The Disappearing States

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Jim Beers is a retired Refuge Manager, Special Agent, & Wildlife Biologist U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Jim Beers is a retired Refuge Man­ag­er, Spe­cial Agent, & Wildlife Biol­o­gist U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice

Excerpts from a recent news arti­cle from McClatchy News­pa­pers:

Rise in trade spurs U.S. to pro­tect tur­tles

1.       “The U.S. gov­ern­ment is propos­ing a new lev­el of pro­tec­tion for cer­tain fresh­wa­ter tur­tles, con­cerned that a mas­sive increase in over­seas demand for the rep­tiles could hurt their long-term prospects.”

2.       “While none of the four species is at risk of extinc­tion, fed­er­al offi­cials and biol­o­gists say that a boom­ing inter­na­tion­al trade in tur­tles has prompt­ed con­cerns about the ani­mals’ long-term sur­vival.”

3.       “Exist­ing laws, which vary from state to state, have not been com­plete­ly suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing the unau­tho­rized col­lec­tion and trade of the tur­tles, offi­cials said.”

4.       “We don’t know how much is farm stock ver­sus wild”.  “This list­ing may help us get this infor­ma­tion”.

5.       “The action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ser­vice involves list­ing the tur­tles in a spe­cial Appen­dix to an inter­na­tion­al treaty aimed at pro­tect­ing species from the neg­a­tive impacts of over-har­vest for inter­na­tion­al trade.  The list­ing includes ani­mals that offi­cials say are in need of inter­na­tion­al trade con­trols; U.S. offi­cials want to list the four tur­tles to bet­ter mon­i­tor exist­ing trade and ensure it is legal.”

6.       “The (sic Spe­cial) per­mit process also will give fed­er­al offi­cials insight into how many wild tur­tles  are actu­al­ly leav­ing the Unit­ed States – infor­ma­tion that could help offi­cials man­age the species’ long-term sur­vival.”

Fresh­wa­ter tur­tles have been under the author­i­ty and juris­dic­tion of State gov­ern­ments since the Found­ing of this Nation.  This seem­ing­ly innocu­ous news arti­cle tells us a great deal about how dra­mat­i­cal­ly State gov­ern­ments’ author­i­ty and juris­dic­tion, indeed their very iden­ti­ty, is being erad­i­cat­ed unno­ticed right before our very eyes.

The 1960’s and 1970’s could be fair­ly described as a pub­lic stam­pede in the US to “save” species, the envi­ron­ment and a world threat­ened by too many peo­ple and fore­casts of famines, van­ish­ing ener­gy resources and glob­al cool­ing that would ush­er in glac­i­ers that would even­tu­al­ly kill the human race much like weath­er was reput­ed to have killed all those dinosaurs whose bones hold such fas­ci­na­tion for us.

First, the US saw politi­cians rush to cap­i­tal­ize on this phe­nom­e­non.  Pres­i­dent Nixon and US Sen­a­tor Gay­lord Nel­son spon­sored, draft­ed and signed all man­ner of gov­ern­men­tal “solu­tions”.  The EPA was born; and NEPA was passed and Envi­ron­men­tal Report Require­ments became the grist for law­suits and fed­er­al gov­ern­ment growth of unfore­seen dimen­sions.  Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, US gov­ern­ment bureau­crats formed alliances with UN bureau­crats to draft word­ings for “Con­ven­tions” for all UN mem­bers to sign and act coop­er­a­tive­ly to “save” ani­mals and plants.

US bureau­crats were covert­ly con­cerned with word­ing that would not be hostage to or sub­ject to exist­ing US laws or even Con­sti­tu­tion­al con­trols.  The “Con­ven­tion” was pre­sent­ed as nec­es­sary and as a pure­ly com­mend­able effort so oppo­si­tion was quick­ly dis­count­ed as igno­rance and was rat­i­fied.  This “Con­ven­tion” is men­tioned in #5 in the pre­ced­ing arti­cle as a “Treaty”.  Like card sharks that tell us the next card to be turned over, fed­er­al bureau­crats and politi­cians mim­ic this “Con­ven­tion as Treaty” canard and 50 years lat­er we still believe it.  The Con­sti­tu­tion states, “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Author­i­ty of the Unit­ed States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land”.  Now the fact that the US Con­sti­tu­tion, in 1787, envi­sioned a “Treaty” as some­thing between us and some for for­eign pow­er for a spe­cif­ic pur­pose which if vio­lat­ed was grounds for revok­ing the Treaty; and could not begin to imag­ine a UN with sev­er­al hun­dred mem­bers – 60 of which sign such a UN doc­u­ment, while 74 abstain and of the 60 only 33 real­ly imple­ment it and of those only 11 real­ly enforce it – made it easy for US bureau­crats smelling unlim­it­ed pow­er, larg­er staffs, big­ger bud­gets, larg­er pen­sions and nation­al fame to game the US gov­er­nance sys­tem.  Since no one could revoke US par­tic­i­pa­tion in an inter­na­tion­al effort of reli­gious (the cor­rect word) pro­por­tions to “save” (fill-in-the-blank), laws like the Endan­gered Species Act were passed to “imple­ment” “our” “oblig­a­tions” under the “Convention/Treaty”.

