December 14, 2019

Call to Action on Maine Application for Trapping Incidental Take Permit

*Editor’s Note:* Below is a copy of a letter sent to licensed trappers and others in the State of Maine from the Maine Trappers Association. It concerns a request for comments about proposed rules that will govern trapping in Maine to protect the “threatened” species of Canada lynx, according to the Endangered Species Act.

It may or may not be the position of this author to agree with the contents of the letter sent nor do I necessarily agree that all the content of this letter is accurate. I will, however, take this time to encourage everyone, not just trappers or those from Maine, but concerned outdoor advocates to carefully consider the Application the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for “incidental take” of Canada lynx. It’s a liability issue. Also consider reviewing the Draft Environmental Assessment crafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

At the end of the following letter are instructions on the proper way to submit comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The deadline for comments is February 7, 2012. Please reference this website for additional information on this issue.

Dear trapper, December 28, 2011

We need your help! Twelve years ago the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Canada lynx as a threatened species. Maine’s healthy lynx population was included in that listing. At the same time, the USFWS promised to adopt a rule to “to address incidental take of lynx resulting from otherwise lawful hunting and trapping”. Unfortunately, that never happened. Failure of the Service to address “incidental take” paved the way for animal activists to use the listing to attack trapping. They filed two separate lawsuits against the State of Maine, both of which attempted to outlaw trapping in lynx habitat, nearly half the State, and which eventually resulted in increased trapping restrictions. Until the incidental take issue is resolved, more lawsuits are likely and our trapping heritage remains in jeopardy.

The USFWS now appears ready to address the incidental take of lynx by trappers in Maine. They are currently accepting comments from the public in response to Maine’s application for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP). This permit, if issued, would allow a limited number of lynx to be taken incidentally in traps set for other furbearers. Depending on the conditions attached to the ITP, trapping for other furbearers would be allowed to continue, and individual trappers would be protected against prosecution for accidentally catching a lynx

Maine’s application spells out the things the State plans to do to try to keep lynx from being taken accidentally in traps. The State believes, and the MTA agrees, that what they have proposed is adequate to protect lynx. However, the USFWS has listed numerous additional requirements and restrictions for protecting lynx that could be added to, or adopted in place of, what the State has proposed. That’s where things get really scary for trappers. The animal fanatics will be pushing hard for the most severe restrictions and will be sending lots of written comments to support those restrictions. If the number of comments received by the USFWS is lopsided in favor of the protectionists, there is a possibility that the ITP could be accompanied by restrictions that would be devastating to trappers, including an end to land trapping in lynx areas.

In order for trappers to have any input, they must prepare comments in writing and submit them to the USFWS prior to February 7, 2012. The MTA will be submitting comments on behalf of our membership, but that’s not enough. The USFWS will consider it as “one comment received”. That’s why we are asking individual trappers, not just in Maine but from across the country, to help us out and send comments opposing the alternative restrictions listed by the USFWS.

Here is a list of the things the State is proposing to do that would directly impact trappers. The Maine Trappers Association supports this list.
* Maintain most of the trapping rules that are currently in place.
* Maintain current restrictions on the use of killer-type traps in WMDs 1 through 11 and 14, 18 and 19, but consider expanding the use of killer-type traps at baited boxes, protected with lynx exclusion devices, on the ground.
* Maintain current size restrictions on cage-type live traps.
* Work with trappers to continue to develop techniques that will help reduce the incidental trapping of lynx.
*Eliminate the jaw-spread restrictions on foothold traps that are currently in place in WMDs 1 through 6 and 8 through 11.
* Maintain current rules regarding anchoring devices on foothold traps.
* Maintain current restriction regarding the use of visible bait.

The USFSW has listed other restrictions that could be implemented to protect lynx from being trapped incidentally. These things could be added to, or take the place of, the things the State has proposed. The MTA is adamantly opposed to every item in this list. However, the USFWS will have the final say. What they decide will depend a lot on the comments they receive.
* 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.

How to Submit Written Comments
It is important that your comments address one or more of the items mentioned in the list above. You should include factual information about why a particular restriction is objectionable and unnecessary. These comments must be submitted prior to February 7, 2012 in order for them to be considered. All comments must be in writing and may be submitted either through regular mail or by email to one of the addresses below.

