Monday, April 7, 2008

What They Didn't Tell You About Wolf Recovery

The Jan-March 2008 issue of The Outdoorsman contains the following articles:

"What They Didn't Tell You About Wolf Recovery" by George Dovel

"Two Letters from Dr. Valerius Geist"

"Attempt to End Airborne Predator Control - How Alaska's Governor Responded"

"Relative risks of predation on livestock posed by individual wolves, black bears, mountain lions and coyotes in Idaho" by Mark Collinge

"Outdoorsmen Document Surplus Wolf Kills" by George Dovel

These and many other interesting articles are published at the Western Institute For the Study of the Environment (W.I.S.E.) website at: and then click on "Full text [here]"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Need More Proof?

The foregoing posts from The Outdoorsman article, "A New Solution to Non-Game Program Funding," have found their way into numerous blogs around the U.S. The New England Outdoor Voice by Butch Moore provides maps illustrating implementation of the Wildlands Project in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. His inclusion of the Canadian Lynx Recovery Areas Map and the UN Wildlands Map illustrates the backdoor approach by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement Wildlands. Be sure to check this out at

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A New Solution to Non-Game Program Funding?

On July 3, 2007, a public meeting of an ad hoc committee formed to discuss future funding for IDFG took place at F&G Headquarters in Boise. Chaired by Senate Resource Committee Chairman Gary Schroeder, the members included House Resource Committee Chairman John A. “Bert” Stevenson, Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) Co-Chair Senator Dean Cameron and former F&G Commissioner Representative Fred Wood.

Sen. Schroeder indicated that the Committee was formed in response to Fish and Game’s request for an additional funding source. Three additional members representing the agency’s perspective were F&G Commission Chairman Cameron Wheeler, Vice-Chairman Wayne Wright and IDFG Director Cal Groen.

Comm. Wheeler commented, “We have a more complex society now,” and said he had a feeling that (society’s) priorities are different than they were 15 years ago. This reflected the Department’s justification in its 15-year planning document, “The Compass”, for expanding its traditional role to include managing wildlife and plants for other than hunters, fishermen and trappers.

Game, Fish Programs Cut to Fund Nongame

Commissioner Wright said he viewed the Committee as a great first step to identify and prioritize F&G’s problems, which, he said, include losing critical habitat for game. Then he stated that IDFG has only 25% of the funds needed to fund its non-game activities.

Director Groen’s comments basically agreed with Wheeler’s and Wright’s but he added that the new emphasis on (non-game) “preservation and prevention” during the past 15 years has resulted in less enforcement, less fish stocking and the need to broaden the funding base. He suggested F&G needs to protect traditional hunting and fishing (license) dollars so they are spent for hunting and fishing.

Although it was inevitable under the circumstances, the candid admission by Wright and Groen that IDFG has been using sportsmen’s license dollars to fund the bulk of its non-hunting and fishing activities was “a first”. Recently outgoing Director Steve Huffaker assured Commissioners that no license dollars were being used to fund nongame.

“The Compass” Promise To Sportsmen Ignored

When several Commissioners and Natural Resource Policy Bureau Chief Tracey Trent rewrote The Compass to satisfy sportsmen’s concerns on December 23, 2004, Trent included the following language under “Funding”:

“The Department’s main funding source comes from one segment of the population—hunters and anglers--primarily through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. This money has been—and will continue to be---used to manage fish and wildlife for hunting and fishing.

“The Department will not use hunting and fishing license fees to meet all the desires of the public, other agencies and local governments for managing fish, wildlife and native plants.” (emphasis added)

Despite assurances to the Commission by Idaho Conservation Data Center (CDC) Biodiversity Program Leader Rita Dixon that her group has secured adequate matching funding outside IDFG, thousands of dollars of hunter’s and fishermen’s license money is spent by several F&G Bureaus every day in support of this activity. Much of this money comes in the form of incidental logistical support that is never charged to CDC or any other non-game activity.

