In recent years, there have been numerous calls for coordinated global monitoring networks to understand and mitigate the effects of ecosystem change and biodiversity loss around the world. A new study led by Lindsey Rich, who recently completed her doctorate in wildlife conservation in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, demonstrates that camera traps are one of the most effective methods of collecting this type of data.
by Contributor on Wednesday May 24 2017
By Judith Lavoie. This article is from DeSmog Canada.
A plan to form a new, independent wildlife management agency in B.C., which would relieve the provincial government from managing contentious wildlife issues such as grizzly, wolf and caribou populations, is generating anxiety among some conservation groups who fear the structure of the new program could prioritize the interests of hunters over wildlife.
The proposal for the new agency, first announced in March, was scant on details, but Steve Thomson, then minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, set a fall start-up date and set aside $200,000 for consultations with conservation and hunting groups.
“Government is afraid to manage wolves, for example, or afraid to manage grizzly bears in some cases because of the politics of that,” then energy and mines minister Bill Bennett, an avid hunter and supporter of the controversial grizzly bear trophy hunt, told an East Kootenay radio station.
“Hopefully an agency that is separate from government can make decisions that are in the best long-term interest of wildlife and just forget about the politics and do what is best for the animals,” Bennett said.
According to Thomson, the agency would receive an initial government investment of $5 million and be further funded by hunting licence revenues to the tune of $9 to $10 million annually — money which currently goes into general revenue.
The plan was welcomed by hunters as a way to increase funding for cash-strapped conservation and management programs
The NDP previously tabled a bill calling for dedicated conservation funding, so, in the flurry of pre-election announcements, the plan didn’t get much attention, even though Thomson was flanked by representatives of pro-hunting groups as he made the announcement.
Then, days before the election, five of B.C.’s pro-hunting and trapping organizations — B.C. Wildlife Federation, Guide Outfitters Association of B.C, Wild Sheep Society of B.C, Wildlife Stewardship Council and the B.C. Trappers Association — announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding to work together.
“The collaborative efforts of our five organizations will help ensure the province follows through on its commitment to enhance wildlife management,” Jim Glaicair, president of the 50,000-member B.C. Wildlife Federation, said in a news release.
The organizations emphasized that the MOU was sparked by concern about the ongoing decline of wildlife.
“This is a great opportunity for our organizations to work together for the betterment of wildlife in the province,” said Michael Schneider, Guide Outfitters Association of B.C president.
Hunter-Funded Wildlife Management ‘Huge Step Backwards’
But to other groups and especially those waiting to see whether the new government will stop the grizzly hunt, the MOU appeared to indicate a pro-hunting team lining up to take over the new agency.
Alan Burger, president of B.C. Nature, which represents 53 clubs, with a total of more than 6,000 members, said in an interview that it is a major concern that the only people rooting for the new agency appear to be hunters and trappers.
“If they can dominate an agency like this it is going to be a huge step backwards,” Burger told DeSmog Canada.
“The last thing we need is greater emphasis on big game. We need to focus our attention on the ecosystem,” he said, questioning how the proposal could get so far without consultation.
“Hunting and fishing licences are an important source of revenue and B.C. Nature agrees that there should be a greater share contributed to wildlife management,” Burger said.
“But there is much greater input to the B.C. economy from the non-consumptive users of wildlife — the tourism and wildlife watching industry, people selling binoculars, camera gear, field guides, outdoor gear and, most importantly, the vast majority of British Columbians that spend money travelling and camping to simply enjoy seeing animals alive in the wild,” he said.
Valhalla Wilderness Society has come out swinging against the proposed agency, calling it a thinly disguised attempt by the B.C. government to privatize wildlife management and hand over responsibility to hunters, trappers and guide outfitters.
Funding for wildlife management should not be contingent on hunting licence revenue or special interest groups, a news release from Valhalla says.
“Notwithstanding the poor job the B.C. government has been doing in growing wildlife, wildlife should be managed by government,” it says. “The above-mentioned special interest groups lack the technical expertise to make wildlife decisions based on scientific evidence and are even unwilling to apply the precautionary principle, which, in the face of climate change, is needed more than ever.”
B.C.Wildlife Conservation Funds Desperately Needed
One lesson from the growing controversy is that conservation groups need to work together and find out whether a new model could provide desperately needed funds for conservation, said Val Murray of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies.
“We need to see animals as individuals within communities rather than numbers within a natural resource group,” she said.
“We need a cross-discipline panel of conservation biologists and scientists to bridge the values of consumptive and non-consumptive residents. There is no shortage of good science — what we lack is proper funding to implement what we know, plus good listening skills to apply the ideas.”
Letters asking for more information and setting out objections to the proposal have been sent to all three party leaders, but, until the outcome of the election is clarified, none are willing to jump into the fray.
A spokeswoman for the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Ministry said the previous government was looking at similar model to the agreement between the province and Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C where revenue from fishing licences goes into research, conservation and education programs.
The intention is to hold public consultations before decisions are made, she said.
From DeSmog Canada, by way of the Rossland Telegraph.
While speaking at a media summit last week organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Fort Collins, Colorado, Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler, defended keeping federal lands managed by the government and open to the public. He also reiterated his father’s strong support for U.S. energy development, proposed some corporate sponsorships in national parks, questioned humans’ role in climate change, and criticized Hillary Clinton for “pandering” to hunters with “phoniness.” U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, spoke for Clinton’s campaign at the summit a day later, and provided plenty of contrast between the presidential candidates.
Trump Jr. has served as an adviser to his father on natural-resources issues and has even joked with family that, should his father win, he’d like to be Secretary of the Interior, overseeing national parks and millions of acres of federal public lands. In Fort Collins, he said he’s not “the policy guy,” but repeated his frequent pledge to be a “loud voice” for preserving public lands access for sportsmen. Trump Jr. also mocked some gun-control measures, such as ammunition limits, boasting, “I have a thousand rounds of ammunition in my vehicle almost at all times because it’s called two bricks of .22 … You know, I’ll blow…through that with my kids on a weekend.”
Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, partly distinguished himself among other GOP candidates during primary season—not that that was a problem for the New York real-estate developer—by balking at the transfer of federal public lands to states or counties. While Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others expressed support for public-land transfers, kowtowing to some Western conservatives, Trump rejected the idea. Speaking to Field & Stream in January, Trump said: “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”
Trump Jr. reaffirmed that stance, but also supported more input for states as long as those efforts don’t jeopardize public access.
Trump, however, did attack the Bureau of Land Management and its “draconian rule,” writing in an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, also in January: “The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians.”
Rep. Thompson called Trump’s somewhat muddled stance of federal land management a “dangerous position to take,” saying Clinton unequivocally opposes public-land transfers. As far as Clinton’s sporting cred, Thompson said the Democratic candidate doesn’t pretend to be a hook-and-bullet enthusiast, but “she gets it” when it comes to access issues.
In a campaign loud with proclamations yet nearly vacant of substantive policies, the most in-depth view into Trump’s resource agenda came during his May speechat a North Dakota petroleum conference. Trump pledged to “save the coal industry,” approve the Keystone XL gas pipeline, roll back federal controls limiting energy development on some public lands, and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris global climate agreement. A Republican National Committee spokesman recently said more details on Trump’s energy and environmental policies should be coming soon. His son reiterated the campaign’s “very pro-U.S. energy” position, although he did say agencies should have some role in regulating energy development on public lands, referring to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed fracking rule that was recently rejected by a federal judge.
On climate change, Trump Jr. said U.S. and global policies shouldn’t penalize industries and, while acknowledging the strong scientific consensus on climate change and its causes, he added that humans’ and industries’ roles in global warming have “yet to be shown to me.”
Trump Jr. also offered mild support for the Endangered Species Act, saying it had achieved some successes, but argued the law has served as a “Trojan horse” to entirely prohibit development in some cases. He also suggested national-parks management and budgets could benefit from increased corporate partnerships. Trump’s son declared his own affinity for the backcountry and described national parks as being “a little bit too ‘tourist-ized’ for myself,” but he said, “I think there are ways you can do (corporate sponsorship) in a way that is beneficial” without installing flashing logos on natural features or commercializing the parks.
Clinton has shared several detailed policies on the environment and energy so far, including a white paper on land management and conservation that lays out support for a national park management fund and increased renewable energy development on public lands. Those proposals signal Clinton will “double down” on protecting public lands and preserving access, Thompson said.
Thompson also lauded Clinton for taking “a risky public position” on energy development—referring to her previous statement that she will put lots of coalmines “out of business”—but “she hasn’t backed away from it,” he said. “She understands there are better ways to generate the energy resources that we need.”
“Before we go further, it will be useful to sum up those arguments for conservation that are based in individual and collective human self-interest, as put forward here. The most fundamental message is: if we can’t be good, at least we can be prudent. The message has been delivered historically and is delivered today in a number of ways: the ‘wise use’ arguments involve husbandry, stewardship, harvest, future resources…
“The guts of the self-interest family of arguments is that they are entirely and exclusively man-orientated, anthropocentric. Whether it is directed to individual, group, nation, or species, the appeal is to the human being and the human interest.
“Throughout we assume nature as ‘resource,’ whether for physical use or as a source of aesthetic enjoyment. In this sense, living sensate wildlife beings are no different from water, soils, and land forms, all of which were set in place by a beneficent nature expressly for human purposes. Whether man is good steward or renegade, whether answerable to God or to the bio-system or to the future human generations or not, there is no question about the locus of vested power and authority on Earth. This is illustrated best, I think, in the monumentally dull-witted arrogance of the concept of ‘harvest’ as applied to wildlife species.
“I no longer believe that there is, in practice, such a thing as a ‘renewable’ resource. Once a thing is perceived as having some utility–any utility–and is thus perceived as a ‘resource,’ its depletion is only a matter of time. I know of no wildlife that is being ‘renewed’ anywhere–not yellow birch or hemlock or anchovies or marlins or leopards or salmon or bowhead whales or anything else. ‘Renewable resource’ is self-contradictory in coherence, at least as applied to wildlife.
“If ‘resource’ continues to mean something that is put to human use, then no resource is renewable. Our demands have quite outstripped the capacity of those resources to satisfy them, and much less to satisfy them on a ‘sustainable’ basis. And we are, of course, never satisfied.”
Back in 1980, the late Canadian naturalist, John A. Livingston, wrote the following on the loss of wildlife habitat………
There was behind my parents’ house a city ravine, with a little stream running through it. On one end, before the stream disappeared into a large pipe, there was a little marshy area where the water spilled shallowly to one side. There were toads and frogs and newts. If you lay very quiet in the grass at the water’s edge, you could observe them. The longer you looked, the more deeply you were mesmerized…possessed. There was no world whatever, outside that world…nothing beyond shimmering light on water, smooth clean muck, green plants, trickling sounds, flickering tadpoles, living, being. That was when the pain started.
The knife of separation is cruel. I not only remember in factual sense but I can feel to this day the anguished frustration, the knowledge that I could never—not ever—be more than a boy on the grass, excluded from that world wholly and eternally. But why? Why pick on me? I wished it no harm; I only wanted to be part, to join, to “plug in.” The denial was impersonal and cold and final. It had gnawed at me ever since—not all the time, mercifully—but much of it.
I wept over it, in a dogwood thicket. In the certainty that through no apparent fault of my own I was being unjustly denied something that was as fundamentally important as air, I felt much anguish at times. Unpredictably, of course, as it is with pre-adolescents, there would be unexpected moments of pure inexpressible joy and happiness when the “free flow” between nature and myself was unobstructed and open. Such moments always seemed to happen accidentally: why couldn’t I will them? Always there was a mix of sadness and pleasure. My early experience with nature was bittersweet; it still is. I rejoice in wildlife and I despair, in equal measure.
That is one side of it. Plans were revealed for the construction of a storm sewer through “my” ravine. Shock, dismay, and all the rest of it were mine early. The ten-year-old mind is not subtle: how can I warn the frogs and toads and newts? Can I get them out of there, take them away somewhere? They are defenseless; it is wrong to hurt them. What right do we have to hurt them when we cannot warn them? They don’t know what is happening, or why. There was much puzzlement here. All logic seemed to be backwards or upside down; nothing made sense. I could do nothing but watch, with sorrow and fury. But why the sorrow and the fury? What is compassion, after all, and where does it come from? And why do so many other people feel nothing at all? Those questions are as germane today as they were when I was ten. It seems clear now that, although there was no gainsaying the intensity of my emotion, my feeling for the wildlife beings involved, the sorrow and fury, were perhaps entirely on my own behalf, I was responding intensely because I was being impinged upon.
I think that through these moments of “free flow,” in the grass by the pondbeneath the dogwoods, the toads and the frogs and the newts and their hypnotic sunlight had been irreversibly incorporated into my world, literally into me. My world was being tampered with…Next spring I would have a piece missing, chewed out of me by the ditch diggers. The hurt was much more than resentment and sympathy. It was real, and I would feel it always.
…Despite repeated attempts, and despite even having heard and smelled him, and having photographed his fresh footprint, I have never seen a wild tiger. At this late date—meaning both my own chronology and the status of the tiger population—I probably never will. That is not as important now to me as it used to be, because the fortunes of the tiger are no less close to me for that. The tiger is already an integral part of me and his fate is mine. He entered me with the toads and frogs and newts.
If an animal lives,
If it gets away,
hunt it down and kill it.
If it learns to adapt to humans,
hate it and kill it year ‘round.
If it becomes endangered,
kill its mother and put it in a zoo.
If an animal proves intelligent,
respect it then kill it.
If you think it dumb,
kill it and eat it.
If it simply is,
kill it because it’s there.
If anyone’s watching,
Just call it “conservation.”
There is a silly little drama going on in Nevada and the Neo Cons, the militias and the welfare ranchers would have us believe there is another Waco about to happen.
For some strange reason I am on the Conservative Daily mailing list. I think they confused the word “conservation” with the word “conservative.”
Joe Otto who I assume speaks for the Conservative Daily sent me this message today (below) and I could not resist responding to it.
It’s all about a rancher named Cliven Bundy who has not paid his grazing fees since 1990 and is now upset that the government has come to collect over two decades in back fees.
You see, Cliven believes that he has every right to graze his cows free of charge on public land. It’s called welfare ranching and they believe their “right” to feed at the public trough trumps the right of endangered species to exist.
So I decided to inject my comments into Otto’s somewhat hysterical letter defending Cliven and his fellow welfare ranchers from the tyranny of Obama. You see when anything happens they don’t agree with, Obama is always at fault, and Obama is especially at fault when the thing the Neo Cons are upset with is something initiated by one of the two former Bush Presidents like this particular case.
Anyhow, this is Otto’s letter with my comments.
Dear Conservative, (PW: You mean dear conservationist Otto. You were addressing me I think.)
By now you have probably heard about the crisis surrounding the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. In case you haven’t, here is the basic synopsis.
(PW: Yes the Fox Network has their undies in a knot over this, which means it is hardly a major story elsewhere.)
Cliven Bundy is a cattle rancher whose family has lived near Bunkerville, NV for the last 140 years. The Bundy family’s cattle have always grazed on what had always been state-owned, public land. In 1993, the Federal Government discovered that Bundy’s grazing area was also home to the endangered Desert Tortoise. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) swooped in and took over control of the land. In order to dissuade farmers and ranchers from using the land and threatening the tortoise population, the BLM instituted a policy where ranchers would be forced to pay a grazing fee before using the land.
(PW: Let me see, the Bundy family has lived on the land for 140 years and the desert turtle has lived there for hundreds of thousands of years. The Bundy family took their land by force from Native Americans but the turtles were there even before the Native Americans. In 1993, the government did not discover that the grazing area was home to the turtle. They knew that. What they discovered was that the turtle was endangered and one probable cause was over-grazing by rancher Bundy’s cows.)
For Cliven Bundy, this was an unacceptable affront to his livelihood. His family has lived off this land for over a century, long before the creation of the BLM, and the idea that he would now have to pay a tax to protect a turtle was nothing short of absurd.
(PW: To the turtles it is an unacceptable affront to their right to survive as a species. Rancher Bundy believes the turtle’s right to survive is absurd yet he believes he has a God-given right to graze his cattle for profit at public expense. It is also not a tax but a grazing fee. In exchange for the fee, Bundy gets to graze his cattle. Bundy wants free food for his cows at public expense. In other words he wants welfare.)
So, Bundy refused to pay the tax. He allowed his cattle to graze on the land and didn’t pay the federal government a dime to do it. Why should he? The land is technically state-owned public land, yet the federal government want’s a cut because of an endangered turtle. Well, after twenty years of court battles, the Bureau of Land Management has finally swooped in and begun confiscating Bundy’s cattle at gunpoint to pay the $1.1 million that he owes in back “grazing fees” for using public land! This is absurd and should be a wake-up call to everyone! The government doesn’t care about common sense or decency… these militarized agencies and bureaus will use every law, regulation, and technicality to come after YOU with the full weight of the Federal government!
(PW: The law assessed a fee and rancher Bundy refused to pay the fee for over two decades and now he seems surprised that the government has called to collect back fees. Otto states the land is state owned and public but somehow rancher Bundy has a right to use it free of charge. Bundy owes back fees and the government is collecting those back fees by the confiscation of the cattle that Bundy has been raising at the expense of the public. It’s a classic case of welfare ranching where the rancher believes he is entitled to have his animals raised for slaughter at public expense. I hope the government does use every law, regulations and technicality to collect the back fees and to protect the right of the turtles to survive.)
Tell Congress to STOP the out-of-control militarization of agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and put an end to the Obama administration’s intimidation tactics!
(PW: I intend to tell Congress in the words “Good on you for defending the turtles and enforcing the grazing fees.”
How despicable is this… The federal government is seizing a rancher’s cattle because he didn’t pay a $1.1 Million “grazing fee” that was set up to protect a damn turtle! Anyone with half a brain can see that this is ludicrous… yet the government continues to wage its war on Cliven Bundy and proceeds to seize his cattle at gunpoint.
(PW: If anyone else does not pay their bills, they forfeit their property. Why should ranchers be exempt and above the law. Why should the public support Cliven’s damn cows? Why do his damn cows have more rights than the desert tortoise? The government is not waging war on Bundy, they are simply enforcing the law. Personally I disapproved of the fee myself. He should have been banned completely from grazing his cows on the land occupied by an endangered species.”)
I’ve said it before: It is absolutely ridiculous that we have so many militarized, non-law enforcement agencies in government. Agencies like the Department of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the IRS, and even the Bureau of Land Management have been arming themselves to the teeth for years.
(PW: I’ve never seen an armed IRS agent, That would be scary, hell they are scary enough unarmed. I have certainly never seen an armed member of the Department of Education but considering all the school shootings, that might not be a bad idea. A law has been broken and it is being enforced. Pretty damn straight forward to me.)
Now, the full weight of the government has come down on the Bundy ranch. There are snipers watching the family’s movements, armed agents rounding up cattle, and the BLM has effectively made the whole area a “constitution free zone,” or at least that’s what they want it to be. The land is public land on a public road. Yet, anyone who wants to protest the government’s tyrannical actions is limited to doing so within a preset “First Amendment Zone” set up by government officials.
(PW: Can someone tell me where in the Constitution it says that ranchers have the right to graze for free on public land? The land as Otto says is public land on a public road. It is not Clive Bundy’s land. It is however turtle land. Thank you United States government for defending our endangered turtles. As for snipers, the fact is with dozens of trigger happy militia nut bars in camo, armed to the teeth, the deployment of snipers seems like a reasonable response. I admit the First Amendment zone is unacceptable but by order of the Governor of Nevada it has been taken down.)
That is ridiculous, and the protesters have fanned out, taking their frustration directly to the federal agents. In the last two days, one protester has been tackled to the ground and another has been shot with a stun gun. Now, militias from around the country have been mobilized and are beginning to arrive in Nevada to defend the ranch from this clearly tyrannical action. One county official warned the “inbred” militiamen (his words, not mine) from neighboring Utah that if they come to Cliven Bundy’s aid, then they “better have funeral plans.”
(PW: Oh no not the Mormons!!! I hope this is not another Mountain Meadow Massacre. It is amazing to see so many ultra conservatives ready to rise up and die to defend welfare rights for ranchers. Oh the tyranny of collecting unpaid bills.)
How despicable is that? Rather than defend the local rancher against the government thugs, the local Clark County Commissioner is actually threatening people if they show up to help him!
(PW: Yes I would imagine that the Clark County Commissioner would be opposing mob rule. When a bunch of wild eyed men in camo arrive with heavy weaponry it is reasonable for the County Commissioner to condemn their invasion of his county.)
I pray to God that there isn’t bloodshed. I really hope that the Federal government realizes that they are waging this war over nothing but a damn turtle and pull back. I mean, think about it… people could actually die over a dispute over cattle grazing on a turtle sanctuary… What on earth is this world coming to?
(PW: It is a world where human greed is eradicating endangered species and diminishing biodiversity. Otto you said it yourself, it’s a turtle sanctuary. It seems to me that people would be making a decision to risk dying for some damn cow. I think the turtle is much more deserving, after all it is a sanctuary for turtles. This is not a dispute over a turtle anyhow, it is a dispute over the fact that a welfare rancher has refused to pay his grazing bill.)
The fact remains that this is just one of the latest attempts for the Federal government to use loopholes to seize property for the “common good.” There is a case in Colorado where a couple’s mountain cabin is being seized and demolished to create “open space.” The government is actually using eminent domain to seize a piece of property just to create more open space.
(PW: If you build a cabin on public land you don’t have rights to the land just because you built the cabin. People have seized too much open space for their own use and by doing so they deprive nature of open space for wildlife. Nature needs more open spaces, more turtles and fewer cows.)
Rather than using common sense and restraint, the Federal government looks for every opportunity to come down hard on average citizens! This has to stop!
(PW: If citizens are a threat to the survival of an endangered species they should be stopped. Welfare ranchers are not average citizens, they are people who have grown rich at the public expense.)
The government shouldn’t be allowed to levy $1.1 Million fines on hard working Americans because their family’s ranch’s historical grazing grounds are now occupied by an endangered turtle! Americans from across the country shouldn’t have to mobilize in order to fend off tyrannical government agents!
(PW: It is not a fine, it’s a grazing fee, a fee that rancher Bundy has refused to pay for over two decades. Bundy’s lands are not now being occupied by an endangered turtle. The turtle’s land is being occupied by Bundy’s cattle.)
What if the government came into your home or business and threatened you because of a technicality or nonsense regulation? Things like this happen every day across America because we have given the Executive branch and its numerous agencies too much power over our lives!
(PW: When the U.S. Court and the IRS came after us for defending whales they were acting on the request of the Japanese whalers, I did not see many conservatives defending our rights to defend the whales. No most of them were defending the “right” of Japanese whalers to use American courts to stop American whale defenders.)
The Obama administration wouldn’t even send in one soldier to protect our ambassador in Benghazi, but it has sent in over 200 agents to harass a rancher in Nevada! This is despicable! The time has come to rein in these out of control, militarized government agencies. Congress must put an end to the Obama administration’s intimidation tactics!
(PW) Wow, they actually managed to fit Libya into their rant. That’s a stretch. The law removing free grazing rights came under the George H. Bush administration, not Obama.)
Tell Congress to STOP the out-of-control militarization of agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and put an end to the Obama administration’s intimidation tactics!
I will tell them in the words of George W. Bush, “Go get ‘em boys.” We need to put an end to Welfare ranching.
The December 18, 2013, Santa Fe Reporter, featured a profile of
James Lane recently fired as director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. While no public reason was given for Lane’s firing, it seems likely that it was due, at least in part, to his public derision of the nonhunters as “tree-huggin’ hippies.” The department, sometimes known as “Maim and Squish,” manages wildlife on behalf of hunters and ranchers. Even after Lane’s ignominious departure, Scott Bidegain, a board member of NM Cattlegrowers Association, continues as chairman of the Game Commission, which supervises the department’s so-called professional wildlife managers.
What has been the reaction of New Mexico’s environmental and animal protection lobbyists? The supposed protectors of wildlife sheepishly sent a letter to the hunter-rancher-in-chief, begging Bidegain to replace Lane with a professional wildlife manager dedicated to the principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
This model is aptly summed up by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Man has hunted since he walked the Earth. Every early culture relied on hunting for survival. Through hunting, man forged a connection with the land and learned quickly that stewardship of the land went hand-in-hand with maintaining wildlife – and their own way of life.
In the first half of the 20th century, leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold shaped a set of ideals that came to be known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. They articulated the philosophy that all wildlife belong to all of us. . . .
The Pittman-Robertson act was passed in 1937, through which hunters voluntarily imposed a tax on themselves, ensuring that a portion of the sale of all firearms and ammunition would be expressly dedicated to managing the wildlife entrusted to the public. The Pittman-Robertson Act generates $700 million annually, which is distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to state fish and game agencies across America.
The federal tax on firearms and ammunition is collected by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). As its name suggests, TTB also administers federal taxes on alcohol and tobacco. No one expects these tax revenues to be used to promote smoking and drinking, yet hunters expect firearms taxes to be used to promote hunting.
RMEF is, however, correct to point out that hominids have been killing wildlife since they first learned to walk upright. In North America, hunting dates back to mass extinctions of the Pleistocene, which corresponded with the arrival of humans on this continent. Well before the establishment of “Native” American cultures species such as saber-toothed cats disappeared from the North American landscape. Species which were able to survive centuries of hunting with spears, bows and arrows, proved little match for European firearms technology.
Only when hunters began to fear an end to their gruesome blood sport did wildlife managers like Aldo Leopold begin to rethink the idea of hunting without limit. Along with the establishment of the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the Pittman-Robertson Act attempted to protect ranchers and hunters from destroying both their own livelihoods and their ability to indulge in sadistic blood sports. Thus was born the myth that ranchers and hunters, who had come close to totally destroying the land and the wildlife who live on it, were the “true conservationists,” codified by the North American Model of Conservation.
In spite of the best efforts of the “hunter-conservationists,” hunting continues to decline in the United States. According to the latest  National Hunting Survey, only 6% of the U.S. population hunts. When broken down by region, there has been a 45% drop over the last decade in the Mountain States from 11% to 6%. Correspondingly, the New Mexico report shows a 47% drop in expenditures by hunters.
The drop in hunting is a threat not only to hunters and ranchers, but also to conservation and animal protection lobbyists who have been collaborating with them. In their letter to the Game Deparment, Animal Protection of New Mexico, the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, the New Mexico chapter of the League of Conservation Voters and Wild Earth Guardians expressed their support for the hunters’ North American Model of Conservation.
Many of the organizations which signed this letter have had a long history of collaboration with hunters. Hunter Jon Schwedler headed APNM’s wildlife program before leaving to form the short-lived Sierra Sportsmen, the Sierra Club’s failed attempt to organize hunters in support of conservation.
Now it is the turn of Wild Earth Guardians to join the ranks of hunters masquerading as environmentalists, with the hiring of Erik Molvar. According to his WildEarth Guardians profile, Molvar has a degree in “wildlife management” and “enjoys antelope hunting.”
This profile reveals not only the sadistic pleasure Molvar takes in killing animals and watching them die, but also the difference between a wildlife manager and a biologist. State game departments and other wildlife managers use the cowboy term “antelope” to describe pronghorns. The last of their family to survive the Pleistocene extinctions in North America, pronghorns are not related to antelope, which are native to Africa. “Wildlife management” might be considered a “science” similar to economics and political science, but it is not a natural science like biology and geology.
In any case, contrary to the propaganda of the conservation lobbyists, there is no “pure science” which can guide the protection of wolves, prairie dogs, pronghorn, and other wild species, whether or not they are legally endangered. As the career of Jon Tester, Rancher-Democrat of Montana, demonstrates, the U.S. Congress retains the right to determine what animals can be legally killed without limit. Tester, after using funds from the League of Conservation Voters to defend his seat against the notorious “evil Koch brothers,” authored the law which removed endangered species protection for the grey wolf. A belated attempt by conservation lobbies to petition the Department of the Interior to restore wolf protection in violation of Tester’s law may succeed in raising funds, but it will not succeed in protecting wolves.
Rancher-Democrat Tester has now been joined in the Senate by New Mexico Hunter-Democrat Martin Heinrich. Heinrich & Tester’s Sportsmen’s and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions Act (SPORT) Act (S. 1660) would open all federal lands, including National Park Service land, to hunters.
Q. When are wolf advocates not really wolf advocates?
A. When they advocate for wolf hunting.
While other wildlife groups have worked to get this long-suffering species back under ESA protection, the Montana-based, Wolves of the Rockies not only told the Missoulian, “We are not advocating the end of wolf hunting,” but followed up that howler with an article in the Great Falls Tribune, in which they stated: “We at Wolves of the Rockies understand and acknowledge the importance of hunting as a tool for managing wolves, and we stand beside the ethical* hunter in doing so.”
This group asked permission to use some of my wolf photos on their Facebook page. Assuming they were on the side of the wolves, I allowed it. Given their recently stated attitude, I am forced to rescind my permission and ask them to remove my photos from their site.
Why would a wolf advocacy group publically announce their support for wolf hunting, at the risk of alienating wolf supporters and undermining the efforts of other groups fighting the barbaric treatment of wolves across the country?
This question was answered nicely (nicer than I would have) by a Facebook friend with what she called ‘just her two cents’ (but I would argue it’s worth a lot more than that): “I’ve seen other organizations feel they have to outwardly ‘support’ hunting to get the attention of game departments, DNRs, politicians etc., in order to appear ”mainstream” & therefore afforded a sympathetic ear and/or seat at the table….I DISagree with that stance because it doesn’t work. Even if you have 100 or 1000 hunters on your side, the wildlife management system is not going to support or implement non-lethal conservation or management practices. I’ll bet Wolves of the Rockies die a little inside when they say they support hunting as a tool for wolf management, because I think in a perfect world they don’t want them hunted any more than the rest of us do. It’s too bad they have taken a position of compromise…”
I see it as kind of a, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach; the same kind of thing that the Washington-based group, Conservation Northwest, pulled** during the state’s helicopter attack on the Wedge pack earlier this year. What these groups don’t realize is that when you sleep with the enemy, you don’t get just a little bit pregnant.
And if you haven’t already, please sign these petitions to Stop Wolf Hunting in North America