November 14, 2018

Isle Royale Wolf & Moose Implications

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*Editor’s Note* – The editor would like to point out that he believes it is in error to state that introducing wolves, once again, to Isle Royale is “unconstitutional” and quotes the Tenth Amendment as the sole reason for such. The Constitution, for what it is worth, operates as a complete document not by picking only certain Articles to fit a narrative. While one might argue for or against the meaning of the Tenth Amendment, Article I, Section 8 is disregarded as well as the government’s bastardization of the Commerce Clause. Beyond this, the actions on Isle Royale with moose and wolves are but a reflection of the fascist, Marxist, Totalitarian, Collectivist society/government we have grown. 

By James Beers

A fellow-Minnesotan recently read what I wrote about Isle Royale National Park and it caused him to write the following question.  My two responses follow and may prove helpful to urban residents that are unsure of the advisability of relying on federal and state bureaucracies when dealing with endangered species, government land holdings, and explanations of what they do.

  1. The Question:

Thanks for the emails.

The spin I read is that as you see in this article “more wolves mean a better chance of keeping the island’s growing moose population in check.” https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/09/first_new_wolves_released_on_m.html.

So, I’m not sure if 1600 moose on Isle Royale is a problem or not.

  1. Response #1.

There are many threads woven in this and similar wildlife issues.  I will try to unravel a few in this article I write for both the concerned public and professional wildlife professionals.

