Posts Tagged ‘Theodore Roosevelt’


Reflections on the Enormous Victory in Northern Cascadia and Coming Full Circle

by Gabe Scott, Cascadia Wildlands House Counsel

Ready for some good news? Last week our partners at Eyak Preservation Council announced that the major part of Alaska’s Bering River Coalfield, and the old-growth forest on top of it, has been permanently protected!
The Bering River coalfield sits in the rugged, remote mountains just back of Cascadia's northern extreme.

The Bering River coalfield sits in the rugged, remote mountains just back of Cascadia's northern extreme (photo by Brett Cole).

Several things about this historic victory make it especially sweet. Ecologically it protects one of the most magnificent places on earth, a vast wild wetland on Cascadia's northern edge. Better, it does it in a precedent-setting way that puts the region’s indigenous people in charge. Personally I am proud that we Cascadians played a big part creating the conditions where this victory could happen. And, most of all, let us be inspired by the example of our close partner and good friend Dune Lankard, the Eyak native whose visionary leadership and sheer determination has achieved what few believed was possible.
The Victory
The Bering River coalfield is located in one of the wildest and most productive on earth—the Copper/Bering River Delta wetland complex, along Alaska’s south-central Gulf coast. This is wild salmon, bear, wolf, eagle and raven country. Seals swim ice-berg choked rivers hunting King salmon. Ice-clad mountains rise almost straight out of the churning Gulf. 
The Bering River rages through the coast range, backed by glaciers, choked with salmon, and Wild as all-get-out.

The Bering River rages through the coast range, backed by glaciers, choked with salmon, and Wild as all-get-out (photo by Brett Cole).

To the north is the largest protected wilderness in the whole world: from here into the Yukon territory all the way down to Glacier Bay. To the east is the largest ice-field outside the poles. The ice is moving, glaciers sliding forward and melting back, uncovering infant land. To the west is the Copper River Delta, and beyond that Cordova and Prince William Sound. This is the largest contiguous wetland in Cascadia, home to the world-famous Copper River salmon fishing fleet, and incredible concentrations of swans, geese and shorebirds.
There are huge veins of coal, the largest tide-water coal deposit in the world, buried in the mountain ridges back of the wetlands. Coal mining there would have involved mountain-top removal in the headwaters of rich salmon rivers, extensive clearcutting of the old-growth forest, roads across the wild Copper River delta, and a deepwater port near Cordova.
The deal announced yesterday is that Chugach Alaska Corporation's coal and timber will be forever conserved, stewarded with a conservation easement enforced by The Native Conservancy. The owner, CAC, will generate revenue by selling carbon credits on California’s market.
Historic Victory for Conservation
This has been a long time coming. The Bering River coalfield is one of modern conservation’s seminal battles. In 1907 Teddy Roosevelt stuck his neck out to prevent J.P. Morgan from grabbing it in a monopoly. Gifford Pinchot was fired/ resigned in protest trying to protect it. Louis Brandeis, before being appointed to the supreme court, put his talents to work for the cause. Through the era of statehood, and Native land claims, and the park-creating frenzy of ANILCA, and the post-Exxon Valdez restoration deals, conservationists always tried but developers stubbornly insisted that the Bering River coalfield needed to be mined. 
The coal is owned by Chugach Alaska Corporation, one of the regional Alaska Native corporations. (Rather than treaties and reservations, in Alaska the U.S. congress formed corporations and made indigenous people into the shareholders. Long story. CAC is one of these.) CAC selected the coalfield and the trees atop it with an eye to developing them.
After going bankrupt in the late 1980s, CAC lost part of the coalfield to a Korean conglomerate. Notably, that portion of the coalfield isn't covered by the deal announced last week, so it will need to be protected too. 
The 700,000-acre Copper River Delta is the largest contiguous wetland on the Pacific Coast of North America.

The 700,000-acre Copper River Delta is the largest contiguous wetland on the Pacific Coast of North America.

The conservation deal announced yesterday is precent setting for it’s unique mix of conservation and indigenous control. The Native Conservancy is a new idea, the brainchild of Dune Lankard, that was critical to the deal working. Formulated as a sort of friendly amendment to the Nature Conservancy, the idea is to incorporate social justice for indigenous people into long-term land conservation.
In the announced deal the Native Conservancy will hold the conservation easement, making it the steward in charge of protecting the land. Enforcement of easements is one of the major hurdles to private equity models of conservation, and this offers an attractive new possibility.
This victory also points to the inevitable reality of climate change and the future of carbon. California’s carbon market  makes it possible economically for a company like CAC to realize a return on investment for conservation. Where there is money, deals will be made.
Lying politicians aside, global warming is real. The writing is on the wall for the carbon-heavy industries. When corporations look to the future, they see young people marching for climate justice, bringing their case to the courts and demanding sustainability. Especially for Alaska Native corporations like CAC, shareholders are keenly interested in avoiding climate catastrophe. The message is being heard!
A personal victory
This victory also marks a sweet sort of bookend to my own work running Cascadia’s Alaska field office, from 1998 until this past year. The first reason I went to Cordova, back in 1998, was to help Dune Lankard blockade the road that CAC was then actually building, across the Copper River Delta to access this coalfield and these trees. 
Dune Lankard at Shepard Point, back in the day.

Dune Lankard at Shepard Point, back in the day.

When I first arrived there was the coalfield, an oilfield, a deepwater port, a road across the Delta and another one up the river, cruise ships and a Princess lodge, all interlocking. None of these threats alone could gain traction, but any two or more of them would forever destroy the wilderness. Dune and I spent countless hours together on the basketball court scheming the demise of this web of threats. For the next nineteen years, Cascadia and Eyak worked together on the campaigns. Together we stopped the road across the Delta, the deepwater port at Shepard Point, and oil drilling at Katalla. 
Without the deepwater port, without the access road, and without any oil discovery to attract new investment, conservation of the coalfield became more appealing. 
While we are proud to have helped create the conditions for success, all credit for this victory goes to two heroes of the planet: Dune Lankard and Carol Hoover. Their dogged determination and visionary blend of indigenous and ecological justice has achieved what a century of environmentalists could not. 
So, I am inspired, and so should you be! 
The new president can take a long walk off a short pier. The train has left the station. The people are winning for climate justice, and we aren’t about to stop now.
After an incredible run in Cascadia's northern frontier based in Cordova, Gabe Scott recently moved back to Eugene with his family and is Cascadia Wildlands' House Counsel.

Who Pays for Wildlife Conservation and Why We Shouldn’t Care

By Bob Ferris
Muir and Roosevelt
I have been watching this whole debate about who actually “pays” for wildlife for most of my three-decade career.  In point of fact it is a tough equation to resolve satisfactorily because a lot of it depends on what you include and how you count.  
Certainly hunters pay much for wildlife management on the state and also federal levels through various licenses, fees and taxes, but they also use wildlife (i.e., hunt and harvest) so they enjoy a privilege not legally available to those who do not participate in hunting or fishing.  And a good portion of the dollars spent in this arena go towards hunter and angler services such as licensing administration, law enforcement, hatcheries and the like.  
There is also the whole issue of habitat—particularly federal public lands—which contribute mightily to the well-being of many, many fish and game species.  These are lands owned by and supported by hunters and non-hunters alike.  The funds to purchase these lands come from so many sources from highway mitigation fees and the offshore-oil-drilling-financed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to private and corporate donations.  
There is more on both sides but at some point these discussions become so much like those ill-advised and non-productive dialogues between couples with two incomes ping-ponging their relative worth in a relationship or negotiating for privileges that sometimes lead to couples therapy or worse.  To all involved in this all I can say is a heartfelt:  Please stop.  
To put it in the plainest and most appropriate analogy possible: While the estranged couple consisting of hunters (and anglers) and the environmental community are arguing over who pays more or whether or not wolves contribute to or drive ungulate declines in those rare areas where populations are going down, a very well-organized and deeply funded machine is essentially kidnapping this couple’s children and their future.
Think I am overstating the situation?  Then what do you call discussions to sell off or hyper-exploit our hard-fought-for public lands in the face of a growing population (hint: we actually need more and better protected public lands not less)?  Think about your public land experience over your lifetime and how it might have changed.  And then raise your hand if you want it to be worse still.  Anyone?  Anyone?
Likewise, what about plans to install a collection of climate change deniers in key positions of power in the Senate at a time when our climate-change canoe is about to go over the falls?  Past public statements by these yahoos make it clear that they do not have enough sense to pick up a paddle let alone steer us all for a safer shore.  Add to this the lack of awareness in this crowd about climate changes’ twin sister of doom—ocean acidification—and we see that we will likely have a two-year feeding frenzy that will take generations to solve if we ever can.
The news gets worse when you sprinkle into to this disastrous legislative caldron continual plans to recklessly extend the length of grazing leases on federal lands and pump up timber cuts on these same holdings.  How is any of this in the best interest of those of us who value nature regardless of how we enjoy it?  And wouldn’t climate prudency argue for shorter, better monitored grass leases and more carbon preserved in our standing forests rather than less?  
And, holy cripes, do we really need to allow fracking in our precious national parks so we can export more fossil-fuels to Asia and elsewhere to make them even more economically competitive and to make our climate and ocean situation worsen?  
We—sportspeople, the environmental community and those with feet in both camps—have not faced a threat to our common interests this large for nearly 20 years.  We were able to avoid the worst of the damage then—in that pre-Citizens’ United decision era—because we were willing to come together and work towards common goals.  Essentially, we talked and negotiated shared values and measures below which Congress could only venture at their peril.  The united front worked and the damage was minimized or at least contained.
Unfortunately, some who were key actors and collaborators in the mid-1990s have been worked diligently and forced to or tricked into burning critical bridges in the intervening years.   Moreover, some of our most effective players in Congress have been whittled away to nothing or are no longer breathing.  The fingerprints on these manipulations and re-education efforts are plain to anyone really watching and are mainly greasy, grassy, saw-dusty or sooty in nature.  
So what do we need to do?  First, we need to look at history not listen to what people who want the above disaster to continue or expand are telling us.  We have to remember once again that every time that the various “tribes” of conservation have been united, we have accomplished great and wonderful things for wildlife, future generations and ourselves or at the very least prevented catastrophe.  When we drift apart or let issues or interests drive us apart serious mischief happens.  
This holiday season whether you are hiking a trail, walking a field, sitting in a stand or blind, waiting for a bite, getting ready to do a Christmas Bird Count, or protesting a pipeline please take a hard look at yourself, your rhetoric, and the organizations you support.  Are you, your actions, and associations bringing the conservation tribes together or making them even more fragmented and less able to meet this incredible challenge?  Are you investing your energies reaching out or are you building more and more walls? 
Look also at the issues that occupy you or your organizations.  If public lands, climate change, habitat, as well as supporting our cornerstone environmental protections (i.e., Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts) are not in clear evidence then you need to ask: Why not?  If these are not front and center on the menu, there is a good chance that funders, donors, or governing bodies took them out.  I say this because in 1996 the whole set of conservation tribes agreed that these were the most important—so much so that Safari Club International and HSUS sat at the same table as Defenders of Wildlife and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  
US Trends of Concern
The only things that have changed in the intervening years is that the problems and threats have grown even worse (see “then” and “now” numbers above), we understand our peril better, and bucket upon bucket load of money has been invested in making sure that the various conservation tribes are driven apart.  The latter should really not have made us forget about the former if we were truly focused on what needed to be done.
As to what positive, direct steps you can take once the reality of the situation becomes clearer in your mind, my sense is that we should all thoughtfully do the unexpected and see what happens.  For instance, why not smile at a person wearing camouflage or hug a tree-hugger?  Engage people in dialogues; you know why you hold your own beliefs, but why not ask someone respectfully and honestly why they hold theirs?   And do everything you can to raise awareness of these issues and project a willingness to work with a diverse group to solve them in a collaborative manner.  In essence, understand that there is a real crisis and remember what Americans can do in the face of crises (i.e., set aside their myriad differences, roll up their sleeves and fix the problem).  
And we need to act decisively before this predetermined and increasingly ghastly scenario gets irrevocably implemented.  Because while I may not be able to tell with exactitude who paid for what and where in terms of conservation, I can say that we will all pay too dearly if we neglect to hear this call to find ways to work together.



