Prescribing an Opioid for a Fatal National Law
By Jim Beers
My Inbox overflows with every variety of the following notice from those Congressmen and Senators that have been hiding under their desks (or having dinners with their favorite lobbyist) for the past several decades. One even seemed to be an invitation.
Thank you for your Western Caucus Applauds Recovery of the Gray
Wolf and Proposed Rule to Delist the Species notice.
If this were a movie, it would be appropriate at this point for the orchestra to burst forth with the 1812 Overture conclusion complete with the horns, drums, cymbals and cannons celebrating Napoleon’s defeat in Russia.
Substitute, in place of “Western Caucus” above, your favorite “conservation” organization; or your natural resource-dependent business lobbyist; or the names of your neighbors or relatives that have been harmed by wolves (dogs killed, cattle/sheep killed, hunting ruined, etc.); or “your” state wildlife agency that has been “helpless” before federal bureaucrats; or all those folks that think this is making “America Great Again” – but do not substitute my name.
Every one of the similar “news releases” are stuffed with every Tom, Dick and Harriet that was (and remains) AWOL in the tragedy of the federal government’s forcible imposition and ruthless protection of wolves (and grizzly bears for that matter) in the settled landscapes of The Lower 48 States. These enthusiasts go on and on and on about how, “I look forward to the implementation of this rule so that the states can properly manage their own gray wolf population and alleviate the impacts this species has on our local farmers, their livestock, numerous family pets, and big game herds” and about how they and their colleagues tried and tried but their “proposals were challenged with frivolous lawsuits from extremist organizations who don’t rely on science or facts and seek to fundraise by keeping species on the Endangered Species Act in perpetuity”. Like the bachelor relative that spent the War in Fort Dix, their tales of battles fought are but sad imaginings. If they were actually aware of and concerned about “the impacts this species (i.e. wolves) has on our local farmers, their livestock, numerous family pets, and big game herds” why did they not do anything about it for years?
The wolf is no more “delisted”, “recovered” or its “management returned to the state” than Eastern European countries were “liberated” after WWII when Russia renamed them “Democratic People’s Republic of (fill-in-the-blank). I say this is because:
- The Endangered Species Act with all its unconstitutional bureaucratic powers remains intact. This means that when the current occupant of the White House leaves, the reassertion of the “need” to declare the (fill-in-the-blank) wolves of SE Colorado or the “remnant” blue/gray wolves of the Distinct Population Segment Pack in Northern Kentucky East of Hwy 65 will once more be on the table. The new areas filling with wolves will “need” federal protection to guarantee “diversity” and “Alpha males”. The areas first forced to accept wolves and where states are now or soon will be “managing” “their” wolves will, according to some federal “expert”, be “overharvesting”, or failing to prevent hybridization with coyotes and dogs, or anyone of dozens of concocted and imaginary reasons be in “need” of federal authority.
- Wolves (and grizzly bears) are the federal and radical’s weapons of choice to disable Rural American economies and communities in order to control and vacate them. If the last 40 years have taught Rural Americans anything; it is that politicians have profited mightily from passing laws that enable radical environmental organizations to utilize self-serving bureaucrats in order to destroy ranching, hunting, trapping, animal ownership and use, dams, forest management, range management, rural economies and rural “domestic Tranquility”. This while the politicians are AWOL and blameless once again as they struggle to no avail to enact “proposals challenged with frivolous lawsuits from extremist organizations who don’t rely on science or facts and seek to fundraise by keeping species on the Endangered Species Act in perpetuity”. Poor babies!
- If the current President is unable to replace and reduce the army of bureaucrat ideologues (the odds of that sadly being longer than Old Nellie winning the Kentucky Derby), the bureaucrats that established these unethical government activities and wrote the regulations underpinning them, plus the environmental/animal rights/anti-American extremist organizations they work for intermittently, remain ready to make the wolf and associated issues like Wilderness and grizzly bears once more front and center.
- In the meantime, state Treasuries and State Wildlife Agencies will pick up all the costs of maintaining what the federal government created and imposed and the future costs of all the places wolves spread to from livestock and dog compensation to resolution of human safety and wildlife disease problems. Increased lawsuits by radicals based on spurious precedents of the past 30 years will be coupled with abundant “research papers” pointing out “new data” about wolves and their travails from unproven and undisputable claims about numbers, reproduction and presence to submergence in domestic dog and coyote DNA. Add in the lawsuits about “inhumane” violations of wolf management (snares, dogs, poisons, lengthy seasons, etc.) and the amount of authority and money leftover in any state to “manage” other wildlife will be severely depleted.
Consider the sordid record of the ESA to date:
- Wolves were “listed” despite numbers in the millions worldwide.
- Wolves have thousands of years of written and reported history of killing humans, devastating rural peoples’ families, economies and their communities. Like so many disagreeable historical facts of late, these facts are denied and ignored.
- Wolves were exterminated at great time and expense throughout the settled landscapes of Europe and the Lower 48 States in the past 200 years when time, manpower and technology made it possible. This is treated today as a genocide of greater concern to urban society than abortion or “mercy” killing.
