August 19, 2017

Comments on ESA Political Posturing – Aug. 2017

By James Beers:

The following proposals in Congress to “fix” the ESA deserve exposure to sunlight and a few comments as to what they are up to beyond posturing for campaign photos: the answer being, not much.  Jim Beers

  1. •H.R. 424(Rep. Collin Peterson), To direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and for other purposes. “Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017

Numbers of gray wolves are exploding in most areas where they exist or have been introduced. This has had a severe impact on local livestock, as well as large grazing wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, etc. Ranchers and state wildlife managers have found themselves at odds with environmentalist wolf advocates who urge–and often go to court for–continued protections on what are thriving, and ecologically and economically significant predator populations. The hearing memo summarizes the issue this way:

Gray wolves were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1974. Existing wolves present in the Western Great Lakes Region were protected, and the federal government introduced the species canis lupus irremotus to the West by removing wolves from Canada and releasing them in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1994 and 1995. States, local citizens, livestock groups, and sportsmen opposed the reintroduction effort. The reintroduced wolf population in the West recovered and expanded more quickly than anticipated. As a result, in September 2001, the states and tribes began working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to formulate plans that would effectively transition management responsibility to the
states upon delisting.

FWS deemed the Idaho and Montana wolf management plans adequate, but did not approve the Wyoming plan. Gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List on January 14, 2009. As part of their management plans, Idaho and Montana conducted tightly controlled wolf hunts beginning in the autumn of 2009. Sales of wolf hunt tags fund management activities, and hunts are conducted in a similar fashion to those of large ungulates and other wild animals under state management.

Litigious environmental groups challenged the FWS decision to delist the wolves in Idaho, Montana, and the Western Great Lakes, arguing that the rule had been politically motivated and did not comply with ESA. The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana held that the rule was a “political solution that does not comply with ESA” and that delisting of a species which was still endangered in a portion of its region (Wyoming) was not appropriate. The delisting of the wolves was halted in all states until the Wyoming plan was acceptable. See full hearing memo here.

Comments:

–       It says a great deal about the sad state of national wildlife affairs when, as a positive justification for more federal legislation, we accept as a positive accomplishment thriving, and ecologically and economically significant predator populations”.  Predators are like armies; they kill and disrupt things in accord with their controls. Do we really think “thriving” predator populations are good when they kill and wreak all manner of havoc when uncontrolled?  When, and if, we choose to maintain, introduce and protect large predators; it should be done primarily for the common good of society and not for the “ecology” which is a controversial judgment at best or to have them “thrive” with no qualifier that recognizes where they do not belong and densities and distributions to be tolerated in other areas with the consent of those communities forced to host them.

–       It is specious to say, reintroduced wolf population in the West recovered and expanded more quickly than anticipated”.  The politicians should tell the truth and drop “anticipated” to be replaced with “we were told”.  The very same bureaucrats that downplayed the potential of wolves with full protection and unlimited food sources (like your pet dog wolves are omnivorous) are the same bureaucracy you want to tweak and expect to get a different result when the past 3 decades reveal how they operate and the increasing havoc they are wreaking.

–       It is a scam of enormous proportions to write and speak that, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to formulate plans that would effectively transition management responsibility to the states upon delisting” is anything other than the federal government and the wolf NGO’s simply telling the states where and how many wolves they must maintain and then the state pays the bill and only uses federally approved methods based on counts (never accurate and always grist for lawsuits in the “right” court before the “right” judge) that will allow the bureaucrats and their “partners” to takeback “control” whenever politically possible.  This is one case where the piper doesn’t pay the bill: those told how and when to dance, pay the bill!  Ask yourself where does the money come from for lawsuits, counting, investigating, vehicles, fuel, salaries, retirement, insurance, clerks, biologists, wardens, contractors, compensation, “administration”, etc. for all this?  It diverts large portions of the License fees, Excise Taxes and other revenue from state functions for all to dance to a federal piper.  When they tell you that they sold a lot of wolf licenses, keep in mind that wolves are smart and quickly adapt.  Shooting, trapping and other “sporting” methods of take are quickly learned and after a year or two of only a few killed, the initial surge of “hunters” buying a wolf tag (that at best will never begin to cover the cost of “managing” these federally sanctified critters) for only a few wolves will wane and then the surge of happiness will turn into a hangover as everyone realizes that this may go on “forever” and everything else in the state responsibilities toolbox is going to suffer, and suffer bigtime.

  1. •H.R. 717(Rep. Pete Olson), To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require review of the economic cost of adding a species to the list of endangered species or threatened species, and for other purposes. “Listing Reform Act

One of the starkest examples of devastating economic impact by an ESA listing is that of the spotted owl, which effectively decimated the timber industry of the American North Pacific. The Listing Reform Act is intended to prevent such sweeping economic destruction. It is summarized:

H.R. 717, the “Listing Reform Act” would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to consider economic impacts in listing decisions for threatened species, and allow preclusion of the listing if the likelihood of significant, cumulative economic effects would result from the listing, or from the resulting designation of critical habitat. See full hearing memo here.