Sec­ond, the Endan­gered Species Act and a whole host of new fed­er­al laws from Marine Mam­mal Pro­tec­tion to Ani­mal Wel­fare; fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions imple­ment­ing these laws; fed­er­al agency poli­cies; fed­er­al “part­ner­ships” and sub Rosa alliances with non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions to evoke court deci­sions (prece­dents) to jus­ti­fy cur­rent actions and lay the ground­work for future actions for the explo­sion of fed­er­al author­i­ty now at the point described in the pre­ced­ing news arti­cle.  NOTE: This approach is what was under­way recent­ly when the Jus­tice Depart­ment allowed guns to be smug­gled to Mex­i­can Drug Car­tels with the expec­ta­tion that their “sur­pris­ing” dis­cov­ery in Mex­i­can crime scenes would spur devel­op­ment of and US rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the “Small Arms Treaty” being draft­ed by US State Depart­ment and UN bureau­crats at that time. Like con­coct­ed accounts of immi­nent species extinc­tions, US pub­lic out­rage at guns from the US being used in hor­rif­ic killings in Mex­i­co was intend­ed to cre­ate an out­cry for fed­er­al bureau­crats and politi­cians to “do some­thing”.  The “some­thing” was to be an Inter­na­tion­al (UN) Treaty to “con­trol” small arms (hand­guns, rifles and shot­guns).  The Treaty would then be used to jus­ti­fy gun reg­is­tra­tion, gun seizure, gun destruc­tion and guns only in the pos­ses­sion of lead­ers and enforcers under the aus­pices of the new “Treaty” pow­er that would then be “the Supreme Law of the Land.”

The Endan­gered Species Act, like a can­cer­ous growth on the body politic, has evolved in many unfore­seen and unac­knowl­edged ways in the 40 + years of its exis­tence.

-       At first it was to cov­er, “native wildlife threat­ened with extinc­tion”.

-       Three years lat­er it was amend­ed to cov­er, “any wild mam­mal, fish, wild bird, amphib­ian, rep­tile, mol­lusk, or crus­tacean”.  This was the year the above “Con­ven­tion” and “Appen­dices” were cre­at­ed with the UN.

-       Five years lat­er, Pres­i­dent Nixon signed a new ESA to cre­ate “the kind of man­age­ment tools need­ed to act ear­ly enough to save a van­ish­ing species.”   Addi­tion­al­ly it autho­rized all fed­er­al agen­cies to what­ev­er they could and that the “species” to be “pro­tect­ed” may include sub­species and “dis­tinct pop­u­la­tions there­of”.  Thus were State gov­ern­ments pushed out of the way like some 200 lb. run­ning back try­ing to pro­tect his quar­ter­back from a 300 lb. foot­ball tack­le with a head of steam.

-       Soon “dis­tinct pop­u­la­tions” became “dis­tinct pop­u­la­tion seg­ments” (i.e. “dis­tinct pop­u­la­tions occur­ring on either side of any legal bound­ary like a road or Coun­ty line”), in oth­er words any ani­mal, any­where at any time became sus­cep­ti­ble to a fed­er­al dec­la­ra­tion that “it” is now and for­ev­er more a “fed­er­al respon­si­bil­i­ty.”  The State respons­es?  Crick­ets.

-       “Native” wildlife mor­phed into “Native Ecosys­tems” wher­ev­er and what­ev­er fed­er­al bureau­crats decreed.  For instance, super-abun­dant wolves out­side the Low­er 48 became fed­er­al ani­mals in the Low­er 48 and were pro­tect­ed and spread wher­ev­er fed­er­al bureau­crats (and their rad­i­cal NGO “part­ners) said.  These were most­ly rur­al areas with few vot­ers or vot­ers opposed to pow­er­ful politi­cians or polit­i­cal par­ties.  Ranch­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing, hik­ing, dai­ly rur­al out­door tasks, and Local gov­ern­ments were all dimin­ished.  Spot­ted owls were like­wise used to destroy renew­able log­ging and the com­mu­ni­ties it sup­port­ed with no ben­e­fit to the owls and no one held respon­si­ble.  Sage grouse are cur­rent­ly being used to hob­ble west­ern ener­gy devel­op­ment, ener­gy cor­ri­dors, ranch­ing and hunt­ing in a large swath of the West.  Fish (smelt, suck­ers, darters, etc.) have been used to stop dam con­struc­tion, elim­i­nate irri­ga­tion and destroy farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties.  The State respons­es?  Crick­ets.

