September 20, 2018

Advice to a Professor Wanting a Meet and Great Before Making Wolf Documentary

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*Editor’s Note* – With the permission of the author, I redacted some elements of the original email for obvious reasons. Knowing the names of some involved does nothing to alter the message in the advice given. The focus and intent of this publication is a delivery of the important message. 

As a preamble to the content of the written work of Jim Beers, let me set the stage as best I can. A university professor contacted an editor of a Western ranch magazine seeking advice as to whom he should contact before making a movie about wolves. According to the original email, this professor, along with a group of university students, intend to travel to Wyoming and Colorado to “explore the question of whether wolves should be allowed to re-populate wild areas in Colorado.”

In asking who they should talk with before making the film, James Beers offered the below advice. This advice has already been told to me that it should be “required reading for every Wildlife Management Student” as well as hunters.

Dear Professor XXXXXXXX,

I see that you are from a Jesuit school named after the great Jesuit _______________.  I further see that your Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation program is ten years old and that you are evidently quite honestly enough concerned about this modern Gordian Knot of American wildlife that you asked [Western ranch magazine’s editor] for both her advice and perhaps her presence to be interviewed by you and your students.

You cannot know how refreshing and hopeful your simple request may be to millions of Rural Americans either affected by or familiar with the wolf phenomenon of the past 40 years.

First of all a word about who is writing this.  I am a retired US Fish and Wildlife Service employee.  I can send you a resume but the simple ‘Bio” I put after most things I write is posted after these remarks.  I am a graduate of a Benedictine High School where, 60 years ago, the excellent teacher/monks communicated their misgivings that I still hold about Jesuit schools, although my son is a graduate of Wheeling (WV) Jesuit University.  I spent my first year of college in the late 1950’s at DePaul University where I learned a good deal about philosophy.  Today, I have a low opinion of DePaul that has, like Georgetown, become a hotbed of animal rights jurisprudence.

Why, you must be thinking, would someone like me be enthusiastic about a professor and some students from a modest Eastern (where the federal and state bureaucracies have not taken up the rural cudgel of wolves with all its hidden agendas as they have done in the rest of the Nation, HHHMMM) College are taking a summer field trip in 2018 to investigate, study and integrate the American wolf experience into their lives and the school’s academic life.  Quite simply, you bring “fresh eyes”, not to a biological issue but to a political/social issue that is even more basically an ethics issue.  You are like St. Peter Canisius journeying from Holland to Germany during the Reformation and after years of work there generating a Catechism that went on to evolve over 200 editions in less than 40 years.  Would that you and your students bring some resolution to this issue that so many from those affected and those wise enough to see the impacts of wolves on so many things have been unable to resolve.

My advice –

Everyone you meet or speak to, with any bona fides about wolves, will have a basic belief that is set stone.

You will meet “hunters” and “ranchers” that will appear to be pro-wolf but who upon investigation will be discovered to be politically active progressive reformers that support all manner of transformative political ends with the same sort of “think of me as neutral” approach.

You will meet both state and federal politicians that will be as duplicitous about where they “stand” and what they “believe” as they would if you were asking them about the latest budget battles or a proposed bill to place “All Waters of the USA” under federal authority.  Investigation will reveal the “golden egg” from the “Goose” of wolves to be urban votes (assuring re-elections) and lots of money from environmental/animal rights’ coffers to politicians that meet the agendas and daydreams of those unaffected by or familiar with the effects or truth about what they are creating.

You will discover that the vast majority of academics will be as enthusiastic about wolves as they are about tenure and grants that generate graduate student stipends.  Careful reading of the academic studies and pronouncements of the past 50 years about wolves and their impacts will show them to be reflections of the bureaucratic need to justify regulations, court case and Budget Requests.  They are the result of those bureaucratic needs, paid for by government funding, rather than the assumed other way around, “science” guiding concerned bureaucrats in search of wise decisions on behalf of all Americans.

You will meet many deceitful federal and state bureaucrats: I say this as a whistle-blower and “reforming” bureaucrat.  They have agendas these days as diverse as covering up autopsies of bodies taken away quickly without investigations, and spinning nonsense about a wolf attack being due to a “deformed wolf brain”, or the Minnesota moose population (so decreased by wolf predation) disappearance and moose hunting being closed (probably forever) as due to climate change and deer (coexisted for centuries) brain worm; to concern for kid’s college bills and paying for daughters weddings.  I cannot overstress the very real adverse consequences (as bad as using a forbidden word or of being accused of sexual harassment) to any government employee not being completely “in” on wolves.  Wolves allow them to decrease land values to enable government purchase or easement.  Wolves establish precedents for eroding the Constitutional concept of animals as private property thereby enabling agendas from prohibiting killing and eating them to making products of all kinds or even keeping them as watchdogs or pets.  All of these things in this short and incomplete list are grist for more government land control and more people control but most importantly more bureaucracy with higher salaries, higher retirement pensions and increased status both professionally and within various communities.

Lastly, you will meet very radical (the correct word) ideologues that work for and volunteer with a plethora of “environmental” and animal rights NGO’s (non-government organizations).  I have a long lifetime of experience with such groups and their treachery (again the right word).  I am reminded at this point of what my Irish grandmother that raised me during WWII told me while Dad was driving a tank in Africa and Europe; “Jim, if you can’t say anything good about someone; don’t say anything at all.”