Comments:

–       I love the way these politicians can casually say, One of the starkest examples of devastating economic impact by an ESA listing is that of the spotted owl, which effectively decimated the timber industry of the American North Pacific” (the Aleutians are treeless could the staffer mean Northwest?) and then blithely go on talking about the law that caused that devastation to thousands of families and the economy, and expanded the bureaucracy power created by that law as if they were a Mayor explaining why revenue-generation-only speed traps are really good and a tweak or two here and there and everyone will benefit and be happy one day.  What about the pols that passed such a law that did this?  What about the increasingly corrupt bureaucrats that then perpetrated this atrocity with their “rules”, “regulations”, “policies” and collusion with radical groups for a myriad of hidden agendas – all under the color of a LAW every bit as bad as Prohibition?  Who has ever been held responsible for any of this?  Physician, heal thyself!

–       Are you kidding me?  “Consider economic impacts”?  These are the same federal bureaucracies that ignored wolves as vectors disease and infections; that denied any impacts on big game; that turned over federal livestock compensation for wolf predation to the Defenders of Wildlife; that lied about human dangers; that has minimized human attack reports; that stole millions from state Excise taxes to trap wolves in Canada after Congress had denied authorization and funding; that imported the wolves without required paperwork (something seriously punished on select civilians); that released the wolves into the Upper Rockies again without Congressional authorization; and that to this day works with radical environmental groups to further subdue and conquer rural America for their purposes.  None of these awful and illegal oppressions were ever punished. Indeed they (the bureaucrats) rewarded themselves greatly from government funding for their good job.  That said, who really believes that something as “airy-fairy” as “economic impacts” requires anything but lies?  There is no accountability for the aforementioned REAL egregious actions.  How would you ever hold anyone accountable for economic impacts that turned out to have missed XY&Z?  Beam me up Scotty!

  1. •H.R. 1274(Rep. Dan Newhouse), To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require making available to States affected by determinations that species are endangered species or threatened species all data that is the basis of such determinations, and for other purposes. “State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act

Despite the provision within the ESA requiring the federal government to cooperate with states and tribes to the greatest extent possible, history has shown that this does not always happen, and states and localities are often left out of listings and related regulatory processes. The background of this issue is summarized this way:

States have testified that the ESA as currently implemented, does not properly honor their ability to participate to the maximum extent practicable in federal ESA listing decisions. States also have stated that they are not made privy to factors utilized by the federal government in listing decisions that impact lands, communities, and species within their borders.

States are the species managers prior to a listing decision by the federal government and will become the managers of the species after a delisting decision by the federal government. States possess extensive, on-the-ground experience and expertise in science-based wildlife management principles, generation of applicable data, and the application of public policy in managing wildlife as a public asset.

In spite of the expertise and willingness of State, local, and tribal governments to participate in the ESA process, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce are not required to disclose scientific information or the basis they used in making listing or critical habitat decisions to the states or to utilize scientific data generated by the states, even though states often have actual data that the federal agencies do not. See full hearing memo here.

Comments:

–       All of this nonsense, Despite the provision within the ESA requiring the federal government to cooperate with states and tribes to the greatest extent possible, history has shown that this does not always happen, and states and localities are often left out of listings and related regulatory processes” and  States have testified that the ESA as currently implemented, does not properly honor their ability to participate to the maximum extent practicable in federal ESA listing decisions. States also have stated that they are not made privy to factors utilized by the federal government in listing decisions that impact lands, communities, and species within their border” is merely rich irony.  These same politicians that pass and condone a law that gives a federal bureaucracy (USFWS) total authority over calling wolves whatever works for their hidden agendas and complete jurisdiction over Where and How Many will be placed and maintained and who (ranchers, hunters, dog owners, elderly, children, etc.) will have to put up with what Or Else; these same guys now whine that there is little “participation” and “cooperation” and “transparency” with States?  Am I mistaken, but hasn’t it been made crystal clear that they (USFWS) have been and will continue to be (as long as USFWS staff and managers sympathetic to radical i.e. anti-grazing/private property/animal ownership/hunting/trapping/animal control /animal management/logging/irrigation/dams/roads/gun, etc. agendas and organizations remain in place) in league with and colluding with organizations and agendas that are anathema to States Rights, and a Rural America composed of free men with families and rights?  Mouthing “cooperation” and “transparency” for someone to whom you have given absolute power is like Russia “welcoming” Poland into the USSR after WWII and then years later wondering why there hasn’t been any “cooperation” or “transparency”.

–       Ditto for, In spite of the expertise and willingness of State, local, and tribal governments to participate in the ESA process, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce are not required to disclose scientific information or the basis they used in making listing or critical habitat decisions to the states or to utilize scientific data generated by the states, even though states often have actual data that the federal agencies do not.”  See previous comment.

  1. •H.R. 2603(Rep. Louie Gohmert), To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide that nonnative species in the United States shall not be treated as endangered species or threatened species for purposes of that Act. “Saving America’s Endangered Species Act” or “SAVES Act

This bill offers protections to foreign species by easing and clarifying regulatory processes for captive breeding programs. Designed to support restoration programs for international species jeopardized by poaching, or other factors outside the purview of United States law, this bill would offer protections to endangered and threatened species without necessitating an ESA listing. The hearing memo summarizes the issue this way:

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 includes protections for nonnative endangered species in an effort to encourage foreign nations to protect jeopardized species and their habitats abroad. Nonnative endangered species are regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under the Endangered Species Act through the captive bred wildlife (CBW) program.