Of Farmers, Hunters, Oil Money and the Double Secret Déjà Vu Shuffle

"The trophy-recreationist has peculiarities which contribute in subtle ways to his own undoing. To enjoy he must possess, invade, appropriate. Hence the wilderness which he cannot personally see has no value to him. Hence the universal assumption that an unused hinterland is rendering no service to society. To those devoid of imagination, a blank place on the map is useless waste: to other, the most valuable part. (Is my share in Alaska worthless to me because I shall never go there? Do I need a road to show me the arctic prairies, the goose pastures of the Yukon, the Kodiak bear, the sheep meadows behind McKinley?)"  Aldo Leopold in the Conservation Esthetic.
By Bob Ferris
As I perused the news and Facebook feeds earlier this week I found myself reading a story about the AmericanBuck Rising unit 3 Farm Bureau Federation opposing regulation of fertilizers and other chemicals that would help prevent drinking water disasters like what we recently saw in Toledo, Ohio.  Just after that I spied a post about a study that once again demonstrated that energy development and wildlife are not compatible.  
The first piece threw me back 15 years—hence the initial déjà vu—to a time when I was part of a team that went head-to-head with the Farm Bureau.  We engaged in a nearly two-year exercise in opposition research–catalyzed by the AFBF Yellowstone wolf lawsuit–that was purposely complicated by the Farm Bureau’s bizarre and contradictory for-profit and non-profit structure.  The end result was an award-winning publication called Amber Waves of Gain that transmuted into a 60 Minutes expose—all followed closely by a change in presidents at AFBF.  
Sage GouseThe second piece is where the double déjà vu comes in.  Because the energy and wildlife study brought to mind the fact that not all hunting and angling groups are alike nor do they all subscribe to this oft-proven notion of energy development harming habitat and displacing critters (1, 2,3,4) or to a number of other broadly endorsed scientific findings such as climate change and the harmful effects of grazing.  These hunting and angling groups ignore science when it conflicts with their platforms in a very similar manner to what we observed with the Farm Bureau ergo déjà vu two.
But what about the secret part? The all-important secret part of all this comes from the Farm Bureau and this small collection of sporting groups publicly purporting to be the friends of family farmers and sportsmen, respectively, while their actions frequently harm the interests of the very folks they claim to represent.  They want their projected images and carefully crafted tag lines to shower down upon the public, but would rather that a good number of their actions stay secret or unobserved.  
In Amber Waves of Gain we busted apart the myth of the Farm Bureau being the friend of family farmers and correctly portrayed them as the voice of agribusiness.  It strikes me that it is high time that someone took the time to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms hunting and angling groups as well.  I have done a little of that in my past blogs, but more of it in more places is need. 
Now before I continue, I want to make a few things clear.  I personally come from a hunting and fishing culture.  I grew up hunting and fishing and became a wildlife biologist because of my passion for these outdoor pursuits.  My first attempt at dating was to ask a girl to go fishing with me (perhaps this is why I was in my 50s before getting married?).  And I first walked alongside my father chasing pheasants with a friend's expensive, but notriously, gun-shy dog in the rice checks of my mother’s home town of Willows, California in the late 1950s.  
I will add that much of who I am today and my ethical standards came from this well-developed culture reinforced by a nearly formalized curriculum taught by my father, uncles and other relatives or pseudo-relatives while tromping through fields, climbing mountains, standing in ice-cold streams and sitting quietly in stands or blinds.  I may not participate in these pursuits as much now as I have in the past, but that does not diminish for me the value of this pathway or my sense of vesting in this hunter and angler ethos.  
So this exercise I suggest now does not grow out of my need or desire to end hunting or angling, but rather from my concern that some groups are compromising and perverting a culture and tradition that I personally value.  These groups have forgotten or never cared that hunting and angling, in this context, are about much more than just trigger pulls and hook setting.  
And those who perceive an inherent conflict between actions to preserve biodiversity such as being in opposition to an additional spring bear hunt in the absence of information and rationale or concern over the fate of lead bullet fragments in raptor and scavenger territory might want to dial it back a few notches, because responsible hunting and fishing—as opposed to shooting and snagging—involves a complex ethical decision making process that should involve the near and far future ramifications of your actions.  
Being from this culture and seeing life through this lens has caused me challenges throughout my career and has forced me to walk an often difficult tightrope.  When I worked for Defenders of Wildlife in the 1990s I was continually educating people (internally and externally) and making sure that programs were scientifically sound but also not anti-hunter.  And at the same time I was being characterized as an animal rights activist by those who did not know me or could not understand that there is huge difference between an animal rights organization and one that forwards biodiversity preservation.  And I am sure my current staff and board have incurred a little psychological sunburn from me on this issue.  
So what is the landscape out there and how does one tell one set of players from another?  It is complicated but if you think of the entire range of the entities that currently operate in the realm of natural resources and wildlife policy as a spectrum with the left representing the protectionist view point and the more animal rights end of the spectrum and the right holding down the exploitation end of the range exemplified by the trophy-focused hunting and angling groups you are correct.  The middle ground or the center of this construct is anchored by the hunting-neutral groups that tend to be driven mostly by issues of biodiversity (see below graphic).  All are different and individual.  Conservation SpectrumMany of the characteristics of these organizations are as expected.  The animal rights groups for instance are fueled a lot more by passion and emotion and less by science.  They tend to oppose trapping across the board and are less inclined to see the distinctions between the ecological value of native species and those that were introduced.  The animal welfare conservation folks tend to hold tighter to science, but be more automatic in their opposition of hunting.  
The hunting neutral crowd embraces science even more tightly and is sensitive to the concerns of hunters and anglers.  And while many of their supporters might have animal rights and anti-hunting leanings that reflect the views of the general population, the group’s scientific and field staff more than likely come from a hunting and angling culture or have that exposure.  Cascadia Wildlands lands in this class of groups.
The pro-hunting and angling conservation groups are simply that—they are people who live and work to hunt and fish.  They are largely science driven, but often see conservation biology as a newer and less proven discipline than traditional wildlife biology.  These folks like most of the folks to the left of them are pretty much as advertised and their rhetoric, actions and public messaging are consistent.  I may not always agree in the particulars of their positions from a biodiversity perspective but their actions can clearly be argued from the perspective of current and future hunters and anglers.  (In point of fact, I would not have likely seen the energy development piece had I not seen it on the Backcountry Hunters and Angler’s Facebook feed)
Where the problem arises is with what I am calling the pro-hunting and angling exploitation groups (I have identified these previously as wedge groups) because they are defensively and self-righteously pro-hunting and angling, but their actions and inactions bespeak a different, darker purpose.  And when someone catches them at their game these groups immediately characterize those in opposition or those who even question them as anti-hunters.   If that fails or they need a larger attack posse they then ring the Second Amendment bell loudly, which is tantamount to throwing chunks of red meat to a guard dog you want absolutely focused on something other than vigilance.
There was a time when I would cut them some slack and think that perhaps they were just uninformed or Oil wellprogrammatically clumsy, but the unwavering consistency of their actions paints a pattern of hardly ever lifting a finger or raising an eyebrow when ranching, timber and energy interests ride “a-whompin' and a-whumpin’” through the West.  The unfortunate answer to the reason why this is happening and what really creates the dividing line between the pro-sporting factions of conservation and exploitation is really money.  Now I will be the first to admit that running a non-profit is a tough game; it takes both guts and principles.  And we all make compromises in our own way, but there is a huge difference between being accepting from and being beholding to.
“Nonetheless, they usually stick to conservation—"We like to stay back in the bushes, and make sure those bushes are healthy," he says—unless a key revenue stream depends on defending the companies that pay its bills. "We rely on the outdoor industry, because that's how we exist," Holyoak says. "Our funds do come from somewhere." Quote from RMEF Director of Public Relations in Hunters Have an NRA Problem by Lydia DePillis in New Republic February 2013 
