August 20, 2019

Maine Hunters Funding Efforts to Provide Moose Watching For Tourists

George Smith, former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and current free-lance writer who covers many of Maine’s outdoor issues, filed a report on his blog yesterday about activities that took place at the meeting of the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Part of Smith’s article included a report on moose by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW), Lee Kantar, head deer and moose biologist.

Kantar claimed that Maine would be leading the nation in moose research and management and described new research initiatives, including surveys using Maine Forest Service helicopters and pilots………………..

“We’ve gone a long way… but it’s limited,” acknowledged Kantar. When asked by Rep. Jane Eberle how many moose we have, Kantar said he couldn’t answer that question definitively. But he did provide an estimate of 75,000 moose, a very high number that will embolden those calling for more hunting permits. Kantar warned against that, noting the importance of balancing all demands for moose from tourism to hunting.

There are a couple things to note in this information. If Kantar says he “estimates” 75,000, historically all wildlife biologists low ball estimates. So how many moose does Maine really have? 100,000? Regardless, at the rate the state is going the moose herd will soon outnumber the deer herd.

Which brings me to another point to be made. Yesterday I reported on efforts by the State of Maine to make the Moose Lottery more fair. In that article I suggested the idea of a mocked down version of the current “Any-Deer Permit” system, the only deer management policy the state employs. The question now becomes one of asking if a continued deer hunt in a shrinking deer herd is good enough for deer management, shouldn’t a short moose hunting season be good enough for moose management?

But the issue I wanted to point out is what is wrong with wildlife management today. Mr. Kantar states that Maine needs to be careful about killing more moose because it might mess with the “balancing all demands for moose from tourism to…..” Where is the science in that? Why are my license fees being used to provide moose watching opportunities while limiting my opportunities to hunt the game species I’m investing in? Maine is trying to generate tax revenue through tourism out of the wallets of the outdoor sportsmen. Where will it all end? It all makes me very ill!

Also consider how Maine’s game management, if you want to call it that, has changed over the years. What once was a deer hunting mecca, the Great North Woods of Maine, has now become a paradise for providing moose for tourists to look at and putting video cameras in bear dens, how cute, which no doubt will result in more demands by environmentalists and animal rights advocates to stop hunting and killing black bears and moose.

Below is a “Metamorphosis Part I and Part II” of a Maine Deer Biologist as compiled by contributor Richard Paradis of Maine. Maybe, just maybe, this closer resembles reality than tongue in cheek and also consider the prophetic claims, laced with environmental truths of today.

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Montana Gubernatorial Candidate Fanning to Restructure FWP “So Help Me God!”

In an email exchange, of which I have been made privy to, it shows that even among the ranks of those with a common interest, opinions vary and disagreements persist.

A concerned Montana citizen, Tom Madden, sends an email to Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA). Madden takes Marbut to task in what he sees as the position of the MSSA to “gut” the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP).

The thought of a group like yours wanting to gut the FWP is very unsettling to many of us and we see it as yet another attempt or reason to institute Ranching for wildlife which would kill the sport of fair chase hunting and the reason most Montanan’s live here and work for shit wages.

From this email, it appears that Mr. Madden believes what problems exist in wildlife management in Montana can be rectified through government legislation. Ironic as it appears, Madden blames the problems of wildlife management on the Legislature and suggests using the Legislature to correct those problems. His solution is a bill that “increases the elk objectives” so there are enough elk to feed both hunters and large predators; a task easy to express and difficult to accomplish.

Increasing the the elk objectives across the board by 35% would do wonders to bring the elk heards[sic] back. also[sic] create and pass a bill that has a wolf objective number that would only allow X number of breeding wolves thus reducing the unregulated wolf population.

Madden further goes on to reveal that his perceptions are that “sportsmen” must all comprise a population of wealthy people of whom the majority spend $50 – $100 a day at the shooting range, are members of country clubs and can drop $50 – $100 anytime they have a mind for a tank of gas, and as such should be able to pay whatever the price is that MFWP asks for a license fee.

Madden promises Marbut that his group of “sportsmen” are going to bring “MANY bills” to the Montana Congress, that will be “PRO sportsman”, full of “common sence”[sic], and “good bills, well thought out that include resident sportsmen.” Madden suggests MSSA “take a proactive approach to fixing the problems created by the Legislature”.

Gary Marbut responded directly to Mr. Madden by first explaining who specifically MSSA advocates for.

MSSA does not advocate for “sportsmen.” MSSA advocates for hunters, primarily the typical Montana hunter who needs to fill his freezer to feed his family for the following year. Frankly, we don’t care much about cockfighting, fox hunting with hounds and horses, collecting trophy mounts, or many of the other things covered by the term “sportsman.” MSSA does not advocate for landowners or ranchers. They have their own lobby. Ditto outfitters.

Marbut explains that those MSSA advocates for “certainly not any more wealthy, on average, than the average Montana citizen”, and shares the reason these Montana citizens aren’t buying is because, “there is nothing left to hunt, because FWP has gone so readily along with the plan to feed Montana’s game herds to large predators (especially wolves, but including bears and lions) rather than Montana families.”.

After an explanation of the positions of MSSA, Mr. Marbut then takes the MFWP to task for their failures citing:

1. “FWP has clearly failed in its duty under law to properly manage and protect Montana’s herds of huntable game – to preserve those herds for those who have always paid the bills, hunters. The agency has long maintained a culture of arrogance and disdain for what anyone but the FWP elite wish to do or accomplish with Montana’s hunting heritage.”

2. “FWP even vigorously opposed MSSA’s decade-long but ultimately successful effort to put the Right to Hunt into the Montana Constitution.”

3. “FWP has been begged, asked, persuaded and even commanded by the Legislature to change its ways and listen to common sense. The agency has made endless excuses why it does something different than is requested, or even mandated by the Legislature. The agency will NOT listen.”

From this point, Marbut explains why his position is to “gut” MFWP.

FWP has demonstrated for far too long that it simply doesn’t care what anyone but the agency thinks or wants and will use any disingenuous tactic to defend its turf. The only recourse it has left Montana is to jerk the rug out from under it. I wish things had not come to this impasse, but it is only FWP that is responsible. At this point, no amount of promises to “do better” will satisfy the thousands of Montanans who have watched in frustration as FWP sold out our heritage.

Robert Fanning, Jr. is a candidate for the office of governor in the state of Montana. He is also founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. As a recipient of the above referenced email, Fanning took the opportunity to show his position on wildlife management in his home state. In August of 2011, the early stages of Fanning’s campaign, he shared with supporters his proposals for MFWP if he were governor. In the email he urges us to read what he wrote last August and to reference a bill, HB343, proposed in 2007 that was to seek the removal of gray wolves in Montana from the Endangered Species List and just as importantly seek damages caused by the reintroduction of wolves and the poor management since reintroduction.

While I have provided above a link to Fanning’s August proposals, I have decided it would be appropriate to republish his piece here.

Robert Fanning, Candidate Mt. Governor Reveals His Proposals for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department

In a recent email sent out to subscribers, Robert T. Fanning, founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, outdoorsman, economist, political activist and now candidate for Montana governor, offered some of his notions of what a revamped Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department would look like under his watch.

1) Mt. FW&P primary mission will be about access to wild game meat for Montanans’ poor, voiceless and common man (especially-particularly veterans) rather than feeding federal wolves valuable protein which is the property of our citizens. See 2005 HJR 29 which I helped author below, these are the values of a super majority of our citizens.

2) Non game species will be defunded except for the location, collaring and control of wolves in strict adherence with Montana law.

3) Montana FW&P will get a regular, true and accurate peer reviewed census of the location and number of every ungulate within her 147,042 sq mi borders. The F&G commission will see to it that Montanans are given access to huntable game populations all over the state. Conservation easements, etc. don’t transfer title of Montana’s game herds to private land owners.

