24 Oct 2008, 10:40am
Cougars Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
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Beware of “Natural” Wildlife Management

by Dr. Valerius Geist, posted by Tom Remington at the excellent Black Bear Blog, February 24, 2023 [here]

Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Calgary in Alberta, is a renowned expert in wildlife management and conservation practices. In addition to teaching, writing about, and lecturing on the subjects, Dr. Geist has performed years of in-the-field research on big game species. He has authored 16 books, seven documentary films and contributed 40 entries to various encyclopedias.

The management of reintroduced wolves is not merely a matter of wildlife management but a clash of deeply held values. It could be called a rural versus urban clash in which some ecologically based philosophies, if one can call them such, are fostered on the country at large by urban based nature “protectors.”

They proclaim two myths as self evident or as scientific “truths” to the general public: that predators in general and wolves in particular are an “ecological good” no matter how many; and that “wilderness” is the “natural” pre-Columbian state of North America, then presided over by noble natives who selflessly maintained its ecological integrity which ecologically insensitive Europeans subsequently destroyed. In addition, they operate on the assumption that wildlife is a free gift of Nature, a gift of God, and not a resource painfully restored by human hand over the last 80 years in North America.

The wildlife we currently enjoy is not wildlife that was left over from the past, but wildlife restored by a continental system of wildlife conservation that arose after its near destruction a century ago. It is one of the great cultural achievements of North Americans in the 20th Century, the greatest environmental success story of that century, and a highly successful system of sustained development of a natural resource.

Since wildlife was financed on a “user pays” basis, the restoration fell on the fraction of North Americans who hunt. The rest of society got a free ride in their enjoyment of wildlife as an important component of the high quality of life we enjoy.

Few North Americans are aware of the excellence of the wildlife conservation system developed here by the dedicated public-spirited efforts of three generations of their ancestors. Unfortunately, this ignorance extends to professional wildlife biologists as well. Americans are, after all, not keen on history, following Henry Ford in considering it more or less bunk.

I cannot go into great detail here concerning why predators in low abundance are a benefit to wildlife populations, but are also capable of severely depleting such with unfortunate and unexpected consequences. It’s analogous to sugar: a little in the coffee is great but ingested by the pound it becomes a significant health hazard.

Put another way, if someone proclaimed that deer, as predators of plants, eat only the sick and decrepit plants, sparing the vigorous growing ones in order to insure the health and well being of the range, that individual would not be taken too seriously. Moreover wolves, as Siberian immigrants unlike mountain lions or coyotes, are not expected to be co-adapted with North American species and can be incredibly efficient in removing other species.

For instance, wolves that entered Vancouver Island in the early 1970s are spread across the island now. The deer kill by hunters has plummeted from about 25,000 to less than 4,000 today. Deer are found in reasonable abundance only where they live in suburbs and cities juxtaposed to human beings.

Blacktailed and mule deer are notoriously susceptible to pack hunting wolves. It is ironic that wildlife biologists who reported the severe depletion of deer by wolves on Vancouver Island were not considered quite professional by some academic biologists. Ingrained beliefs can be hard to challenge, no matter what the facts.

Now to the wilderness as an argument for letting nature (and wolves) run its course, unimpeded by interfering human hands. The argument is that wolves must be introduced in a hands-off fashion so as to restore aboriginal pre-Columbian wilderness ecosystems.

Current research indicates that pre-Columbian North America was a well settled, quite severely exploited land, with native people practicing highly skilled horticulture. The latter is a development to escape starvation brought on by food shortages in native ecosystems.

Instead of maintaining wilderness, native people manipulated the land to make it yield sustenance, no different from people on other continents. When European diseases devastated native tribes rapidly in the 16’ Century, thus lifting the heavy hand of red man off the land, “wilderness” was the result.

Far from being the natural state of the land, wilderness is an artifact of European colonization. The ecology of North America was not “natural” in pre-Columbian days. Not only because of agriculture and skillful landscape manipulation by fire, but also because native people had all but destroyed the mega fauna in colonizing the continent.

The lesson from this is that we need not be slaves to some pre-Columbian fiction but may do just as pre-Columbian natives did - generate our own land use and conservation practices in which the maintenance of bio-diversity is the only bottom line requirement. Yes it is quite all right to have areas with minimum predation to raise bountiful wildlife for broad public use.