  1. Wildlife, with the exception of those species named on a Treaty (i.e. for instance the Migratory Bird Treaties with Britain on behalf of Canada, Japan, Mexico and Russia) ratified by the US Senate and signed by the President of the US, are Constitutionally under the authority and Jurisdiction of the State wherein they occur.
  2. In the past 50 years, thanks to the unjust (for what it does to families and rural communities) and un-Constitutional (see ARTICLE X, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” powers granted to federal bureaucracies by 1960’s/1970’s environmental legislation (Endangered Species Act, Wilderness Act, Wild Horse and Burrows Act, Animal Welfare Act, etc.) that was introduced and passed by Nixon as he was “managing” Watergate and Ford as he sought re-election: federal bureaucrats seeking more money and power; politicians seeking votes and financial donations from NGO’s; and rich and politically powerful environmental/animal rights organizations and wealthy individuals in both Europe and North America have been expanding and using these powers (like naming and placing species like wolves and grizzlies) to advance all manner of hidden agendas from collapsing rural land values, making state wildlife powers more and more irrelevant, and making rural America hostile to families, rural communities, vibrant economies, private property, Local governments and any state powers that exceed assisting federal programs as laid out in federal directives.     (WOW, that must be the granddaddy of all Faulknerian sentences!  I seem to be incapable of editing it because any edit seems to detract from my intentions.)
  3. Federal natural resource agencies like the National Park Service (NPS), US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), US Forest Service (FS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have, simultaneously with #2, been expanding their regulatory power, working with Congress to “tweak” (make small amendments in concert with other legislative matters like Budget Appropriations) the laws mentioned in #2 and expanding their manpower and budgets (higher grades, more bonuses, bigger retirement costs, etc.).  Additionally, each year the federal government buys thousands to millions of more acres for the four agencies named above and, in both open and clandestine “partnership” (Grants, later purchase with markup) with the NGO’s – especially The Nature Conservancy – place untold acreages under permanent (No Use/No Management/No access etc.) Easements to both federal agencies and private NGO’s.
  4. Isle Royale National Park (Island) while a National Park is still just as much under the jurisdiction and authority of the State of Michigan as though you and I had purchased it.  The only exception is that you and I would have to pay state and local taxes on the property while NPS (like USFWS, FS and BLM) cannot pay such taxes per the Constitution and thus pays an entirely discretionary amount annually (and sometimes not) called “Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes” or “PILT that is always far less than the tax burden for a private owner.  You and I would have no more say about what animals were there or introduced or exterminated or hunted or otherwise meddled with under state oversight than if we owned a thousand acres bordering on Lake Minnetonka and thought to introduce free-roaming buffalo for hunting or resident Nene geese and Australian pochard Hardhead ducks for “safari” photography tours around the ownership.
  5. Yet, on Isle Royale NPS decides that they will manage Isle Royale for the (Non-Native) moose that were originally brought to the island by rich early settlers to provide food and “sport”.  Further, NPS decides that wolves will be introduced artificially to “control” any moose population explosion.  According to NPS brochures the wolves only came to Isle Royale in the 1940’s so they too are Not Native.  Enter the silent partners in this saga, USFWS under the illusion of the wolves being “endangered” or “threatened” everywhere in the Lower 48 States, traps wolves and cooperates in caging and transporting them to Isle Royale.  We are told that they were trapped in “Minnesota” but that is not true.  They were trapped on and transported from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, where, as any Minnesota walleye fisherman knows, “the state has no jurisdiction”.  This little ploy was also used when Canadian wolves were caught and transported clandestinely to Yellowstone National Park (an early Park established before WY, ID and MT as States and therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of WY, ID, or MT) using $45 to 60 Million stolen by USFWS bureaucrats from state wildlife funds.  Not only had Congress refused to authorize or fund the wolf introductions in the Upper Rockies, FWS additionally defied Congress by also shipping some of the wolves to an Indian Reservation in central Idaho for release despite the loud objections of Idaho residents and their State and Local governments.
  6. So, the truly “endangered” caribou that are all but extinct in the Lower 48 are ignored by FWS on this island  where they occurred naturally 100 years ago, FWS (the enforcer of the Endangered Species Act) supports and enables NPS plans to make a (expensive to get to; all but impossible to get around in due to a Wilderness Declaration; and closed 5 months of the year) National Park into a rich folks fantasy land.  If caribou were restored, wolves would even more (than moose) quickly extirpate them from the island but what business does NPS have to proceed with this moose/wolf ecosystem preference anyway?  Why is the wolf considered a wolf valid “controller’ here on Isle Royale; when it is blamed for making a once-hunted (until recently) Minnesota moose herd only a remnant that no longer can support hunting or Upper Rocky Mountain elk herds all but a shadow of their former numbers since wolves were released, the wolf is denied as the culprit by federal and state bureaucrats and environmental NGO’s that blame “climate” or “ticks” or a lack of funding for the moose/elk demise everywhere but Isle Royale?  What business does FWS have trapping wolves and helping transport them to the island?  Is the MN DNR assisting in this FWS/NPS/Native American game of smoke and mirrors?  Where is the Michigan DNR in all this?  Why are they approving (or ignoring) this NO HUNTING federal scheme?  If Non-Native Wolves are being introduced to “control” Non-Native moose; why would Michigan simply ignore a gold mine of revenue for moose hunting when the Island is closed anyway each fall until next spring?  If NPS doesn’t want to cooperate on “their” island – FWS and NPS really have NO JURISDICTION to introduce wolves on the island without a Michigan permit since it is not a valid “ESA action.
  7. Michigan like most other Lower 48 States no longer have DNR’s that even imagine standing up to federal wildlife actions.  Minnesota hasn’t met a federal action in 50 years that it did not rollover for and wag its tail.  So, although ISLE Royale is unpopulated, this sort of “Me Federal: You State” Tarzan-like wildlife management and federal land management rolling over State and Local authorities and jurisdictions are simply accumulating legal PRECEDENTS when at some future date some poor rural  schlub stands up in some “Hearing”, or writes a letter to FWS or NPS, or even goes so far as to hire a lawyer to “defend” his and his State’s Rights and is told by some federal bureaucrat, or federal politician or some judge (“from the right court”) that this was all settled in the Isle Royale moose and wolves Decisions years ago!
  8. The magical qualities of certain wildlife species (the howl of the wolf and the honking of migrating geese are two prime examples) are being dissolved by federal oversight.  Resident Canada geese were bred and released by federal biologists in Jamestown North Dakota in the 1950’s.  Today millions of resident Canada geese throughout the Northern Lower 48 States are little more than infectious vermin in cities, on golf courses, in urban waterways, urban parks urban schoolyards and urban playground  In all honesty, those early wildlife “scientists” thought they were doing God’s work with not the slightest inkling of what they would wrought   It is the same with federal “science” giving sainthood to wolves, grizzlies, and encouraging state to do the same for mountain lions.  What was once a rare glimpse or sound to stir the soul is now a note of fear for ranchers, hunters, dog owners, parents, school teachers in rural America where these animals are forced on a populace that has no recourse under sterile State governments and gradually disappearing Local governments to represent rural American problems (Trump?).  Giving these large predators carte blanche federal/state protection in the settled landscapes of the Lower 48 States is a travesty to human dignity and scientifically is like the resident geese wintering in a park or schoolyard.  Geese should migrate and any large predator in The Lower 48 States should be legally classified as subservient to and treated as subject to immediate consequences when destroying or threatening any human or human endeavor.