4) All wolf packs will be located and collared in strict adherence with Montana law. The federal “Wolf Implimentation Rules of Nov. 18 1994? will be overriding policy for all problem wolves.

5) Once Mt FW&P has been completely restructured and streamlined; administration, oversight, all funding and policy direction, will be completely turned over to the legislature. The Executive branch will never again be able to use our wildlife policy to raise money for an Executive branch political campaign war chest.

6) Mt FW&P will not be allowed to lobby the legislature. They will answer the Legislatures’ direct questions as informational witnesses, then leave the Capitol building.

7) SENATE BILL NO. 163….2001 Montana Legislature will be reversed IF the federal government does not pay for their unfunded “experimental non-essential” wolf mandate and install a federal 5th amendment restitution mechanism for those “harmed” in the past and all those forced to pay “the wolf tax” in the future. Natural rights, civil rights and Constitutional rights will trump the ESA in Montana, so help me God.

8) Echinococcus granulosus hydatid disease, neospora caninum and 28 other wolf born diseases & parasites will be objectively studied with highly competent peer reviewed science and quantified as public health threats, threats to our ungulates and their capacity to reproduce/recruit and Montanans’ livestock industry.

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For Maine: Consideration of More Restrictive Trapping Regs, Could Become Costly to Canada Lynx

Below, please find a copy of the letter I have sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for comments being received concerning the State of Maine application for an Incidental Take Permit for trapping and the Canada lynx.

January 13, 2012

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Maine Field Office
17 Godfrey Drive, Suite 2
Orono, Maine 04473

To Whom it May Concern:

The Endangered Species Act, from the time of its inception being signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, is intended to prevent the needless extermination of species and to implement plans to protect and recover any species that is determined to be “endangered” or “threatened” according to certain criteria contained within the Act.

Maine is attempting to recover a species of Canada lynx and are presently involved in obtaining an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for its trapping industry that is workable and in the best interest of the lynx recovery as well as doing what is in the best interest of maintaining a healthy ecosystem for the people of Maine.

As part of the application process for ITP, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is seeking harsher restrictions for trapping regulations, including equipment modifications and limitations. According to the application and the Environmental Assessment, the USFWS is seeking input on the following items that they believe to be required for lynx protection and recovery:

Require lynx-exclusion devices for all killer-type traps at land sets, including elevated sets on poles and trees, in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
Require that all trappers phase in foothold traps meeting BMP standards for fox, coyote and bobcat over the next 5 years and rescind existing jaw-spread restrictions once BMP trap requirements are fully implemented.
Eliminate the use of drags and require short chains, swivels or in-line springs for foothold traps at land sets in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
Limit the use of killer-type traps at land sets, including elevated sets, to size #120 (5-inch) and smaller in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
Require 24-hour check of all killer-type traps at land sets, including elevated sets, in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
Require pan-tension devices on all foothold traps at land sets in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
Limit the use of foothold traps at land sets in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19 to the months of October and November only.
Prohibit trapping with land sets (including elevated sets) in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
Require periodic re-training of all trappers on how to avoid incidental lynx captures.

Maine is presently under a court-ordered Consent Decree (Animal Protection Institute v. Roland D. Martin – Civil Action No.: 06-cv-00128-JAW, Document 134) This Consent Decree, as ordered by the Court is to remain in effect until the State of Maine obtains an ITP from the U.S. Government. This Consent Decree was filed on October 4, 2007. Since that time, it is my understanding through unnecessarily difficult information to obtain, that only two Canada lynx have been “incidentally” taken, resulting in death to the species. It is also my understanding that both of these events were deemed accomplished through illegal acts and no death of lynx have occurred as the result of all legal regulations agreed to in the Consent Decree. It is for this explanation that it must be questioned as to the reasoning of further restrictions on trapping in and/or outside of critical lynx habitat areas.

Please consider also the following information:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has published on their own website, a study entitled, “Habitat Fragmentation and Interspecific Competition: Implications for Lynx Conservation”. That specific publication lists several species that are competitors in both habitat and prey for the lynx. It also clearly defines the coyote as the leading competitor of the lynx.

On page 91 of referenced document, you’ll find the following information:

“The coyote, because of its wide habitat niche, heavy predation on snowshoe hares (O’Donoghue et al. 1998), high reproductive rate (Quinn and Parker 1987), great behavioral plasticity (Murray and Boutin 1991), and high tolerance of humans (Litvaitis 1992), must be considered a potentially formidable competitor with mesocarnivores, including the lynx. Indeed, coyotes are suspected in various declines of mesocarnivores, as evidenced by documented cases of coyotes competing with or preying on sensitive and endangered species (reviewed by Litvaitis 1992 and Goodrich and Buskirk 1995).”

According to Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, coyotes present a problem in 1.) being a part of the reasons for a depleted whitetail deer herd, and 2.) a continued and growing presence prohibits efforts in recovering that species of deer.

The concern then becomes whether further restrictions on trapping, which will result in limiting a trappers ability to remove coyotes from not only deer habitat but the very habitat that the Canada lynx relies on for sustainability, while speaking little of growth.

I have been unable to find any studies that can tell us to what point do we strive to save lynx from trapping activities, that the end result is the death of more lynx via competition than is attempting to be saved? It is my concern that the USFWS consider this concept before implementing further restrictions on trapping.

If the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is so restricted through unnecessary trapping laws, resulting in the further loss of whitetail deer, the state does, through the Endangered Species Act (10j), retain the right to apply for a permit to kill coyotes to save deer. This could become costly and complicated for both the state of Maine and the U.S. Government, when perhaps more careful consideration of the rules governing the ITP could ward off such actions.

Because nature does not “balance” itself in any idealistic fashion, man works hard at managing our fields and forests for health. At would run contrary to the Endangered Species Act and its intended goals, in consideration of protecting one species, it cannot come at the loss of another.

If the intended goal is to continue to rebuild the Canada lynx in Maine, consideration of all aspects is in the obvious best interest of not only the lynx but all species and the people of Maine.

It is my wish that the USFWS will thoughtfully consider that further actions to restrict trapping, could create a larger negative feedback in your efforts to recover the lynx by allowing for the increased growth of a direct competitor.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

Thomas K. Remington
Largo, Florida/Bethel, Maine

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Idaho Fish and Game: Contempt, Corruption, Collusion, or Just Outright Incompetence?

A guest blog by Barry Coe –

Having been born and raised in Idaho and as a lifelong sportsman of this state, I have had many issues with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) over the years. I have witnessed their actions on several issues that have directly lead to diminished fish and wildlife, and diminished sporting opportunities. In attempting to be involved and to protect our culture and interests, I have had one very consistent attitude and response from the agency that has become very proficient at taking whatever position they seem to think will best further their own agenda. That attitude is pure and raw contempt. And no other issue has exposed and proven this contempt more than the Canadian wolf introduction has.

IDFG has attempted to take the ‘we hold no blame’ position concerning wolves in this state. I feel it has been well proven that they, in fact, hold a large percentage of blame. A prior director actually wrote support letters to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and drafted an illegal permit that allowed the Canadian wolves to be dumped into this state in a blaring contempt for Idaho state code. It was so contemptuous that the Idaho state legislature actually reacted to the action, although they failed to implement accountability. Yet those were the days before the Internet and the ability to transfer information quickly and thoroughly throughout the population. Those were the days of running under the radar and outright collusion between state and federal agencies. There is little doubt in my mind, and I suspect anyone with more than a cursory knowledge of this issue would agree, that outright collusion between IDFG and the USFWS did, and continue, to take place. Wolves, grizzly bears, soon to be wolverines and all other claimed endangered species are a vast source of federal dollars and we all know, IDFG loves nothing like they love the federal dollar.

In a recent article, Jim (salt shaker) Hayden (IDFG Panhandle Regional Wildlife Manager) made yet another revealing comment. In this interview “Salt Shaker” Hayden seemed surprised that about 50% of the wolves harvested in this current wolf season have come from areas that IDFG didn’t even know contained wolves. Now, on the surface this comment may seem unimportant, yet when one considers the past 16 years, it’s importance is almost undefinable.