Not less management as wilderness proponents proclaim, but more management is the more desirable state of affairs.

To let predation go unchecked, “letting it be management,” is bound to diminish much more than the game herds that were built up from next to nothing over the past 80 years. It risks our public system of wildlife conservation and the great Public Good that flows from it.

As game herds drop so do license sales and revenue to game departments. The public guardians of wildlife have less and less wherewithal to do their job, and ultimately have no job.

Despite all the controversies about public wildlife management, it is on the whole infinitely superior to private management of wildlife for the marketplace. Superior in conservation achievements and far superior in economic returns or as a creator of wealth or employment.

There is little doubt that with the loss of significant public participation in the harvest of wildlife, most public land will lose its political clientèle and, as sure as the sun will rise, will slide into defacto private ownership. There will be little wolf conservation under private condition, or cougars, grizzly bears, etc.

Letting predators run down game herds will indirectly weaken the framework of wildlife conservation. Together with other opponents of public wildlife such as game farming and the anti-hunting and animal rights movements, this may succeed in destroying the greatest environmental success of the past century - the return of American wildlife.

It would be replaced by a mixture of European, South African and shooting preserve type wildlife management - if one can call it such.

Note: Tom Remington’s Black Bear Blog [here] features the latest news, events, and politics effecting the sports of hunting, fishing, and all outdoor activities in North America.

23 Oct 2008, 3:58pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
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A History of the Failed “Natural Regulation” Theory Re Wolves and Ungulates

In our last post we preened about publishing at W.I.S.E. Parks Canada extraordinary manager Dr. Cliff White’s review of Utah State extraordinary wildlife biologist Dr. Fred Wagner’s ground-breaking and award-winning book, Yellowstone’s Destabilized Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict.

In that book Dr. Wagner de-mythologizes the failed ecological theory of “Natural Regulation.” Today we posted at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Wildlife Sciences [here] another nail in the Natural Regulation coffin, an expert history by George Dovel, publisher of the Outdoorsman, entitled, The Truth about Our Wildlife Managers’ Plan to Restore “Native” Ecosystems.

In his essay Mr. Dovel explores the sad history of Natural Regulation as applied to wolves, moose, deer, and elk. The theory arose in the dreamily fatuous early days of ecological science and was adopted by managers at Yellowstone National Park, with disastrous consequences. The Preface to Mr. Dovel’s excellent history:

In 1935 when Cambridge University botanist Arthur Tansley invented the term “ecosystem” in a paper he authored, he was attempting to define the system that is formed from the relationship between each unique environment and all the living organisms it contains.

Ecologists concluded that these individual systems evolved naturally to produce an optimum balance of plants, herbivores that ate the plants, and carnivores that ate the herbivores.  Many accepted this “food chain” theory as a permanent state of natural regulation and a theory was advanced that certain “key” species of plants and animals were largely responsible for maintaining these “healthy” ecosystems.

But subsequent archaeological excavations or core samples of the buried layers of periods in time revealed that these “perfected” ecosystems were actually in a continuing state of change which could be caused by changes in weather, climate or various organisms.  They concluded that parasites or other organisms that were not included in their food chain charts often caused radical population changes in one or more of the keystone species.

This essay is a must-read for those interested in wildlife. We cannot depend on Mother Nature to equilibrate wildlife populations, or vegetation types (like forests) either, for that matter. Mother Nature doesn’t work that way.

Instead, history teaches us, it has been the keystone predator and torch-bearing species, Homo sapiens, that has been responsible for wildlife populations and vegetative conditions across North America during the entire Holocene.

And we still are. We cannot defer that responsibility to a mythical Balance of Nature because it doesn’t exist and has never existed. We are the Caretakers of Nature, like it or not. Human beings determine the rise and fall of wildlife populations, either actively or passively, and passive management often results in extreme fluctuations, environmental damage, and local extirpation of animal species and vegetation types.

It would be nice if Mother Nature was a self-regulating equilibrium machine, but She isn’t. Chaotic change is natural, not balance. It’s a jungle out there. The hands-off approach fails in theory and practice. Intelligent human stewardship is best for all lifeforms.

This is an age-old lesson, learned again and again by humanity. Sadly, in some circles, the lesson has to be learned again for the umpteenth time. Happily for us, our best experts are up to the task and gently (or not so gently) are reminding us, again, of what’s what in the world we live in.