When considered in the light of this large monetary “tail” (or tails) wagging the organizational “dog,” a lot of the policy missteps and puzzling lack of action start to make perfect sense.   One litmus test in this is climate change.  Scientists and conservation groups who were watching recognized that climate change was going to have a devastating impact on wildlife even before Bill McKibben published his book The End of Nature in 1989.  I participated in a number of talks with energy industry representatives in the early 1990s about projects that would simultaneously benefit wildlife and sequester carbon.  
SCI Energy and Wildlife Project
And while the environmental community has been geared up and vocal on this issue since before the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, broader and more public acceptance of this was slower in coming from many of the professional groups like The Wildlife Society that dedicated an entire publication to this issue in 2008 at about the same time an influential element of the hunting and angling community issued a collective statement called Seasons’ End: Global Warming’s Threat to Hunting and Fishing.  Nearly everyone in the spectrum described above was on-board with doing something significant about climate change except a few organizations (see project description above from Safari Club from their consultant).
“As the oil and gas industry generously support sportsmen’s groups, they appear to be turning away from their constituencies in favor of the energy industry’s causes — specifically, mining, drilling, and logging in areas previously preserved for wildlife.” In NRA Abandons Hunters In Favor Of Oil And Gas Corporations by Lulu Chang in The National Memo April 2014
“The CAP report details show how oil and gas companies are leveraging three groups in particular—Safari Club International (SFI), Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA)—to attain "an increasingly active and vocal role in advancing energy industry priorities, even when those positions are in apparent conflict with the interests of hunters and anglers who are their rank-and-file members." In Public-Land Protests and Their Big-Energy Puppet Masters by Mary Catherine O’Connor in The Current May 2014
"Draw your own conclusions, but keep a few facts in mind: Before she went to work for the Safari Club International, [Melissa] Simpson worked for a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm. One of her clients was the oil and gas industry, and one of her assignments was to counter the concerns of sportsmen's groups, which had voiced concerns about oil and gas exploration running roughshod over America's hunting and fishing grounds." in Beware of Wolves Cloaked in "Access" by Ben Long in High Country News September 2011 
When you looked at those organizations reluctant to embrace climate change an amazing thing came to light: Those who did not see climate change as a serious problem were also those who received significant finding from or were involved in partnerships with the oil industry.  Groups like Safari Club International (SCI 1,2), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF 1,2) the National Rifle Association (NRA 1,2) were doing well financially while casting doubt on the phenomenon, running interference for oil companies, or just turning a blind eye to whole thing.
“Here’s the core point I’d like to make: When we follow Bill’s lead and set aside the politics and the rhetoric, it’s obvious that sportsmen and scientists are on the same page. It’s almost impossible to be a hunter or an angler here in the Rockies and not see the empirical evidence that Bill [Geer], who is a respected biologist, documents in his presentation.” Todd Tanner in Field and Stream’s The Conservationist March 2011
Perhaps they just didn’t get the climate change memo?  Maybe, but my sense is that it relates to the above root of a myriad of problems (i.e., money makes the world go around).  Part of my feeling—at least where RMEF is concerned—is reinforced by their casual and immediate rejection of the Olaus Murie legacy from their culture. Moreover, when I look at the very credible and needed work done by Bill Geer in the climate change realm at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and later with Climate Hawks, I really have to question why he was summarily ejected from RMEF during their massive personnel massacre around 2000.  Now all personnel issues are admittedly tricky, but when I compare Mr. Geer’s accomplishments, academic grounding and reputation in the wildlife arena to the current crop of senior managers at RMEF working on the conservation end of things, he stands head and shoulders above this lot. 
Now if this were just about climate change, I would probably just shake my head, take a chill pill and walk calmly away, but it is not.  The NRA, Safari Club and RMEF also took an uninformed and anti-wildlife position on the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, H. R. 1581 in 2011  Please see image of Wyoming Senator John Barrasso—above, at right—co-author of this road bill and also the bill to extend the length of grazing leases.  He is pictured at a RMEF banquet where the image of a cowboy on the range overshadows the elk.  Is it possible to have too much irony in a single photograph?.  
RMEF later withdrew their support for this legislation citing member feedback and a closer examination of the science as rationales for the reversal.  OK, but if there is one constant maxim in deer biology it is that elk and roads do not mix well.  How could an elk organization miss that?  
Conservation is and should be a passionate field, because the stakes are so high for so many.  So where is the outrage from these groups over legislative proposals to double the length of grazing leases given that cattle displace and compete with deer and elk?  Where are the prudent questions from these organizations challenging the efficacy of extending these already too long leases that have broadly degraded lands—particularly during a time of climatic uncertainty?  Where are they on wildlife diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, Hair Loss Syndrome and this whole issue of elk hoof rot in southwestern Washington (1,2)?  And do not even get me started on supplemental feeding, Brucellosis management and bison on public lands.
And now with public land ownership once again under serious attack (thank you again extractive industries), where are their campaigns to protect these lands from privatization at a time when our growing population base and fluctuating climate demand that we expand the public estate and create a little margin for ourselves and wildlife?  Even as I ask the above questions an image of the three monkeys that cannot see, speak or hear evil come to mind as these groups have sold indulgences to the extractive industries and left the hard task of fighting for our public lands to those of us willing to stand up for wildlife diversity and healthy fisheries. 
 "Our community has never felt comfortable wading in there," says an executive with a conservation-oriented hunting group who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly about the NRA. "They are so ruthless, and carry such a big hammer, that very few in our community are willing to get in there and risk their wrath."  In Hunters Have an NRA Problem by Lydia DePillis in New Republic February 2013 
But there is more.  Their moneyed presence on the landscape and their tendency to tar those that question their stances as anti-hunter stifles those groups that want to raise these issues and should in the cause of legitimate public policy examination and debate.  In addition while they stifle the responsible, their actions also empower the fringes and create even more harmful mimics like Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Big Game Forever and a host of smaller, self-styled voices of the hunter and angler.  
This brings me back full-circle to the value of an ethics-based hunting and angling culture, which seems to have evaporated in the above exploitive conglomeration.   Some of my friends and colleagues will argue that I am describing an oxymoron and smile at me knowingly, but many will also nod in agreement. For they too learned their code of behavior and sense of fair-play hanging with the gruff and grizzled visages they trod behind, listened to and emulated on frosty fall days.  Looking back on those lessons—while they were certainly about outdoor skills, bullets and hooks—they also acted to instill a respect for our fellow travelers on this planet (human and not), built a behavior pattern of making no sounds and leaving no traces and created a near compulsion to obey our country’s laws whether someone was watching or not.  
It was here in this crucible that we also got exposed to moralistic writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Zane Grey moving on eventually to the likes of Aldo Leopold and Olaus Murie.  Here too were our heroes and models handed to us from Theodore Roosevelt (1,2) and Ernest Thompson Seton to Joseph Bird Grinnell and John Muir.
Now many on all sides of the hunting and angling debates—both pro and con—can point to examples of bad behaviors associated with sportsmen and gun owners. (I will stipulate here that there are also bad behaviors on the other extreme, but that is for another day.)  These range from outrageously disrespectful and near criminal comments on Facebook to the actions of the participants in the still-unfolding Affair Bundy in the Southwest and other similar events.  I would hope by now that there is a seed of understanding that these obviously do not come from this outdoor culture that I have repeatedly described and also that the hunting and angling community—just like the environmental community—is not monolithic.
I would hope also that those in the hunting and angling realm as well as those in the broader environmental community will take time to look at both the rhetoric and actions of organizations to know more selectively which groups to support and which they should chastise.  I look forward to the day when people grasp that their best conservation partner might not be the person who looks, dresses, talks, votes and even smells like them, but the person who values wildlife, clean water, wilderness and more public lands for all to enjoy as much as they do.   