I have to ask this question of Mr. Hayden. Just exactly how can you manage a declining elk population when you obviously have no concept of the level of predation impacting those elk?

For years IDFG took the politically correct avenue of clinging onto the obviously and intentionally low official numbers of wolves. As hunters and outdoorsmen screamed from the rafters that those numbers were so far off it was incredible, IDFG turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. After all, the federal bucks were rolling in and the hunters were still buying licenses and tags. All was well and good at IDFG. Biologists were being hired (most directly out of the wolf introduction program) and the rumblings were contained to a small population of people who never knew how to get the truth out, especially in the face of IDFG and green eco-groups. The old tactic of ignoring and marginalizing was rolling along just fine.

It was only in the last year or two that IDFG was forced to admit that, ‘well, golly, okay, so our wolf population is around 1000 wolves’. Again the sportsmen and sportswomen of Idaho claimed that number was also an intentional down playing of the actual number of wolves in Idaho. As we witnessed the great elk herds disappear from first hand observation, IDFG still clung to the deceit that all was fine. They twisted a few numbers here, changed a few “objectives” there, rewrote a few algorithms, adjusted some seasons and continued to play both sides of the fence. After all, this has always been the status quo for this department. The level of contempt IDFG obviously has for anyone outside of the department or the federal system is amazingly apparent.

Wolf math just is not that hard. They breed like rabbits, yet have no predators. The lie just became too hard to cover up anymore and so, the science changed – I use science here with my tongue stuffed soundly into my cheek. For a decade we had manipulated science stuffed down our throats that exonerated their revenue generating wolves from any cause of any problem we were experiencing anywhere in the state they inhabited. When it became obvious that the truth was coming out, and that delisting was imminent, in spite of the department’s best efforts to keep them listed, and even drafting and submitting an illegal wolf management plan, they decided to flip over. In typical IDFG fashion, the wolves were now the cause of it all! Boy, aren’t we happy that they finally have seen the light! After all we have been telling them this for 10 years.

But, they now face a wiser and more connected sportspeople. We’re not buying it and they know it. We are now very informed and politically connected; we have communication outlets and media connections. But again, in true IDFG fashion, they have decided to try another avenue to generate their revenue. They want nothing worse than to have the hunters of this state out of the equation. We no longer forget past actions or play in the manner they want us to, paying more for less. They now turn to the tactic of pandering and collusion.

In what seems on the surface to be a politically correct action of seeking information concerning wildlife management in the state of Idaho, they have committed a few obvious mistakes that exposed their true intention. Their highly publicized ‘Summit’ was rolled out as that meeting. Conducted DURING hunting season, and with invitations extended to several anti-hunting, eco-green groups, and a group of actual past and present IDFG employees, IDFG now wants input on wildlife management. And, they want that input from everyone that doesn’t pay for it or expect the department to do anything other than perpetuate predators and sustain their job at all costs.

Rumor has it that this little summit has caused a rift in the ranks. It seems to have been generated right from the new director Virgil Moore; or at least that is where all the fingers are pointing. It seems that this long-time employee of IDFG, and new director, is attempting to return to the status quo of ignore and move forward. Instead of moving in the direction of attempting to get out from under the wolf issue, he now seems to want to change gears and get back in bed with the green, wildlands agenda, and he wants their money. Public input on management? How quaint! If only it didn’t reek of corruption, contempt and collusion. If, in fact, this is the brain child of Mr. Moore, he just flatly needs to go; it is far past time to get a director that is not a long time member of the IDFG’s good old boys club. We have flatly had enough! I suspect if our legislature is not willing to overhaul this department, the time has come to turn to the citizen and the ballot box. We have one very powerful tool at our disposal; initiatives, which are binding if passed and can be used to circumvent a lack of appropriate action by those in government. They do have the ability to change this department in ways that will both form the department in a manner the citizens of Idaho want and to also bring accountability to this long-time rogue department. The good old boys club must be dismantled.

Actual wolf numbers? Let’s return to Jim “Salt Shaker” Hayden for a few moments. I have heard sportsmen and women, who spend an immense amount of time in the outdoors, claim the wolf numbers in Idaho are at least double what IDFG claims. It now seems “Salt Shaker” Hayden has validated those claims. And in that claim, his statement speaks volumes. It is very sad that a department that is charged with the management of Idaho’s wildlife have failed so miserably, and stayed the course of ignoring sportspeople to the extent they have. There are but a few explanations for this miserable failure: Corruption, Collusion or outright incompetence. I will leave it to you to decide which it is or how much longer you are going to stand for it.

Barry Coe
Save Western Wildlife

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WGL Delisting of Wolves Complex and Left Open For Failure

What some consider the world’s most difficult puzzles to solve, are those where large written documents are essentially shredded and the participants must put all the shredded pieces back together again. The Department of Interior’s third stab at removing gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes (WGL) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while not capable of standing up to the world’s most complicated puzzles, appears to be much more complicated than it needs to be, leaving me wondering if this is the intent in order to leave room for costly and time consuming lawsuits. Sigh!

During the last attempt to delist wolves, a lawsuit, Humane Society of the United States v. Kempthorne, was awarded to the plaintiffs that failed at removing gray wolves from federal protection. Judge Paul Friedman ruled that he was going to place protection of the wolves back under the ESA until such time as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), i.e. Department of Interior, could show how they had the legal authority to create a Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves, or any other species, for the purpose of delisting that same species.

Shortly after that ruling, I wrote that Friedman’s decision was not at all based on scientific evidence and that the Judge had no legitimate reason to return wolves to protection other than the fact that as a judge, he could.

For what it’s worth, the Solicitor for the Department of Interior, on December 12, 2008, issued an official opinion as to how the USFWS has authority under the ESA to create a DPS in order to delist a species.

In the most recent proposal to delist wolves, the USFWS briefly explains their authority:

Our authority to make these determinations and to revise the list accordingly is a reasonable interpretation of the language of the Act, and our ability to do so is an important component of the Service’s program for the conservation of threatened and endangered species. Our authority to revise the existing listing of a species (the gray wolf in Minnesota and the gray wolf in the lower 48 States and Mexico, excluding Minnesota) to identify a Western Great Lakes DPS and determine that it is healthy enough that it no longer needs the Act’s protections is found in the precise language of the Act. Moreover, even if that authority were not clear, our interpretation of this authority to make determinations under section 4(a)(1) and to revise the endangered and threatened species list to reflect those determinations under section 4(c)(1) is reasonable and fully consistent with the Act’s text, structure, legislative history, relevant judicial interpretations, and policy objectives.

The information presented to support the USFWS’ authority to create a DPS for the purpose of delisting a species within that DPS is not new information. The same information existed in 2008 and yet somehow the USFWS in Humane Society of the United States v. Kempthorne, couldn’t sufficiently explain to Judge Paul Friedman where it got it’s authority; another example of ineptitude or corruption in representing the people in the court of law.

This is but one issue that could possibly derail an attempt to delist gray wolves. If lawsuits, which are as sure to happen as the sun rising in the morning, are intended to stop the delisting, will the explanations given in this proposal satisfy Judge Friedman’s query as to where USFWS gets its authority?

Unfortunately, this proposal to delist is further complicated by adding to it a determination by the USFWS not to recognize another species of wolf cohabiting in the same DPS. Why was it necessary to do this? Why couldn’t the USFWS made a separate announcement or proposal that it did not feel that sufficient scientific evidence existed to determine the existence of another species of wolf(eastern wolf)?

As complex as proposals to delist a species can get, why would the USFWS choose to clutter up this delisting with information pertaining to separate petitions? Efforts like this leave people like me wondering if the real intention of the USFWS is to derail the delisting for personal agendas, etc.