Kudos to those experts. Please read George Dovel’s lovely essay [here]. And, if you wish to be Part of the Solution, consider subscribing to the Outdoorsman.

A donation in any amount will help support the circulation of facts in this unique publication and a donation of $25 or more will pay the cost of receiving The Outdoorsman by U.S. mail for one year.  Please print your name and correct mailing address on the coupon below and add additional names on a separate sheet of paper. Mail to:

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21 Oct 2008, 4:14pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens
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The “Natural Regulation” Debacle at Yellowstone NP

W.I.S.E. is pleased and honored to present a review of Dr. Fred Wagner’s excellent book, Yellowstone’s Destabilized Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict, in our Wildlife Sciences Colloquium [here].

Fred Wagner is former associate dean of the Natural Resources Dept. at Utah State University. The review was written by Cliff White of Parks Canada, Banff, Alberta. Both men are world-recognized environmental scientists, managers, and greatly accomplished experts.

From Cliff White’s (also excellent) review:

For those unfamiliar with the Yellowstone situation, removal of native peoples from the park in the 1800s and reduction in large carnivores in the early 1900s provided favorable conditions for the population of elk (Cervus elaphus), a generalist herbivore, to increase dramatically. After government biologists observed the effects of high densities of elk on soil and vegetation in the 1920s, park rangers routinely culled the herd for over 4 decades. In the 1960s, recreational game hunters lobbied to take over the cull. Given the potential political incompatibility of sport hunting with conservation in one of the world’s premier national parks, the federal government made the decision to cease elk culling. Park managers and senior scientists then carefully selected a generation of researchers to evaluate the revised policy. The result was a new paradigm of “natural regulation” that was underlain by 4 key hypotheses:

1) long-term human hunting, gathering and burning had not substantially influenced the ecosystems of North America’s Rocky Mountains;

2) ungulate populations in Yellowstone were, over the long term, generally high;

3) carnivore predation was a “non-essential adjunct” having minimal influence on elk numbers; and

4) high elk numbers would not cause major changes in plant communities, ungulate guilds, and other long-term ecosystem states and processes.

Although the natural regulation paradigm seems rather farfetched today, remember that it was born in the 1960s, a time of antiestablishment flower children, when wilderness was untrammeled by Native Americans, when biologist and author Farley Mowat’s wolves subsisted on mice (Mowat 1963), and the only “good fires” were caused by lightning. Moreover, an excellent argument can be made that ecological science needs large “control ecosystems” with minimal
human influences.

In the 40 or so years since the implementation of the national regulation policy, both the National Park Service and outside institutions conducted many ecological studies. These culminated in 1997 with a congressionally mandated review by the National Research Council. It is this wealth of research and documentation that Fred Wagner uses to evaluate changes over time in the Yellowstone ecosystem. He provides meticulous summaries of research in chapters on each of several different vegetation communities, the ungulate guild, riparian systems, soil erosion dynamics, bioenergetics, biogeochemistry and syntheses for the “weight of evidence” on the primary drivers of ecological change. This background allows readers to develop their own understanding on the results of this textbook case of applied ecological science.

Wagner clearly shows that most studies did not support the hypotheses of natural regulation. In cases where studies did seem to support a hypothesis, methods and results were suspect. The elk population clearly grew beyond predictions, some plants and animals began to disappear, and the importance of Yellowstone’s lost predators and Native Americans should have become undeniable. However, faced with these incongruities, park managers still supported the natural regulation policy. Some researchers closely affiliated with management then began to invoke climate change as a potential factor for observed ecosystem degradation, but the evidence for this was similarly tenuous. On the basis of the almost overwhelming evidence, Wagner concludes that much of the park-sponsored science on the natural regulation paradigm “missed the mark” and that “Yellowstone has been badly served by science.”

18 Oct 2008, 12:15am
Homo sapiens
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2 comments

Many private landowners nurture public wildlife

By TERRY L. ANDERSON, Opinion, Great Falls Tribune, October 16, 2023 [here]

On the issue of public access, most hunters and fishers are reveling in the recent court decision declaring that bridges in the state are legitimate stream access points. But before sports people get too excited about fishing everywhere without having to ask permission, they would do well to consider what this means for the landowner’s incentive to preserve and improve wildlife habitat.

