September 18, 2018

Polish Pythons & Colorado Canids

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By James Beers:

As I write this; helicopters, drones, a private detective and a lady dressed as a snake are part of a government posse on the hunt in a Warsaw suburb for the former user of an 18-foot python’s freshly shed skin.  Thus far, numerous people have been interviewed about how scared they are for their children and their pets; “three other exotic snakes” were “nabbed”; the home of a dead man suspected of having advertised anonymously to give away a large python called “Bertha” last winter has been searched; and “an erotic-art photographer who specializes in shooting women wrapped in snakes” has been detained.  Poles have been informed by government not to worry since, if not found by autumn, Bertha’s “coldblooded life will end with the summer”.  All in all, the entire affair is somewhere between a fiasco and a circus.

When I was the lone US Special Agent in New York City, deadly snakes were a constant worry because of the danger not only to import regulators like me, but to children in homes with the snakes, neighbors, and the general public when they escape or are released clandestinely like “Bertha”.  Using what used to be called “stereotyping”, then “profiling” and now may not be either used or mentioned; I found the majority of those keeping such snakes to be either anti-social or un-social.  They refused to accept any responsibility for what they were doing or what it wrought and, more often than not, they exuded hostility to the society or community in which they lived.

The python is a deadly danger to children, adults and pets.  Bertha would most likely die with the cold weather but what if “Bertha” finds a cave or abandoned deep foundation in which she overwinters in a state of torpor?  Female pythons like “Bertha” can reproduce without males (it’s called parthenogenesis) so the trauma of getting through a winter or going into a winter could trigger such reproduction leading to other possibilities.

Poland has extensive wetlands, several are UN Ramsar sites, many are state-protected and most (except for winter temperatures) could support pythons. The following map, though of 1939 vintage, is the best representation I could find to show historic marsh areas (the blue dot pattern), and the at-or-below water levels (the dark green areas) where water stands or floods.  Warsaw is right in the middle of both. Tell anyone denying that releasing 1 or 2 pythons, or 3 or 4 “exotic snakes” annually might eventually adapt to such a climate, that you believe in climate change and global warming, so it is possible if you are a believer. The point here is that if every couple of years snakes escape or are dumped and that happens to combine with a warm period (take note Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, et al) the danger of adaptation of pythons or “exotic snakes in a food-rich environment is not outside the realm of possibility.

Then there is “the Facebook user” that has written, “Poor animal” “The system fails again”.  Evidently, even Poland with its hardnose attitude toward immigration and a dictatorial and unresponsive (think wolves) Brussels (the European Union seat of power equivalent to Washington, DC) has ladies of the “Poor animal” stripe.

What to do?  The EU allows deadly snakes to be imported, Poland allows people to keep snakes and does nothing to find illegal or dangerous snakes and get rid of them.  When one gets loose like “Bertha”, even the urbanites in the capital of Warsaw move heaven and earth to find them and get rid of them.  Would that they shared this attitude with rural Poles that feel similarly about wolves and additionally are losing their livelihoods to wolves.  Even a snake like “Bertha” is pitied by some, while a wolf or wolf pack is simply an opportunity for the same urban folks and EU bureaucrats that are responsible for allowing the snakes in, in the first place, to tell the rural rubes to suck it up; the wolves were “there” first; wolves are important to the mythical ecosystem; wolves bring back willows along streams; etc., etc.  To call it (not just “Bertha” but the entire central government ignoring deadly wildlife dangers like snake importation and possession while manufacturing and mandating other deadly and destructive wildlife dangers like wolves) a mess, is an understatement.

In recent weeks I have read of two more current examples that further expose the environmental craziness and corrupt government manipulation of wildlife in our modern world.

First is the arrival of wolves in ?land, the Finnish islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia separating Finland and Sweden. These islands, in salty water that does not often freeze hard or for any distance, are about 70 miles from the wolf-infested mainland.  Additionally, the islands are somewhat densely settled with small family farms.  Wolves are increasing rapidly and displaying alarming habituation (familiarity and no fear) toward rural occupants.  Wolves belong on such settled islands just like pythons and “exotic snakes” belong in high-rise apartment buildings.  I agree with a European colleague that the probability of the wolves arriving on the island via ferry (in a trunk?) by unknown persons is the most likely scenario for this purported miracle of long-distance swimming.  Nonetheless, the central government bureaucrats in Brussels protect the wolves despite local objections and stand poised to pounce on any resident that literally disturbs a hair on any of “The poor animals” the same as if they suddenly popped up on Aran Island in the mouth of Galway Bay in the Republic of Ireland.

Lest our European cousins imagine that this American is somehow biased toward Europeans, European governance or the equal treatment of wild animals and European humans under EU law: I move on to the second recent expose of wildlife insanity and hidden environmental agendas that is the actual subject of this article – The Proposed Introduction of Wolves into the State of Colorado in the good old USA.

Colorado, is prime wolf habitat though it has not hosted wolves for 70 years.  Wolves were purposely and at great time and expense exterminated from Colorado because of the danger they pose to humans; the destruction they wreak on livestock, game animals, and pets; and the impediments that their presence imposes on rural communities, rural economies and state conservation revenues necessary for fish and wildlife programs.