While I and others place our attention of things like whether the USFWS has sufficiently satisfied the courts to explain their authority to create DPS’s for delisting, and whether or not a proposal cluttered with explanations aimed at nefarious petitions and claims of the existence of a brand new species of wolf, in the end all that will matter is what one judge thinks.

Sportsmen in the WGL region shouldn’t spend too much time just yet honing their wolf hunting and trapping skills.

Tom Remington

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“Recodification” of Maine Statutes in 2003 Gave That State It’s Ban on Snaring

In 2003, by mandate of the Maine Constitution, laws governing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife were “recodified”. The end result was a statewide ban, with exceptions, on the use of snares for trapping, other than underwater snares for beaver and foothold snares for bear.

If you are puzzled, join the ranks of thousands of other Maine sportsmen.

Let me present a bit of personal history to help readers understand how I got here. As a hunter, I have become concerned over what I believe to be an overgrown population of coyotes in many parts of Maine. This has contributed to a sizable reduction in the whitetail deer population there. Efforts to do something about that population have seen many hurdles and are currently mired in court orders and confusion over just what the Maine laws are. Perhaps it is intended to be this way.

Trappers using snares has proven to be an effective tool to target those coyotes who like to consider wintering deer yards as their own private 5-star restaurants. Implementation of snares around deer yards took care of a respectable number of coyotes that would kill winter-weary deer.

Use of snares was stopped and subsequent lawsuits by environmental and animal rights groups, coupled with a federal listing for protection of Canada lynx, has left Maine in a situation where, even if IFW agreed coyotes were that serious a problem, there is little they are willing or able to do to stop the demise of the deer herd.

But confusion has run deep as to what the Maine laws governing trapping and in particular snaring are. Here’s a brief history.

In 1929, the Maine Legislature passed and was signed by the governor, a law that banned the use of snares…..period. Over the years there have been minor changes to what equipment and definitions constituted a snare. I believe it was in 1983 when the Maine Legislature mandated that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) begin a program to control the population of coyotes. This, to my knowledge, was the first attempt at implementing the use of snares.

Through the 80s and 90s, it seems the Maine Legislature as a whole has been mostly supportive of controlling coyotes and have instructed MDIFW to do something about coyote control, and yet there is none.

To keep my focus where it needs to be in this article, I’ll become more directed to the events of 2003. The Maine Legislature and Gov. Baldacci, signed into law LD237, “An Act to Improve the Coyote Control Program”. Initially, LD237 was a bill to ban snaring again, even after it had shown its effectiveness. Subsequently and during debate, etc., LD237 was amended and thus the title I gave above was attached to the bill.

LD237 was not an all out ban on snaring. What remained was the authority given to the commissioner of MDIFW to use “agents” to “meet management goals established by the commissioner for deer……”. I say this with all due diligence that I firmly believe the overwhelming majority of Maine sportsmen believe this is the law that is in place today as it pertains to snaring. If this were the case, then surely the Commissioner, Chandler Woodcock, or any commissioner before him or after, could have easily put together a plan to implement a targeted snaring program for coyotes in areas of Maine most vulnerable to coyotes……if that were the law.

As the result of a lawsuit filed against Maine by the Animal Protection Institute, in 2007 a Consent Decree was activated by the Courts. In that Consent Decree, the use of snares was prohibited within those Wildlife Management Districts that had been deemed critical habitat for the Canada lynx; a species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Because the majority of hunters and trappers (and to be honest, I think the ignorance ran deeply into MDIFW and probably the Maine Legislature) were still thinking that Maine was operating under the statute of LD237, people began asking why MDIFW didn’t implement snaring programs in areas outside critical lynx habitat. Downeast regions come to mind.

The Consent Decree was to remain in effect until such time as Maine was granted an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), for the “incidental” taking of lynx during trapping season. Once again, sportsmen waited eagerly for Maine to acquire such a permit, believing that with this ITP, the commissioner has authority under LD237 to begin a snaring program. In the meantime, the deer herd is suffering.

I was one of many in the ranks of those led astray, or poorly informed, who wrote extensively on LD237 and the commissioner’s authority granted in that bill, fully believing through many hours of research that LD237 was the snaring law we were abiding by. Nobody has attempted to clear this up that I am aware of.

So, what law is the MDIFW, trappers and the people of Maine being governed by as it pertains to the use of snares? It took me many hours of research and a lot of dead ends and frustration, before I contacted the Maine Law Library seeking information, hoping it would answer some of my many questions.

What really piqued my level of frustration came when I was reading the Application for an Incidental Take Permit. Included at the end of this application was a copy of the trapping laws and rules that govern trapping in Maine. This is where I came upon Maine Statute 12252. Reading that statute, it says that it is unlawful to “set or tend a snare…….”. I told myself that there was something seriously wrong here. This isn’t even close to LD237, the law I and many others believed to be the law governing snaring.

A very important note that needs to be made here: This is the only statute provided in the ITP application that refers to the use of snares for capturing and killing coyotes. More in a minute.

Once the fine people at the Maine Law Library helped me and sent me some 800 pages of files and documents, I have learned that LD1600, “An Act To Recodify the Laws Governing Inland Fisheries and Wildlife” is the bill that governs trapping statewide.

Before I proceed, I want you to embed into your memory that LD237 was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci on April 25, 2003.

On June 3, 2003, Governor John Baldacci signed into law LD1600. LD1600 was introduced by Senator Bruce Bryant. There were no sponsors or cosponsors. Mr. Bryant was Chairman on the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at that time I was told by the Law Library. By law, the Joint Committee was to read LD1600 and debate all 600 pages or so and they ultimately made a unanimous recommendation to the Maine Legislature, “Ought to Pass”. According to House and Senate records there was no debate on LD1600. It passed the Legislature on May 27, 2003 and was signed into law by the governor as described above.

The Maine Constitution, Article X, Sec. 6, mandates the “recodification” of statutes every ten years beginning in 1973.

Section 6. Constitution to be arranged by Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court; Constitution to be enrolled and printed with laws; supreme law of the State. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court shall arrange the Constitution, as amended, under appropriate titles and in proper articles, parts and sections, omitting all sections, clauses and words not in force and making no other changes in the provisions or language thereof, and shall submit the same to the Legislature; and such arrangement of the Constitution shall be made and submitted to the regular session of the Legislature in 1973 and every 10 years thereafter unless sooner authorized by the Legislature; and the draft and arrangement, when approved by the Legislature, shall be enrolled on parchment and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State; and printed copies thereof shall be prefixed to the books containing the Revised Statutes of the State. And the Constitution, with the amendments made thereto, in accordance with the provisions thereof, shall be the supreme law of the State. (emphasis added)

My first knowledge about codification as it pertains to laws taught me that codification was more of a housekeeping measure. Its intent was to clear up language, redundancies, typos, grammar, etc., that sometimes made it difficult to interpret and administer the laws, but never to alter the law. Once statutes have been “codified”, which according to the Maine Constitution appears to have been in 1973, each ten-year term becomes “recodification”.

Wikipedia defines “recodification” this way:

Recodification refers to a process where existing codified statutes are reformatted and rewritten into a new codified structure. This is often necessary as, over time, the legislative process of amending statutes and the legal process of construing statutes by nature over time results in a code that contains archaic terms, superseded text, and redundant or conflicting statutes. Due to the size of a typical government code, the legislative process of recodification of a code can often take a decade or longer.

I think it becomes clear and should be a logical conclusion that the purpose of recodification isn’t to rewrite existing laws; only to clear up any confusions, etc. that make it difficult to understand the law.

And so, with the passage of LD1600 by the Maine Legislature, this is where the MDIFW came up with the statute that they provided in the application for an ITP to the USFWS that included a statewide ban on the use of snares.