The bridge in question across the Ruby River will now allow access to a “rich out-of-stater’s” land. This access is valued by anglers because the landowner is a good steward of wildlife habitat. In addition to removing cattle from the riparian areas, he has spent thousands of his own dollars reclaiming the Ruby River and its tributaries on his land. And a similar story flows from the actions of other rich out-of-staters who own the Mitchell Slough, a ditch that was filled with riprap until the landowner invested in turning it into trout and waterfowl habitat.

In both cases the deer, birds, and fish move freely to nearby habitat, public and private.

Whether it is trout streams or habitat for big game and “watchable wildlife,” private landowners provide a plethora of public benefits, sometimes at substantial costs to themselves.

For example, a study from Montana State University estimates that on private land in Montana big game animals consume forage worth more than $31 million — forage that would otherwise go to feed the landowner’s livestock. For this, sports people can thank the private landowner who literally provides a free lunch.

But is it enough to depend on the benevolence of the private landowner? The great conservationist Aldo Leopold thought not. He is known for trying to inculcate a “land ethic” in the private landowner, but he knew this was not enough. As he put it, “Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.” Unfortunately, many Montana sports men and women resist providing such rewards.
more »

17 Oct 2008, 9:10pm
Wolves
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States Should Boycott the USFWS

By John L. Runft

To: Idaho State Rep. Lenore Barrett

Dear Lenore,

I send this to you as a follow up to our recent discussion about the wolf situation in Idaho with respect to the up-coming legislative session.  This link is to an article that discusses (and contains a link to) the very recent opinion of Judge Freidman in the D.C. District Court that basically holds that delisting by DPS (Distinct Population Segments) is not provided in the ESA.  The logical consequence of this ruling is that delisting must be nationwide for all wolves south of Canada - something that will never happen (e.g. the Red Wolf in N.M.).  This opinion in conjunction with the recent decision of Judge Malloy in the Montana District Court literally forecloses delisting.  Delisting of the wolves has been siren song that has been constantly sung and whispered in the ears of the Idaho legislators and the IDF&G for two decades now all to this end: Nothing.  Shouldn’t the members of the legislature feel hornswagled?  Duped?

Idaho promulgated a Wolf Management Plan (attached) as a good faith compromise based on this schmoozing and misrepresentation by the feds even though it was contrary to the policy established by the legislature by House Joint Resolution 5 in 2001 (referenced in the attached Executive Summary of the Wolf Management Plan).

Also attached is a copy of the “Memorandum of Agreement” (”MOA”) between the Sect. Of the Interior and the Governor Of Idaho dated January 5, 2006.  In Section VII (interestingly there are two section VIIs) of the “MOA” dealing with “FUNDING,” it is made clear that Idaho cannot depend on continued federal support in its efforts to assist in managing the wolves. The “MOA” provides that the purpose of the  rule promulgated under ESA § 10(j) is ” to grant those states with approved management plans an opportunity to assume many of the management responsibilities currently performed by the service.”  An “opportunity?”  Look at the duties listed for the state - all of the expensive grunt work while the feds continue to control and direct the program.  Not only does this violate every conceivable tenet of federalism, it is a fraud on the Idaho taxpayers.  Idaho voters and taxpayers were promised that the state would manage and control what it would be paying for.   Thus, Idaho has fallen into the trap of agreeing to provide services under (not “manage”) and pay for a federal program, controlled and directed by the federal government.   In fact the “MOA” refers to the State as “the designated agent” of the FWS.

Now all can finally see that delisting will never happen.  Next step?  The feds will seek to entice the Fish and Game Department into a greater “step and fetch it ” roll, (more personnel on the ground and a larger department) while acknowledging that the assistance of the state is really needed (federal budget problems will be brought up for the first time - acknowledging in fact that the wolf management is out of control - and entice the state  with assuming the role (at state expense) of exterminating problem wolves (under federal control and direction).

Some legislators have balked at facing up to the feds and rescinding the Wolf Management Plan and refusing to cooperate or participate with the feds (a “boycott”), because the feds have threatened to designate the Indian Tribes as the designated agents of the FWS.  These legislators need to reexamine this so called “threat.”  The entire wolf management is fast spiraling into a crisis.  There is not enough federal money allocated to properly control and manage the wolves.  As the “MOA” states, the numbers of wolves reached “the biological requirements for wolf recovery in 2002″ and their numbers keep expanding.  Let the tribes have the problem and save Idaho the blame and expense.  This is a federal disaster and the State has a final opportunity to extricate itself from it.  I would be pleased to meet with any group of legislators to discuss the only remaining sensible and courageous course of action in light of the events that have transpired. - boycott.