-       Fed­er­al claims of “non-Native” species erad­i­ca­tions as a fed­er­al respon­si­bil­i­ty have emerged to sug­gest erad­i­ca­tion of pheas­ants, chukars, Great Lakes salmon, Brown trout and oth­er desir­able wild ani­mals declared “crit­ter non-gra­ta” by fed­er­al bureau­crats and the Uni­ver­si­ty sci­en­tists they sup­port with fed­er­al grants, pub­lic­i­ty and recog­ni­tion.  The State respons­es?  Crick­ets.

-       Fed­er­al suc­cess in obtain­ing court recog­ni­tion for ignor­ing the “nor shall pri­vate prop­er­ty be tak­en for pub­lic use, with­out just com­pen­sa­tion” clause in the 5th Amend­ment (i.e. “Your prop­er­ty is here­by declared ‘Crit­i­cal Habi­tat’ for [fill-in-the-blank] so you may NOT [fill-in-the-blank] with­out a per­mit and we don’t give per­mits for such things.”)  This led to the emer­gence of all man­ner of unjust infringe­ment of pri­vate prop­er­ty rights by gov­ern­ment in cas­es such as the Kelo Deci­sion that have increas­ing­ly dimin­ished the rights of prop­er­ty own­ers nation­wide.

-       Fed­er­al grants; expand­ing fed­er­al juris­dic­tion and author­i­ties; chang­ing job force edu­ca­tion­al require­ments; ease of retire­ment fund shift from State, to Fed­er­al, to Rad­i­cal NGO for jobs; after-retire­ment “con­sult­ing” jobs; the result of decades now of the mor­ph­ing of the Alliance of Federal/State/Radical NGOs into one indis­tin­guish­able enti­ty; and the evo­lu­tion of the fed­er­al and state wildlife bureau­cra­cies into a force devot­ed per­son­al­ly and indi­vid­u­al­ly into exer­cis­ing pow­er not only to improve their employ­ment but also to coin­ci­den­tal­ly erad­i­cate – hunt­ing, fish­ing, ranch­ing, log­ging, ener­gy devel­op­ment, gun rights, renew­able nat­ur­al resource man­age­ment for human ben­e­fit, rur­al res­i­dences, pri­vate prop­er­ty rights, and impu­dent Local gov­ern­ments.  Thus have State gov­ern­ments become indis­tin­guish­able from fed­er­al bureau­cra­cies and fed­er­al pro­grams while pay­ing only min­i­mal lip ser­vice to States Rights and the res­i­dents and com­mu­ni­ties of their State that pay their salaries.

So, you might ask, what does all this have to do with “sav­ing tur­tles?”   Well the nefar­i­ous evo­lu­tion is con­tin­u­ing apace.  Allow me a few obser­va­tions on the arti­cle that start­ed this piece:

1.    These four tur­tle species are under state author­i­ty.  There is no indi­ca­tion of any con­cern on the part of the 48 states about “their” tur­tles (crick­ets).  There is no indi­ca­tion that the fed­er­al “offi­cials” even care what state bureau­crats think about tur­tles or fed­er­al author­i­ty over tur­tles.

2.    Evi­dent­ly, all it takes any­more for fed­er­al seizure of state author­i­ty is that “fed­er­al offi­cials and biol­o­gists’ be “con­cerned”.  Dit­to for any need to show or prove that there is any dan­ger oth­er than an unfound­ed fed­er­al claim.  State oppo­si­tion or ques­tion­ing?  Crick­ets.

3.    So if “fed­er­al offi­cials” note that “Exist­ing laws, which vary from state to state, have not been com­plete­ly suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing the unau­tho­rized col­lec­tion and trade of the tur­tles” with­out even defin­ing what is com­plete “suc­cess”; state bureau­cra­cies are con­tent to just roll over on their back and pee in the air when the fed­er­al “alpha male” glow­ers at them.  I guess only when all state laws no longer vary and when fed­er­al “offi­cials” declare them to be “suc­cess­ful” will tur­tles be safe.  Hey, isn’t that the def­i­n­i­tion of fed­er­al con­trol (i.e. one law under one author­i­ty who defines “suc­cess”)?  Hal­l­looo States, is any­one out there?