As you might expect, this story doesn’t end here. In the “recodified” MDIFW trapping laws, i.e. Maine Statute 12252, Section 2, paragraph A reads: “A. Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird, except as provided in section 10105, subsection 1 and section 12259;” (emboldening added). If we examine the “recodified” MDIFW statutes under section 10105, subsection 1, we see that it tells us that the commissioner has the authority to issue permits to anyone in order to assist in the “taking and destruction of any wildlife”.

However, there is no mention in Statute 12252, of any reference to section 10105, subsection 3, “Coyote Control Program”, which I am under the impression is an attempt to recodify LD237. There exists no other place in the MDIFW statutes any law that resembles LD237 except for what is found in Statute 10105, subsection 3.

But, I’m left here with some of what I am considering serious and troubling problems with this entire procedure and the end results. First, if the purpose of recodification is to clear up confusing laws, errors, etc., one would think that during this process that Maine Statute 12252, Section 2, paragraph A. would have been changed to read: “A. Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird, except as provided in section 10105, subsection 1 and subsection 3 and section 12259;” (I emboldened what should have been added during recodification.)

As far as the laws that govern snaring, doesn’t it make sense that if a law is created that bans snaring and there were exceptions to that ban that all exceptions would be listed? Furthermore, shouldn’t it be expected that this should have been corrected during the recodification process? So was this a mistake by those undertaking the ginormous task of recodification, or something more sinister?

Second, before you answer that last question about the possibilities of something being more sinister, let me get back to something I mentioned before about the only snare-relevant statute included on the application for an ITP was 12252. Why didn’t the application also include statute 10105? The ITP application was drafted, according to dates on the draft, August 13, 2008. Gosh, the recodification and passage of LD1600 took place on June 2003.

The purpose, I am to presume, of MDIFW including the trapping statutes for Maine, is to show the USFWS what Maine’s current laws are that pertain to trapping, including snares so that USFWS officials can better determine how current laws will effect protection of the Canada lynx. The application included 12252, which “exceptions” 10105 subsection one but no mention of subsection three.

Was the omission of Statute 10105, the recodified law about coyote control and snaring an error, or something more sinister? You have permission to attempt to answer that now, however, you might want to read further.

Third, I have one more issue to discuss and bring to light. Above I provided information that I had as it pertains to codification and recodification. I think I made my case that recodification is not a tool to be used to rewrite existing laws, only to clear up discrepancies.

If that be the case, then certainly there is room for debate as to whether the recodification of the laws governing snaring were clearing up discrepancies or rewriting laws.

I am of the opinion that Maine Statute 12252 is a clear attempt at re institution of a statewide ban on snaring as was done in 1929. Maine Statutes in 1929, Chapter 331, Section 44 reads: “No person shall set a snare…..for any fur-bearing animal…”. Statute 12252 reads that it is unlawful to: “Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird”. Other than changing up some non existent and outdated terms and language, the recodification appears cut and dry.

I’m not sure the same can be said about Maine Statute 10105, Section 3, paragraphs A, B, and C. This has to be either an attempt to recodify LD237 or LD237 was stricken from Maine Statutes and this law was inserted in its place. This article is already quite lengthy but I believe it’s imperative to post the following information in order that readers can easily review and decide for themselves.

First, is LD237 passed into law on April 25, 2003:

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §7035, sub-§3, ¶B, as amended by PL 1999, c. 636, §1, is repealed.

Sec. 2. 12 MRSA §7035, sub-§3, ¶B-1 is enacted to read:

B-1. An agent may use snares to control coyotes during winter months under the following conditions.

(1) Agents may use snares only for animal damage control purposes to help meet management goals established by the commissioner for deer, threatened or endangered species or other wildlife species or to benefit agricultural interests as described in paragraph C.
(2) Agents must be trained and certified by the department in the use of snares.
(3) Agents must be deployed by a department wildlife biologist before setting snares.
(4) Agents shall post access points to areas in which snaring activity is taking place, including, but not limited to, roads and trails for motorized vehicles, cross-country skiers or hikers or other obvious travel ways that may be used by people.
(5) An agent shall plainly label snares with the full name and address of that agent.
(6) An agent shall keep an accurate record of the number and location of snares set by that agent and must be able to account for those snares at all times.
(7) An agent shall check that agent’s snares that are equipped with relaxing locks on a daily basis.
(8) Department employees may accompany agents at any time an agent is checking snares.
(9) Agents shall report monthly to the department on forms provided by the department the coyotes and nontarget species taken by snaring during the reporting period.
(10) The commissioner shall revoke the snaring certificate of an agent who violates any provision of this paragraph.

The commissioner shall adopt policies and procedures on the use of snares as necessary to minimize the potential for taking nontarget species and to adequately protect threatened and endangered species.

And the following is Maine Statute 10105, Section 3:

3. Coyote control program. Pursuant to section 10053, subsection 8, the commissioner shall maintain a coyote control program as follows.

A. The commissioner may employ qualified persons to serve as agents of the department for purposes of coyote control. These agents must be trained by the department in animal damage control techniques and must be utilized by the department to perform coyote control duties in areas where predation by coyotes is posing a threat to deer or other wildlife. Each agent shall execute a cooperative agreement with the department specifying the conditions and limitations of the agent’s responsibilities as an agent, including any terms for reimbursement of expenses or payment of wages.

B. Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. All snaring must be carried out under the direction of department officials and with the knowledge of the local game warden. All areas of snaring activity must be adequately posted.

C. Agents may be utilized for the benefit of agricultural interests as long as the department is reimbursed annually for the cost of those efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources from funds specifically appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for that purpose.

It certainly would appear to me that certain liberties were taken in “recodifying” LD237, if that is what this is supposed to be. While at first glace it may appear that this recodified statute is the same or at least similar to LD237, there is at least one specific qualifier in this statute that does not appear in LD237 and is far more than a clarification of text or outdated language, etc.

The first sentence in subsection “B” above states: “Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. (emphasis added).

In my opinion, this far exceeds what should be considered “recodification” of existing laws. Nowhere in LD237 did it state that snaring can only take place in “unorganized townships” nor was it limited to the winter months.

Granted LD237 gave the authority to the commissioner to formulate a plan which may spell out precisely that snaring will be in unorganized townships and in winter only. However, that was not necessarily the desire of LD237 nor was it even implied, nor is it the point of this article. If the Maine Legislature had intended to ensure that snaring was only going to take place in unorganized townships during the winter, then the bill would have stated such. Whoever rewrote this took the liberty to add in language that didn’t exist in LD237.

The question should become, who authorized or took in upon themselves to rewrite the laws of the state of Maine? Unless the laws in Maine that govern the recodification process are so lenient as to provide for such action, one must be left questioning whether this in an illegal action that needs some serious attention.

It should matter not whether one thinks snaring should or shouldn’t be used. It matters not whether snaring, if used, were to be relegated to unorganized townships. It matters not whether snaring should take place in winter or summer. What should matter is whether or not the recodification process in Maine results in the rewriting of laws enacted by the people of Maine? This cannot be. There has to be some kind of better oversight here, otherwise what confidence do any of us have that every 10 years our laws will get changed and we know nothing about it.

Did the process fail the people or was the failure a result of the process, which includes certain checks and balances or lack thereof? The Maine Supreme Court, via the constitution, is responsible for this undertaking. Were there all the necessary checks and balances done here to ensure no rewriting would take place.

The recoded laws, done by whom I am not sure, then went to the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Did they read the entire revised statutes or give it a cursory nod that it must be alright? Was there a failure to perform according to the wishes of the people of Maine?

And then it went on to the Legislature in which there was no debate recorded. This should tell us nothing was read and obviously no questions asked. It all appears like a very easy and convenient way to make changes and rewrite existing laws for which most people will never be informed about until one day it might effect them personally.

While recodification may be a great idea and may help in the process of reading, understanding and applying laws, if laws are being rewritten, whether intentional or not, whether allowed by law or not, it can’t be. Something must change. This is a faulty process to say the least.

In my mind, I am left with three very important and unanswered questions:

1. Was it someone’s intent through recodification of the MDIFW statutes to actually alter the existing laws that govern snaring or was it ignorance, lack of proper skills and poor workmanship?

