An Un-Natural State of Fear: Oregon Outdoor Council versus Lions, Tigers (Wolves) and Bears

By Bob Ferris

The Onion has some brilliant satire and some that bites a little too deep.  One that is just right was a recent one they did about wolves and the millions of people killed each year by this rapacious predator that stalks people at copiers and coffee bars and rips their throats out in a heartbeat (see: Study: Wolf Attacks Still Leading Cause Of Death In U.S.).   Yes, I read it in the Onion so it must be true.
This is on my mind at this point because I recently spent too much time on the phone with Jerod Broadfoot executive director of the Oregon Outdoor Council (OOC) after talking to a peeved former insider at OOC who gave me an earful on Jerod and the shady goings-on at his operation.

The Onion piece echoed in my brain because Jerod peddles fear.  Fear of mountain lions, bears, coyotes and wolves.  Whether he actually believes the Onion-esque tales he tells the public or not he has lobbied for bear baiting, cougar hunting with dogs, and pushed to allow bow hunters to carry pistols or rifles because the risk of cougar attacks is so high. The risk for cougar attacks in Oregon is so high…How high?.. Well it could happen, but has not.

But just to show that Mr. Broadfoot works all sides of the street, he also lobbied to get the criminal penalties for cock fighting lowered from a felony to a misdemeanor.  Now more fighting cocks will have the opportunity to fight and profit from their efforts.  And he also lobbied—it appeared—to allow minors to handle explosives because there seems to be a shortage of children playing with matches and high explosives. (Sorry, once the Onion gets into your head.)
For Broadfoot Camouflage is a Fabric of Deception

It should be remembered that Mr. Broadfoot (shown with RMEF CEO David Allen above) cut his lobbying teeth at PacWest Communications.  PacWest is somewhat notorious in lobbying circles for their ends-always-justify-the-means and take-no-prisoners approaches.  Over the years PacWest has formed fake “astro-turf” groups, reached deeply and often into their bag of dirty tricks, and stands firmly with the giants of misinformation such as The Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute who have brought us illustrious campaigns on second hand smoke and climate change.