Regular mail: Email address:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hcpmainetrapping@fws.gov
Maine Field Office
17 Godfrey Drive, Suite 2
Orono, ME 04473

Additional information about the Maine lynx situation, including Maine’s application for the ITP and the Environmental Assessment prepared by the USFWS in response to that application, is available online at the following website: www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/Canada_lynx.html

Thank you sincerely for your help!
Maine Trappers Association

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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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The Future of Trapping in Maine Looking Sketchy Leaving a Lot of Unanswered Questions

With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) recently presenting an application for incidental taking of Canada lynx to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), what most deemed a great opportunity to rectify a lot of trapping and snaring issues, is rapidly turning into a nightmare.

The Canada lynx was declared a “threatened” species in the state of Maine in 2000. In 2009, the Federal Government designated a large chunk of northern Maine as “critical lynx habitat”. In the midst of a lawsuit by animal rights/environmental extremist groups, Maine agreed to and signed a Consent Decree that would allow the state to continue with its trapping program, albeit in a limited and restricted fashion. Also in the Consent Decree, MDIFW listed Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10, and 11 as their own brand of critical Canada lynx habitat designation. According to the Consent Decree, within these WMDs, Maine trappers were restricted to smaller trap sizes, aimed are reducing “incidental” trapping of lynx and the use of snares for limiting coyote mortality on deer in wintering yards was banned, among other restrictive measures. Maine remains under the throes of the Consent Decree until such time as the state can obtain an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Federal Government.

An ITP is an agreement reached between the state and the Feds on how to conduct a trapping plan in order to continue adequate protection of a “threatened” or “endangered” species in order that this species will not be blocked from recovery. You can view the application for an ITP for Canada lynx at this link.

I learned a few days ago, through hours of research, that Maine’s current laws on trapping are NOT what most sportsmen believe them to be. I would strongly suggest reading that article before proceeding with this one.

Most sportsmen in Maine believe that if Maine can obtain this seemingly illusive ITP, then trapping can resume as normal and that the commissioner of the MDIFW can implement snaring programs to save the deer herd. This is not the case.

To be as brief as possible, the current law governing trapping and specifically snaring in Maine can be found in Maine Statute 12252 and Maine Statute 10105, as recodified under LD 1600 signed into law on June 3, 2003 by Gov. John Baldacci. MS 12252 bans snaring in Maine with exceptions. In part, MS 10105 lists the authority the commissioner has to utilize some form of “coyote control program”, in which he can hire trained agents to implement snaring in unorganized townships during winter (this was not part of LD 237).

While the law was effectively rewritten during recodification, it must be further understood that obtaining an ITP from the USFWS will not free up the commissioner or even the Maine Legislature to use snares to kill coyotes.

First of all, the application for an ITP is nothing more than a clone of the Consent Decree signed in 2007. It bans the use of snares and still retains the restrictions on trap sizes. The application and plan is not restricted to just those WMDs that MDIFW listed. It becomes statewide.

In the very first parts of the application it states:

The Department seeks a Section 10 permit that would cover its agents and licensees from liability in the event of incidental take of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in Maine that may occur as the result of otherwise lawful activities.

This Consent Decree clone of an application now will stretch out and cover the entire state, or at least that is how I understand the terms of the plan as written thus far. In essence Maine rids itself of one ball and chain, Consent Decree, and replaces it with a bigger ball and chain, ITP.

In short, where currently Maine is continuing its trapping program under the Consent Decree, which I believe in conjunction with current laws, the commissioner COULD, implement a snaring program outside of the 10 WMDs listed, in unorganized townships during winter. When and if this ITP is granted, the commissioner will lose his authority to do that.

If my calculations are correct, then short of dealing with some kind of liability issue for incidentally catching and or killing a lynx (which by the way, since 2000 no lynx has been killed as the result of an incidental take), why would Maine even seek an ITP that is more restrictive than the one in place now?

Some believe that Maine then needs to apply for an ITP for snaring in Maine. You will probably witness me walking on water before that ever happens. I doubt that if you collected all those in Maine Government and the Federal Government who would support an effective snaring program, you could fit them all into the eye of a needle.

From the frying pan to the fire.

Tom Remington

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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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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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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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