March 1, 2013
A Guest Post by Jim Beers:
From 1994 to 1996 the US Fish and Wildlife Service stole (took, diverted, whatever makes you feel good) Millions of dollars from the federal excise taxes (mostly from those collected on arms and ammunition) collected exclusively for state fish and wildlife agencies’ use on state fish and wildlife programs. Those excise taxes are a major portion (supplementing hunting and fishing license fees) of the funding available each year for state fish and wildlife agencies’ operations.
At the time of the theft, Congress had refused to fund “endangered” wolf introductions by USFWS into Yellowstone Park, a federal enclave that would “seed” wolves into Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and Utah as has happened. Resulting losses of cattle business viability, losses of big game herds (and the license money et al they generated annually), losses of dogs, human safety concerns, and general demise of rural economies were all foreseeable but denied by bureaucrats and “nature” advocates that lived largely in far-away cities. What was hidden from the public by state and federal bureaucrats and the “scientists” they employed were the disease and parasite effects of wolves on humans, domestic animals and wild animals; that danger is only now becoming undeniable as the awful consequences emerge.
The introduction of wolves captured in Canada into Yellowstone had other important effects. “Red” wolves introduced into the SE states were being perceived as the coyote/dog/wolf hybrids that they are. The romantic allure of wolf howls and the myth of “only killing the lame and the halt” were drying up. In New Mexico and Arizona, introduced “Mexican” wolves were more and more seen to be small wolves living in a harsh and largely foodless (except for cattle and sheep) desert environment, resulting in scary habituation by wolves to school bus stops, farm and ranch yards, and places frequented by kids or where garbage was sometimes available. In Minnesota and Wisconsin public questions about just how many wolves were going to be tolerated before a limit was achieved were causing difficulties for state and federal bureaucrats. Like the SE states, romance and myth were being overtaken by reality and experience. The Yellowstone wolf hoopla provided a publicity bonanza as the voters in those blue areas on the red/blue voting map enthused about vacations to Yellowstone and all the wonderful benefits that wolves were alleged to be bringing to an otherwise “unbalanced ecosystem”.
There are a few other factors however, that we should be aware of. The unpunished theft by federal bureaucrats of millions of dollars from our (yours and mine) state fish and wildlife agencies was a green light for federal bureaucrats to perpetrate future crimes and for the state fish and wildlife agencies to see that going along with crime (like Chicago Mayor Big jim Thompson and Al Capone in the 1920’s) was more profitable than reporting and prosecuting crime. Federal bureaucrats could hurt you and your agency (more all the time as their power and authority increased); making enemies of them was not for the faint-hearted or career-minded.
Additionally, twenty years of precedence have been set that destroys nearly all states rights’ over any plant and wildlife. In addition to sage grouse, wolverines, delta smelt, barred owls, and west coast suckers as “endangered” drone missiles to make growing areas and more human activities federal responsibilities; more folks began to see these as facades to continue the demise of State authority and jurisdiction over growing areas of American life. “Endangered” wolves and grizzly bears are two of the most effective of these rural destroyers to date.
Federal bureaucrats forcible impose (by claiming total jurisdiction over) wolves and grizzly bears that kill people but neither the federal government nor the bureaucrat is responsible. The wolves and grizzlies kill livestock and force either penury or bankruptcy on a wide range of rural businesses and economies but neither the federal government nor the bureaucrat is responsible. The wolves and grizzlies kill and seriously reduce elk, moose, deer, and other highly prized (and formerly lucrative license money and rural economy supplements) but neither the federal government nor the bureaucrat is responsible. Adding insult to injury in this regard, as wolves overrun more and more areas, federal benevolence trumpets “returning wolf management to the states”. Ironically this has created wolf “seasons” (for wolves declared “Game” animals) that are little more than spurs to wolf reproduction and health as low harvest allowances merely take a small amount of the population annually, thereby reducing winter food competition and encouraging larger litters by healthier wolves much like big game harvest management protocols. The final blow is that all this has allowed the states (and their federal mentors) to begin using the federal excise taxes generated by the sales of arms and ammunition! This means less availability of excise taxes for the hunting programs they were adopted for over 80 years ago. Now growing portions of the excise taxes and license money intended for hunting programs can be spent on wolf complaints, wolf collaring, satellite tracking, wolf transplanting of “problem” wolves, wolf meetings, wolf media propaganda, wolf “counting” (of a notoriously hard-to-count animal) and a whole range of wolf expenses as the wolves decimate game animals and make hunting more dangerous for fewer participants. Think of it as a win/win all around!