Don’t “Beat Dead Horses” – But…

During the July 3, Committee meeting Rep. Wood commented that he hoped the Committee didn’t “beat too many dead horses” and that is good advice if the horses are dead and buried. But continuing to repeat the unsupported claim that the citizens who fund resource management want to change emphasis from providing sustainable harvests of game and fish to building birding trails and interpretive centers and focusing on assorted non-game species indicates the “outlaw horse” still needs attention.

These and other unfunded mandates were imposed on Idaho fish and game managers by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA) and their fellow travelers Defenders of Wildlife et al – all based in Washington, D.C. When these groups couldn’t convince Congress to support their biodiversity agenda using terms like “Conservation and Reinvestment Act” and Teaming With Wildlife”, they changed the name to “State Wildlife Grants” (SWGs) and claimed their proposed legislation would save states millions of dollars by preventing assorted creatures and plants from being listed as endangered.

SWGs Encourage New ESA Listings

Instead, some states have improperly* taken additional millions of dollars from sportsmen to use as matching funds, to provide the preservationist groups with the very data that is required for them to petition to list even more species. To add insult to injury, Idaho sport license buyers - not the CDC non-game entity - paid for much of the prolonged research to prevent the Westslope Cutthroat Trout from being listed. (* The SWG funding rules prohibited use of sport license fees or federal excise taxes as matching funds).

This information has been documented by experts in previous Outdoorsman articles and is mentioned here to remind the alternate funding Committee and other Idaho Legislators of what they are being asked to fund. Sen. Cameron is well aware of the implications of seeking additional funding for nongame programs.

Nongame Programs Mushroom in 10 Years

During the 1996 legislative session he argued against JFAC approving funding to hire six nongame biologists “to help non-hunters enjoy the state’s nongame wildlife programs,” insisting it would result in premature need for fee increases. But F&G Finance Chief Steve Barton assured JFAC members that IDFG would have a $2 million surplus In FY 1998 and would remain solvent at least through FY 2000 so they ignored Cameron’s warning.

Three months later, Barton reported a deficit of $530,900 in the fund equity balance for FY 1997 and a projected deficit of $1,462,000 for FY 1998. Hiring those six regional nongame biologists at a reported cost of $200,000 in FY 1997 mushroomed into a Natural Resources Policy Bureau budget of $3,429,000 in FY 2006 plus more than two million dollars in admitted nongame expenditures in the Wildlife Bureau budget alone.

Should F&G Provide Environmental Services?

During the July 3, 2007 meeting Sen. Cameron said the Committee must ask whether or not the Department should be providing environmental services and whether they should provide non-game. He said each member should ask, “Do I want the Department to have these other responsibilities, which shouldn’t be on the backs of the sportsmen?”

Sen. Schroeder expressed the concern that sportsmen opportunities will be diminished and said we must ask whether F&G should be providing expertise to other agencies for free. “Why are we doing analysis for private sector entities who don’t allow (sportsman) access?”

But Rep. Stevenson responded, “We think of these needs we have and we already have the biologists. I’m uncomfortable at hiring new ones – we need to find a way to extract some money.”

F&G Becomes “Fish, Game and Flowers”

A similar argument was used in 2003 when a majority of Rep. Stevenson’s Resource Committee members supported House Bill 67. The bill removed the authority and duty of Parks and Recreation to manage wild flowers and plants and gave it solely to Fish and Game, along with the responsibility to manage rare and endangered plants.

Parks and “Rec” spokesmen said although it had been their responsibility for several decades and they were receiving federal money to do it, they had not hired botanists and had used the Conservation Data Center housed in IDFG headquarters to track rare plants. They turned over the federal money, which ultimately covered only half of the costs, to IDFG and said this would prevent duplication of effort by the two agencies.

Sportsmen Pay For Biodiversity Agenda

Several House Resource Committee members, who opposed the bill, raised concerns that the transfer would allow sportsmen license fees to be used to manage endangered plants. But IDFG Director Huffaker said the CDC was created 15 years earlier as an aftermath of the Endangered Species Act and claimed that during that time sportsmen money has never been used for anything that would not benefit sportsmen.”