2. Was the omission of Maine Statute 10105 on the application for an Incidental Take Permit from USFWS an error, oversight or was it intentionally left off in order to deliberately deceive anyone reading the application?

3. And during the recodification process was it also intended to NOT make reference to Maine Statute 10105, subsection 3 when the recodification of Maine Statute 12252 was carried out?

Answers to these questions will never come about as there is no way to prove a person’s intent. I feel it is my duty and responsibility to share what I have learned and to ask questions that many of us will also be asking.

If, however, there is intent here somewhere to deliberately mislead the people of Maine through, 1). Using recodification as a tool to rewrite Maine’s laws, and/or 2). intentionally deceive the USFWS in order to achieve an ITP, then I shall have nothing to do with that. Other than exposing what I know, there is no way that I will become partner to any unethical, illegal or deceitful acts in order to obtain an objective that I feel is important.

I hope my efforts have helped some to come to better understand where we are as it pertains to snaring and trapping and its associations with Canada lynx.

Tom Remington

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Annoucement Made to Remove Gray Wolves in Great Lakes From Protection

There is much agog within sportsman’s groups having heard when Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Federal Government will remove Endangered Species Act listings for Western Great Lakes gray wolves. The action will take effect in 30 days from Federal Register publication and individual states will take over management of the species.

This of course depends upon what affect lawsuits from environmental and animal rights groups will have. There are sure to be lawsuits filed and at best the results of those lawsuits will be confusing. The last time the Feds attempted to delist those wolves, a lawsuit put a stop to it. The court ruling from Judge Paul Friedman, remanded the case back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and told them to return to his court when they could provide proof that the USFWS has the authority through the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to create Distinct Population Segments. This ruling simply created tons more confusion into an ESA equation so riddled with confusion it’s any wonder any ESA action works at all.

I’ve yet to study the proposal, but I am told that it contains wording that rejects any claims that there are two species of wolves inhabiting the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves. In my mind, that’s a bigger victory than the delisting of wolves. How this will play out across the remainder of the Eastern United States is anyone’s guess at this point.

What I decided to do, for those interested, is publish the press releases below that I received about the delisting so that readers can see the different comments and perspectives. One is from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and one from the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance.

RMEF Cheers Announcements on Great Lakes Wolves

MISSOULA, Mont.–The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation today cheered federal delisting of wolves in the Great Lakes states, as well as the State of Wisconsin’s rapid movement toward implementing its own science-based wolf management plan.

Both actions help pave the way toward predator populations that are in better balance with elk, deer and other species commonly preyed upon by wolves.

“Barring any legal holdups from animal rights activists, we should see science-based wolf management and control measures go into effect by February, and that’s great news for conservation overall in the Great Lakes region,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

On Dec. 21, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region have recovered and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a final rule in the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Upon the announcement, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ordered the Department of Natural Resources to begin implementing the state’s wolf management plan. The agency will issue permits to landowners experiencing wolf-caused losses beginning Feb. 1.

There are more than 4,000 wolves in the three core recovery states in the western Great Lakes area, a total that far exceeds recovery goals. Minnesota’s population is estimated at 2,921 wolves, while an estimated 687 wolves live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and another 782 in Wisconsin.

Each state has developed a science-based plan to manage wolves after federal protection is removed.

Wolf Delisting Decision a Big Win for Sportsmen

(Columbus, Ohio) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that gray wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region have exceeded recovery goals and should no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once official, this move will return wolves to state management in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and some portions of adjoining states.

In an even bigger victory for sportsmen, the Service also announced that it has reversed its previous view that two wolf species exist in the Western Great Lakes region. This previous stance by the Service, that two separate wolf species were present in the region, could have easily derailed any delisting of the wolves. The announcement recognized that the scientific evidence submitted during the comment period was crucial in reversing its position. In July and September, the USSAF submitted extensive comments supported by wolf and genetics expert Dr. Lisette Waits refuting the two wolf theory.

A two wolf position, which was not based on leading research, could have led to additional lawsuits from animal rights organizations aimed at preventing wolves from being returned to state management.

“This announcement is a major victory for sportsmen, conservation, and wildlife management,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation senior vice president. “We applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their decision to recognize the scientific facts regarding wolves in the Great Lakes region. This is how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to be implemented. When animal populations recover, those species should be removed from the list and returned to state management. This has been a long, hard fought battle and is not likely over as we expect the animal rights lobby to turn to the courts to stop the delisting. We will be ready.”

Wolf populations have far exceeded recovery goals and have become an increasing threat to other wildlife, livestock, and hunting and other dogs.

The delisting rule will become effective 30 days after it has been published in the Federal Register. Official publication in the Federal Register is expected to take place next week.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation has been on the front lines working to ensure that wolves in the Western Great Lakes region were removed from the ESA and rightfully returned to state management.

In May of 2010, the USSAF and its partners petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. After the Service failed to respond to the request as required by law, USSAF notified the Service that if it did not act on the wolf petition USSAF and our partners would file a lawsuit. Subsequently, the Service started the delisting process which led to today’s announcement of its intent to delist gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Joining the USSAF in these efforts are the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Dairyland Committee of Safari Club International Chapters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Hunters Rights Coalition, Whitetails of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Firearms Owners, Rangers, Clubs, and Educators, Inc.

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Obama Administration’s Attempt to Define “Significant Portion of it’s Range”

Let me say right off the top in order that some may not want to waste their time seeking truth, that I believe very strongly that the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA)(Act) is unconstitutional. It is such because it does not stand up against the authority of the Constitution in which a statute cannot, in and of itself, be a violation of the Constitution. It also does not mean that I oppose species protection. The majority of people in this country don’t care nor are they free to undertake independent thought to learn about the truth. Most every, if not all, laws on our books are nothing more than tools to extract power from the people and put it into the hands of government. I pray for your epiphany for truth.

However, simply because I believe the Act is criminal, doesn’t dismiss me from exposing the further fraud behind the ESA and now the attempts by Congress and the Obama Administration to “fix” it.

As I have written about recently, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources has begun a series of hearings to examine the Endangered Species Act, (ESA) in hopes of determining: “How litigation is costing jobs and impeding true recovery efforts.” With the Committee using that description of the intent of their hearings, should we hold out any hope that any efforts will be directed at amending or, as some are asking, repealing of the ESA? Not likely.

But this has not stopped the Obama Administration of getting into the ESA fray. After all, we do have an election coming up and doing and saying anything to steal a vote is chichi these days in Washington. The “Services”, collectively the Department of Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have gone all out to help Americans define the simple phrase, “significant portion of its range”.

That phrase is used extremely sparingly in the ESA and it pertains, at least in my mind and after reading Obama’s proposal I question if the “Services” have any mind, to criteria used to determine when and if a species might be considered for federal protection under the ESA.

Either I’m not fully enlightened or am too honest, but I happen to think that “significant portion” would mean a big or perhaps as much as a majority or more of something, especially when used in the context of a word that describes size, i.e. “portion”. Evidently I’m wrong, according to the “Services” Draft Policy to define “significant portion of its range”.

There is a reason that Congress and the President, beyond the usual politics, are taking a look, finally, at the ESA. It’s badly broken. In its day, it was intended, we were told, to provide a means in which government regulation could prevent the needless destruction of plant and animal species. Perhaps because the bill was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, who was embroiled in the Watergate scandal, set the stage for a bill designed to fail. And fail it has.

The Act has done little to save species and a lot to put a lot of money into the bank accounts of environmentalists, stifling job growth and stripping Americans of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If you and I can get beyond arguing whether the ESA is worth anything and discover that it’s not, then surely we can begin to see the efforts of Congress to examine portions of the ESA and President Obama’s administration to define words in the Act as laughable.

