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Reforming the ESA
 1/5/05 by Jim Beers


Recent news items have detailed how the Secretary of the Interior (and the
US Fish and Wildlife Service) have "unveiled a new regulation Monday that
expands the authority of States and Native American Tribes with
Service-approved wolf management plans to manage gray wolves in the Northern
Rocky Mountains population."  Secretary Norton and Assistant Secretary
Manson and USFWS Director Williams are to be thanked for this sensible
gesture.  To those that say it is merely an enticement to get the first two
States (Montana and Idaho) to agree to abide by an FWS-approved Wolf
Management Plan (a condition to get the aforementioned accommodation) I say,
you are probably right.  Getting Montana and Idaho on board with wolves
(like Minnesota and Wisconsin and Michigan) will assure that ALL the other
western States (where wolves will surely be in a decade or less) are
powerless to stand alone against future Federal wolf demands.

I wish to use the Wolf as a typical product of the Endangered Species Act.
The gray wolf was "listed" as Endangered under the Act while there were more
than 70,000 of the same wolves in Canada and Alaska (the latter as you must
know is a State of these United States that periodically has to "control'
wolves to maintain game populations and to protect property.)  At the same
time a Russian wildlife biologist  told me, over lunch in Brussells, that
there were "millions" of wolves in Russia from the Urals to the Pacific
Ocean.  In truth, this clearly indicates that ANYTHING can be "listed."

The fact that wolves were purposely extirpated by State and Federal and
private landowners from the West in the early part of the last century meant

The fact that wolves had come under the authority and jurisdiction of State
governments since the ratification of the Constitution meant nothing.

The fact that Alaska (every bit as much of a State as Minnesota or North
Carolina) had robust, (indeed too-robust) wolf populations meant nothing.

The fact that wolves were widespread worldwide from Europe clear around
Russia to the Atlantic coast of North America meant nothing.

The fact that wolves killed livestock and watchdogs and hunting dogs and pet
dogs meant nothing.

The fact that wolves decimated and then kept permanently depressed big game
populations that were, until recently spectacular examples of US ingenuity
and largesse as well as primary funding sources for State fish and wildlife
agencies meant nothing.

The fact that wolves attack people and have caused school bus stops to be
closed and kids kept indoors during breaks meant nothing.

The fact that the Federal government seized and holds all wolf authority and
the only change anticipated is a conditional return to States of authority
dependent on continued Federal approval meant nothing.

The fact that there are wolves now established in 9 States (AK, MN, WI, MI,
MT, ID, AZ, NM, NC) and getting established in (how many?) others (IL, IN,
UT, OR, WA, CO, NV, NE, ND, ??) has meant nothing to Federal power and
authority over wolves.

Remember this key point about EVERYTHING you are hearing recently about
"delisting" and "approved Wolf Management Plans" and "turning over
management authority to the States."  They are all done "BY" the Secretary
of the Interior or the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service or even
by the President.  That's what is meant by "Service-approved."  What they
"GIVE" can be just as blithely taken away by their successor.  The
Constitution placed this authority at the State level because that is the
most (compared to the Federal) responsive to citizen redress.  In other
words, States protect communities and citizens while the Federal government,
like any other strong central government tends to tyranny and dictatorial
increases for its own (as opposed our) good.

The next Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service could easily be some
animal rights radical from the Humane Society of the US or even PETA.  The
next Secretary of the Interior could very easily be an environmental
extremist from the Wildlerness Society or the Sierra Club or even one of
their "conservation partner wannabees" like Trout Unlimited or the Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation.  The next President could get elected thanks in
large part to New Jersey and Massachusetts.  This latter would mean a
political debt to the folks that banned traps, have strict gun control, and
are famous for coyotes attacking children, beavers flooding homes and
communities, and teaching school kids to keep all food in their hands to
throw at the bears (as the kids run for their lives) that New Jerseyites
refuse to manage.

The President and his Secretary of the Interior and the Assistant Secretary
for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife
Service did not have this Endangered Species power 35 years ago and they
SHOULD NOT have it now or in the future.  (FYI There is a similar Endangered
Species power "food chain" in Commerce for marine plants and animals.)

The danger that all of us (who have been harmed by the Endangered Species
Act and those of us that see how this Act is perverting our very government)
face is false complacency.  As long as the Endangered Species Act remains
unchanged and/or in place none of us are safe.  Unless the Act is amended
radically or even repealed, it holds evil and deadly future creations beyond
anything we can even imagine.  It can easily be a major factor in the end of
this nation as we know it.

Today we are considering a new generation of superhighways (1/4 mile wide
with car lanes and truck lanes and trains and utilities) to replace the
interstates that have spurred our economy and lifestyles for 50 years; does
anyone think such a project is conceivable with this Endangered Species
authority hanging over our heads?

Every year State fish and wildlife agencies become more and more insolvent
and irrelevant due to Federal power grabs and increasing dependence of
federal funds.  Who will protect natural resource managers and users from
the voracious and rich anti-use and anti-management radicals?

Freedoms and rights that have existed in this nation for over two hundred
years from animals as property and agriculture and ranching and logging and
hunting and fishing and trapping and circuses and rodeos to pets and work
animals and use of private property are increasingly vulnerable as court
decisions expand Federal powers under the Act, bureaucrats profit from the
Act, scientists and public land purchase of private property profit from the
Act, posturing politicians profit from the Act, and radical organizations
from animal rights radicals and environmental extremists work with
anti-globalists and groups like the Ruckus Society to control, manipulate,
and profit from the Act.

Don't be duped by bureaucratic kindness.  The Act is a time bomb ticking
away and it cannot be "fixed" by putting a temporary Christmas wrapping on
it.  The reelection of the President has everyone talking "reform".  As
Social Security and the tax code are mentioned let us start mentioning
Endangered Species Act reform.  The politicians will tackle this matter now
(first year after a big reelection with one party controlling the House,
Senate, and the White House) or never.

The bureaucrats are of two types.  There are the long-term top managers
appointed by the last Administration.  They will work surreptitiously day
and night with the extremists and radicals to undermine any reform.  The few
career Federal employees that do not think of Federal power and their
careers before the good of the nation and its natural resources will try to
help but they have not been promoted and will be oppressed by the truly
corrupt layer of managers above them.

Likewise the appointees will be of two types.  Most are tinkerers that enjoy
the camaraderie of federal employees and try to soften any reforms that
upset the employees.  There are a few appointees that understand and will
support reforms but they tend (like the career employees mentioned above) to
be in lesser positions.  That however, is not the current problem that faces

We need to support Federal politicians that will draft and vote for real
reforms.  State politicians need to tell their Federal cousins that they
need to restore States rights in this area.  Passing a reformed ESA will
give the appointees with grit in the Departments the backing they need.
Bureaucrats then need to be told what to do (next year?) with regulations
and policies and partnerships and US positions to the UN by appointees. At
most they have two years before the next presidential elections heat up and
everything is diverted to that race for power.

So don't be lulled to sleep by the nice lady in the Interior Department or
the kindly bureaucrats cutting ribbons.  Either we get real reforms now or
maybe never.  It is up to all of us to protect our liberties and get back
those we lost or face a future where our children will never know what we

Jim Beers
5 January 2005

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