  1. Response #2.

There is one more aspect of this Isle Royale saga that I should mention.

First, I believe it is more likely than not that some NPS guy or guys trapped and transported those first (1940’s/50’s) wolves to the island.  You did not have to have “scientific” training in those days to realize that if you just bought an island full of moose and you were absolutely committed to NO HUNTING or wildlife management (only “observation”, “interpretation”, and “study”) that you somehow had to keep moose numbers down or watch the island turn into some sort of Falkland Island suitable only for seabird nesting (albeit 1,000 miles from the sea).

However, whether the NPS’ers brought wolves to the island or even supplemented their gene pool occasionally and clandestinely (if you doubt that look no farther than the wolves trapped and transported from a non-disclosed location in Canada, brought into the US without Importation Documents or declared origins and financed by stolen state wildlife program funds for release in Yellowstone and an Indian Reservation in Idaho by USFWS) is immaterial for purposes here.  Trapping and transport, probably with the willing collusion of FWS, Grand Portage Reservation managers and the MN DNR (each of whom are and were for a long time in a quid pro quo relationship over Isle Royale as some sort of scientific-tourist “laboratory” remains very likely.

When the first wolves arrived, they encountered a very robust and by all accounts over-population of food, i.e. moose.  Like German submariners off the coast of the US in the first 5 months of WWII, wolves would no doubt recall (if they could) those times as what those German submariners called “The Happy Times”.

Wolves ate good, moose meat is very healthy, and the numerous moose were and always are (see Alaska or Siberia) particularly vulnerable to wolf predation.  Puppies galore grew up without any problems.

Imagine such a high moose population after 10-20 (?) years absorbing that predation from the growing wolf population, so the moose stay numerous and the wolves increase and increase in a cornucopia of food.

Then the wolf predation starts to overtake moose production disrupting the equilibrium and the moose decrease as the wolves keep increasing because there are still plenty of moose around albeit growing harder and harder to find.  Moose begin to decrease steadily.  Wolf competition and deadly aggressive encounters increase as food availability decreases.  Moose numbers begin to “plunge” and soon wolf stress increases as wolves begin to decrease while NPS, FWS and MN DNR burble about “interbreeding” suddenly appearing and concern about moose “recovering”.

The low wolf numbers and an apparent slow moose increase becomes fantasy fodder for kid’s books and tales about “Mother Nature in Lake Superior, Gaia be praised”.  In actual happenings, the moose start to slowly recover because the remaining wolves (the last of a dwindling population without food, i.e. moose) must expend more calories finding and killing a moose.  Recognizing that the public expects more than “slow” or “no” moose recovery, government stands ready to “do something”.

This scenario was the culmination of the moose population “plunge” that began with the first “ice-crosser” wolves back to the mainland, where at least one was shot on the Indian Reservation, in the late 1990’s.  It finally became undeniable over the last 10 years.  It took 60 (?) years.

Now the Romance of Large Predators obsessing urban Americans today gets a boost from the current government program to “Save” the Wolves of Isle Royale to great fanfare.

I probably won’t live to see this, but you may, otherwise I would make a bet that this next “bring in the wolves and watch the moose disappear” cycle will (without any more clandestine government intriguing) take 30 years or less.  The reason being that these few wolves are being released on an island with a recovering moose population that will, much sooner than when last wolves “arrived” on the island, see its increasing moose numbers losing ground to wolf increasing much sooner due to a lower food supply for wolves.  The period of quasi-equilibrium will be shorter because the moose population will be starting from a lower level than those Post-WWII years arrivals.

None of this is “natural”.  The irony is that it will be heralded as such (as well as legal) and be used for propaganda in the schools, legal precedents for more federal government mischief (too weak a word), and by a plethora of NGO’s bent on destroying Rural America as part of the Socialism apparently sweeping the country and bent on mimicking the likes of Cuban, Venezuelan and Russian governance.

Jim

Jim Beers

5 November 2018

If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others.  Thanks.

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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