Regardless of whether President Obama thinks he can define “significant”, it is NOT going to do anything to change the problems with the ESA. Among the massive issues that makes the ESA look like a falling down old barn, is the lack of specific information in the administration of this bill. This leaves the door open to giving the Secretary of Interior too much discretion, flexibility and deference as it pertains to interpretive policy, and it has led to a myriad of court rulings in which judges have taken it upon themselves to interpret the ESA in any fashion they can.

One of the downsides to the judicial branches of our government is that every time there is a court ruling the words created in that ruling become case law and at least to some degree becomes precedent in future court cases, regardless of the truth or accuracy of what is written.

So what I can say right from the beginning that what the “Services” are attempting to do in defining “significant portion of its range”, is to hand select from existing statutes, case histories and case law, some or all which are seriously flawed, combined with their own interpretations of what they think the intention of the legislators were in writing the Endangered Species Act.

What on earth could go wrong?

Remember back in 1998?, when then President Bill Clinton was answering questions before a grand jury about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky? He was asked if there was anything going on between him and Miss Lewinsky. Bill Clinton responded to the jury:

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

This kind of jibber-jabber spin is endemic among politicians and governmental agencies. That’s why we all hate them so. Obama’s “Services” people don’t go quite to that extreme in their attempts to define “significant portion of its range”, but read what they did say.

This Draft Policy took approximately 20 or more pages to conclude using the various resources and criteria I have already described above to determine that “significant portion of its range” in its entirely, together, as a whole, means:

provides an independent basis for listing and protecting the entire species

In other words, this is pretty much what we have all become subjected to over the past near 40 years. Some too highly paid, well indoctrinated person(s) at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) made a determination that a particular species was in trouble and was in trouble over a “significant portion of its range” and therefore was declared “endangered” and the “range” essentially became critical habitat.

But the “Services” have determined that it depends on what the meaning of significant is as to whether or not significant actually becomes significant.

This draft policy includes the following definition of “significant” as it relates to SPR [significant portion of its range]: a portion is “significant” in the context of the Act’s “significant portion of its range” phrase if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction.

Significant, used as an adjective, which if my English 101 is correct, is defined in most dictionaries as:

1. important; of consequence.
2. having or expressing a meaning; indicative; suggestive: a significant wink.
3. Statistics . of or pertaining to observations that are unlikely to occur by chance and that therefore indicate a systematic cause.

If “significant” is used as an adjective to describe portion, and portion in this context relates to a physical area or size of land, i.e. range, then wouldn’t significant portion suggest what is being talked about here is geographical scope of the range of a species?

The “Services” concluded that the choice of definition for “significant” is “important”. Therefore, it’s not the size of the portion of the range but the importance of the portion of the range they have decided to use.

I could go on with such foolishness but it’s more important to provide focus on what’s the bottom line. The bottom line here is that not only will Obama’s Draft Policy not only not help anything as it pertains to the ESA but will in fact make matters even worse.

Nothing in this policy limits the discretion and authority of the “Secretary” to implement and make definitions and rulings as he/she deems “scientific” and necessary for the administration of the ESA. Not only that, but this policy seriously places into the hands of the government, greater authority to not only create “portions of its range”, in other words, the Secretary can declare a species endangered and establish all the “critical habitat” he wants. He will still have power to create Distinct Population Segments. However, this new policy will allow the Secretary, through a series of predetermined “thresholds”; a measure of how important it is to protect one small area where a certain species may exist in order to save the entire species globally, create millions of tiny DPSs that the “Services” have said they don’t want to do.

Try to paint a picture in your mind of what this might look like. Haul out a map of the U.S. and it is peppered with 6,537,129 little dots where the Secretary has created a “significant” “significant portion of its range”. And that “significant” range happens to be the 350-acre ranch your trying to eke out a living on. I think this is significant.

Oh, that won’t happen! You all say. Won’t it? If not, then why is this included in the Draft Policy?

Therefore, if a species is determined to be endangered in an SPR, under this draft policy, the
species would be listed as endangered throughout all of its range, even in situations where the facts simultaneously support a determination that the species is threatened throughout all of its range. However, we recognize that this approach may raise concerns that the Services will be applying a higher level of protection where a lesser level of protection might arguably fit if viewed across a species’ range. The Services are particularly interested in public comments on this issue.

I am sure that how I see this Draft Policy and how others may see it will be worlds apart. For those who have faith and confidence in government and believe the ESA is a viable statute that actually protects species, while preserving the rights of Americans, you may think this attempt at defining “significant portion of its range” is a good thing. I do not!

I see it as further pushing the ESA bus over the cliff. It defines nothing. It only serves to foist even more autocratic power into the hands of government, particularly that of the Secretary of Interior. And, gives authority to the Secretary to amass hundreds upon thousands of SRPs (Significan Range Portions) and DPSs (Distinct Population Segments) all over the country.

One can think of instances where this authority and application may be practical but you shouldn’t think it actually will. One example might be the instance in Wyoming, where the state, in working with the Feds, has come up with a SRP of sorts that provides protections for the gray wolf in one zone, while at the same time the rest of the state isn’t burdened under the same ball and chain of ESA protection. But when you consider the amount of abuse that will come from this authority, it becomes a more effective fire starter than an extinguisher. There are so many catch words and phrases in this Draft that one would be foolish to think it’s intended for anything of value to the people.

While I am not expecting anything productive to come out of the Committee hearings in Washington, I will write them and tell them that they need to derail this Draft Policy and actually get down to meat and potato changes or consider complete repeal of the ESA.

If you would like to take the time to read Obama’s Draft Policy, you can read it at this link. In addition, at the end of the Policy proposal, you’ll find specific questions the “Services” are seeking comments on and how you can submit comments about this policy. Comments will be opened for 60 days after the official posting of the Draft to the Federal Register.

Tom Remington

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Typical Governmental Bureaucracy on Endangered Species Act

One of the problems with any government is bureaucracy and red tape. Here’s a clear example of it.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, in which the entire document is 47 pages, contains the phrase, “Significant Portion of Its Range”. This in reference to consideration of whether to include a species for protection or remove a species from Federal protection.

When you examine the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended, you will discover that the word “range” is used a total of 6 times (pg. 5, pg. 6, pg. 7, pg. 11 and pg. 40). The use of the entire term of “significant portion of its range” is used twice (pg. 5, pg. 6).

President Obama has offered a proposal to amend the ESA or perhaps better described as offering a clarification or definition of the use of the term “significant portion of its range”. The president uses 84 pages to accomplish that feat. This approaches nearly twice the length of the entire ESA.

Now I just received a copy of this proposal so I haven’t had the chance to read it but I will. It was just that my first reaction was that it would take only a government agency to define a 5-word phrase used twice in the ESA, 84 pages to do so.

One would also suppose that being that the House Natural Resource Committee began hearings this week to examine the ups and downs of the ESA, that Obama’s Administration would want to get into the act. Some see this as a good thing and others as being very bad.

Dr. Charles Kay, Ph.D. Wildlife Ecology at Utah State University and one who never minces words, had this to say in an email on the subject of Obama’s proposal:

To all—-What do you not understand that they, CBD [Center for Biological Diversity] and others, want wolves, grizzlies ,etc. EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!——Even if this policy is adopted by the OA [Obama Administration], all they will have done is invited CBD to the courthouse to have it overturned—–This, on the part of the OA, is simply a ploy, in a long list of similar ploys, to reduce the growing political movement to repeal the ESA, as presently written BY THE COURTS————-Charles

If I find worthwhile information and/or commentary to pass on after struggling through 84 pages of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, you’ll find it posted here.

Tom Remington

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Obama Administration’s Attempt to Define “Significant Portion of it’s Range”

Let me say right off the top in order that some may not want to waste their time seeking truth, that I believe very strongly that the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA)(Act) is unconstitutional. It is such because it does not stand up against the authority of the Constitution in which a statute cannot, in and of itself, be a violation of the Constitution. It also does not mean that I oppose species protection. The majority of people in this country don’t care nor are they free to undertake independent thought to learn about the truth. Most every, if not all, laws on our books are nothing more than tools to extract power from the people and put it into the hands of government. I pray for your epiphany for truth.