Understanding what I have just described, consider the growing movement to establish “Free-Ranging Buffalo” herds. Buffalo spread disease one of which that can destroy state cattle sales outside the state, destroy fences, destroy crops, destroy water holes, harass livestock, are a danger to rural home sites and even small town residents in winter as they seek foods, and are considerably dangerous to vehicles after dark on rural roads. Buffalo are titled “domestic” animals in certain states and come under a range of agricultural and veterinary laws that would preclude federal intrusion. UUHHH, so what?
“Free-roaming buffalo”, just like wolves and grizzly bears are simply environmental drone missiles employed in concert with government land purchases, government/NGO land easement purchases, government historic/scenic declarations, federal land closures, federal fire non-management, restrictions on grazing and timber management, and other ploys to further importune rural America and those that live and work there. Consider the drama and unsuccessful to date legal machinations in Montana to stealthily release Yellowstone buffalo in N Central Montana. Ask yourself why the 100 year-old National Elk Refuge by Jackson (that feeds 15,000 elk each winter) that was specifically founded in the Congressional Authorization FOR ELK, has been renamed the National Elk and Buffalo Refuge with a flick of a bureaucrat’s pen and the elk numbers to be wintered drastically reduced while a quota for “wintering buffalo” created by bureaucrat rule makers.
Now those that have been paying attention might be wondering where the federal government could get the money in these days of insurmountable debt? Well there is one factor I have not mentioned about wolves and the money stolen to push them “over the top”. The excise tax money stolen to put the wolves in Yellowstone was taken during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year of the Clinton Administration. For the history buffs out there, the 1st and 2nd years of the Clinton reign were marked by a widespread national fear that the Clintons were going to register (and confiscate?) guns. Hence there was a surge almost as big as what we have seen in the past 3 months of sales of arms and ammunition and a concomitant surge in excise tax collection.
The first inkling of something major amiss in Washington, DC regarding the excise taxes apportioned to the states was the mysterious disappearance of any large increase in excise taxes to state fish and wildlife agencies in the following years. In other words, the gun-confiscators actions (I have long suspected Mrs. Clinton’s role in “Fast and Furious”) caused a surge in sales that created a large surge in excise tax receipts that caught the eye of federal bureaucrats in Washington, frustrated by Congressional intransigence regarding wolves, intent on environmental jihadism and confident (as proved to be the case) that they would never be brought to account since they were serving such high purposes with only the best of intentions.
Ladies and gentlemen, the recent sellout of guns from stores everywhere and the continuing scarcity (due to unbelievable purchases for hoarding by citizens and an unexplained purchase of millions of rounds by federal domestic agencies) is creating once again that surge in excise taxes that when stolen before by federal bureaucrats went unnoticed and unreported by state bureaucrats.
If we do not put this federal genie back in the bottle (asserting Local Authority and Jurisdiction seems to be our best hope), our children will live in a much poorer world that none of us would recognize nor want.
The current administration, more than even the Clinton administration, abjures any oversight or questions. They are committed to a supreme central government more than any in my lifetime or the history of the nation so far as I understand it. Will they register and ban guns, and therefore decimate state fish and wildlife agencies access to excise taxes while inept state agencies are complicit in the demise of fishing and hunting? Will they steal or divert the current surge in excise taxes for buffalo introduction and protection or private property takeovers or other further decimations of rural America for urban votes? Are they now scheming for even more claims of environmental catastrophe unless they get more money from us or seize the remaining vestiges of state authorities?
I do not know the answers to those questions but I have my personal suspicions. I do know however, that a similar “run” on the gun stores 20 years ago resulted in enormous harm to rural America and American governance. With all that is facing us now, more than ever we need to be alert to lying bureaucrats and hidden agendas. We are in a carnival and have the mortgage money on a table bet about under which shell is the pea as the con “artist” smiles and switches them around. A lot is riding on how well we watch and challenge the play.
