this situation to meet the needs of all captive animals, the owners of these facilities, the people of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the tourists that visit Cherokee. We must move forward within the legal confines set by Cherokee Code and we must continue to support free enterprise within our tribal lands as we have historically.
I appreciate your attention to this letter and your consideration of this request.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians