April 22, 2018

IDFG: “How Little We Know About Animals That Live in Our Forests”

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IdahoLynxAn Idaho wildlife biologist, part of a five-year program, “to collect information on 20 little-studied creatures in the Idaho Panhandle and northeastern Washington”, was quoted as saying after trappers captured a Canada lynx:

“I was surprised that there were lynx in the West Cabinets,” said Michael Lucid, who’s heading up the Multi-Species Baseline Initiative for Idaho Fish and Game. “It shows us how little we know about the animals that live in our forests.” (Emphasis added)

I have no intention to pick on or embarrass any particular employee of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game(IDFG) or even the department as a whole (I know. Shocking isn’t it?). The statement made probably has more truth to it than most people know and that some shouldn’t be too eager to make.

The article makes claim of two things. One, Canada lynx is at least one species that is “little-studied” in portions of Idaho. Two, the biologist admits “how little we know” about certain animals his department is responsible for managing and caring for.

But I’m not here to blame IDFG necessarily for not knowing anything about Canada lynx. Instead, I might suggest that one might think that it would be a good idea to have even more than casual knowledge about a species before it is placed on the Endangered Species Act list of endangered and/or threatened species.

Consider this. The Endangered Species Act(ESA), has something to say about what must exist before any species can be considered as being threatened or endangered and protected by law. Note: The ESA, once implemented, can cause severe limitations and restrictions on private property, property rights and even a state agency to effectively run their own wildlife management programs. In short, administering the ESA for any species in any state should be considered a most serious undertaking, due to the potentially devastating fallout it can cause.

Having said that, isn’t it reasonable to expect that any professional wildlife administrator/biologist, governmental and non governmental agency, politician, etc. would want to know more about a species than “how little we know” BEFORE a species is listed and costing so much?

So, what does the ESA say must be the conditions in order to consider listing of a species?

SEC. 4.[16 U.S.C. 1533] (a) GENERAL.—(1) The Secretary shall by regulation promulgated in accordance with subsection (b) determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened
species because of any of the following factors:

(A) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(C) disease or predation;
(D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

I should also note right here that in order to remove a species from federal protection, ALL of the above criteria must be met.

I ask. Are the above five conditions that this law, enacted by Congress, something that fits the demand and execution of listing the Canada lynx in portions of Idaho that, according to one biologist was, “little-studied creatures” and “shows us how little we know about the animals that live in our forests.”? In other words, how can one honestly administer to protect a species it knows nothing about?

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service(USFWS) has studied the Canada lynx extensively (enough to list a species honestly), then why is it necessary for the IDFG to conduct its own study of a species they say is “little-studied” and admittedly they know nothing about? One would think it sensible to contact the USFWS and get the critical information about the lynx that they MUST have compiled before making such a critical decision about whether or not to list the Canada lynx as a “threatened” species. They did do this, didn’t they? And it was specific to Northern Idaho, right?

If they did this in Idaho, who did the work? Obviously it must not have been IDFG employees because they say the lynx hasn’t been studied and they don’t know anything about it. If USFWS has the information, shouldn’t that be shared? And if so why spend more money to learn the same things? Or is this busy work being paid for through grants in order to keep more government employees at work?

Well, here’s the Canada Lynx Listing Decision page from the USFWS website. You go to work and find in there where studies were conducted and information gathered, specifically for Idaho, that would scientifically warrant placing the Canada lynx on the Endangered Species Act list where it has been designated. I’ll wait.

In the meantime, you can also find information on the IDFG website about the trapping of the lynx in Northern Idaho, but there’s nothing there that answers any of my questions.

And thus, I am left with an even bigger question of which I don’t suspect to get an answer for. Is there ever any real specific information gathered before listing ANY species or do USFWS “experts” just use the same regurgitated information available from Alaska, Colorado and West Canine, and only cherry pick through the information that fits their narrative and agenda and ignore the rest?

Maine is another state where the Canada lynx is listed as a threatened species. And like many species the lynx is not threatened “throughout a significant portion of its range.” But for political purposes, Canada lynx and other species recognize boundaries when it is convenient for USFWS to do so and ignored when it is not.

While the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources fakes their way though making people think they are seriously proposing changes to the Endangered Species Act, how about I suggest that before any species can be listed anywhere in the United States (and by the way, the United States thinks it has the right to list species in other countries.) specific studies must be done by third parties and paid for by those agencies requesting the listing, before any decisions can be made about federal restrictions.

I think it’s obvious nobody knows anything specific about Canada lynx in Northern Idaho and yet, the USFWS took it upon themselves to flex their muscle and blindly list portions of the Gem State as lynx critical habitat and historic range.

Had this effort been done correctly the first time, it would look something like this. Whoever the entity or agency seeking to list the Canada lynx as threatened or endangered, would have to be prepared to foot the bill to conduct the third party studies to support or refute the claims of those claiming the lynx was in danger. Then IDFG, in this case, could have taken the money and conducted the necessary studies on lynx to determine the existing population of lynx, the health and range, and condition of the habitat. This all being done BEFORE any proposals are drafted for consideration of listing.

Yes, we probably know very little about some or most animals in our forests, but when it comes to the politics of the Endangered Species Act and the money that can be made from it, it’s quite amazing how much information can be faked.

And don’t forget, this is Stop Government Abuse Week.