However, simply because I believe the Act is criminal, doesn’t dismiss me from exposing the further fraud behind the ESA and now the attempts by Congress and the Obama Administration to “fix” it.

As I have written about recently, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources has begun a series of hearings to examine the Endangered Species Act, (ESA) in hopes of determining: “How litigation is costing jobs and impeding true recovery efforts.” With the Committee using that description of the intent of their hearings, should we hold out any hope that any efforts will be directed at amending or, as some are asking, repealing of the ESA? Not likely.

But this has not stopped the Obama Administration of getting into the ESA fray. After all, we do have an election coming up and doing and saying anything to steal a vote is chichi these days in Washington. The “Services”, collectively the Department of Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have gone all out to help Americans define the simple phrase, “significant portion of its range”.

That phrase is used extremely sparingly in the ESA and it pertains, at least in my mind and after reading Obama’s proposal I question if the “Services” have any mind, to criteria used to determine when and if a species might be considered for federal protection under the ESA.

Either I’m not fully enlightened or am too honest, but I happen to think that “significant portion” would mean a big or perhaps as much as a majority or more of something, especially when used in the context of a word that describes size, i.e. “portion”. Evidently I’m wrong, according to the “Services” Draft Policy to define “significant portion of its range”.

There is a reason that Congress and the President, beyond the usual politics, are taking a look, finally, at the ESA. It’s badly broken. In its day, it was intended, we were told, to provide a means in which government regulation could prevent the needless destruction of plant and animal species. Perhaps because the bill was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, who was embroiled in the Watergate scandal, set the stage for a bill designed to fail. And fail it has.

The Act has done little to save species and a lot to put a lot of money into the bank accounts of environmentalists, stifling job growth and stripping Americans of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If you and I can get beyond arguing whether the ESA is worth anything and discover that it’s not, then surely we can begin to see the efforts of Congress to examine portions of the ESA and President Obama’s administration to define words in the Act as laughable.

Regardless of whether President Obama thinks he can define “significant”, it is NOT going to do anything to change the problems with the ESA. Among the massive issues that makes the ESA look like a falling down old barn, is the lack of specific information in the administration of this bill. This leaves the door open to giving the Secretary of Interior too much discretion, flexibility and deference as it pertains to interpretive policy, and it has led to a myriad of court rulings in which judges have taken it upon themselves to interpret the ESA in any fashion they can.

One of the downsides to the judicial branches of our government is that every time there is a court ruling the words created in that ruling become case law and at least to some degree becomes precedent in future court cases, regardless of the truth or accuracy of what is written.

So what I can say right from the beginning that what the “Services” are attempting to do in defining “significant portion of its range”, is to hand select from existing statutes, case histories and case law, some or all which are seriously flawed, combined with their own interpretations of what they think the intention of the legislators were in writing the Endangered Species Act.

What on earth could go wrong?

Remember back in 1998?, when then President Bill Clinton was answering questions before a grand jury about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky? He was asked if there was anything going on between him and Miss Lewinsky. Bill Clinton responded to the jury:

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

This kind of jibber-jabber spin is endemic among politicians and governmental agencies. That’s why we all hate them so. Obama’s “Services” people don’t go quite to that extreme in their attempts to define “significant portion of its range”, but read what they did say.

This Draft Policy took approximately 20 or more pages to conclude using the various resources and criteria I have already described above to determine that “significant portion of its range” in its entirely, together, as a whole, means:

provides an independent basis for listing and protecting the entire species

In other words, this is pretty much what we have all become subjected to over the past near 40 years. Some too highly paid, well indoctrinated person(s) at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) made a determination that a particular species was in trouble and was in trouble over a “significant portion of its range” and therefore was declared “endangered” and the “range” essentially became critical habitat.

But the “Services” have determined that it depends on what the meaning of significant is as to whether or not significant actually becomes significant.

This draft policy includes the following definition of “significant” as it relates to SPR [significant portion of its range]: a portion is “significant” in the context of the Act’s “significant portion of its range” phrase if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction.

Significant, used as an adjective, which if my English 101 is correct, is defined in most dictionaries as:

1. important; of consequence.
2. having or expressing a meaning; indicative; suggestive: a significant wink.
3. Statistics . of or pertaining to observations that are unlikely to occur by chance and that therefore indicate a systematic cause.

If “significant” is used as an adjective to describe portion, and portion in this context relates to a physical area or size of land, i.e. range, then wouldn’t significant portion suggest what is being talked about here is geographical scope of the range of a species?

The “Services” concluded that the choice of definition for “significant” is “important”. Therefore, it’s not the size of the portion of the range but the importance of the portion of the range they have decided to use.

I could go on with such foolishness but it’s more important to provide focus on what’s the bottom line. The bottom line here is that not only will Obama’s Draft Policy not only not help anything as it pertains to the ESA but will in fact make matters even worse.

Nothing in this policy limits the discretion and authority of the “Secretary” to implement and make definitions and rulings as he/she deems “scientific” and necessary for the administration of the ESA. Not only that, but this policy seriously places into the hands of the government, greater authority to not only create “portions of its range”, in other words, the Secretary can declare a species endangered and establish all the “critical habitat” he wants. He will still have power to create Distinct Population Segments. However, this new policy will allow the Secretary, through a series of predetermined “thresholds”; a measure of how important it is to protect one small area where a certain species may exist in order to save the entire species globally, create millions of tiny DPSs that the “Services” have said they don’t want to do.

Try to paint a picture in your mind of what this might look like. Haul out a map of the U.S. and it is peppered with 6,537,129 little dots where the Secretary has created a “significant” “significant portion of its range”. And that “significant” range happens to be the 350-acre ranch your trying to eke out a living on. I think this is significant.

Oh, that won’t happen! You all say. Won’t it? If not, then why is this included in the Draft Policy?

Therefore, if a species is determined to be endangered in an SPR, under this draft policy, the
species would be listed as endangered throughout all of its range, even in situations where the facts simultaneously support a determination that the species is threatened throughout all of its range. However, we recognize that this approach may raise concerns that the Services will be applying a higher level of protection where a lesser level of protection might arguably fit if viewed across a species’ range. The Services are particularly interested in public comments on this issue.

I am sure that how I see this Draft Policy and how others may see it will be worlds apart. For those who have faith and confidence in government and believe the ESA is a viable statute that actually protects species, while preserving the rights of Americans, you may think this attempt at defining “significant portion of its range” is a good thing. I do not!

I see it as further pushing the ESA bus over the cliff. It defines nothing. It only serves to foist even more autocratic power into the hands of government, particularly that of the Secretary of Interior. And, gives authority to the Secretary to amass hundreds upon thousands of SRPs (Significan Range Portions) and DPSs (Distinct Population Segments) all over the country.

One can think of instances where this authority and application may be practical but you shouldn’t think it actually will. One example might be the instance in Wyoming, where the state, in working with the Feds, has come up with a SRP of sorts that provides protections for the gray wolf in one zone, while at the same time the rest of the state isn’t burdened under the same ball and chain of ESA protection. But when you consider the amount of abuse that will come from this authority, it becomes a more effective fire starter than an extinguisher. There are so many catch words and phrases in this Draft that one would be foolish to think it’s intended for anything of value to the people.

While I am not expecting anything productive to come out of the Committee hearings in Washington, I will write them and tell them that they need to derail this Draft Policy and actually get down to meat and potato changes or consider complete repeal of the ESA.

If you would like to take the time to read Obama’s Draft Policy, you can read it at this link. In addition, at the end of the Policy proposal, you’ll find specific questions the “Services” are seeking comments on and how you can submit comments about this policy. Comments will be opened for 60 days after the official posting of the Draft to the Federal Register.

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