Huffaker’s statement reflects his willingness, and that of several previous IDFG Directors, to mislead the resource owners and their elected officials in order to promote the biodiversity agenda of IAFWA, The Nature Conservancy and the United Nations. Four years earlier, former F&G Director Steve Mealey documented $2.9 million of sportsmen license fees that was spent by IDFG that year for non-game/fish activities with no tangible benefit to sportsmen.

In a public Commission meeting Mealey described Administration Bureau Chief Steve Barton as “a magician who can always come up with money from somewhere when it’s needed.” The problem was that the money Barton “came up with” was always sportsman license fees - including dedicated funds that were misappropriated (with the Director’s approval according to Barton).

How Did We Get in This Mess?

Instead of repeating the IAFWA claim that “changing public attitudes during the past 15 years” have caused a major shift in management priorities, the Committee needs to examine facts to determine when, why and how the funding shortages really began to occur.

During the first 40 years of its existence IDFG used appropriate biological tools to manage wild game, fish and furbearers, and paid the costs with income from sport licenses (user taxes), fur sales and fines. For most of the next 40 years the cost of managing game, fish and furbearers was paid by a combination of license fees and federal excise taxes on guns, ammo and fishing equipment (still user taxes).

Dramatic Change in F&G Priorities

A comparison of actual F&G expenditures in FY 1980 when Jerry Conley was hired to replace retiring F&G Director Joe Greenley, and in FY 1996 three months before Conley resigned, reflects the change in priorities from managing wild game to promoting nongame, biodiversity and wildlife watching.

Actual IDFG Expenditures in FY 1980 and FY 1996

FY 1980 % of Ttl FY 1996 % of Ttl
Administration 904,200 8.7% 7,874,500 17.4%
Enforcement 2,239,900 21.7% 6,832,500 15.1%
Fisheries 3,098,600 30.0% 16,105,900 35.6%*
Wildlife 3,212,600 31.1% 8,095,300 17.9%
Info & Education 397,900 3.8% 2,373,500 5.6%
Engineering 397,600 3.8% 808,600 1.8%
Nat Resource Pol. 84,500 0.1% 1,623,500 3.6%
Set-Asides -0- 0.0% 1,544,400 3.4%
Total 10,335,300 45,258,200
(* The increase in the percent of the total budget spent by the Fisheries Bureau in FY 96 resulted from ~$11.9 million dollars in mitigation money received from Bonneville Power, National Marine Fisheries, Idaho Power, FWS and others, plus $3.4 million in D-J federal excise taxes on fishing equipment sales.)

Wildlife Funding Cut – Adminstration Doubled

In FY 1980, game and fish populations were healthy and increasing but by 1996 many had reached record lows. The single largest source of income to IDFG is from deer and elk hunters yet the percent of total income spent by the Wildlife Bureau had been cut nearly in half while the percent spent by Administration had doubled, hiding the use of license fees to support non-hunting.

The percent of total money spent by Enforcement and Engineering had also been cut dramatically while the percent spent by I&E (Communications) and Natural Resource Policy had skyrocketed. F&G spending for non-hunting/fishing activities was completely out of control and Governor Batt ordered the F&G Commission to make drastic cuts in non-essential spending for FY 1997.

Spending Cuts Targeted Hunters and Fishermen

The austerity program began with the Commission cutting its own travel and meeting expenses but the newly appointed Commissioners deferred to the “old hands” who had supported the nongame/biodiversity/watchable wildlife expenditures, to make the important cuts. They, of course, allowed Jerry Conley and Steve Barton to decide which programs would be cut, which sportsmen charged was “putting the rabbits in charge of the cabbage patch.”

Although Conley and Barton claimed they had made “across-the-board” cuts in all Bureaus, the analysis by Legislative Budget Analyst Jeff Youtz one year later revealed that the cuts only impacted hunters and fishermen. From FY 1996 to FY 1997 the number of resident hatchery fish produced dropped from 27,417,781 to only 19,970,000, including 390,000 fewer “catchable” 10-12” trout raised and stocked in Idaho lakes and reservoirs.