1 March 2013
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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: email@example.com
September 5, 2012
*Editor’s Note* From this press release, it is clear that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports the wrong direction and abuse that has transpired against the Pittman-Robertson Act. Never was this excise tax intended to be spent on “other wild game and non-game species across the board”. Nor was it intended strictly to preserve lands and habitat.
Perhaps if the RMEF backed off on the amount of money they spend buying up lands and conservation easements and taking private land from the tax rolls and putting that money and energy into returning Pittman-Robertson to what it was intended, they wouldn’t need to be asking for so much money so much of the time. If you don’t see that environmentalists have hijacked the Pittman-Robertson excise tax then you are part of the problem.
MISSOULA, Mont.? – In light of the 75th anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Act, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation honors hunters and the vital role they play in funding wildlife management and conservation.
?”Hunting is conservation! There is no greater proof of that than hunters who successfully lobbied government so many years ago to tax themselves? all for the benefit of wildlife,?” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “?That continuing and ever-increasing funding remains the lion?s share for today?s conservation efforts, too.”?
Nevada Senator Key Pittman and Virginia Congressman Absalom Willis Robertson sponsored the legislation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law on Sept. 2, 1937.
The Act imposed an 11 percent tax on guns and ammunition to restore and protect wildlife habitat. Prior to the law, hunting pressure and habitat degradation pushed bison, deer, elk, pronghorn, wild turkey, wood ducks and other species to the brink of extinction.
?Philosopher George Santayana famously stated, ?”Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”? “Hunters learned and they acted,”? added Allen. ?”The great thing is growing numbers of dedicated hunters today mean even more funding for elk, other wild game and non-game species across the board.?”
The Act raises more than $280 million a year for wildlife conservation, and raised more than $2 billion since its inception. The excise tax goes to the Secretary of the Interior to distribute to the states based on a formula that takes into account the area of the state and its number of licensed hunters.
Revenue from state licenses and fees adds up to about $275 million a year, which goes exclusively to state fish and game departments for conservation purposes.
Hunters are the fuel behind RMEF and its 6 million-plus acres of habitat conservation. More than 95 percent of RMEF 180,000 members are passionate hunters.
August 16, 2012
It appears to me that this blind, political ignorance that so blatantly reveals itself in Washington, is deeply imbedded into state governments as well.
According to George Smith, free lance writer and blogger, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MIDFW) is about to receive a one-million dollar windfall from excess Pittman-Robertson (PR) money, due to the increase in gun and ammunition sales since Barack Obama became president. The excise tax on guns, ammunition and other assorted sporting goods, gets doled out to each of the states according to land mass, how many licenses sold, etc.
Smith writes that Governor LePage doesn’t want to use that money for programs that will just cost the taxpayers of the state more money once the symptoms of the windfall go away.
Governor Paul LePage is determined not to take federal dollars if the end result – down the road – will be increased spending of state dollars. In other words, he doesn’t want this extra PR money to be spent on new staff, because if and when the federal funds go back to normal levels, the state would have to pay all those costs. That’s got DIF&W officials looking for one-time expenditures of the new PR funds.
LePage’s notions make sense. So, if the state is looking for “one-time expenditures”, what’s the first thing that comes into your head? There are restrictions on the PR money and what it can be spent on. But like all government appropriations and expenditures, that expenditure gets abused and isn’t used exactly as was intended. It’s supposed to be money for preservation of wildlife habitat or most anything directly related to promoting and enhancing huntable wildlife, etc.
What would you say if I told you that also according to Smith, MDIFW is looking to use at least some of that money on gun and rifle ranges. No, really! Don’t get me wrong. I think having some rifle ranges around are a good thing but honestly, how high on the priority list of things “critical” is dumping money into game club’s rifle ranges?