Feeling Nostalgic For a Better Future

By Bob Ferris

Santa Barbara Anniversary Trip 2014 001

OK, I am feeling nostalgic today.  In part it is because of the treasures (or detritus) I find on my desk.  To wit: 
1—An old Herder’s folding knife I bought more than 50 years ago from the Eddie Bauer catalog when they were actually outfitters.
2—A copy of Animal Heroes by Ernest Thompson Seton (1905) stamped with the mysterious name Prassede Calabi on the backside of the frontispiece (thank you Suzanne Stone).
3—A Tarahumara Indian pine needle basket filled with paper clips, fool’s gold and an old wood screw (thank you Scotty Johnson).   
4—A vintage M.A. Hadley sailing ship coffee mug with “low tide” emblazoned on the bottom (thanks Dad).
Also contributing to this reflectiveness were a recent discussion about the Rev. William J. Long, Theodore Roosevelt and the “nature faker” controversy with friend and supporter Shawn Donnille of Mountain Rose Herbs and a piece I wrote about some of the nonsensical, anti-wolf rhetoric coming out of Guy Eastman.  Collectively, they made me think about times past.  Times not so much in my past but within reach of my past through people I have known and experiences touched and molded by that past.  For me touching the past is often a gateway for envisioning the future.
RJ Settles 1911I come from a family of readers and also writers in an avocational sense.  Two of my great-grandmothers were writers and my grandmother too.   In fact, my grandmother ties this all together (sort of) in that she—just before she married my grandfather—co-authored an article for Field and Stream magazine (February 1916) about her camping experiences in and around Seward, Alaska just before the Roaring Twenties burst onto the scene.  
My grandfather (pictured at left in 1911 near Lake Tahoe) was in Alaska with the newly formed Forest Service and my grandmother was pretty much the schoolmarm who had followed her sister and banker brother-in-law to Alaska for adventure.  Their chance meeting in Seward eventually produced my mother.  
I bring up Field and Stream magazine because it is a little like the violin in the movie The Red Violin in that a story can be told through time around it.  Field and Stream was born and matured during the early days of the conservation movement.  This was a time when Abercrombie and Fitch (named after real people) was a respected adventure brand that sold high-end expedition equipment and was the first such store to carry outdoor attire for women.  I visited the old A&F store once in San Francisco before it closed and it was like a candy shop for a young boy enthralled by the out-of-doors.  
Eddie Bauer, also a real person, grew up during this time in Cascadia and was having the cold weather experiences that ultimately led to his development of quilted down apparel and sleeping bags that launched his own outdoor gear empire.  He too would likely not recognize his brand today.
This period also saw the launch of Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts in America with naturalist and conservationist Ernest Thompson Seton writing the first US Boy Scout manual in 1911.  Seton was a former trapper who captured the famous wolf "Lobo" and through that process–much like Aldo Leopold–realized that wolves needed to be preserved rather than persecuted and annihilated.  
You can see his respect for predators throughout the first US Boy Scout manual and then more directly in the imagery and symbolism of Webelowthe Cub Scouts.  The Cub Scout animal totems were wolves, bears, and lions (WEBELOS until the latter 1960s meant wolves, bears and lions) directly taken from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book with “packs” and “dens” being led by Akela—Kipling’s wise wolf.  It should be noted here that “respect for predators” in this context does not mean that they are never killed or managed, but that they are not treated disrespectfully, cruelly or targeted for persecution. 
This period—1907-1951—was also the time of Eltinge F. Warner who took control of a failing Field and Stream magazine in 1908.  Mr. Warner was a Princeton educated mid-Westerner who fully embraced conservation, understood the value of science, was mainly respectful of wildlife agencies.  As a result he was able, with the help of managing editor Warren Hastings Miller, to attract world-class writers and outdoors people such as Ernest Thompson Seton, Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot, and Zane Grey. 
The magazine also served for a time as the house organ for the Campfire Fire Club of America founded by William Hornaday of bison preservation fame who wanted  to create an everyman Boone and Crockett Club-like organization.  That is not to say that there were not some questionable antics described by writers on its pages during this period like shooting mountain goats from planes and roping cougars, but times were a little wilder then and all of this has to be taken within the context of the era.   
Warner was a classic, cigar-chomping publisher who dealt with a number of magazines including The Smart Set where he navigated a relationship with H.L. Menken.  He was also rumored to have been the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s character Eltynge in The Beautiful and the Damned and he served as an early movie producer for Zane Greys’ westerns.  The point of this digression is that Warner was cosmopolitan, progressive and he along with his magazine were also excellent ambassadors for hunting, angling and other outdoor pursuits.  In short, he acted as a connecter bringing together diverse people, disciplines and viewpoints. This strikes me as a sharp contrast to the actions of folks like Guy Eastman or the infamous and alienating Phil Robertson of Duck Commando fame.
In fly fishing a good backcast is essential for a good forward cast. I think the same is true for conservation.  As we look to find ways forward and past the manufactured divisiveness we now see, one of the first steps in my mind is understanding our true roots.  The productive successes wrought by those early pioneers in conservation were accomplished by progressive thinkers who consistently embraced science, fought exploitative industries and actions, had strong ethical codes, looked for ways to work together and had respect for animals—including predators. When we pick or support our future leaders, they should cut a similar profile.



Updating Roosevelt: Teddy and the Wolves

By Bob Ferris
I have frequently observed that some of the folks who wrap themselves most tightly in the American flag are those who take some of the most un-American actions.  I think the same is true about those Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Everwho worship Teddy Roosevelt without really understanding historical context, what he actually stood for, and why he was so remarkable (please see) .
"The wolf is the arch type of ravin, the beast of waste and desolation. It is still found scattered thinly throughout all the wilder portions of the United States, but has everywhere retreated from the advance of civilization." from "Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches" by Theodore Roosevelt  originally published in this form in 1902 
Don Peay Jeff Foxworthy Ted B. LyonThis applies particularly to trophy hunters who are attracted to Teddy because of his fabled hunts and his less than loving comments about wolves. A perfect example of this phenomenon happened in 2012 when the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo presented Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist of the Year awards to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife founder Don Peay (left), Texas personal injury lawyer and anti-wolf fabulist Ted B. Lyon (middle), and comedian Jeff Foxworthy (right).  Mr. Peay’s group organized the event so he was basically giving himself an award and the other two’s conservation accomplishments consist mainly of making public and notorious statements about the dangers of wolf recovery.   
And there are those in the environmental and conservation arena who have trouble embracing the former President fully for exactly the same reasons.  I wrestle constantly with both sides of this coin and feel that there are reasons that I should not have to justify my respect for Roosevelt to either side.  
In my mind, Roosevelt was a catalyst, convener and glue for the early conservation movement in the United States.   We would not even be having an opportunity to have debates about the management of old growth stands in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest had Teddy not side-stepped Congress with multiple executive orders.
The same is true about discussions and arguments about federal wildlife refuge use and access—without him we probably would not have the refuge system as it now exists.  So I embrace Teddy, but I do so by looking at his conservation accomplishments and then imagining how his character and actions would have been modified by current scientific understanding and contemporary conditions. Through this artificial lens Teddy comes out pretty well, but I wondered how others felt about Roosevelt’s legacy—particularly as it applies to wolves—and how his considerable legacy worked in their own interpretation of his current relevance and value.  So I asked.
Here is how a broad list of folks responded to my request:
Douglas Brinkley (voice mail)


In his voicemail Dr. Brinkley referenced his book on Roosevelt (see below) as well as his book on Alaskan conservation called “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960” A photograph of the letter written to Aldo Leopold and the text appears below and he also mentions William Temple Hornaday who was responsible in part for saving the American bison from extinction.   