The number of anadromous hatchery fish produced declined from 6,493,599 to only 5,125,698 and there was a 50% reduction in moose sheep and goat census and 100 fewer helicopter hours flown counting deer, elk and antelope. Wild pheasant trapping and transplanting was cut 50% and weed control and restroom maintenance on WMAs was curtailed.

The number of law enforcement personnel was reduced and several officers’ duties were shifted from law enforcement to other activities. Yet the number of teachers trained in “Project WILD” and the number of nongame presentations to schools increased by 33%-46%.

While actual Fisheries and Wildlife Bureau spending decreased by 7% and 10% respectively, Natural Resource Policy Bureau spending increased by 36% in FY 1997. Ignoring the priority established by the Governor and the new Commissioners, Conley and Barton continued to increase biodiversity, nongame and watchable wildlife funding using “leftover” license fees.

What’s in a Name?

If you run a computer thesaurus or spell check program on “biodiversity”, “nongame” and “watchable” wildlife, you probably won’t find some of those words. Yet they have become the bywords of environmental protectionist groups and state and federal wildlife management agencies.

Until environmental extremism replaced game and fish management during the late 1960s and 70s, “wildlife” was defined as “mammals, birds and fishes hunted by man.” In 1976, following IAFWA recommendation, IDFG quietly suggested the Idaho Legislature change the definition of wildlife to the UN’s “any form of animal life, native or exotic, generally living in a state of nature.“

That change in definition in I.C. Sec. 36-202(g) opened the door for F&G biologists to justify protection of any “critter” regardless of its harmful effect on other species that were generally considered beneficial or desirable to humans. For example, it is used to supercede even the ESA by prohibiting the control of predators that prevent recovery of pygmy rabbits.


In 1974 The Nature Conservancy launched the first of its state “Natural Heritage Programs” advocating preservation of “natural diversity” (ecosystems made up only of so-called “native” species). In 1984 a joint effort by The Nature Conservancy, Idaho Parks and Recreation and the IDFG Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program formed Idaho’s Natural Heritage Program.

In 1986 a National Forum on Biological Diversity used the term “biodiversity” to describe TNC’s agenda of restoring a diverse mix of “native” species to ecosystems - rather than manage to maintain healthy populations of existing species that are beneficial to humans. The introduction of Canadian wolves into areas where wolves have been absent or significantly reduced for more than a century is a major component in the plan to restore “biodiversity” in “native” ecosystems.

The following year IDFG followed the IAFWA recommendation and took over full management of the Natural Heritage Program (also referred to as the “Conservation Data Center” or Idaho CDC). The FY 1998 Stockholder’s Report states the following Purpose for the CDC:

“Collect the best biological information on rare or special status animals and plants, plant communities and habitat areas. Manage this information in a series of interrelated databases. Disseminate this information as widely as possible to potential users. Interpret and synthesize this information to support proactive habitat conservation efforts.”

Contrary to Huffaker’s claim to the Legislature (see Sportsmen Pay For Biodiversity Agenda on page 3) the entire FY 98 CDC budget of $11,699 was funded with sportsman license fees. In fact the largest item (“Technical Assistance”) in the Natural Resource Policy budget in FY 98 was funded with $482,915 of license dollars and $396,898 of federal aid.

The Purpose: “Provide fish and wildlife technical assistance to federal and state agencies, local governments, private individuals and entities and others to minimize or eliminate impact to fish and wildlife populations and habitats from a wide variety of projects and proposals.” These free services paid for mostly by sportsmen, result in the concerns expressed by Sen. Schroeder (see Should F&G Provide Environmental Services? on Page 2).

The “Official” Definition of Biodiversity

During the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the definition of “biodiversity” adopted by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity was:

"The variability among living organisms from all sources, including, 'inter alia', terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems."

Biodiversity includes every living organism in each designated ecosystem, including several million species, many of which are microscopic, that will never be included in an ESA listing. However scientists estimate there are between 1 million and 100 million larger species that can be seen with the naked eye, with estimates of from only 3-5 to as many as 140,000 disappearing every year.