Smith says, “The Department may also spend some of the new PR funds on the acquisition of wildlife habitat.” Gosh, am I mistaken or wasn’t it just a short time ago that deer hunting was never going to recover unless the state did something about protecting habitat? This coming directly from MDIFW. And wasn’t it just awhile ago that the state was arguing over whether the Governor should appropriate some general fund money to pay for predator reduction? And wasn’t the concern over where the money would come from to continue the effort as all agreed it had to be ongoing to be effective? And what ever has become of Maine’s Plan for Deer? Wasn’t the lament that the plan might be good but where in hell was the money going to come from?
And now MDIFW thinks the need for improved rifle ranges is more important than what has come before?
I just don’t get it. Is this a bit of sour grapes that the Governor doesn’t want to use the money to hire more wildlife officials to count butterflies, bats and look out for piping plovers and so MDIFW has decided to spend the money on something that probably ought to be handled by the private sector, especially at a time when money is tight all over. In your face?
Isn’t it a matter of priorities and sound, sensible investment. A loss of a deer herd and the hunting industry will cost the state millions of dollars. Using this money toward that goal, of which the plans are drawn and everything ready, only makes sense; not improving rifle ranges. Not now!
Is MIDFW still praying global warming is going to take care of the deer problem? That’s my bet.
May 28, 2012
V. Paul Reynolds, editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, has been reporting on a three-part series, written by outdoor reporter Steve Carpenteri. This series examines how Maine’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) are, or perhaps more accurately, are NOT being managed. Capenteri says hunters are being short changed.
So once again hunters are getting the short end of the stick. Money they spend on licenses and taxes is going everywhere else EXCEPT to manage wild game and wild game habitat.
Another head-shaking irony is that, while MDIF&W holds private forestland owners accountable for not protecting deer habitat, the Department itself apparently does not steward game habitat on the large parcels of forest that it directly controls.
In addition, Carpenteri reports that Maine received in 2010, $4.5 million from Pittman-Robertson excise tax funding and according to John Borland, a supervising biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), that money was spent on “salaries and operating costs”.
The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act was formulated for the purpose of specifically dedicating an excise tax, paid by the users, for the distinct purpose of protecting and restoring wildlife and habit for that wildlife for the hunters, trappers and fisherman who paid the fees. It was our money. Money that we agreed was to be used to ensure perpetuity of a hunting, trapping and fishing resource.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, ø16 U.S.C. 669¿ That the Secretary of Agriculture 1 is authorized to cooperate with
the States, through their respective State fish and game departments, in wildlife-restoration projects as hereinafter set forth; but no money apportioned under this Act to any State shall be expended therein until its legislature, or other State agency authorized by the State constitution to make laws governing the conservation of wildlife, shall have assented to the provision of this Act and shall have passed laws for the conservation of wildlife which shall include a prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by hunters for any other purpose than the administration of said State fish and game department, except that, until the final adjournment of the first regular session of the legislature held after the passage of this Act, the assent of the Governor of the State shall be sufficient. The Secretary of Agriculture 1 and the State fish and game department of each State accepting the benefits of this Act shall agree upon the wildlife-restoration projects to be aided in such State under the terms of this Act and all projects shall conform to the standards fixed by the Secretary of Agriculture.
But, like all government “acts” and “laws”, they get hijacked, abused, rewritten, manipulated, and misinterpreted, until each special interest gets what they want, and as Carpenteri pointed out, the sportsmen, who pay the tax, get short changed.
We now know that environmental, anti-hunting, animal rights groups, neatly disguised as “conservation” organizations, have successfully lobbied Congress in order to steal away from the sportsmen their money for projects that have nothing whatsoever to do with providing game protection and restoration of habitat for that game.
And because sportsmen, as a whole, are notorious for not being vigilant and participating in keeping their fish and game departments accountable for their actions, have allowed this to happen. Because the Department of Interior and each state’s government fails the Act by not conducting proper auditing, there is little if any accountability in how this money is spent.
Yes, the sportsmen are getting screwed but much because of their own indifference. Governments, at all levels, are by nature, corrupt. Great sums of money are involved and so long as there are men who feel compelled, without any moral conviction, to knowingly steal monies intended for a specific program for their own special interests, nothing will change. What is left is to expose the corruption and hope enough people care enough to want to do something about it.