Mr. Broadfoot’s own personal forte is the miss-direct.  He has employed it ably with the OOC by serving up an All-American 2nd Amendment hot dog wrapped in a bun of predator hatred.  He hopes that this will camouflage what is probably his real intention which is a wider opening of the door to logging, mining, ranching and energy interests.  When confronted with this he claims it is not true but he is a little like the child who raided the cake and with chocolate glazed cheeks claims innocence.  His actions and past speak much louder than his protestations.  
Headed to Vegas
I will be presenting to the SCI-Foundations Conservation Committee on a project I am doing for them about wildlife conservation and energy production being able to coexist to benefit wildlife and our domestic energy needs. Broadfoot Media Site
So what chocolate does he have on his face? Jerod comes from a timber family and he lives in a ranching community.  He has lobbied on behalf of the oil and timber industries for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Healthy Forest Initiative.  Both were priorities set by the Bush Administration that Mr. Broadfoot as chair of the Oregon Sportsmen for Bush worked so hard to get into office.  
Although one could argue what’s past is past, with Jerod that is not the case. His current rhetoric and that of his colleagues and friends is decidedly pro-industry.  He regularly advocates for more timber harvests to “enhance” wildlife habitat and condemns those who might think about rules and regulations to stem habitat loss and degradation.  The attacks on Sally Jewell’s record are perfect examples.  Certainly these commentaries are salted with phrases like “anti-hunting” but given the material thrust of the actions–regarding logging, mining and energy–this is really no more than camouflage.  
“Another priority for the OOC is to ensure state management of wolf populations including allowing ranchers to protect their families and livestock without bureaucratic red tape and lawsuits from anti-hunting organizations.” OOC Press release posted on i-Fish
Mr. Broadfoot has denied links to ranching, but then he also seems convinced that folks are more interested in what he says rather than his actions.  His advocacy for control of wolves and increased logging could be construed as being pro-hunting if he also acknowledged that those de-forested areas should be cattle-free, but he does not.  OOC’s facebook page in fact questions the impact of grazing on wildlife.  What? [1,2,3]
Science, Science Everywhere…? 
"Wolves have wiped out elk and deer herds in Idaho and have a current population growth of 24%." Oregon Outdoor Council website
My conversation with Jerod was at times surreal.  When I challenged him on his misstatements about predators (see above) he claimed that all statements were reviewed by their science team.  So then I asked: Who is on your science team?  His response was telling, the only name he remembered was Larry Irwin, but he urged me to look at his website.  (By the way, I would think that any leader of an organization that was actually driven by science would know who was on his science advisory team.)
So what did I find?  OOC’s scientific team consists of three people. One is indeed Larry Irwin PhD with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. that bills the organization as an independent, non-profit research institute focusing on environmental topics of interest to the forest products industry.  The Council’s roughly $14 million budget comes mainly from timber company dues.  This hardly lends credence to the Mr. Broadfoot’s argument of distance from the timber industry.
The other scientific experts are Richard K. Stroud DVM, MS and James O. Pex MS D-ABC.  The former is a retired forensic veterinarian for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the latter is a forensic expert on blood spattering often called in on criminal trials. Neither of them are wildlife biologists, ecologists or experts on conservation or predators.
And just as Batman has Robin
Just as Batman has Robin, as a dedicated compatriot, Mr. Broadfoot has Dominic Aiello as his side kick.  Mr. Aiello is the new vice president of OOC’s board–replacing Jerod–and appears to spend a great deal of his time looking to do electronic battle with the anti-hunting evil doers of the world.  His fervor has gotten him expelled from a few facebook pages including ours, but his rhetoric and dedication—even with the help of Mr. Broadfoot and his media machine—was unable to garner him the vice president slot at the Oregon Hunter’s Association.  (Reports from insiders say that the vote was not even remotely close.)
Mr. Aiello also spends a lot of time on the I-Fish network and while his comments are amusing they are also illustrative of the inherent operational and philosophical conflicts at OOC.  His political philosophies, lack of knowledge, and inexperience keep him and his organization in a constant state of defense bordering on embarrassment.  
How so?  Two examples are his recent celebration of a timber industry victory on the regulation of roads and his defense of suction dredging as a legitimate use on Oregon Rivers.  When the more informed posters pointed out that elk needed road-less areas and that this was not a victory for elk or hunters he just kept right on going without self-editting.  
Likewise, his defense of the right of suction dredgers to tear up river bottoms on a post calling people to a hearing on a moratorium raised hackles (sorry) and drew comments.  His response was to attack the motivation of a respected fishing guide—the fishermen were not amused.  His comments are troubling both for the supreme confidence he has in his own opinions and the lack of any real basis or grounding backing up his assertions.  While I am sure that his A.A. degree in Business Administration from Henry Ford Community College affords him some expertise applicable to selling Aflac insurance and some of his other enterprises, it seems scant preparation to serve on the board of any state-wide organization or hold authoritative debates on complex ecological relationships.
Of Bibles and Bandoliers 
“Our featured speaker is Dominic Aiello, who is Vice President of Oregon Outdoor Council, whose mission is "To promote and protect outdoor pursuits in Oregon including hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife management, habitat and species management, public access, outdoor recreation and gun ownership." As you can see, Dominic's responsibilities cover nearly every aspect of our outdoor experience. CrossTrackers website under April Events
So who all is drinking this proffered Kool Aid?  One group who was pleased to have Mr. Aiello as a guest speaker and he seemed pleased to be there is the Cross Trackers.  This group “exists to glorify God by walking beside men while enjoying His creation through hunting and fishing.”  
Now my parents took me to church when I was a child but I must have slept through the part about concealed weapons being part of the religious dogma, particularly on a Sunday.  It might just be me, but praying for your quick-draw shoulder holster to not malfunction seems fairly inconsistent with the turn- the-other-cheek lessons I seem to remember.  
And while Mr. Aiello’s jubilation following the Cross Tracker’s event at meeting Todd Hoffman of Gold Rush certainly cements his membership in the 18-49 year old male demographic and the “we like machinery and tearing things up” club, it hardly speaks to his environmental and conservation street cred as the water quality and fisheries impacts of gold mining are well known and notorious.  This also demonstrates a monumental insensitivity to his potential colleagues in Oregon and also Alaska who are embroiled in fights against suction dredge mining in Oregon and the Bristol Bay mine in Alaska.
Poor Attention to Accounting and Legal Issues Means Poor Performance in a Non-Profit
Financially, OOC and OOCF are not significant enterprises.  A little money here and a little money there with most of their funding coming from a single check from Oregon Hunters Association.  What is significant is how they spent the money and failed to heed the legal and accounting advice of their professionals.  I have seen the ledger sheets so I could go into chapter and verse about how Jerod Broadfoot submitted questionable and poorly documented expenses as well as blew through IRS limits for lobbying expenses without blinking.  He also traveled with his wife (on OOC's dime) to places like Las Vegas and stayed in a luxury boutique hotel room like the one pictured above during a DC trip, but it is easier to just let their former secretary/treasurer Steve Chapman tell the tale.  
Now I may not always agree with Mr. Chapman on predator-prey ecology or some esoterica associated with hunting and fair chase, but both of us agree that 1) non-profit monies need to be used for non-profit purposes; 2) the rationale for any non-profit expenditures needs to be well documented; 3) board members have explicit fiduciary responsibilities which include avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest; and 4) the fundamental imperatives of acting responsibility, telling the truth, and obeying the law are paramount.   These principles do not appear to be embraced by the current leadership at OOC and OOCF and that is likely to cause them legal and political problems in the near future.

2 thoughts on “An Un-Natural State of Fear: Oregon Outdoor Council versus Lions, Tigers (Wolves) and Bears

  1. Richard G. says:

    I thought Oregon with Defazio as a congressman was one of the states that would protect wildlife all wildlife wolves,bears,cougars etc. Deer Elk and all others that are helpless at the hands of the ranching industry and now I find out logging is still big out west. Where does it end with big interest People ?

  2. Ed Cooley says:

    I wish these guys understood the important relationship between predator and prey for the sake of the prey population and for the sake of the land.  But they probably are in it to protect the interests of the Big Timber and Energy and don't want to understand anything beyond the resource extraction $$$.  
    We live in the woods and raise cattle for a living.  We also pasture a small herd of elk for a large part of the growing season.  I got out of the sheep business becasue of predators (mainly coyotes but sometimes bears and cougars).  I have never had an issue with predators and cattle, but wolves have not come to my neighborhood yet.  A mama cow is a fierce protector of her calf against a coyote or cougar, but against a pack of wolves…???   
    I do have neighbors that will go after a problem cougar.  They are certain that the cougar they are allowed to tree with hounds and kill is the right one.   I am not sure how they know–maybe because cougars are that territorial.  I hate to see that happen, but I can also understand the disappointment of losing animals that have been raised for months or years–not to mention the loss of income.  

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