Virtually every scientist agrees with the Nature Conservancy opinion that it is not possible to restore all of even the relatively few species that are already listed as endangered or threatened. Most concede that 40% of freshwater fish in South America have never even been classified and only a tiny unknown fraction of saltwater species have been identified.

On their respective websites, both TNC’s Chief Biologist and IDFG’s Nongame and Biodiversity staffs admit there are too many nongame species to attempt to manage them individually. They say they “attempt to take a habitat and landscape-based approach to nongame wildlife conservation and management by advocating protection of specific plant communities” such as the shrub-steppe ecosystems of southern Idaho.

Two Questions That Need Answers

The IUCN* “Red List” of 40,168 species and 2,160 subspecies assessed in 2006 claims that 16,118 of the main species (40%) are threatened with extinction. Most of these threats are blamed on human induced habitat loss or degradation. (* International, Union for Conservation also called “World Conservation Union”)

Whether it’s the UN, TNC, IDFG CWCS Team or other involved groups, their biologists agree that since humans appeared on earth their activities have been the major cause of biodiversity loss. Some claim this will cause dramatic irreversible changes during the next 100 years while others point out that the present degree of loss in biodiversity can be sustained for many thousands of years without reaching the 20%+ loss that occurred during the five major mass extinctions of the geological past.

When white explorers crossed large stretches of Nevada in the early 1800s they reported a land nearly barren of game with only a few scattered half-starved Indians. Irrigation development by white settlers turned large tracts of that land into a virtual paradise, rich with lush habitat and assorted game and other wildlife species.

Why should the agency charged with perpetuating and managing Idaho’s wild game and fish for hunting, fishing and trapping be working to restore a “natural” feast or famine condition? Why does IDFG support the agendas of national and international environmental activist groups rather than give its allegiance to Idaho citizens who own the resource and to their elected officials?

The IDFG “Nongame” Program

For many centuries game managers in all parts of the world have recognized that conditions which produce abundant game populations for humans to harvest also support an abundance of other species. But for more than two decades environmental activists who do not support hunting have lobbied Congress to authorize and fund management of species that are not sought by hunters and fishermen.

Rather than refer to these species with the accurate terms “non-hunted” or “non-game” the activists created a new word, “nongame”, to promote those species as having at least equal value to traditional game animals, birds and fishes. But as with many other confusing words or phrases invented by wildlife biologists, a non-game program may have nothing to do with nongame species.

Different Nongame Classifications

Readers with internet access who are interested can read the Idaho vertebrates listed as “nongame” by entering: and then click on “Mammals” or “Amphibians and Reptiles.” Then to view the list of birds click on “Nongame Bird Program”, and then click on “List of Idaho’s Bird Species” in the lower right hand corner.

These three lists include only the 619 or so vertebrate species (having a backbone) that have been recognized as living in or migrating to Idaho - of which 523 are classified as nongame. The 619 include 111 mammals, 39 amphibians or reptiles and the rest birds, but do not include Idaho fish and hundreds of assorted mussels, snails, crustaceans, insects, etc. also found in the CWCS list of “Idaho fish and wildlife species.”

As reported in the April 2004 Outdoorsman, IDFG “management” of nongame species consists of giving most of them protected status, which automatically invokes severe federal penalties for killing, possessing or attempting to trade or sell the species or any portion. Its tacit admission that neither Idaho reptiles nor amphibians need protection is obvious since up to four native amphibians and reptiles of each species may be captured and held in captivity by holders of a valid Idaho hunting license.

On July 23, 2007, KTVB Boise news reporter Carolyn Holly featured a dog that had been bitten repeatedly by a rattlesnake when it jumped between the snake and a small child. The cameraman also showed an adult (the child’s father?) displaying the snakeskin which had been illegally removed and tacked on a flat surface for drying.

Although the F&G rule that became permanent law on April 6, 2005 says the protected status is not intended to prevent protection of personal health and/or safety, who decides when killing a protected species is warranted? The popular theme that people are “intruding” in rattlesnake, wolf, bear or lion habitat implies that humans should either be content to live and work in crowded urban “islands” of human habitat or suffer the consequences from predators that are protected in all of the surrounding rural and wilderness areas.