Best regards,

John L. Runft
Runft & Steel Law Offices, PLLC
Boise, Idaho

1 Oct 2008, 12:42pm
Endangered Specious Homo sapiens Wolves
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5 comments

Wolf Pop Segments Raise Distinct

The Endangered Species Act not only “protects” species, it also “protects” something the Act refers to as “distinct population segments.” Nobody knows what a distinct population segment is, however, since it has no definition in biology or in the law.

Note that in the above paragraph I placed the word “protects” in parentheses. That is because the ESA does not protect anything. The populations of most listed species have declined following listing. The reasons for that are various, including constant harassment by government wildlife biologists.

In Hawaii, for instance, “researchers” working for the Biological Research Division (BiRD) of the USGS have driven at least two bird species to near extinction by robbing nests and killing the chicks. The Hawaiian crow and the palila (a member of the Hawaiian Honeycreeper family) have been systematically extirpated by nest-robbing “scientists” who climb ladders to access the nests and then man-handle the baby chicks. They snatch the chicks, carry them down the ladders, poke, prod, band, weigh, and measure the chicks, and then carry them back up the ladders to replace them in the nests. Needless to say, the mother birds are totally freaked by all that and abandon the nests and chicks to starvation, or else grab the colorful band and heave it out the nest with the chick attached. The chicks then fall to their immediate deaths or to slow death on the ground, since they are too young to fly.

When the latter case occurs, the BiRD brains refers to such chicks as “jumplings” as if they jumped out of the nests themselves. They opine that the chicks, once shown the freedom of the greater world beyond the nest and the loving inter-specific concern of the Dr. Dolittle-like “scientists,” desire to fly away, albeit prematurely.

Messing with the nests induces a 99% mortality rate of the mangled chicks. That’s the only number worth reporting, but also the only number the “scientists” do NOT report. (All the foregoing is the God’s honest truth, including the “jumpling” designation. I am not making it up.)

Many other ESA listed bird species are also tortured to extinction, such as the condor and the snowy plover. The latter birds are captured and bled, and the blood is taken back to the lab for genetic testing. Why? To “prove” that some snowy plovers are a distinct population segment!

You see, snowy plovers are quite common in certain regions and uncommon in others. By demonstrating that outlying populations are (allegedly) genetically distinct, the US Fish and Wildlife Service can then assume control over birds and the habitat for the ostensible purpose of “protecting” the distinct population segment (DPS). Like vampires, the USFWS sucks the blood of the little birds to convert them to special cult status.

Two days ago, however, Federal Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that DPS is a meaningless thing [here]. To be sure, the eco-babble phrase “distinct population segment” occurs in the legal verbiage of the ESA. But Friedman called the ESA DPS verbiage “ambiguous” and implies that it has not been and cannot be interpreted:

The DPS Policy does not qualify as a construction to which this Court can defer because the DPS Policy does not directly address the interpretive issue before the Court. The purpose of the DPS Policy is to clarify the meaning of the term “distinct population segment” and to set forth criteria for deciding whether a sub-population should be designated as a DPS. It does not address the propriety of simultaneously designating and delisting a DPS within a broader listing, and the Court finds both parties’ arguments to the contrary strained and unpersuasive. Nor may the Court look to the ESA’s implementing regulations for a Chevron-worthy interpretation. Those regulations largely track the statutory provisions discussed in part III.B and, like those statutory provisions, do not directly address the interpretive issue before the Court.

Note that if the DPS Policy cannot be used to simultaneously designate and delist, it also cannot be used to simultaneously designate and list. That juris-logical knife cuts both ways.

The DPS in question in the case Friedman ruled on was Great Lake wolves. It has been shown [see here] that Great Lake wolves are not pure wolves at all, but are crossed with coyotes. (By the way, the method used was blood sucking, the invasive scientific treatment of choice by the Vampires).