- When US Fish & Wildlife Service requested money and authority to re-introduce wolves into the West in the late 1980’s, Congress refused to grant either. Despite Congressional refusal, in the mid 1990’s, USFWS secretly took $45 to 60 Million out of state wildlife agency funding from Excise Taxes and trapped wolves somewhere in Canada, imported them clandestinely, and released them in Yellowstone Park – a federal enclave with “Exclusive Jurisdiction” meaning a place where NO State Jurisdiction or Authority exists. Once released, the wolves spread to surrounding states and then to the states that surrounded them and as they continue to do.
- When, four years later Congress was made aware of the theft of the State Funds by Government Accounting Office Auditors to conduct an unauthorized act, no one was even admonished much less punished and those mainly responsible were promoted and went on to very high-paying jobs with the extremist organizations they enabled as bureaucrats.
- No Governors were ever asked if they would allow, much less wanted federal wolves, nor told who would pay for the wolves’ maintenance and damage. Therefore no Local communities or Counties had any say in their role of hosting any and all wolves.
- State wildlife agencies’ corruption and collusion in the entire affair from start to finish was exposed since they never even requested that Congress replace the stolen state wildlife program funds.
- Unbeknownst to those passing Acts like the ESA and Wilderness Act, the concept of “Native Species” and “Native Ecosystem” have become recurring words in the federal regulatory lexicon. That is a smokescreen for all manner of mischief and it will be all over bureaucrat and court demands of “State” wolf management. Why do wolves or grizzly bears or bison “belong somewhere they were centuries ago? Think about that. Do bison “belong” once again in the fall-plowed fields of western Minnesota? Do grizzly bears “belong” in Spokane suburbs? Do wolves “belong” in the settled landscapes of The Lower 48 States, or on Isle Royale National Park for that matter? What is a “Wilderness” or a Marine “Sanctuary” other than an expanding acreage of unused and unmanaged land that is not even a model of what it can increase dramatically like fires or a control-site for applied research to resolve management and use of similar natural resources? That these terms and concepts have seeped into federal environmental operations is worrisome. The terms and concepts should be eliminated from the governmental while being put back into applied biology and history books for serious references as to where we have been and where we are headed.
- Because traditional funding sources from hunting licenses and permits have declined due to wolf predation on game species; and because wolf issues diverted more and more funding to lawsuits, surveys, political justification research, public media campaigns and indoctrination of children – state wildlife agency employment became more precarious and dependent on blind instructions and obfuscated explanations of the effect of wolves. Agency goals shifted 180 degrees from the management and use of renewable natural resources for human benefit to the suppression and elimination of human welfare for imaginary benefit of an imaginary environment and animals given the status of human citizens that had become a blight on the land.
Would you trust these bureaucrats to babysit your kids with a record like this?
Some facts about the “Recovery of the Gray Wolf and Proposed Rule to Delist the Species” in the three states indicate what lies ahead. It took about 5 years for all three states to wade through radical lawsuits and recalcitrant federal bureaucrats to obtain what federal lawmakers in Congress “gave” them – not because of any “Recovery” or concern about rural America – due only to simple political pressure that the more conservative residents of those three states were insisting on. Minnesota, a more liberal and ideological “environmental” state was supposed to get the gift with those three states but due to their political reluctance to offend the urban centers that run the state (like Chicago runs Illinois), Minnesota was dropped from the list when the backlash became too hot. Since the three states have had wolf “management authority” “returned” (considering they had claimed no resident wolves for 50 years and then federal control was imposed with forcibly inserted wolves; “returned” is a strange word about something you never wanted and had exterminated at great expense over a long period) their experience is worth noting.
- Initial sale of wolf licenses and the increase in wolf revenue is wearing off. Wolves are hard to find and “sport kill” are less than hoped for (to say the least). The novelty of purchasing a wolf license is best shown by a powerful federal legislator that when I was introduced to him he smiled, dug out his wallet to show me his wolf hunting license. I wonder if he still has one and if he ever got a wolf?
- Federal estimates of 5,000 wolves in the Lower 48 States is a low ball number; the numbers are closer to 8,000. Think about how many wolves you would have to kill annually to just keep the populations steady (it doesn’t really work this accurately in good old Mother Nature but humor me). At a minimum it would take in the neighborhood of 2,000 wolves throughout the range of the wolves. One of the states got 43 wolves, another got about 35 last year. In other words, “managing” wolves is a farce. Between federal bureaucrats hiding until a change of Administration and state bureaucrats using the wildlife new math of lowballing some estimates and highballing other “estimates” there will be no numbers resolutions when radical lawsuits hit state managers.
- In the meantime, livestock depredations will increase or at best stay steady with compensation being something no state can long support. Big Game numbers will also continue to decline as the same number of wolves will need to eat and if ranchers and dog owners can shoot (or at) threatening wolves it does not take a rocket scientist to expect ever heavier predation on elk, moose and deer.