Leopold letter from Teddy Roosevelt

Text from body of Leopold letter:
My dear Mr. Leopold:
Through you, I wish to congratulate the Albuquerque Game Protective Association on what it is doing.  I have just read the Pine Cone.  I think that your platform is simply capital, and I earnestly hope that you will get the right type of game warden.  It seems to me that your association in New Mexico is setting an example to the whole country.
Sincerely yours,
Theodore Roosevelt
Douglas Brinkley is a renowned historian and award-winning author who wrote a masterful tome about Teddy Roosevelt called “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.” Dr. Brinkley is currently a Professor of History at Rice University and a Fellow at the James Baker III Institute of Public Policy.  While a professor at Hofstra University, Dr. Brinkley took his students on numerous cross-country treks where they visited historic sites and met seminal figures in politics and literature this is documented in Dr. Brinkley's 1994 book, "The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey." 
Reed Noss
Noss-295x420It is easy to condemn past figures for statements they made that sound highly prejudiced today. Teddy Roosevelt was a smart man, one of the very few presidents of the United States who knew much of anything about science (the primary other one being Thomas Jefferson). Yet Roosevelt clearly displayed the predator prejudice that was virtually universal in his time. I believe that, had he lived a decade or two longer (he died in 1919) he would have joined the many other scientists who changed their views about predators almost completely between the 1910s and the late 1920s and early 1930s. Aldo Leopold, and his story about watching the green fire die in the eyes of a wolf he had shot, is the most famous of the scientists who underwent this powerful transformation.
By around 1930, Leopold, Victor Shelford (the first president of the Ecological Society of America), George Melendez Wright, and Ben Thompson (the latter two with the National Park Service), among others, were strongly advocating protection and restoration of populations of large predators across North America, at a time when most sportsmen, politicians, and the general public still hated these animals. Given Roosevelt’s intelligence and predilections, I have to believe he would have joined these visionary men. Still, one must wonder why the realization that predators are ecologically important took so long to manifest itself – it seems to obvious today.
This problem is not unique to predators. Wildfire, for example, is still feared and hated by most foresters, land managers, and the general public. Yet, in the beginning of the 20th century there were prominent botanists and ecologists, especially those working in the southeastern Coastal Plain, who recognized the valuable role of fire in keeping ecosystems healthy and diverse.  Why do we have to wait so long for everyone else to catch up?
Reed Noss, PhD, is professor of Biology at the University of Central Florida. His latest book is “Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Natural History and Conservation.”
Cristina Eisenberg
In the 1880s when he was a North Dakota rancher, while giving a speech about wolf depredation as an impediment to the Western Cristina Eisenbergcourse of empire, Theodore Roosevelt placed his hand on the Bible and called the wolf “a beast of waste and desolation.” The ensuing fusillade of government-sponsored predator control wiped out wolves in the contiguous United States, with the exception of northern Minnesota. Yet in the 1880s, Roosevelt, an avid hunter, also founded the Boone and Crockett Club, an organization that implemented widespread environmental reforms. Concerned about the onslaught of species extinction our nation was experiencing, Boone and Crockett Club members, many of whom were members of Congress or influential businessmen, created the first environmental laws. The Lacey Act of 1900 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 effectively stopped market hunting and prevented extinction of many species. And in 1903 Club members also established the National Wildlife Refuge System, a program that set aside lands for protection to restore fish, wildlife, and their habitat. 
A progressive Republican known for radical reforms, Roosevelt served as US president from 1901-1909. During his tenure, our nation experienced astonishing progress on all fronts, from economics to social justice to environmental stewardship. While nobody will ever know what Roosevelt would do about wolves if he were alive today, it is likely that best science would guide his decisions. 
Best science clearly demonstrates that wolves benefit whole ecosystems. This science shows that wolves do not wipe out elk populations, and indeed benefit their prey by culling weak and sickly individuals. Best science indicates that wolves create healthier, more biodiverse and resilient lands via their keystone role in ecosystems. A landscape that contains wolves present in healthy numbers will contain better habitat for many species than one without wolves. With wolves present, elk must stay on the move, thereby reducing their impacts on plants. This improves habitat for many other species, such as songbirds. Wolves even improve fish habitat, by enabling streamside vegetation to grow taller, shading streams, and keeping the water cooler so that endangered species of native trout can thrive. Ecologists call such food web relationships trophic cascades.
Were he alive today and serving as our president, a progressive leader such as Roosevelt would incorporate scientific knowledge about the wolf’s keystone role and trophic cascade effects into decisions about wolf management. Given his track record as a natural resources pragmatist who embraced the sustained yield principles espoused by his colleague and friend, Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelt would likely support wolf delisting in distinct population segments such as the Northern Rocky Mountains, with management by the states that included wolf hunting. However, it is unlikely that he would support the intensive management program being carried out in the West, where states are attempting to reduce wolf numbers as much as possible, or that he would support delisting wolves throughout the contiguous United States, as has been proposed.
Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is a Boone and Crockett Club professional member, and a Smithsonian Research Associate. She teaches at Oregon State University and is the author of two books: The Wolf’s Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades and Biodiversity, and The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving America’s Predators, both published by Island Press.
Roger Di Silvestro 
Roger Di SilvestroTheodore Roosevelt's comment about wolves as beasts of waste and desolation has a nice, lyric ring to it, but no accuracy in modern scientific terms, something that Roosevelt would have rued mightily–he was nothing if not determined to be accurate in his texts about wildlife. But Roosevelt lived in a time when knowledge about wildlife was rudimentary, leading him to engage in some inexplicable behavior under today's value system. While working actively to save bison in Yellowstone National Park, where the last truly wild bison south of the border with Canada survived in a population of three or four dozen individuals, Roosevelt still hunted bison immediately outside park boundaries and killed a bull, with great pleasure for himself. Around his ranches in what is now North Dakota, he more than once shot an elk that he thought was the last of its kind in the area, and shot a bear with the same thought in mind–in his era, even people who wanted to protect wildlife competed to kill the last of a species, wanting to get their specimens before the animals were all gone. The Smithsonian Museum sent out a party of scientists and hunters in the late 1800s to bag 20 some bison, including cows, bulls, and calves, for their collection before the animals were all gone. Roosevelt as late as the early 1900s held out hope that someone would find woolly mammoths in Alaska so he could rush up there and hunt them. When he visited Yellowstone in his presidential years, he wanted to hunt mountain lions there, but changed his mind when told that the image of a president hunting in a national park would be unseemly. A very different time, and a very different way of thinking. 
But Roosevelt sought facts about wildlife, and if he had the database about wolves that we have today, he could not possibly have seen the wolf as a beast of waste and desolation. What would he say today? Who knows? He had a tendency to shoot from the hip, to express what was in his mind at the moment with, apparently, little concern for consistency in what in said and did. But if he shared the knowledge that biologists enjoy today, would he differ from the consensus among biologists that wolves are a critical part of their native ecosystem and important to ecological balances within those systems? It would scarcely seem possible that he could disagree. He was far too smart and reasonable. Were he alive now, he probably would believe that wolves, like all top predators, have a role to play in the natural world and should be allowed to fulfill that role, and any comments he made about wolves or other predators would reflect that knowledge and that belief.
Roger Di Silvestro is an author, journalist and conservationist who has written extensively on Roosevelt including "Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands: A Young Politician's Quest for Recovery in the American West." For more information about his works please visit:
Jim Posewitz
I am sure Theodore Roosevelt would cut the wolf a little space in today’s period of significant wildlife abundance. In fact, as early as 1918 he and Grinnell exchanged letters relative to the over-Jim Posewitzabundance of elk in Yellowstone Park because of the “… protection afforded them.”  And adding at the time that “… their numbers must be kept down by disease or starvation, or else by shooting.” 
It is important to remember that before he was a hunter, TR was a naturalist with both a passion for adventure and an insatiable curiosity that produced an appreciation for nature. That appreciation attracted him to the outdoors and remained with him his entire life.  The last letter he wrote was on the taxonomy of pheasants.  Of an estimated 150,000 letters his first and his last were about birds.  If you can find Paul Russell Cutright’s book “Theodore Roosevelt the Naturalist” I think it will reveal someone who would very likely, in today’s world, cut the wolf a little space.  
It would be good to remember that TR’s first year in the West coincided with the last years of the buffalo slaughter and he literally hunted through the rotting carcasses of that carnage – carcasses littering the landscape missing only their hide and occasionally their tongues.  It was a wildlife ecosystem in collapse and the wolves were both temporarily sustained by it and then victims of it. 
Jim Posewitz is a hunter and wildlife biologist who worked for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for more than 30 years.  He is also a leader in the hunting and conservation communities as well as a renowned author of such works as “Inherit the Hunt: A Journey into the Heart of American Hunting” and “Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting



There is a funny kind of relief that I feel when I listen to and read all these responses.  That relief comes primarily from a consistent validation of my assumptions about a Theodore Roosevelt projected roosevelt readinginto the future.   But it also comes from knowing more about the connections and strength of message carried from Teddy Roosevelt to Aldo Leopold and beyond.  That feeling was also reenforced recently when the Union of Concerned Scientists named Mr. Roosevelt the most science-friendly president ever.
That relief compliments similar feelings that I had when the gray wolf delisting proposal peer-review team findings were released on February 7th.  Science spoke in a clear voice that echoed the sentiments of more than a million who commented on this indefensible, premature and illogical delisting proposal.  My sense is that it was heard too in some manner by Roosevelt, Leopold, Hornaday and other visionaries who fully embraced science, conservation and an abiding love of wildness.  
Please keep them in mind when you comment again and ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remember that science not political expedience must drive wolf recovery.  Click below to send this message to the Service and Secretary Jewell before March 27th at midnight.





Teddy and the Big Assed Wolves

By Bob FerrisHunting the Grisly

"The wolf is the arch type of ravin, the beast of waste and desolation. It is still found scattered thinly throughout all the wilder portions of the United States, but has everywhere retreated from the advance of civilization." from Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches by Theodore Roosevelt  originally published in this form in 1902

Teddy Roosevelt was a lot of things in his life, but he was never a fan of wolves.  In fact, he once characterized them (see above quote) as a beast of waste and desolation.  Fair enough and very consistent with the prevailing view of the day held by both the general public and scientists near the turn of the last century.  But what is probably more relevant to our current debates is what Teddy would say today.  

My sense is that his view in present times would be similar to mine.  My reason for thinking that way is that Roosevelt was both a scientist and a scholar who prided himself on being at or near the bleeding edge of the field.  Please remember that this was a man who often rode the wild plains of America with a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in his saddle bags.  He was a what we would call today a “first adopter” and progressive thinker.  My sense too is that he would have gobbled up Aldo Leopold’s works and embraced both his science and philosophy.  But this is the stuff of speculation and campfire debates long into the night.

Returning to things that are not speculation, we know that Teddy was a renowned naturalist and wrote many books on natural history.  He was also a friend of some of the most famous wildlife scientists of those times and treated as a colleague.  These facts were reflected both in his breath of knowledge as well as his attention to detail.  These character traits are important as we look at his writings beyond his parroting of then-popular wolf sentiments.  I bring this up as anti-wolf folks are very anxious to quote the passage at the top of this piece and seem reluctant to look at other observations he made about wolves a few paragraphs later in the same work.

Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.'s? 
Westley: Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist.  from The Princess Bride (1987)

All of us who work on wolf conservation have had to suffer wolf myths and one of the most enduring is the one about the size of wolves reintroduced in Idaho and central Idaho (i.e., the Northern Rockies) versus those wolves that once haunted the wilds of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  To listen to these Monday (or Tuesday) morning quarterbacks great efforts were taken to capture wolves of unusual size (WOUS) and with Canadian flags tattooed somewhere on their oversized bodies.  