More Funding (cont)

The 1992 UN Biodiversity Treaty

That has been the published agenda of the UN and its non-governmental organization (NGO) international allies (TNC, IUCN, etc.) since its Conference on Human Settlements in Toronto in 1976. Unfortunately it is also partly the agenda of the IAFWA, which dictates the agenda of all state and provincial fish and game agencies.

After the UN “Convention on Biological Diversity”, also called the “UN Biodiversity Treaty”, was presented at the UN Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, former President Bush refused to sign it. But new President Bill Clinton signed the treaty on June 4, 1993 and Vice President Al Gore was already constructing his “White House Task Force on Ecosystem Management” in preparation for implementing the Treaty.

The U.S. State Department officially transmitted the Treaty to the Senate on November 20, 1993 asking for "fast-track" ratification and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 16 to 3 to recommend ratification. A massive effort by America’s natural resource users and grassroots groups killed the ratification but the Clinton-Gore team continued to implement it and the UN “Agenda 21” provisions as if the treaty had been ratified.

F&G Allegiance to Biodiversity

Despite the fact that the Treaty has still never been ratified NGOs including IUCN, TNC, the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club continue to support its “Wildlands Project” agenda. My efforts to discuss these issues with IDFG officials usually results in that “glazed-over look” and their failure to continue the discussion, yet examples of their allegiance to the Biodiversity Treaty are abundant.

For example, three months after the Idaho F&G Commission passed the rule making rattlesnakes a protected species, an Idaho Statesman article by Darin Oswald on the Southern Idaho Ground Squirrel quoted the following from the IDFG Nongame website on the squirrel’s recovery. “Threats: (are) Shooting, poison, predators like rattlesnakes, habitat degradation and the replacement of nutrient-rich native plants with less nutritious invasive alien plants.” (emphasis added).

When I pointed out, in a letter to several legislators, the inconsistency in protecting a major predator of several species listed as “Candidates” for ESA listing by the federal government, IDFG deleted the “predators like rattlesnakes” from the “threats” to ground squirrel recovery and substituted “overgrazing by livestock”. Currently the CWCS “Appendix F: Species Accounts and Distribution Maps for Idaho Species of Greatest Conservation Need” has deleted all reference to predation as a cause of decline for most of the species that are included.

The UN/TNC/IAFWA/IDFG excuse for not including predation as a cause of species decline is, “Native prey species have evolved and co-existed with native predators for thousands of years.” They have no intention of controlling predator numbers to the extent that scientific research shows is necessary to allow prey species to recover once they decline to an unhealthy level.

Because their allegiance is to biodiversity rather than game management, IDFG will continue to ignore science and claim that planting more big sagebrush will restore healthy pygmy rabbit populations and that promoting quaking aspen growth will restore healthy mule deer herds. But why wasn’t the biodiversity treaty ratified?

Why the Treaty Was Not Ratified

In 1994, with Senate Majority Leader Mike Mitchell (D-Maine) heavily involved in environmental reform, what caused him to pull the Biodiversity Treaty at the last minute instead of allowing the Senate to vote for ratification? The answer is that he learned that the UN and the Treaty supporters weren’t telling the truth about the “Wildlands Project” that would be implemented if Congress ratified the Treaty.

The mind-boggling goal of the Wildlands Project was, and still is, to set aside up to half of the North American continent as "wild land" for the preservation of biological diversity. In the U.S. these proposed wild core areas would be created from public lands such as National Forests and Parks, each comprising from 10,000 up to 25 million acres, and would allow little, if any, human use.

Wildlife corridors, to enable animals to migrate to other areas as a result of predicted climate changes, would also be protected from humans. Buffer zones consisting primarily of private lands, often acquired by purchase or restricted easement, would allow limited use by humans.