But regardless of the blood analyses, DPS means zip to the Judge. Friedman’s ruling thus calls into question the recent ruling of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy [here] who opined that genetics are at the heart of the ESA. Of course, Molloy knows absolutely nothing about wolf genetics, as he so egregiously demonstrated. However, he did make “desirable” genetic drift in wolves the key factor in his ruling.

So now we have contrary judicial logic regarding DPS. I suggest a cage match where the judges fight to the death of one or the other, or perhaps both, to settle this question.

But first we should suck their blood to determine which human DPS’s they come from.

Or to discover, scientifically, whether they are (intelligent) human beings at all!

1 Oct 2008, 11:38am
Introduction
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1 comment

The Endangered Species Act Is Now Endangering Our Species

by Tom Remington at Black Bear Blog, September 30, 2023 [here]

As the courts continue to decide what the Endangered Species Act is for, we have reached a point where it appears now that our wildlife that needs protecting is in eminent danger. Yesterday, Federal Judge Paul L. Friedman, ordered that the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes region be placed back under protection and management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That decision [here] and the subsequent ruling of the court I now see as jeopardizing the health and sustainability of our other wildlife and plant species all within specific ecosystems.

Judge Friedman’s ruling states that the reason he remanded the case was because the USFWS failed to provide a reason, supported by the ESA, to justify removing [from the ES list] the gray wolves in the Great Lakes region only. In remanding the case the judge is sending the issue back to the USFWS for an explanation. Judge Friedman said the ESA’s definition of a “Distinct Population Segment” is “silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue”.

The judge did not have to put the wolf back on the endangered list but it appears that he did just because he could. More on that later.

What Judge Friedman is saying in his ruling is that the USFWS has no authority under the ESA to selectively delist only the population of gray wolves in the Great Lakes region. In his opening opinion he says this:

In 1978, the gray wolf (Canis lupus) was listed as threatened in Minnesota and endangered throughout the rest of the conterminous United States. On February 8, 2007, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”), an agency within the Department of the Interior, promulgated a final rule revising the wolf’s listing status. See 72 Fed. Reg. 6052 (Feb. 8, 2007) (the “Final Rule”). The Final Rule did not affect the listing status of the gray wolf everywhere. Rather, it designated a cluster of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region as a “distinct population segment,” or DPS. It then removed the wolves within the western Great Lakes DPS from the endangered species list. The Final Rule did not change the listing status of gray wolves outside the boundaries of the western Great Lakes DPS.

In short, Judge Friedman seems to be saying that because in 1978 the federal government opted to list the wolf as either “threatened” or “endangered” everywhere south of the Canadian border, they cannot now chop up wolf population segments in order to remove them from the ESA protection status. He supports this by saying the ESA is ambiguous and finds no previous court rulings otherwise, therefore it doesn’t give the USFWS authority to delist only the Great Lakes population segment of wolves.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 says in reference to a “Distinct Population Segment”:

(16) The term ‘‘species’’ includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.

According to Judge Friedman’s ruling, the USFWS argued that this was the intent of Congress when it developed the ESA. Friedman didn’t buy it.

On the other hand, “deference to an agency’s interpretation of a statute is not appropriate when the agency wrongly believes that [its] interpretation is compelled by Congress.” PDK Laboratories, Inc. v. DEA, 362 F.3d at 798. As discussed above, it seems clear that FWS erroneously concluded that its interpretation of the ESA was compelled by Congress.

Friedman also tries to explain why the USFWS interpretation is ambiguous.

Because the ESA is ambiguous with respect to the issue at hand, the Court is required to defer to any permissible agency construction under Chevron step two. See Defs.’ Mot. at 13; Defs.’ Opp. at 4. In this case, however, there is no permissible construction to which the Court can defer. The Final Rule and FWS’ papers rely exclusively on a “plain meaning” reading of the ESA which the Court already has rejected. And even assuming that the Court could look elsewhere for an interpretation to which it could defer, there is none in sight. The DPS Policy does not qualify as a construction to which this Court can defer because the DPS Policy does not directly address the interpretive issue before the Court. The purpose of the DPS Policy is to clarify the meaning of the term “distinct population segment” and to set forth criteria for deciding whether a sub-population should be designated as a DPS. It does not address the propriety of simultaneously designating and delisting a DPS within a broader listing, and the Court finds both parties’ arguments to the contrary strained and unpersuasive. Nor may the Court look to the ESA’s implementing regulations for a Chevron-worthy interpretation. Those regulations largely track the statutory provisions discussed in part III.B and, like those statutory provisions, do not directly address the interpretive issue before the Court.