Think of what you are about to do as interviewing people going to and from a Planned Parenthood Clinic and interviewing people in a Church parking lot after a 9:30 Mass on Sunday morning about abortion.  Others without the basic belief and experience are a “general public” whose thoughts and ideas are little more than indications of how any future vote is likely to come out.  So what to do?

I would hope you see your opportunity to collect your data, impressions, facts and references as you travel about and meet who you will.  Then go back to Buffalo, sort it out, and discuss it.

Then assign some students to investigate and document the abundance of wolf history from the Greeks and Romans to modern day Siberia, Russia and Kazakhstan. Look into why wolfhounds were invented and what they did.  Look into metal dog collars and spike dog collars so popular in Medieval England and why walkers always walked between villages with dogs and why Dalmatians often accompanied carriages.  Read about America settlers from Colonial times in isolated cabins to the spread of smallpox in Plains’ Indian Villages to the problem of rabid wolves invading US Forts.  Read Will Graves’ Wolves of Russia especially about a Russian sawyer bitten by a rabid wolf WHILE RUNNING THE CHAINSAW.

Look into the 30 + diseases and infections carried and spread by wolves.  Be honest about wolves frequenting farmyards at night and tapeworms and be honest about the danger wolves present if anthrax or smallpox (both in current bio-weapon inventories) is released or if foot-and-mouth or Mad Cow Disease outbreaks occur.  Note the absence of any veterinarians willing to say anything or to be quoted as someone says, “what does he know, he’s not a veterinarian!”

Draw a picture of the “costs” (government, social, and business-wise) of introducing and protecting wolves from the millions stolen by federal bureaucrats from state fish and wildlife funds to introduce them back into Yellowstone to all the salaries, admin support, equipment, office space, grants, legal support, enforcement support, public “information”, meetings, travel, etc. spent and being spent at the state and federal level to concoct and enlarge the wolf debacle for 40+ years.  Take a shot at the costs that lie ahead.  Debate how we are to live without control of wolf numbers and how we will do it when things get intolerable

Calculate the costs to rural communities losing animal husbandry, hunting, camping and associated funds from guiding and locker plants to taxidermy and businesses from hardware to restaurants and motels as a result of wolves.  Do not be bamboozled about “eco-tourism” and “biking/hiking” et al.  That tourism is a chimera and the first time a wolf runs down a biker (like a dog chasing a bicyclist or a wolf engaging some lady with a leashed dog, etc) or kills a kid in a backyard all that euphoria will disappear in a New York second.

Document the truth about wolves and “species”.  If a wolf breeds with and has viable offspring with coyotes, all dogs and dingoes (given the opportunity) is it really a “species”?  How absolutely crazy is it to (as is happening as I write in NE South Dakota and more often all the time everywhere) to give government the power to “rescue” free-roaming dogs that disturb the neighborhood; allow legitimate and necessary managed control of coyotes; and simultaneously the power to “protect” a wolf when all three or many of the millions of genetic combinations their interbreeding begets look as much alike as clones?  How is it even conceivable, much less occurring, that a NE South Dakota coyote hunter may go to prison, pay a large fine, lose the right to vote and lose the right ever own a gun again BASED ON SOME DNA ANALYSIS CONDUCTED POSSIBLY BY SOME IDEOLOGUE (environmental/animal rights) ANALYST based on sketchy parameters and definitions?

Then compare things about where wolves are now, where they can be expected to be (don’t be hoodwinked about “pack animals” avoiding suburban/urban areas: undiscouraged wolves will look for food at night in a Denver suburb as quick as they will a Montana farmyard or a dumpster behind the pizza joint in the shopping center) and just how any likelihood of wolves killing a kid by a bus stop or some grandma walking out to the rural mailbox is worth whatever nonsense being peddled like “willows along the stream” (if that was important, simply allowing hunters to reduce grazing game populations would have been done but it wasn’t; so ask yourself, why?)

If you get this far, take this from the biological/political/hidden agenda realm to an Ethical perspective.  This is the tough part since our modern secular society has demolished most common moral understanding and replaced it with a “whatever floats your boat” morality: ethics is today a relative matter where your right is my wrong and vice versa but given the University approach to relativism, you might find a way to apply a common standard as to what is ethical about aspects of wolves et al.  Nevertheless, attempt to form a basis (like Peter Canisius’ did with his Catechism(?) for dialogue and debate that avoids harm and leads a way out of a worsening  situation for millions of Americans and American Wildlife.  You and this are needed more than you can imagine.

When you are in Yellowstone you might call on Mr. Bill Hoppe, a third generation Montanan from that area.  He lives near Gardiner at the N end of the Park.  I suspect his views would be a welcome relief if you have been subjected to US Park Service bureaucrats by that time.

Good Luck.

Jim Beers

12 February 2018

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 is an advocate for a Rural American Renewal that benefits rather than ruins the culture, economy and surroundings of rural American communities and families. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.

You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to:   jimbeers7@comcast.net

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