Legal captive breeding of nonnative endangered species is a conservation measure that can create healthy populations of animals to augment recovery of wild populations, decrease illegal wildlife trafficking, and increase educational opportunities relating to the species. While no federal permit is required to own listed nonnative species, those wishing to sell or buy nonnative endangered species across state lines, including zoos and private breeders, must obtain a CBW permit from FWS.

H.R. 2603 would effectively eliminate the duplicative requirement for CBW permits for nonnative endangered species in the United States and held in captivity. Ease of transfer across state lines would enhance conservation and welfare of the species by allowing owners, breeders, and conservators of the species to ensure robust, and genetically diverse populations continue to exist in the United States. See the full hearing memo here:

Comment:

–       While it is admirable and surprising to see a proposed ESA Amendment to, effectively eliminate the duplicative requirement for CBW permits for nonnative endangered species in the United States and held in captivity. Ease of transfer across state lines would enhance conservation and welfare of the species”; some would say it is a symbolic token adjustment to the federal authority to totally regulate American Exotic Animal Owners.  Zoos and Aquariums would especially benefit from this, and the fact that the former Director of USFWS, who went out the door when President Trump came into office and is now the Executive Director or some such official with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is an example of the close relationship between lobby groups and USFWS top bureaucrats.  The federal oversight interference with and disruption of Privately-owned Exotic wildlife that is a foreign ESA Listed Species lies not so much with the transfers across state lines but with the totality of the management of privately owned herds that need routine culling and the federal interference with hunts, selling meat or hides or mounts to 1.) Keep herd sizes compatible with available forage, 2.) Contribute to local economies and 3.) Provide owners with the wherewithal to maintain the species.  The standards and treatment of zoos and aquariums are too often but a pale shadow of the treatment by bureaucrats of what private Listed Exotic Animal Owners endure.  It is worth noting that this is a proposal of a Texas Congressman and Texas had more such Exotic Wildlife and Exotic Wildlife Owners than any other State the last time I looked.

  1. •H.R. 3131(Rep. Bill Huizenga), To amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to conform citizen suits under that Act with other existing law, and for other purposes. “Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act.

Environmentalist groups, some with radical agendas, have taken advantage of the Equal Access to Justice Act to sue the federal government for ‘failing’ to properly protect species listed under the ESA. In so doing, the American taxpayer has paid out billions of dollars in huge settlements, which more often than not are used by such special interests to hire staff and bring on more lawyers to expand efforts to sue involved federal agencies. Known as ‘Sue & Settle,’ this long-standing practice has not just enriched radical special interests with public monies, but has given environmentalists an edge in using the ESA to halt economic activities, such as ranching, mining, logging, fishing, etc. This is made possible in large part due to the fact that there is no cap on what special interest groups which win settlements can claim for attorney’s costs. The issue is summarized this way.

Special interest attorneys representing environmental groups argue that their expertise is “specialized” to justify substantial, uncapped fees. Some special interest attorneys have collected fees as high as $750 taxpayer dollars per hour. According to records from the Department of Justice, at least two such attorneys have garnered more than $2 million in attorneys’ fees by filing ESA suits.

The taxpayer-funded Judgment Fund serves as the source for ESA-related attorneys’ fees payments. H.R. 3131 would require ESA litigants to abide by the same rules as others bringing suit against the federal government, requiring plaintiffs to prevail in order to collect attorneys’ fees, as well as impose the $125 fee cap set by EAJA. Capable environmental attorneys are no longer rare or specialized to the point where uncapped attorneys’ fees are justified. While this legislation does not restrict aggrieved parties’ ability to seek redress in court, it removes an incentive for litigious plaintiffs to request large fee awards and safeguards taxpayer dollars against abusive litigation tactics.

I leave this one to the lawyers in the crowd.  Such legislation, written by lawyers, proposed by lawyers, lobbied for by lawyers and described by lawyers are truthfully above my pay grade.  This complexity and long-standing possession of this arena of governance is one of the big reasons no one stands up to things anymore since we are all such purposely – uneducated ignoramuses about these matters.  I suppose this is why Will Rogers once observed that, “The minute you read something you can’t understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.”

Jim Beers

4 August 2017

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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC.  He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands.  He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC.  He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority.  He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.

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

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Members Discuss Bill to Bring Much Needed Reforms to the Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 19, 2017 –

Today, the Full Committee held a legislative hearing on five bills, most of which have advanced with bipartisan support, to reform and improve the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bills work to empower states, ensure data transparency, improve listing and delisting processes, and discourage costly litigation that diverts critical resources away from species recovery.

It is my hope that, in coordination with our colleagues in the Senate and this Administration, we can lay the foundation for ESA reform that creates better outcomes for both species and communities,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) said. “We can improve ESA if we build consensus to address existing failures and pursue targeted, common sense reforms.”

Signed into law in 1973, over 1,564 species have been listed under the ESA, but only 23 recovered species have been delisted, amounting to a one percent success rate.

H.R. 1274 (Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA), the “State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency Act,” fosters greater federal and state cooperation and data transparency in species designations. It also ensures on-the-ground data is factored into listing decisions.

These agencies too often overlook local conservation plans that are developed to ensure the protection of native species and habitat. These local efforts should not be disregarded,” Newhouse stated. “By providing states, tribes, and localities the data used to promulgate these proposed listings, an opportunity arises for local stakeholders to get involved and have their voices heard.”