On September 30, 1994, a 4-foot by 6-foot version of the foregoing map was presented on the floor of the U.S. Senate along with portions of the UN’s “Global Biodiversity Assessment” (GBA) required by the Treaty. The GBA identified the Wildlands Project as the vehicle for implementing the Treaty, and the map (along with others not included here) illustrated the proposed lock-up of vast areas in North America.

Although the color map is too small to see state boundaries and the few “normal use” or Indian and military reservations clearly, the many dark red areas in each state are the Core Areas and Corridors closed to humans. Most of the rest are the Buffer Zones where human use would be carefully regulated.

NAFTA Implements Biodiversity Plan

The tan area (gray if this is printed in B&W) along the U.S.-Mexico border is a 120-mile-wide “International Zone of Cooperation” which has already been established by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA also created the “North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation,” a Montreal-based agency representing the United States, Canada and Mexico, which says the continent faces a "biodiversity crisis" with half of North America’s most “biodiverse” eco-regions severely degraded.

For several years Canada has been forced to increase its seal harvest significantly in order to continue harvesting cod but this group blames declining populations of cod and other food fish on over-harvesting by humans rather than on predation by protected marine mammals. Recently it convinced the Canadian government to reduce the harvest of excessive seal populations – resulting in further decline in cod populations and harvests.

“Restoring Large Meat-Eating Predators”

The failure of the U.S. Congress to ratify the Biodiversity Treaty as ~188 other nations and the European Union now have, slowed – but did not stop – implementation of the Wildlands Project. A visit to the Wildlands Project website lists the same goals it had in 1991 - restoring large meat-eating predators to a landscape where wilderness has also been “restored”.

All life (human and non-human) would have equal value, and resource consumption above what is needed to supply “vital” human needs would not be allowed. It says its “primary objective is the closing and removal of roads on public lands.”

It boasts that it is supported by hundreds of organizations both in the U.S. and internationally, working to achieve its goals and it describes projects by other organizations (like the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative) that complement the Wildlands Project. Several of these groups, including The Nature Conservancy, receive millions of dollars annually in federal money, income from property transactions, and tax deductible donations from individuals and trusts.

Bit by bit they are implementing the UN plan to displace rural Americans and relocate them in “sustainable communities” while restoring their vision of North America as a “pre-Columbian wilderness untouched by humans.” That, of course, means that wildlife will not be managed in this vast wilderness network and many state wildlife managers, including IDFG biologists, have already adopted that “hands-off” philosophy of “managing” wild game.

Although these biologists still pay lip service to their mandate to preserve protect and perpetuate wild game and manage it to provide continued supplies for hunting, fishing and trapping, they refuse to use any of the biological tools that are needed to do the job. These tools include reducing hunting season length and vulnerability, mitigating the impact of extreme winters or other natural disasters by promptly providing emergency feed where indicated and effectively controlling predators, and maintaining healthy male-to-female-to-juvenile ratios in populations at or near the normal carrying capacity of their range.

“Wildlands” Not Justified by Science

Instead they have slowly embraced the philosophy of “deep ecology” admitting that ecosystems are too complex to manage or even understand. Once large predators that existed prior to Columbus discovering America are free to roam the North American Continent, many believe their sole responsibility will be to enforce restrictions on human activity.

The architects of the Wildlands Project freely admit that science cannot be used to justify their project as follows:

“The Wildlands Project requires not only a re-thinking of science, politics, land use, industrialization, and civilization, it also requires re-thinking humanity’s place in nature. It requires a new philosophical and spiritual foundation for western civilization. That foundation is the ecophilosophy of deep ecology. Deriving much of its ideology from Buddhism and Taoism, and the philosophy of Spinoza, deep ecology contends that science has little to tell us about living in harmony with the planet, and other non-human life forms.”

The Biased “Fishing & Hunting” Survey

With the new emphasis on promoting sport hunting and fishing following the end of World War II, industry reps lobbied for a Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (BSFW) survey of hunters and fishermen in the lower 48 states. The International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners (later changed to IAFWA) told FWS the survey was needed to determine the economic value of hunting and angling to the national economy, and recommended it be funded with sportsmen excise tax dollars.