So Judge Friedman remanded the case back to the USFWS for them to provide a definition of “distinct population segment” the court will accept, that then allows the feds to break out segments of wolves or any other species and remove from federal protection.

The second issue with the case was whether or not the wolf in the Western Great Lakes region should be placed back on the ESA. Friedman explains it this way:

The Court agrees with FWS and defendant-intervenors that it is within the Court’s discretion to remand without vacating the Final Rule, but in the context of this case it declines to do so… Second, while it is true that vacatur will have a palpable regulatory effect – specifically, management responsibility for the western Great Lakes DPS will be reposed in the federal government rather than in the states – the Court concludes that “disruption” is not a substantial concern in this case. Little confusion or inefficiency will result from reinstating a regulatory regime that was in place from 1978 to 2007, particularly given the fact that state and federal wolf management authorities have been working in tandem for years.

Judge Friedman concludes his reasons for placing the wolf back under federal protection by saying he agreed with the plaintiffs that he thinks the ESA prefers to protect the animals. Is it fair then to add to that he, like most others, believe it is better to protect the animals than the rights of the people?

We can argue until we are blue in the face about this judge or Judge Donald Molloy, who ruled over the recent return of the gray wolf in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to the ESA, but the problem clearly lies with a faulty Endangered Species Act. Without changes our wildlife is in danger. Why do those so eager to protect the wolf not see that further lack of management of wolves threatens sustainability of other species, species we have spent millions of dollars to protect?

If this ruling remains and USFWS refuses or cannot reverse this decision, much of the U.S is in serious trouble with wildlife management. People have very little faith that the USFWS is looking out for their interest, after all it is another government agency. Many believe they [the USFWS] are too scared, too broke and too interested in the efforts of environmentalists to much care about the rights of others. The USFWS has shown us of late their unwillingness to fight to keep the wolf listed in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana by simply walking away and asking the judge to withdraw their request. Why should we think the USFWS is interested in reversing this latest ruling?

The seriousness of this ruling is widespread. We must think beyond wolves. It affects every living species within the borders of our country. If Friedman’s ruling stands, this means that because the federal government declared the gray wolf either threatened or endangered in every state south of Canada, and the only way the wolf can ever be removed from ESA listing is when it can be done throughout all of the lower 48 states. We know that can never happen.

Now the danger comes because there is a lessening of the desire to list species that might need to be listed out of fear of the consequences that might follow. This will have an affect on whether the feds desire to protect a species. In short, this is abuse of the ESA, a poor interpretation and the end result is going to be the loss of some wildlife to protect another. It’s ridiculous.

The USFWS needs now to rethink any actions pertaining to other species. It needs to clearly define any and all historic species habitat out of fear it will wrongfully place a region under the restrictive rules of the ESA.

The USFWS will now be given the task of managing the gray wolf in the entire lower 48 states, a task they are not able to do. They don’t have the resources to undertake such an event. What will that mean to our other wildlife populations and the property rights of all Americans?

Much of this is unknown but an investigation into what is happening in certain areas is certainly revealing enough that it should cause concern. The facts are that in certain areas where wolves are growing unchecked and unmanaged, elk and deer populations are disappearing at historic rates. Is this really what we want? Is this really what the ESA was created for?

Livestock depredation is on the rise in specific areas along with wolf and human encounters. These surely will continue to increase. Again I ask was this the intention of the ESA in 1973 when it was written?

Environmentalists have managed to make a sham out of the ESA through their lawsuits and as much as I hate to support judges, some of their rulings are in line with the text of the ESA. Animal activism, all in the name of saving one animal, is now putting others at risk. We can’t let this happen. Friedman’s ruling is detrimental to the health and sustainability of all of our wildlife nationwide.

As I see it, should this ruling force the USFWS to opt against a listing of a species because the interpretation of the ESA is so flawed, then the environmentalists will be forced to change their lawsuit tactics and begin suing to force the USFWS to list even when they don’t want to. We already know that the enviros believe the ESA was written to “require” the feds to list and protect every species in existence in this country.

If we don’t act immediately to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, the years of hard work and billions of dollars expended will soon be flushed down the drain.

 
  
 
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