H.R. 424 (Rep. Collin Peterson, D-MN), the bipartisan “Gray Wolf State Management Act,” delists gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes and returns them to State management. The bill also maintains state management of Wyoming’s wolves and relieves both regions of the possibility of further litigation.

A single judge, sitting in Washington D.C., that I would say had no clue about what’s going on in our part of the world, created a mess by somehow deciding that the wolf had not reestablished themselves in the entire range,” Peterson said. “This was all done in spite of scientific evidence by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that gray wolf populations recovered and thrived.

H.R. 717 (Rep. Pete Olson, R-TX), the “Listing Reform Act,” allows for the consideration of economic factors in listing decisions for threatened species and also provides more agency flexibility in the petition process to discourage excessive ESA litigation.

We need to protect our endangered species, but we need to do it in a smart way. Arbitrary deadlines do not help. Neither do sweeping listings that threaten the communities and landowners who have been on that land since before the time states like mine were created.” Olson stated. “We can update the law without endangering our legacy for the next generation.”

“The ESA is a powerful law that can be inflexible and costly, with far-reaching effects on local economies,” Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar said.

H.R. 2603 (Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX), the bipartisan “Saving America’s Endangered Species Act” or “SAVES Act,” removes duplicative permitting requirements for nonnative endangered species.

The inclusion of non-native species is out dated, overly burdensome, and in fact, works against the very intent of the ESA. Instead of promoting conservation of these international species, the redundant regulation hampers significant non-governmental resources in our country genuinely seeking to enhance conservation of non-native endangered species through captive breeding programs,” Vice Chairman Gohmert said. “Time and time again, in the modern world, we see well-intentioned legislation pit the federal government against the very private citizens who have a vested interest in the preservation of endangered species.”

H.R. 3131 (Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-MI), the “Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act,” caps attorneys’ fees in ESA cases and ensures that the fees are only awarded to prevailing parties. This measure would bring lawsuits under ESA in line with other types of citizen lawsuits against the government.

For too long litigating attorneys representing non-governmental entities have taken advantage of the Endangered Species Act raking in millions of dollars of taxpayer funded money. In many cases, attorney billing rates have climbed as high as 400, 500 even 750 dollars an hour with hardworking American taxpayers left footing the bill,” Rep. Huizenga stated. “These exorbitant payouts funded by the American taxpayer only impede efforts to achieve the common goal of protecting species and habitats.”

Click here to view full witness testimony.

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Feds Ensure States Understand They Have No Authority in ESA Rules

<<<Source>>>

SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries 
Service announce an interagency policy to clarify the role of State 
agencies in activities undertaken by the Services under authority of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and associated 
regulations. The policy, which is a revision of a policy issued in 
1994, reflects a renewed commitment by the Services and State fish and 
wildlife agencies to work together in conserving America's imperiled 
wildlife.

DATES: February 22, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for 
Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 18th and C Streets 
NW., Washington, DC 20240; telephone 202/208-4646; facsimile 703/358-
5618, or Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, National 
Marine Fisheries Service, 1355 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, 
Maryland 20910; telephone 301/427-8403; facsimile 301/713-0376. If you 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (ESA or Act), to establish a program for the 
conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems on 
which they depend. The Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce 
(hereafter referred to as ``the Secretaries'') have the responsibility 
for administering the ESA. The Secretaries have delegated this 
responsibility to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department 
of the Interior and the National Marine Fisheries Service of the 
Department of Commerce (hereafter referred to as ``the Services'').
    The Services recognize that, in the exercise of their general 
governmental powers, States possess broad trustee and police powers 
over fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats within their 
borders. Unless preempted by Federal authority, States possess primary 
authority and responsibility for protection and management of fish, 
wildlife, and plants and their habitats.
    State agencies often possess scientific data and valuable expertise 
on the status and distribution of endangered, threatened, and candidate 
species of wildlife and plants. State agencies, because of their 
authorities and their close working relationships with local 
governments and landowners, are in a unique position to assist the 
Services in implementing all aspects of the Act. In this regard, 
section 6 of the Act provides that the Services shall cooperate to the 
maximum extent practicable with the States in carrying out programs 
authorized by the Act. The term State agency means any State agency, 
department, board, commission, or other governmental entity that is 
responsible for the management and conservation of fish, plant, or 
wildlife resources within a State.

State Involvement

    In 1994, the Services published a policy regarding the role of 
State fish and wildlife agencies in implementing the ESA (59 FR 34275; 
July 1, 1994). That policy has been available on the Services' Web 
sites. We are now updating and revising that policy. The updated 
policy, developed in coordination with the State fish and wildlife 
agencies, reaffirms the commitment for engagement and collaboration 
between the Services and State fish and wildlife agencies on many 
aspects of ESA implementation, with the understanding that this 
collaboration is undertaken in the context of the ESA's statutory 
timelines.
    The revised policy reflects a renewed commitment by the Services 
and State fish and wildlife agencies to work together in conserving 
America's imperiled wildlife. The revised policy also references the 
suite of ESA conservation tools not available or in common use when the 
policy was originally developed in 1994. These tools include Habitat 
Conservation Plans, Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, 
and Safe Harbor Agreements. All of these tools are set forth in 
regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations in part 17.
    Changes to the policy include more proactive conservation of 
imperiled species before they require protections of the ESA, expanded 
opportunities for engagement on listing and recovery activities, and 
improved planning with State agencies across a species' range. The 
revised policy follows:

Policy Regarding the Role of State Agencies in Endangered Species Act 
Activities

    Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (ESA), directs the Secretaries of the Interior and 
Commerce to cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States 
in carrying out ESA programs. In furtherance of this provision of the 
law, it is the policy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 
National Marine Fisheries Service to involve State agencies as 
described in the items listed below for the following ESA activities:

A. Prelisting Conservation

    1. Use the expertise and solicit the information of State agencies 
in determining which species should be included on the list of 
candidate animal and plant species.
    2. Use the expertise and solicit the information of State agencies 
in conducting population status inventories and geographical 
distribution surveys to determine which species warrant listing.
    3. Use the expertise of State agencies in designing and 
implementing prelisting stabilization actions, consistent with their 
authorities, for species and habitat to remove or alleviate threats so 
that the listing priority is reduced or listing as endangered or 
threatened is not warranted. Encourage collaborative conservation 
planning with State agencies across the range of a species, including, 
as appropriate, through State Wildlife Action Plans, and work 
collaboratively with State agencies to facilitate voluntary 
conservation actions on behalf of species before they reach the point 
at which they need to be listed as threatened or endangered under the 
Act.
    4. Work collaboratively with State agencies to design and encourage 
the use of Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances to provide 
non-Federal landowners with incentives for engaging in voluntary 
proactive conservation of species that are candidates for listing under 
the Act.

B. Listing

    1. Use the expertise of, and coordinate and collaborate with, State 
agencies in developing the scientific foundation upon which the 
Services base their determinations for listing actions, including: 12-
month petition findings; proposed and final listing rules; section 4(d) 
rules that specify the prohibitions necessary and advisable for the 
conservation of species listed as threatened; proposed and final 
critical habitat designations; and proposed and final rules to change 
the status of a species from endangered to threatened (or vice versa) 
or to remove a species from the list.
    2. Provide notification to State agencies of any proposed 
regulation in accordance with provisions of the Act and coordinate with 
State agencies in developing any work plans for future listing 
activities.

C. Consultation

    1. Inform State agencies of any Federal agency action that is 
likely to adversely affect listed species or designated critical 
habitat, or that is likely to adversely affect species proposed for 
listing or proposed critical habitat, and request relevant information 
from them, including the results of any related studies, in analyzing 
the effects of the action and cumulative effects on the species and 
habitat.
    2. Request an information update from State agencies prior to 
preparing the final biological opinion to ensure that the findings and 
recommendations are based on the best scientific and commercial data 
available.
    3. Recommend to Federal agencies that they provide State agencies 
with copies of the final biological opinion unless the information 
related to the consultation is protected by national security 
classification or is confidential business information. Decisions to 
release such classified or confidential business information shall 
follow the action agency's procedures. Biological opinions not 
containing such classified or confidential business information will be 
provided to the State agencies by the Services, if not provided by the 
action agency, after 10 working days. The exception to this waiting 
period allows simultaneous provision of copies when there is a joint 
Federal-State consultation action.

D. Habitat Conservation Planning

    1. Use the expertise and solicit the information and participation 
of State agencies in all aspects of the habitat conservation planning 
process.
    2. Work collaboratively with State agencies to the maximum extent 
practicable to advance efficiency and avoid duplication of effort when 
the Services and the States both have similar authority for permitting 
activities related to threatened and endangered species.

E. Recovery

    1. Use the expertise and solicit the information and participation 
of State agencies in all aspects of the recovery planning process for 
all species under their jurisdiction.
    2. Use the expertise and solicit the information and participation 
of State agencies in implementing recovery plans for listed species. 
State agencies have the capabilities to carry out many of the actions 
identified in recovery plans and are in an excellent position to do so 
because of their close working relationships with local governments and 
landowners.
    3. Recognize and use the expertise and authority of State agencies 
in designing and implementing monitoring programs for species that have 
been removed from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Unless preempted by Federal authority (e.g., Marine Mammal 
Protection Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act), States possess 
primary authority and responsibility for protection and management of 
fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats, and are in an excellent position to provide for the conservation of these species 
following their removal from the lists.
    4. Work collaboratively with State agencies to design and encourage 
the use of Safe Harbor Agreements to assist in recovery of listed 
species.

Authors

    The primary authors of this draft policy are the staff members of 
the Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041 and staff members of the 
Endangered Species Division, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1355 
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.

Authority

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
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House passes bill to provide transparency in EAJA

*Editor’s Note* – I have not read and studied HR 3279. Here’s the link to the study. The information provided in the article linked to below is the opinion of the Western Livestock Journal. Please take the time to read and understand the bill and how it will completely affect the Equal Access to Justice Act. We know how politics and government work and can never rely on their or the news’ information.

When spending money, most citizens and businesses know and keep records on how much they pay and to whom. That hasn’t been the case for almost 20 years for the government, at least in the case of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). In an attempt to remedy that situation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 3279, the “Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act,” on Dec.1 that would reinstate requirements that federal agencies track and report the attorney fees awarded under the EAJA. The legislation passed by a unanimous voice vote.

Source: House passes bill to provide transparency in EAJA | Western Livestock Journal

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Outdoors in Maine: Amendment may not be ‘silver bullet,’ but it would be well worth it

Earlier this month, two legislative bills that would, in all likelihood, represent a preemptive strike against the HSUS anti-hunting initiatives in Maine were heard by the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Wildlife. Basically, the two bills, LD 703 and LD 753, would amend the state constitution so as to protect the people’s right to hunt and fish and manage wildlife.