Wolves were forcibly imposed on the State of Wyoming that borders Colorado on the North and the State of New Mexico that borders Colorado on the South.  The New Mexico wolves are constantly fizzling out as stiff local resistance and shootings attest.  The Wyoming wolves have been the object of fierce state opposition to federal wolf imposition and recently the state has forced a political compromise and exception that allows the state to kill wolves at their discretion across most of the state while maintaining an area of limited wolf distribution and numbers.  There is no wolf presence to date East of Colorado in Kansas.  West of Colorado, in Utah wolf arrivals seem peculiarly to be few in number and quickly dissatisfied with their new habitat as no wolf population seems to have become established.

The powerful and rich environmental/animal rights Non-Government-Organizations that are the clandestine allies of federal and state bureaucrats had been counting on (for at least 30 years) wolves swarming into Colorado from the North, South, and West as their protected numbers swelled.  Such has not been the case.

Additionally, the current political climate in the USA under the Trump Administration has been discouraging to any federally-supported wolf expansions to say the least.  Thus, we have the current situation of the radical organizations and federal bureaucrats initiating a public relations/legal move to coerce state acquiescence to introduce and protect wolves that will surely harm their rural communities in many ways.  Arguing that wolves are “Endangered” or “Threatened” in this climate and at this time is akin to taking coals to Newcastle.  Wolves need government intervention today about as much as mosquitoes, minnows or marmots.

A good friend in Colorado has explained to me that the Democrat or Progressive Party has made it clear that if they win the Governorship, hold the Assembly and take control of the Senate that the State will release and protect wolves.

Several factors are at play in this matter.  First, while Democrat has been the preferred and majority party of environmentalists and animal rights voters; Republicans have mostly been tepid opponents that usually prefer to appear supportive of such agendas and rarely oppose proposals or advocate reforming established government programs in these areas.

Second, rich Democrat donors have made political contributions and sponsored a professional campaign in Colorado to soften any opposition to releasing and protecting wolves.  This will serve another hidden agenda.  Wolves scattering from established Colorado packs will likely go North and undercut Wyoming wolf control programs; West and establish wolves in Utah; and South into New Mexico to further frustrate New Mexican efforts to keep their state wolf-free and their wildlife programs federal-free as much as possible.  Now keep in mind this is being pulled off as the federal government is not in a wolf-expansion mode and this will be done with Colorado wildlife program funds and private donations to key state politicians.  A national hiatus in radical environmental agendas is only an illusion.  Given a federal Democrat House and/or Senate the federal government will once again shift into high gear and the results will only get uglier and uglier.

Summarizing all this, Europe has much to learn from the US and the US has much to learn from Europe.

  • Allowing possession of dangerous snakes creates not only threats to human safety; the threat of repeated clandestine releases flirts with the establishment of snake populations that could cause untold dangers.  Pythons and boa constrictors in Florida were allowed to be imported by federal bureaucrats despite laws empowering them to prohibit it.  These snakes have become firmly established and are slowly expanding their range and destruction northward as state control programs prove to be ineffective and prohibitively expensive.
  • Confidence in federal bureaucrats to either prohibit importation or releases is greatly misplaced.  Not only pythons and constrictors were  imported, Asian carp species that are destroying central US watersheds were allowed in for catfish farmers; snakeheads that are taking over Eastern rivers were brought in by Chinese restauranteurs; monitor lizards and iguanas were brought in for the pet trade and escaped; exotic birds were brought in for pets and escaped and are established in certain areas; many exotic trees that have become established pests were imported for landscaping purposes and the list goes on. No federal bureaucrats or politician that has allowed this slipshod wildlife importation enforcement has taken any responsibility for the impacts of the resulting harms.  Like wolves and grizzly bears introduced and protected by federal bureaucrats, the federal government dictates and then pirouettes off the stage leaving it in the State or Country’s hands as they look for the next communities to claim as their own jurisdiction.
  • There are no “miracles” in wildlife management.  When wolves pop up 70 miles from the mainland on small islands it is due to either radicals drugging and transporting them or some clandestine government program.  In either case, why is there no investigation or “transparency”?  Who can you trust about predator numbers or distributions or what animal is becoming established?  Who is responsible?  Why have we given government the freedom to ignore importation laws and the ability to tinker with animals and a natural environment that is strongly objected to by those forced to live in and with it?  Why do urban high rollers have the authority and wherewithal to tailor the lives and surroundings of rural citizens to fit urban imaginings?
  • Federal efforts should be directed toward controlling importation of Injurious and harmful wildlife and plants, plus working with other Nations to assure healthy ecosystems that meet the needs and desires of all citizens to live in peace and prosperity.
  • State and national governments should work with their Local governments to determine and then maintain the best numbers and distributions of wild animals and plants desired by the local population.  State governments should protect Local integrity just as nations like Italy should protect their local governments; because they are protecting their own people not remote, faceless numbers on a page.
  • Be they what others call “Native” species or “Non-Native” Species; their presence, abundance or absence creates the “Ecosystem” most appropriate for the people living there and not some imaginary fantasy.  Truly endangered species should be the matter first of Federal/State/Local negotiation and only as a last resort the subject of specific legislation that least disturbs the balance of governance and assures that those concerned pay for what must be done.  If you want certain species in certain areas where the locals do not want them, then work to convince them of the desirability of your wishes and be prepared to pay ad infinitum for the local people to approve and tolerate what you ask them to do and tolerate.

Pythons in Poland and Wolves in Colorado are only two recent examples of the abuses, complexities and challenges ahead for all of us as we contemplate just government and a healthy natural environment for prosperous human communities to prosper worldwide.  All-powerful central governments have proven to be the enemies here and accountable Local governments with authority are the only real solution.

Jim Beers

4 September 2018

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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 resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

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