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.
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.