From all reports, these bills are going to get an inordinate amount of legislative scrutiny.

Source: Outdoors in Maine: Amendment may not be ‘silver bullet,’ but it would be well worth it

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Removing Citizens’ Ballot Initiative For Wildlife Management is Not Wrong

The Bangor Daily News editorial staff made some good and sound points about alternatives to changing the process involved with gathering signatures and getting a proposal put onto the ballot for voters to decide. However, the staff made two statements that I think need clearing up and providing a better and more accurate explanation.

To be forthcoming, I have stated in the past that I hold some reluctance in a flat removal of the right of citizens to petition the state and the referendum process. In this article, it makes reference to a proposed bill, LD1228, that would amend the signature gathering process for ballot initiatives. I haven’t finished a thorough examination of this proposal, but on the surface it appears to be a sound proposal.

However, I do think there are instances in which an exemption from the ballot initiative process may be necessary. The Bangor Daily News states: “…taking away the citizen initiative when it comes to hunting and fishing laws, or any other area of law, is wrong.” I do not agree. “Any other area of law,” is not specific to hunting and fishing laws, which, in and of itself, is an inaccurate labeling of what bill proposals that exist are attempting to do.

Hunting and fishing laws, i.e. rules, are set by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). The Legislature can amend those laws/rules and/or force the department to do things it might not think is in the best interest of wildlife management. In the existing format, there are many opportunities for Maine voters to participate in the rule-making process. This is the same throughout all law making proposals, with or without the referendum process.

In my mind, this really isn’t the issue. The issue is that wildlife management, including fish and game management, is a scientific process and should be a scientific process driven by goals set and established as a complimentary effort between the wildlife department and voters. Science should be the determining factor. It is my opinion that when MDIFW began putting too much emphasis on what social impacts their scientific decisions had, proper and responsible wildlife management took a back seat to social pressures, many coming from special interest groups. This result is far worse than any perceived fallout from eliminating a ballot initiative.

For this reason, we may be looking at a terrific example of why an exemption from the petitioning of the state government to change it’s wildlife management plans, should be seriously and honestly considered.

The second issue is directly connected to the first. The Bangor Daily News called a potential law to limit ballot initiatives on issues pertaining to fish and wildlife management as “draconian.” When this issue is viewed from a totalitarian perspective of forcing lifestyles onto others, I can understand why the newspaper, with their history, would consider this exemption as draconian. It appears the newspaper’s importance is weighted toward socialistic issues rather than science.

I hate laws in general because all laws limit and steal away my rights and my God-given right to self-determination. Playing within the rules, what is good for the goose is most often good for the gander.

And just one more thing. The editorial states that, “Twenty-four states allow citizen-generated initiatives on the ballot.” Why didn’t the report state that 26 do not? More than half do not provide for citizen-generated initiatives. Clearly there are other means of ensuring that all citizens can be heard, or made to think they are heard, other than the current and very expensive process Maine now has.

Changes in this process should be forthcoming.

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Scrap the Endangered Species Act? What Took So Long?

Owls

WHO?

It was October 1, 2007 when this writer, sometimes alone on a remote island, exclaimed that it was time to abolish the Endangered Species Act. I began that piece by saying:

The Endangered Species Act is unconstitutional. It is nothing more than a strong arm tool used by out of control animal rights groups and power hungry administrators. It strips Americans of their constitutional rights and is probably doing our wildlife more harm than good in many ways.

And yet, here we are over 7 years later and absolutely nothing has been done about the Endangered Species Act. I have written about the ESA many times, often describing it as the most powerful and destructive law ever devised. This is mostly true because of the unreasonable restrictions, regulations and seizures of rights and property ever levied upon American individuals, while at the same time possessing a success rate that is abysmal.

In a free E-book I wrote, “The Crippling and Destructive Power of the Endangered Species Act,” I described the law as:

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is a draconian law that offers no flexibility, ruling out any semblance of common sense; strips states of their sovereign right to manage and care for their own flora and fauna; denies property owners of the right to use their land for the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness; allows for the destruction of the country’s economic well being; and abdicates this nation’s sovereignty to International powers, to name a few.

Today, in a Townhall.com article, written by Taylor Smith of the Heartland Institute, many of the very exact same things I wrote about in 2007 are brought to the forefront for discussion as to why she believes it is Time to Endanger the Endangered Species Act.

Smith claims that, as we saw when Congress passed Obamacare, when Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and President Nixon signed it into law, nobody in Congress had a clue as to what was in the bill. With my ever growing disdain for all politicians and the growing proof that few do their jobs, tell the truth or even have a clue as to what truth might be, I think that probably Congress did pass a bill in which most had no clue. But just as important, I believe there were enough of the “connected insiders” that knew exactly what was in that bill and perhaps a handful of others that did know were threatened in order to keep their mouths shut. That is the power of the Environmental Movement.

We see evidence each and everyday of a growing number of disgruntled Americans of Endangered Species Act fallout. This becomes very important to people when the effects of environmentalism hit at home. While some of us worked diligently with lawmakers to see about getting effective amendments to the ESA, and while progress was being made, those with less patience derailed our efforts and instead opted to take the route once taken in Tennessee with the Telico Dam, and got Congress to pass a budget bill with a “rider” attached that would effectively exempt gray wolves in Idaho and Montana from ESA protection along with preventing any further lawsuits against the action. Is this how we want to do business? That legal door swings in at least two directions.