"The great timber wolf of the central and northern chains of the Rockies and coast ranges is in every way a more formidable creature than the buffalo wolf of the plains, although they  intergrade. The skins and skulls of the wolves of north-western Montana and Washington which I have seen were quite as large and showed quite as stout claws and teeth as the skins and skulls of Russian and Scandinavian wolves, and I believe that these great timber wolves are in every way as formidable as their Old World kinsfolk." from Hunting the Grisly and other Sketches by Theodore Roosevelt originally published in this form in 1902 

Further, these anti-wolf souls claim that the Northern Rockies wolf of old was a kinder and gentler version of the rapacious beasts we careless biologists threw in the states so casually and "illegally."  Their arguments are that the wolves that their grandfathers and great grandfathers knew were Lilliputian compared to the ill-behaved louts they have now.  Their former wolves were in the 60-70 pound class and smaller than the so-called buffalo or plains wolves.  Their belief in this is so strong that they have subjected the rest of us to a parade of badly photoshopped wolves with dimensions that appear approach those of baby elephants. 

"A full-grown dog-wolf of the northern Rockies, in exceptional instances, reaches a height of thirty-two inches and a weight of 130 pounds; a big buffalo wolf of the upper Missouri stands thirty or thirty-one inches at the shoulder and weighs about 110 pounds. A Texas wolf may not reach over eighty pounds. The bitch-wolves are smaller; and moreover there is often great variation even in the wolves of closely neighboring localities." from Hunting the Grisly and other Sketches by Theodore Roosevelt originally published in this form in 1902

But Teddy in his contemporary observations of these historic wolves from the winter of 1892-1893 and other times, paints a very different picture.  He singles out these wolves of the Northwest forests and Northern Rockies as being bigger than those of the plains and specifically mentions western Montana, Idaho and Washington as well as the wolves of the coastal Pacific Northwest (see Chapter VIII here for full text).   

Now certainly there are size variations, as Mr. Roosevelt points out, and young animals taken in summer are obviously smaller and perhaps more prone to be observed or shot.  But these caveats hardly explain all of the strength and vehemence of the claims of those wanting the world to believe that the “wrong” wolves were placed in Yellowstone and central Idaho.  This willingness to embrace myths in the absence of compelling evidence is one of the factors that truly separate those who see wolf recovery simply as an invasion of oversized, foreign beasts from those who celebrate the return of selective forces and an important ecological actor to our western landscapes.  


Tag the Tongass

By Bob FerrisWaterfall, Coastal Alaska south of Cordova
Roughly 1.2 million people visit the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest each year, but few of them seem to know it.  In their minds they are making stops at places like Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan on Alaska’s picturesque Marine Highway.  They see bears, wolves, salmon, deer and eagles in what they perceive as a protected and preserved playground not knowing these habitats are at eminent risk
These tourists post millions of pictures of loved ones having the times of their lives.  These pictures are tagged and enjoyed by millions more but the one tag that is missing is for the most important character in the picture: The Tongass National Forest—that place laced with thousands of rivers and streams that produce 25-30% of all salmon caught on the West Coast.
The Tongass’ size and anonymity often work against it because when the US Forest Service talks about timber sales they do not say we are about to clearcut a thousand acres in the view-shed of the Marine Highway or within shouting distance of migrating whales and orcas.  They do not say that they are going to harvest timber on public lands smack in the heart of the most important salmon breeding grounds in North America.   They say they want to harvest timber in the Tongass and no one raises an eyebrow because even though Teddy Roosevelt thought that the Tongass was important enough to make four executive orders from 1902-1907 to create this our largest federal forest—few in the US know it by name.
So we at Cascadia Wildlands want to work with our partners and through the medium of Facebook to get people to understand that the Tongass was where they cruised or spent their summer vacation.  We want then to understand that the place that took their breath away and made them feel alive is at risk of being clearcut on a massive scale.  Worse still the Forest Service is investing millions of tax payer dollars to enable these timber sales that create very few jobs while putting many others at risk.  The Forest Service is spending these funds at a time when they claim they do not have enough money to close roads and do the restoration work needed to repair the damage from past timber cuts.  
So when you post or see a picture or video that was taken in southeastern Alaska, please tag your friends, but also Tag the Tongass to raise awareness of the plight of this forest as well as the Alexander Archipelago wolves, the ABC bears Sitka blacktail deer and the five species of salmon that are all put at risk by clearcuts, timber roads and out-of-sight, out-of-mind logging operations.  And please get active and informed about the Tongass and other forestry issues—these are your lands after all.  Tag the Tongass.  
(And read Gabe Scott's excellent blog on the Tongass below and sign/share the Tongass petition



The O&C Lands: Holding out for a Hero

By Bob Ferris

The general public tends not to gravitate to the complicated.  That is one of the reasons that relatively few get engaged in the federal farm bills or in energy policy in spite of the critical importance of both those entities to our health, wealth and happiness.  The end result is that the debates around these topics are largely led by those economic sectors that benefit from the very government largess they help to inject into these programs and the associated cloak of complexity which marks these undertakings as “off limits” as effectively as a gang tag. 
The same is true for the so-called O&C lands, the recovered land gift from the long defunct Oregon and California Railroad.  But for all Oregonians this is an important and timely subject.  We all need to shrug off our politically acquired attention deficit disorder and get on this one.  
This 2.7 million-acre cartographic checkerboard which forms the vibrant core of western Oregon’s publicly-held natural wealth has been both blessing and curse since the late-1930s.  Here sylvan destruction and the demolition of the associated wildlands and ecological services were inextricably tied to the creation of a revenue stream through the 1937 O&C Act.
Certainly it was seen by many as a boon.  But in hindsight—as we look at the ultimate impact on anadromous fisheries and other vulnerable species wrought by the perversely incentivized mowing of mature forests as well as its retarding impact on the responsible evolution of county tax structure in O&C counties—we really have to wonder at its wisdom and benefit.  And now we all stand in the wrack and ruin it has created pointing fingers and demanding answers and solutions, when what we really should be demanding is absolute courage and Teddy Roosevelt, Solomon and Susan B. Anthony-scale leadership.  In short, we need a hero (Cue forest scenes, the music and Bonnie Tyler).  

Certainly we have credible, caring and capable politicians who have served us well in the past on a number of fronts.  But what we require here is someone or some group of people that will take this legacy catalyzed by an ill-advised grant to a poorly managed business and stirred vigorously by Depression era desperation and turn it into something truly magical.  And this has to be done without digging back into the same sad bag of tricks that fostered the mess in the first place.   
This person or group cannot see with eyes that recognize borders or jurisdictions as barriers to progress.  Nowhere in their methodology can there exist the least hint of territorial sensitivity but—at the same time—they must be literately dipped and coated in a sheen of fairness, foresight, and justice and possessing a continence wed to the future with scant attachment to things nostalgic.  
Our hero, heroine or superhero enclave has be a “cosmic kangaroo” in that they can only move forwards and not backwards. They cannot, for instance, take any steps rearwards on water quality or salmon and steelhead recovery.  The same is true for moving the counties towards solvency and being more fiscally independent; it is critical for our hero to hold back benefits in the absence of sincere county level fiscal corrections in terms of economizing and moving towards taxation parity with the non-O&C counties. 
And the hero has to send a clear message to the timber crew—in all its various forms—that they cannot expect the environmental, conservation, recreational (including hunters and anglers) communities to accept accelerated harvest regimes and diminished streamside protections in federal forests in the absence of balancing measures—on public as well as private lands—that insure continued protection and restoration of valued wildlands and wildlife.
Here too the hero has to manifest kangaroo-ness in moving the industry—at least when it comes to federal lands—towards a restorative function focused on correcting the past plantation patterns.  If I am not clear here let me be: Restorative thinning on younger plantation stands is a viable option and clearcutting mature stands is not.  This latter action would also include modifying or discontinuing county-level forest land tax incentives that act to create more plantations without the public good of herbicide and deer repellent-free stands with diverse understories and vibrant streamside filter systems. 
Yes this is complicated with devilish details and I am also sorry for forcing Bonnie Tyler into your mental music repertoire, but this isn’t and cannot be about more logs from more places, which is what we would get if the interested public allowed itself to be driven away by the complexity of the situation.  You need to get involved and if you start to lose focus I am sure that we could mention a certain song involving little people actors from the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or from a ride in a famous amusement park that will help this issue stick in your mind longer. Get to it, our forests need you.

