With 25 plus years as a California Department of Food Agriculture biologist I learned much about invasive species and “endangered species”… but not nearly enough about maneuvering the minefield of politics. To start with, the nature of political agenda coupled with true science is an oxymoron; it’s like trying to invent the floating anchor. Science is a quest for truth, not agendas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s quest for agenda-driven results, “saving endangered species,” is nothing short of astonishing.
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Example: In the guise of “endangered species,” the gray wolf (which is prolific in Canada and Alaska) has been re-introduced to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming from the wilds of Canada, the object being to re-populate the United States with this species. The problem is the wolf is a highly invasive species, eating other “endangered species” along with sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, cats, dogs, deer … and anything convenient. They have no natural enemies, no mechanism to keep them in check except man. To list the wolf as “endangered” is not just a misnomer, but an egregious misrepresentation of the truth. In fact, the wolf is so invasive that FWS is now selling hunting tags to kill them, and pocketing the money.
They used erroneously obtained monies to transplant these animals to our soil, and are now killing them by so-called “depredation permit.” What could they possibly have expected? So, the end product for the FWS is clearly based less on science and more on control and money. If it were based on science they would quit calling the gray wolf “endangered” and have left them alone. The gray wolf is a magnificent, intelligent animal with highly developed family structures, having the same feelings of loss, worry and happiness as our own faithful companions. What is FWS doing bringing them here and then selling tags to kill them? They should be live trapped and returned to the wilds of Canada where they were shanghaied before they multiply and do more harm to us, and we to them. The cost of returning them should be borne by the very conservationist/government complex that spawned this monstrous injustice to begin with, not by taxpayers.
Why did our forefathers rid themselves of the wolf and grizzly bear anyway; wasn’t it common sense? The metaphor “crying wolf” must have had significant origins. Let them thrive in Alaska and Canada where they belong. How many human maulings and fatalities caused by the grizzly’s reintroduction to Yellowstone must there be? Is this what the EPA meant by “restoring the natural balance?” Reintroductions of dangerous and economically untenable species like the grizzly and wolf is simply more government gone wild.
They should be held responsible both civilly and criminally, just like the rest of us would be if we brought a grizzly to a community dumpster, or a wolf to someone’s flock of sheep where they eventually end up anyway. The incredulity of the EPA and FWS dreaming up, and Congress financing, a 17th century America for dangerous animals near today’s communities and in agricultural areas is beyond absurdity. It is the essence of environmental religion.
There is no question; the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) has done more to destroy our economy, rights and to misrepresent the status of species than any other single piece of legislation in U.S. history. It’s not as insidious as banning guns, it is in your face “take your property” if you happen to live in the wrong place. ESA by itself has destroyed countless thousands of jobs throughout the Northwest and crippled many rural communities from the devastated Tule Lake farmers to our once prosperous logging industry and much more. It is neither gray wolves nor spotted owls, nor the entire list of species, but ESA that is the culprit of our condition. In the EPA’s design of the “balance of nature equation,” somehow the human species got left out. It is as simple as that.
We are the only nation on the planet willing to destroy ourselves for the religion of environmentalism. A tunnel vision ethos based on the tenet, “All flora and fauna decreed by the EPA are holy.” Not just to be protected, but brought back to dominant levels regardless of Constitutional law, common law … even natural law, all law except theirs. A religion where the well-meaning, beguiled and a criminal element supplant science and authentic religion with ideological fealty, devoting their mind and soul to the deity of the “innocent species.” “No time for losers because we are the champions of the world.”
The worst part is our EPA (and members of Congress) in the guise of savior; playing on our affinity for wild species is criminally overstepping Constitutional intent of government restraint and destroying the very mechanism that sustains our environment, our economy. Like Mountain Democrat letter writer Mr. Hocking warned, we need to “Wake up” and demand full accountability from our Congress. Every one of them deserves nothing less than our closest scrutiny and direction. It is they who will form the legacy of American tyranny, or a just model of environmental responsibility.
Rod Kerr is retired with 30 years of service at the California Department of Food Agriculture and with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.