The second BSFW survey, including Alaska and Hawaii, was requested for 1960 and, since this was all about money, responses from hunters or fishermen who did not spend more than $5 or take at least three hunting or fishing trips were not included. The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR) conducted a similar survey of all types of outdoor recreation (including camping skiing, boating, bird watching, etc.) but did not exclude those who did not take enough separate trips or spend enough money.

“Incidental” Hunters, Fishermen Not Counted

In the 1965 BSFW Survey, FWS included information on “incidental” wildlife photographers and wildlife watchers from the BOR survey. Yet it did not include those it referred to as “incidental” hunters and fishermen in its own survey simply because they did not spend enough money or take enough trips.

The U.S. Census Bureau was paid to conduct both surveys in 1965 and in most other years but the information collected was for very different purposes. The questions concerning income, degree of education, etc. on the BSFW survey funded by Sport Fish and Wildlife Recovery dollars are designed to enable industry groups to profile and target potential customers.

The following totals from both 1965 surveys show that 34% of hunters and fishermen who paid state and local taxes and purchased hunting and/or fishing licenses were treated as if they didn’t exist in the national BSFW survey they were required to help pay for:

Respondents BSFW Survey BOR Survey
Hunted only 5,000,000 5,000,000
Fished only 19,000,000 31,000,000
Hunted & Fished 9,000,000 14,000,000
Total Participants 33,000,000 50,000,000

In his presentation of the 1965 survey data to IAFWA, BSFW Director John Gottschalk implied that the one-third of hunters and fishermen who didn’t spend money to travel long distances, stay in motels and hire guides were not “serious” sportsmen. He used terms like “real” fishermen to describe anglers who spent a lot of time and money and said, “The 1965 Survey mainly covers the more enthusiastic sportsmen - those we call ‘substantial’ participants.”

Surveys Emphasize Non-Consumptive Recreation

That survey’s bias in favor of casual wildlife watchers and other non-consumptive wildlife advocates, regardless of whether or not they contributed to the economy, signaled the beginning of a shift in emphasis to promoting “non-consumptive wildlife-based recreation.” The 1975 Survey was the first time the BSFW collected its own estimates of wildlife watching and the survey questions and methodology continued to change every five years.

The 1991 Survey continued efforts to improve accuracy of state information at a cost exceeding $13 million, with additional emphasis on increasing the percentage of non-consumptive wildlife recreationists compared to hunters and fishermen who also enjoy seeing and observing wildlife.
That Survey and subsequent Surveys did not include wildlife watching or photographing that occurred on hunting, fishing or game scouting trips. Yet it included virtually every non-sportsman activity from backyard bird feeding - to visiting the city park to watch ducks or feed pigeons popcorn - to taking a cross-country trip during which the respondent observed or photographed wildlife.

“Watchable Wildlife”

On December 3, 1990 four preservationist groups signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with eight federal agencies and IAFWA agreeing to cooperatively develop, implement, maintain, and enhance a “Watchable Wildlife Program” on Federal and State lands. The MOU stated, “IAFWA represents the interests of State wildlife agencies, each of which has responsibility for and interests in promoting Watchable Wildlife opportunities within their respective States.” (emphasis added)

The MOU specified that the eight federal government agencies (including the Departments of Army, Navy and Air Force and the BLM, FS, FWS, NPS and Bureau of Reclamation) shall assure the diversity of wildlife and habitats in the lands they manage. This includes assistance provided by Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation and/or the Isaac Walton League of America.

The goals include educating the American public about “its responsibility” to preserve “all” wildlife and providing the opportunity to observe “native” North Americn wildlife species. Although the program is often referred to as a “federal” program, it is a nationwide program initiated by Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), which continues to play a leading role in its development.

DOW, called the “Anti-Steel Trap League” during its early years, is well known for promoting biodiversity and for using the courts to protect wolves from sport hunting or trapping and control by state wildlife managers. Yet a DOW representative is part of a three-person IAFWA committee which establishes the criteria for the state CWCS nongame species plans.