The Wedge Group Recipe

By Bob Ferris
"The trophy-hunter is the caveman reborn.  Trophy-hunting is the prerogative of youth, racial or individual, and nothing to apologize for.
The disquieting thing in the modern picture is the trophy-hunter who never grows up, in whom the capacity for isolation, perception, and husbandry is undeveloped, or perhaps lost.  He is the motorized ant who swarms the continents before learning to see his own back yard, who consumes, but never creates outdoor satisfactions."  Aldo Leopold in Conservation Esthetic (1938) 
There is a huge shell game going on right now and hunters should be incensed.  Groups are forming, mutating, or being reformulated that carry the hunting banner proudly and prominently , but frequently act in ways that compromise the quality, accessibility and availability of hunting and other outdoor experiences to the average hunter, angler or wilderness enthusiast.  What’s more they purposely and materially drive a wedge between natural allies—traditional hunting and angling groups and conservation, environment and biodiversity groups—that need to and should work together. 
“After all, members of Ducks Unlimited like to see ducks as much as members of the Audubon Society. Instead of squabbling over whether people should be allowed to hunt ducks, Audubon members should work on DU projects to restore wetlands and DU members should work with Auduboners to stop development of sensitive habitats. The result would be plenty of ducks for everyone.” Steve Waters in the Sun Sentinel 1996
It should be remembered in all of this that Teddy Roosevelt frequently praised the Audubon Society and saw them as partners in conservation.  And both The Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation share as their catalyst bow-hunter and father of wildlife management Aldo Leopold.  It should also be remembered—as I am sure it is by these Wedgers—that collectively we are a powerful force to be dealt with as evidenced by the last time we all came together at the Natural Resource Summit of America.  I had a chair at the effort in 1996 and frequently sat with representatives from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Safari Club International.  
The Wedge Group Recipe
1) Take one politically motivated leader—must be trophy hunter—with no grounding in ecological or biological science who will make outrageous statements regardless of validity or accuracy.
2)  Add one or two simplistic “red meat” issues that act as both camouflage to your real purpose and attractants for hunters who do not dig too deeply into issues (e.g. wolves and 2nd Amendment) and label everyone else as “anti-hunter” and un-American as often as you can.
3)  Form alliances with other similar groups and industries so you look larger than you actually are.
4)  Pour in a lot of money.
5)  And stir the pot vigorously.  
We have seen this model so many times but not all wedge groups take the same pathway.  We have seen three approaches of late.  The first is the one followed by Don Peay and his cronies in the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife conglomerate.  They simply formed a group with conservation messaging and alternative intent.  That has brought them some short term success but folks are starting to wake up and realize that this coffee smells of politics, oil, influence and the privatization of wildlife.
The second approach is what we have observed at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  I can only characterize this as a leveraged takeover.   When marketer and former NASCAR executive David Allen took over this once credible organization they were deep in debt and made a deal with the Devil to save their once respected brand.  Here again lots of money injected into the system and you have a group that seems to be acting for elk and wildlife but their actions whistle a different tune.
"I voted and turned in my ballot today.  I voted for ******** and *********.  My sincere hope is that under their leadership out [sic] country can get back on track and they will take an active role in furthering wildlife conservation & local oil and gas development .  They go hand in hand." Jerod Broadfoot Facebook post (2012)
The third approach is a variation of the first and goes like this: When you have been exposed and carry too much baggage to be effective in an area, form a new group driven by the same mission and a subset of the same actors.  This is the model recently enacted by the Oregon Outdoor Council and former Safari Club lobbyist and political activist Jerod Broadfoot.  This is a different name but same pattern and same old players.
"I've worked with Jerod Broadfoot on a host of sportsmen's issues for nearly a decade.  He is one of the most strategic professionals I know.  Through his efforts, we have taken on some of the most powerful and influential wildlife and animal rights groups in the nation–and we have won!  His recently produced videos helped us score a major victory in predator management in the United States Congress."  Tim Wigley, President, Western Energy Alliance (from Broadfoot Media website)
What to Look for When Spotting a Wedge Group:
Look first at their executive director, president or founder.  Do they have ties to conservation or do they have ties to the industries that harm habitat and need a friendly voice in the conservation field?
Oregon Outdoor Council
Chemical Engineering
Political Science
Petroleum Consulting
Lobbying and Political Consulting
Links to:
Petroleum Industry
Professional Bull Riders Assoc.
Wrangler Jeans
Then look at their messaging and actions:
1-Do they tend to make positive statements about or have strong ties to the timber, oil or livestock industries?
2-Do they talk a lot about “science” in their statements but are organizations that are not run by ecologists or biologist and you rarely hear statements from professional scientists associated with the groups?  Do they also universally demonize predators in the absence of scientific evidence?
3-Do they tend to alienate through name calling (e.g., anti-hunters, greenies, tree-huggers, etc.) in lieu of professional discourse and do not associate with or have productive partnerships with their natural allies such as champions for wilderness areas, those who foment carbon dioxide reduction strategies, or groups critical of public lands grazing or who promote reducing public lands stocking rates for the benefit of fish and wildlife?  
4-Are private property rights often a big theme which are more important to degraders of habitat such as ranchers, miners and timber interests that to those who understand that healthy populations of wildlife need habitats that are fully functioning and free from un-natural disturbance?  
5-Do they tend to push legislation that will ensure continued and even increased control of state fish and wildlife agencies by trophy oriented hunting groups and livestock interests?  
"The sportsman of the future must get his satisfaction by enlarging himself rather than enlarging his bag.  The homebound sportsman unable to to name the ducks slung over his shoulder is an anachronism, a relic of that I-got-my-limit-era which nearly ruined the continent and its resources.  Few sportsmen have ever tried the sport of learning something about the game they pursue, the wildlife they see, or the plants they tramp over.  Why is this species here?  Whence does it come, where go? What limits its abundance? What was its role in history? What are the prospects of its survival? What peculiarities of habit and habitat comprise its "standard of living"? To always seek and never quite achieve a "bag limit" of answers to such questions is the sport of the future."   Aldo Leopold in Introduction to The Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America (1943)
Want examples of any of the above with these groups?  Let’s start with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  Certainly their misstep on the road-less bill is a good example of this as well as their mind-boggling position on supplemental feeding of elk in Wyoming and their associated tepid response on Brucellosis and planned elk control—the former could have written by the oil industry and latter two favor the livestock industry more than elk.  Don Peay’s whole thesis that the North American Model of Wildlife Management because of its cornerstone principal of public ownership of wildlife is Socialism pushes hard on this broader group’s idea that wildlife is somehow owned more by people with means.  
This latter philosophy of a disdain for constitutionally guaranteed, public trust ownership of wildlife by this Wedge Group sector is only re-enforced by the Oregon Outdoor Council’s push on Oregon House Bill 3437 which requires that gubernatorial nominees to the wildlife commission—the governing body for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife—have held some form of fishing or hunting licenses for 10 consecutive years.  This requirement flies in the face of public ownership of wildlife because it vests managerial control of a collectively held resource in the hands of a subset of a minority.  
"As a first year waterfowler…coots are good practice birds IMO (not saying I do not follow the law in regards to retrieval etc.) After all most people don't have a problem killing mice, moles, raccoons, ect. ect.  Aren’t coots like the vermin of the 
waterfowl? I have shot a few and not eaten them (retrieved not just personally eaten) just like I don’t eat coyotes I shoot .
I agree, I have enjoyed watching a few coots swim through decoys doing that call they make." Vice president Oregon Outdoor Council (2013)
When we buy hunting or fishing licenses, we are contributing funds to offset the cost of our recreational or commercial activity and supporting enhancement of those resources—only.  We are not buying disproportionate ownership or control of that resource.   And please show me the evidence that people who buy hunting or fishing licenses for ten consecutive years are more informed about wildlife issues, more responsible in their decisions, or in any way better suited to hold these posts.  We have, on the other hand, ample evidence that individuals with vested financial interests in resources (i.e., foxes guarding hen houses) tend to over-exploit the resources under their care.  
The 10-year rule is also telling on other ways—mostly unintended, but maybe not.  First the requirement is sexist as it would tend to exclude women who are more likely to have had breaks in this consecutive sequence due to pregnancies.  It also excludes active duty servicemen and some veterans who likely have breaks in that decade due to assignments out of state or in foreign countries—like in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.  It also excludes anyone under the age of 26 which is about 40% of the population.     So at the end of the day this restriction favors older men of means or men who make their living off natural resources like commercial fishermen or hunting guides.  This is not surprising given the desires of the Wedge Group pushing this but hardly a subset that is representative of the owners of this resource in the state of Oregon.  We need to do better.
To my hunter and angler friends I would urge them to look at what is going on here and to also think about the second Leopold quote.  To my friends who do not hunt or fish by circumstance or choice I would urge them to understand that we need to return to that former state of cooperation and dialog.  And to the trophy hunters and their partners in the extractive and livestock industries who read this, I would urge them to read the first Leopold quote closely and see what they can do to grow up.  Given the complexity of the landscape, we all need to be surgical and clear in our comments and not let the rotten apple elements drive these wedges that ultimately hurt all of us and the resources we jointly enjoy and cherish.
(1) When this piece was originally posted Jerod Broadfoot was the leader of the Oregon Outdoor Council. He has since stepped down from that post.