What I find troubling in the Townhall article is the suggested remedy for some of the ESA problems. There is a call for a governmental program where money will be used to pay private landowners for their losses when government steals their lands and rights on that land in order to protect species and species habitat. What could possibly go wrong? It is wrong for government to practice “illegal takings” without compensation. This effort might help in reducing public ill feelings toward the Endangered Species Act, but like with most issues these days, does nothing to take a bite out of the real problems of the ESA.

Just the other day I was watching an interview with Thomas Sowell. In that interview, Sowell points out that after the Stock Market crash of 1929, it wasn’t until after President Roosevelt forced his socialistic welfare programs onto the American people that unemployment skyrocketed and the economy went to hell. This is the problem with government.

When you take a law like the ESA and have it administered by government, a government that is corrupt in addition to using non governmental organizations, many of which are environmental puppets of government, the effort becomes tyrannical in nature.

Government never solves government’s problems!

Scrap the ESA, seriously amend the Equal Access to Justice Act, and place ALL management of wildlife in the hands of the states. Reasonable protection of species, as described in the ESA, does not place that effort above the needs of human existence. What is wrong with us?

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House Committee Claims Advancement Toward ESA Amendments

Some members of the House Natural Resources Committee are claiming at least 4 bills being sponsored are a step toward much needed Endangered Species Act reform. But is it really? The bills mostly call for “transparency” but no changes in how the Act is administered. Big deal!

The Endangered Species Act needs serious reforming in order to protect both humans, their rights and property and to protect all wildlife where practicable. Offering transparency so more people can more easily see who is screwing who does little to accomplish that. And true to the political mumbo-jumbo always being fed to the public, these bills are, “making headway to improve the ESA for both species and people.”

From the Western Livestock Journal Online:

“The four bills and their sponsors are as follows:

• H.R. 4315, 21st Century Endan gered Species Transparency Act; Doc Hastings (R-WA4);

• H.R. 4316, Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act; Cynthia Lummis (R-WY at large);

• H.R. 4317, State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act; Randy Neugebauer (R-TX19); and

• H.R. 4318, Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act; Bill Huizenga (R-MI2).

All of the bills are tiny by usual governmental standards and overlap in content. Both H.R. 4315 and H.R. 4317 seek to amend the ESA to require the government to disclose information regarding listing decisions. H.R. 4315 would require that all information used in listing decisions be made public on the Internet, while H.R. 4317 would require the data used for listing decisions to be furnished to affected states, counties and tribes.

H.R. 4316 and H.R. 4318 focus on the lawsuits that often revolve around the ESA. Of the two, H.R. 4318 is the simplest, just seeking to amend the ESA to limit who can be awarded attorney fees from “any” to people and groups already listed in the U.S. Code. H.R. 4316, on the other hand, seeks to require the government to publish online the expenditures paid out to litigants regarding the ESA following each fiscal year. Though the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) is not directly mentioned, the language of the bill is reminiscent of bills attempting to amend the EAJA.”<<<Read More>>>

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Why Government Will Never Assure Your Access To Resources for Hunting, Trapping and Fishing

We must somehow learn to ween ourselves from the hind teat of government. Through the indoctrination and brainwashing forcefully imposed on us from birth, we grow up always looking to government for answers to our problems. When is the last time any government agency, law or program rightfully solved anyone’s problems?

Very few states in this Union have any kind of constitutional or statute law that protects the citizens and their right to make use of the natural resources for hunting, trapping and fishing. To my knowledge, the following states have constitutional amendments that supposedly guarantee the citizens of these states the unobstructed right to hunt: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin. Nearly all of these amendments were voted on and approved by the people.

There has been a push of late for states to enshrine their rights to hunting, trapping and fishing but does such a move actually accomplish what people are led to believe it will, i.e. an actual constitutional protection, a guarantee that this right shall never be infringed?

Hunters in states like Idaho are trying to bet their guarantee on a state code. One of the difficulties not being realized by these outdoor sportsmen is that they are not looking at the entire code. It’s not necessarily that they are cherry picking or taking the code out of context, it is that I believe they are victims of exactly what the authors and signers of the code intended. In other words the code was written intentionally to confuse, while at the same time sounding as though it was accomplishing what some of the voters asked for. This is a common tactic of all untrustworthy politicians and another reason none of them can be trusted. This should also bolster the resolve that we the people should not rely on government to protect us from anything.

In Idaho, this code debate began with the announcement by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) that a “Wildlife Summit” was being planned for August of 2012.

Much of the initial outrage occurred when the sportsmen discovered that many anti-hunting, environmental, and non governmental agencies were invited to the Summit. While I certainly agree that anti-hunting and all environmental groups should have no say in fish and game management because of their agendas, whether as individuals or groups, these people do have a right to attend such a meeting.

There are other issues that surround the intent of the Summit. One of them being that some members of the IDFG Commission seem to be indicating that the goal of the Summit is to rewrite the mission of IDFG.

In an email I received from one Idaho citizen who attended a recent IDFG meeting, I was told that one member of the Commission said that these anti-hunting, non governmental organizations (NGO), have a good representation of Idaho sportsmen. The person told the commissioner that he was trying to change Idaho Code 36-103.