- To foresee a recovery of big game or a reduction in livestock depredation, the number of wolves in the neighborhood would have to be reduced 40 to 70% and kept there, ad infinitum! Anyone telling you that ANY state can or would even envision such a scheme, given the continued existence of the ESA and the now accepted precedent that any wolf anywhere has been “recovered” so a drastic reduction in wolves would be perceived as extermination and it would provoke a federal National Emergency (under the next President to be sure) and possibly the use of federal troops like Ike sent into Alabama.
- Dense wolf populations where they currently exist are and will continue to cause expansion into outlying areas and states, as well as suburban and in some cases urban environments. Since wolves are so difficult to control, the increasing costs of wolf control will quickly exceed the revenue pittance they will soon bring in. Hello, state tax increases.
- Increasing the annual take of wolves by revenue-producing (i.e. affordable) means and private citizens in every state desiring to do so involves innovation and constant change as the ability of wolves to avoid danger goes on display. Pack animals learn quickly as a trap goes off or a bullet hits one as they come to some sort of bait. States and the federal government will not allow this innovation: states because of fear of federal bureaucrats and the federal bureaucrats because they work essentially for radical causes and their career success depends on radical favor. Aerial hunting (periodically necessary in Alaska and Siberia) will be found “Unfair” and a violation of the Airborne Hunting Act. Fur sale and import/export will be attacked and its use or display will be discouraged by socialists and the politicians seeking votes in the next election. M-44’s and deadfalls will be prohibited. Upland, bear and cougar hunting (especially rabbit hounds, bird dogs, bear hounds, etc.) will continue to emit their last screams as their owners struggle to get to the site where wolves have bush-wacked them. Placement regulation of baits, traps or other devices will be designed to make them ineffective. Breeding and use of wolfhounds that were bred and used in Ireland to eliminate the last wolves on that island centuries ago will be forbidden. As will the sale of expensive guided chases made available to wealthy sportsmen interested in a unique and effective chase. Private property, especially owned by non-resident urban wealthy folks, parks and other non-hunting public lands will be closed to “management” controls of predators, especially wolves. Unless the State is willing to impose forcible access (as some Counties do for thistle control) to known wolf denning or other such wolf habitats for controls like denning and aerial hunting, the limited access to control operations will be very discouraging when outlined on a map. Wolves will learn these areas before the “experts will even admit their role in protecting wolves. This is only a short rundown of the problems facing anyone thinking they will reduce depredations, predation and dangers from wolves once “management is returned” to their state.
- The only possible beneficiaries of states financing this expanding federal debacle will be the occasional (too frequent instances will require those harmed to change their lifestyle) rancher or dog owner or parent that will be able to kill a wolf in the pasture or yard where family members are present. State enforcers and prosecutors will be more lenient in most states than their federal counterparts and the penalties will, or should be, lessened after federal control is abandoned.
- Any thoughts of large reductions in wolf densities to protect property like cattle, sheep or dogs; or to allow large ungulates to recover and maintain hunt-able populations are pipedreams.
- In conclusion, this “Recovery”, “Delisting” and “Returning Wolf Management to the States” are like prescribing an opioid to kill pain while the underlying malady increases the inevitable likelihood of a very bad outcome. The phony “Recovery” levels are now established and the States must pay to keep them there.
Lest you think I am only whining here: chew on this.
The only path I see to be a valid solution to this growing problem is:
- Amend or Repeal the Endangered Species Act.
- If amended, it MUST REQUIRE any Federal Action in any State of the United States to:
- Be described in a 10 Year Proposal that specifically describes the reason for the proposal, the proposed federal expenditures and actions required, and any expected ancillary effects of the proposed action to save and or protect a Species (and no lesser biological entity) determined to be Endangered.
- Such Proposal shall be submitted to the Governor of the affected State for his review and written concurrence or rejection. The federal agency should fund a public meeting in the Capital of the State, if so desired by the Governor, before he decides on the Proposal.
- Such Proposal, if approved by the Governor should be opened to the public in two Public meetings in the affected state and the findings of those meetings shall be attached to the Proposal and submitted in the Annual Federal Budget for Congressional Review, Approval and Authorization.
- Any work needed beyond 10-years would require a New Proposal and a repeat of the above process.
Rural communities should have a strong say in what sort of environment they live in. Ultimately, in a just system of governance the basic framework and what constitutes a just environment should be decided by Local government. Local governments should be protected and honored by State governments. State governments should be protected and nourished by the federal government. In other words, if the Local community wants NO WOLVES, that should be it, no matter what state or far-off federal politicians say or do on behalf of urban voters or those that covet control of rural landscapes. This will never be renewed (yes it once existed to the great “domestic Tranquility” joy of rural people) as long as states are bound and threatened by federal overseers beholden to unaffected voters with no dog in the fight. “Returning Wolf Management” should be treated like Clint Eastwood’s infamous observation to his political boss who screamed in his face asking, what do you think?” to which Harry (Eastwood) simply snarled, “Your breath mints ain’t cutting it”. It is only designed to give everyone dreams while things fall apart.
For these reasons and more I do not regret I will not be able to attend the celebration of the “Return of Wolf Management to the States”. My wife and I play cribbage on that evening of the week.
19 March 2019
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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.
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