Don Peay: the Man Who Would Be King… Baron

by Bob Ferris
Rudyard Kipling wrote a tale once about two pals in the British army serving in India who figured they could travel north to Kafiristan in present-day Afghanistan and essentially create their own mini-kingdom.  The tale was fanciful and was eventually turned into a popular 1975 movie starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine called “The Man who would be King” named after Kipling’s novella.
But the absurd nature of this fictional exercise of kingdom creation has not stopped Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Sportsmen for Habitat, Utah Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, and Full Curl Society as well as co-founder of Big Game Forever LLC from seeing this as a model for taking the first steps towards bringing that oh-so-modern concept of feudalism to the United States.  And—wait for it—having the taxpayers make significant contributions to the diminishment of their rights and privileges.  Want details?
Let’s start with the fact that Mr. Peay believes that our current constitutional construct established under the 10th Amendment where the individual states have control and ownership of wildlife and hold it in the Public Trust is Socialism.  Ouch—strong words for a system that was established so that everyone, not just royalty and gentlepersons, could enjoy this public resource without being branded, beaten or hung for simply hunting, trapping or fishing.  (Mr. Peay should understand that both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are the functional equivalents of emancipation documents expressly written in response to past abuses and to protect us from future peril.)
"One state at a time, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is dismantling the very idea of a public wildlife resource, and replacing it with special privileges for the privileged." Ben Long in High Country News
There are some nuances and spins to what Mr. Peay and his colleagues like Corey Rossi—past head of Alaska’s wildlife agency—recently ousted for a dozen wildlife violations—are trying to do, but the “nose under the tent” on their grand scheme is creating programs that privatize wildlife and grant “special” people “special” rights to wildlife owned by all of us.  Those special rights would include hunting outside of hunting seasons, creating areas free of predators, and providing economic incentives for creating super-productive areas on private lands that could include food plots and supplemental feeding (read large-scale baiting) which would likely act to draw game off surrounding public lands.  
The introduction of the Canadian Grey Wolf into Northern Rocky Mountains was a wildlife management expirement (sic) which has gone horribly wrong. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation calls it "one of the worst wildlife management disasters since the destruction of bison herds".  Quote from David Allen former NASCAR executive on Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife website
The ecological, economic and social pitfalls of this approach are myriad.  We—with the exception of trophy hunting groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation—have seen the folly of creating feeding grounds for species such as elk and deer.  This scheme taken to its conclusion creates large, fenceless game farms with greatly reduced biodiversity.  It also creates a dynamic to spread more wildlife diseases faster.  If you want chronic wasting disease and Brucellosis hot spots—please sign on the dotted line.
The economics are dicey, too.  Right now many people derive income from hunting and fishing from guides and hotel owners to gas stations and restaurants.  Game species are spread rather than concentrated and hunting licenses and access are managed in a manner that optimizes participation and spreads income across a broad base.  What happens to this dynamic when portions of the harvestable game base are drawn away from their current distribution pattern into large, private refugia that can easily accommodate and would welcome their own, on-site facilities including private air strips?   To understand this potential impact think about what Wal-Marts on the outskirts of towns have done to Main Street, America.  
Socially this is a case where quality experiences become more and more reserved for people of quality.  In Mr. Peay’s world the biggest and best would be reserved for the “knights” of industry in the land of corporate jets and the rest of us would simply have to suffer along with the leavings and obey rules.  
This would also further enhance what are now huge ranches almost exclusively in the West.  Given that these private ranchlands were made possible in large part because of past federal largess like the Homestead Act, made practical through past federal actions displacing their former native and human inhabitants, and made richer by current federal benefits such as farm subsidies and nominal federal grazing fees, you would think that these ranchers, Peay and their allies would first drop a little of their anti-federal rhetoric.  Their near schizophrenic irony of uber-patriotic ranchers hating and badmouthing of the very hand that made their lives possible has always struck me as strange.  
And you would also think that they would not be so quick about asking state legislatures and game agencies for privileges and monies that would further their campaigns to create what would essentially be modern-day Baronies—subsidized by the generosity of the “King” and enjoying a rarified legal setting.  Mr. Peay’s recent request from the state of Utah for $300,000 so he could lobby the federal government on wolves is a perfect example of this entitled attitude and has drawn considerable ire from a number of quarters (see 1, 2, 3, 4).
“The delisting of the wolf is critical for the recovery and safeguarding of our precious big game assets in America." —Ted Nugent on Big Game Forever LLC website
Also Baron Von Peay should also understand—as many of us do—that the most vocal and visible opponents of Socialism are typically Fascists.  But Mr. Peay’s dealings are a little bit more complex than first meets the eye and it is a mistake to simply characterize him as a politically motivated hater of wolves and serial founder of conservation organizations.  In addition to his “conservation” actions, he has manufactured an intricate spiders’ web of non-profits and for-profits that has put hundreds of thousands of dollars into his own coffers (see page 7 and page 8 for examples).  
“We have been in the business of selling big game hunting packages to high end clients who sought to hunt with the top tier big game outfitters.” World Trophy Outfitters profile
Spider’s web may even be an understatement.  One rapidly gets tired and fuzzy when looking at the mélange of entities set up by this ambitious chemical engineer and petroleum industry consultant turned wildlife entrepreneur.  From his first attempts as a hunting impresario with World Trophy Outfitters, Inc. to his current, more successful efforts to do essentially the same thing in his non-profit empire, this has been a story of building a well-connected—yet cryptic—universe.   
Some of these relationships are easy to sort out and some are more complicated.  Take for instance the relationship with Chris Carling and Brand X Communications in Salt Lake City.  Brand X does the web work for several of Peay’s non-profit ventures and Mr. Carling is also the public relations contact for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.  Brand X is apparently connected with the domain in some manner as well as the website for the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export facility near Coos Bay which will be facilitated by fracking in the very states where Peay’s groups are most powerful.  The business suite where Brand X is located is also the business address listed for Big Game Forever LLC and the former address of record for Sportsmen for Romney.  
“As of March 31, 2007, we had acquired fourteen Dall Sheep hunts for the 2007 and 2008 seasons with Kelly Hougen of Arctic Red River Outfitters, ten of which have been resold. The relationship between Arctic Red River Outfitters and WTO is that of a purchaser and seller of services and these organizations are not affiliated.”  World Trophy Outfitters Inc. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Form 10-KSB for Fiscal year 2007 page 4  
And then there is the whole issue with Arctic Red River Outfitters which appears to be owned in part by Peay but also partially owned by Sportsmen for Habitat with officers in common.  And yet on their IRS 990 forms SFH claims no business relations with current or former board members.  What? It is all very interesting but I will leave this to some ambitious investigative reporter who has the time and energy to sort out this can-o-worms or a similarly motivated IRS or SEC agent who ought to be asking some questions.  
“As a conservationist, it outrages me that animal rights extremists are using wolves as biological weapons to destroy 100 years of conservation in the western United States.” Jeff Foxworthy—Comedian on Big Game Forever LLC website
Peay’s business model is unfortunately a simple one that we have seen before: pedal wolf hatred to those most vulnerable to the messaging and then take millions of dollars’ worth of public resources (in the form of game permits) and sell them to the rich, privileged and influential.  His one variation from this is when he and his entourage sell chances for a coveted permit—letting hundreds act as a virtual “person of privilege”—keeping the myth of equality alive.
"My MacMillan River Adventure partner Keith Mark and I are extremely proud of our relationship with Big Game Forever because they are the one organization that recognized the damage that was occurring and the potential total devastation that would occur to our precious wildlife if the wolf issue was not addressed.”  Shawn Michaels WWE Hall of Fame on Big Game Forever website
He has been quite effective using the Four Horsemen of American Ignorance (i.e., NASCAR, Wrestling, Redneck Humor, and Ted Nugent) in recruiting an army of willing wolf killers.  The Montana Chapter of the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, for instance, gives away free memberships to individuals who furnish pictures of themselves with dead wolves.  SFW-MT is careful, however, to point out that they do not want pictures of wolves in traps.  Apparently, they understand that there are limits.  

There are a lot of chicken and egg issues with Peay and his operations.  Is he trying to forward big game recovery or trying to maximize his connections and curry favor with rich donors to forward his political fundraising?  Why is the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo run by Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Mule Deer Foundation a non-profit event rather than a for-profit enterprise because it looks like there is a whole lot more commerce taking place than conservation?  And where is the non-profit argument of public good and benefit in creating better hunting opportunities for folks with an extra $20,000 or $100,000 rolling around in their jeans and in making sure outfitters are fully booked and taxidermists busy?  The charitable purposes of these entities simply seem swamped by the commercial and the political undertones.  And this impression is only magnified by the public financial reporting which lacks a certain openness in detail.  
Like Kipling’s Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan, Peay is of humble beginnings.  When you read his self-narrative you almost feel sorry for the boy whose family lacked the $35 to let him play football, but when he compensates for that missing “sport” in his life by taking 500-yard shots at rare animals the sympathy factor melts away quickly.  He is all about trophies whether it is being photographed next to whatever carcass he has recently created or standing near Dick Cheney, George W. Bush or Orin Hatch.
Peay should realize in all of this that the Kipling tale is also a cautionary one.  It describes the ultimate consequences to one who climbs too high and then falls when the myths he has created and promoted are shown to be without merit.   What will happen in all of this when the enabling state wildlife agencies realize that they would probably get more value and benefit if they sold these game permits themselves instead of allowing them to be used to build this convoluted financial empire and thinly disguised political machine?  And when will the everyday hunters out there understand that they are complicit in enriching these groups who are aggressively creating a system designed expressly to grant their precious rights to the privileged few while they are left with the leavings?   
So what needs to happen?  Folks need to tell their wildlife agencies in western states that they do not want their precious wildlife in the form of hunting tags and permits given to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Sportsmen for Habitat, Big Game Forever, or the Full Curl Society to be used in their campaigns to enrich themselves and privatize wildlife.  We also need to remind these agencies of their Public Trust responsibilities to manage wildlife for the public and not just for wealthy trophy hunters and ranchers.  And we need also to remind these wildlife agencies and their governing boards that wildlife should be managed based on the best available science.  In other words, let wildlife agency employees use the degrees that they worked so long and hard to earn.  Here are the electonic links (e-mails and forms) as well as the snail mail and phone for Wyoming.  Please let them know how you feel and pass this blog post around so that others do the same.  Thank you!
Wyoming Game & Fish Department Headquarters
5400 Bishop Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82006
ph: (307) 777-4600



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