This may actually be true, at least from the perspective of someone working very diligently to preserve the hunting heritage of their state but the bottom line is the codes that are written and what they actually say and just as importantly how they would be interpreted in a court of law, determines everything.

In many of the discussions I have read about this issue, the sportsmen seem intent on tossing out the first half of Idaho Code 36-103 , which reads:

36-103. Wildlife property of state — Preservation. (a) Wildlife Policy. All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.

The thrust of the focus by hunters appears to be directed at: “provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.”

This is done with disregard for the rest of the WORDS written into the code by lawyers. Before we take a bit of a closer look at this law, I’ll post here the entire statute:

36-103. Wildlife property of state — Preservation. (a) Wildlife Policy. All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.
(b) Commission to Administer Policy. Because conditions are changing and in changing affect the preservation, protection, and perpetuation of Idaho wildlife, the methods and means of administering and carrying out the state’s policy must be flexible and dependent on the ascertainment of facts which from time to time exist and fix the needs for regulation and control of fishing, hunting, trapping, and other activity relating to wildlife, and because it is inconvenient and impractical for the legislature of the state of Idaho to administer such policy, it shall be the authority, power and duty of the fish and game commission to administer and carry out the policy of the state in accordance with the provisions of the Idaho fish and game code. The commission is not authorized to change such policy but only to administer it.

Lawyers and a court of law can rip this Code to shreds and resulting rulings will leave us all wondering how that was done. While it’s easy as hunters to focus on those highlighted words above, even though the authors may have intended that to be your focus, all the other words have meaning too. To a lawyer and a judge, multiple meanings.

In brief, Part A above does not guarantee that the IDFG or the state of Idaho must grow game populations so that everyone in Idaho who wants to hunt, trap and fish can do so and for all the species in which seasons are provided. As a matter of fact, the Code says that the only time taking of game will be permitted is when there is enough wildlife to go around. However, that “taking” can be limited by any means the IDFG sees fit.

Part B then goes on to give the fish and game commission the authority to administer this code. As much as all of us would love to believe the fish and game commission doesn’t have the right to “change Idaho Code 36-103”, there’s nothing really in that code that guarantees Idaho citizens a right to hunt, trap and fish. What some members of the commission might be interested in doing by inviting anti-hunting groups to the summit, is to build support to change the mission statement of IDFG.

One would think that with the intent of Idaho Code 36-103, i.e to guarantee Idaho citizens the right to hunt, trap and fish, a step up to a constitutional amendment would be an easy task. That didn’t happen though did it? Perhaps now you are getting a better understanding as to why. Who’s your friend? Who’s on your side?

My intent here was not to dissect Idaho Code but to make a broader statement and support with facts on the ground. The truth is not even a constitutional amendment guarantees outdoor sportsmen any right to hunt, fish or trap. It may be perhaps the best chance at achieving such but is far from a blank check guarantee. And for those states with some kind of statute, like Idaho, no code or statute is protected from change, especially those with an agenda.

Most amendments to constitutions are non specific. In states that have such constitutional changes, the amendment may read that the citizens of that state have a right to hunt, trap and fish and that it may go so far as to require the fish and game departments to “perpetuate” wild game for hunting opportunities for the citizens. This is so non specific it leaves the door wide open to interpretation. Forget the intent of the amendment. Intent means nothing when dealing with law makers with an agenda.

Consider the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Recently in two Supreme Court rulings it was determined that Washington, D.C. (Heller vs. District of Columbia), and Chicago (NRA vs. City of Chicago) could not prohibit citizens from owning a handgun. While the Second Amendment is suppose to guarantee American citizens a right to keep and bear arms, we see that even with a Supreme Court ruling, the citizens of Washington, D.C. and Chicago do not have a right to keep and bear arms as they wish.

The reality of it is, we deal with many things most of us are completely unaware of. In our reliance on government to protect us, we refuse to believe that our constitutions and laws will not protect us and do what we have been told they will do. Even Supreme Court rulings are not enough to force cities to comply. They would rather take their chances in more courts with more lawsuits because that’s where their friends are. Surely if the rulings of the Supreme Court mean nothing to the governments of local cities, why should we rest that our state governments care one way or the other about our rights to hunt, trap and fish?

And while you are sleeping, changes to our laws are taking place that we know nothing about. For instance, in Maine, I was researching to find out what the state statutes were regarding trapping. You can find the details here, but what I discovered was that during a federally mandated “recodification” process, your laws can and are being changed and you may not know it.

We are told by our government that recodification of all states’ laws will be done every ten years. The intent of this action is supposed to be to clear up redundancies and other issues that make deciphering and interpreting the laws clearer and easier. What I discovered was someone took this opportunity to rewrite the laws the way they wanted them done. BTW, a new round of recodification is supposed to take place in 2013. Pay attention!

With a legislature either deaf and dumb to the responsibilities of the job or in on the illegal action, it is a snap to pass these recodified laws. After all, it’s just a housekeeping measure, right?

We must stop depending on government for anything. They cannot be trusted nor will they protect you and I from anything. To stop this would be monumental because it would require a complete makeover that begins in our schools and homes. At the ballot box we can work harder at getting the right people elected but it doesn’t end there. We need watch dog groups that will follow everything each law maker does and make sure the public knows and understands. This of course will never happen because there aren’t enough people who care.

Tom Remington

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