4.    I thought all wildlife import­ed or export­ed had to be doc­u­ment­ed as to species and ori­gin?  Why does the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment — with more wildlife and cus­toms import/export work­ers than one of those Orc armies in the JRR Tolkien movies about the Lord of the Rings – need to seize author­i­ty over tur­tles to deter­mine if they are “wild or farm stock”?  There are fed­er­al doc­u­ments for all such ship­ments that require such infor­ma­tion, although fed­er­al importers of cap­tured Cana­di­an wolves released in Yel­low­stone in the mid-1990s failed to file those doc­u­ments them­selves so per­haps fed­er­al “offi­cials” are tru­ly igno­rant of their own laws?

5.    What “neg­a­tive impacts of over-har­vest for inter­na­tion­al trade”?  Do the states claim that tur­tles are dis­ap­pear­ing?  If the states have “enough” or “too many” tur­tles of these species do they need fed­er­al per­mis­sion?  If the states seek to reg­u­late a cer­tain tur­tle har­vest for rev­enue or duck­ling sur­vival or a hun­dred oth­er rea­sons who should they see in Wash­ing­ton to get per­mis­sion?  All it now takes is for “fed­er­al offi­cials” express a desire to “mon­i­tor exist­ing trade” (which they already do at Ports of Entry and Export) or express a desire to “ensure it (sic, trade) is legal”.  “Stop and Frisk”, “Sobri­ety Check­points” and old-time movie “Arrest him on sus­pi­cion” all have noth­ing on the mod­ern fed­er­al bureau­crat.  Con­cerned that some­thing is “legal”; heck just declare that it is yours and you can and will do what­ev­er you want with it regard­less of what the pre­vi­ous own­ers or cit­i­zens with rights think or say.  NOTE: This approach (declar­ing fed­er­al author­i­ty and then sit­ting on it) was used years ago to stop the export of bob­cat skins due to “insuf­fi­cient” data.  The same “trade threat­ens them” BS was used by fed­er­al bureau­crats to put bob­cats on the same Appen­dix (actu­al­ly to dis­able the fur trade, kill trap­ping and remove anoth­er species from state con­trol) then act like this Admin­is­tra­tion does (crick­ets) when asked about IRS pro­fil­ing or audits of the Stim­u­lus Fund­ing.  A hand­ful of deter­mined states beat that fed­er­al ploy down but that was long ago and far away, tur­tles aren’t bob­cats and states with employ­ees of that sort of grit are few­er and far­ther between every day.

6.    So fed­er­al per­mits that will nev­er be grant­ed will be required and “offi­cials (sic fed­er­al) will man­age the species’ long-term sur­vival”.  And we need state gov­ern­ments for…. (Crick­ets).

Any ani­mal, any­where, for any pur­pose can be declared under fed­er­al con­trol today and NO ONE will stop it.  If the rad­i­cals NGOs or the fed­er­al politi­cians or the fed­er­al bureau­crats see any prof­it for them­selves – the laws, reg­u­la­tions, prece­dents and “Treaties” are there to let them do what­ev­er they want.

To those that expect a solu­tion if I describe a prob­lem of this mag­ni­tude, the solu­tion is four­fold:

1.    Repeal the 17th Amend­ment.

2.    Elect Sher­iffs and Coun­ty offi­cials that will stand up to fed­er­al bul­lies and reform State Leg­is­la­tures and State rela­tions with Coun­ties (i.e. rein­vig­o­rat­ed Coun­ty gov­ern­ments).

3.    Repeal or dras­ti­cal­ly amend fed­er­al environmental/animal rights’ laws, reg­u­la­tions, bureau­crat­ic agen­cies, and fed­er­al land own­er­ship and con­trols.

4.    Elect respon­si­ble politi­cians and hold them respon­si­ble.

——————————-

PS

I decid­ed to write this piece this morn­ing when I hap­pened to read the Sec­ond Com­mand­ment.  “You shall not carve idols for your­selves in the shape of any­thing in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or wor­ship them.”  We have made these ani­mals’ objects of wor­ship supe­ri­or to humans and humankind.

I do not mean to preach here but I will say that “wor­ship” is the cor­rect word for what we are doing.  In fact it is “wor­ship” in the mold of Sharia Law where­in a few pow­er­ful per­sons can take what we have and pun­ish us severe­ly if we do not acqui­esce to their demands enshrined in unjust laws that they cre­at­ed.

Ani­mals are objects of enjoy­ment and use­ful­ness to all of us.  Allow­ing some to make them into supe­ri­or beings is wrong and should be opposed.  Addi­tion­al­ly, the col­lat­er­al dam­age from this busi­ness is wide-rang­ing and dan­ger­ous to our very nation­al exis­tence.  The destruc­tion of State’s Rights and Local gov­er­nance is replaced by uncon­trolled tyran­ny by unac­count­able Com­mis­sars.  This should not con­tin­ue to be tol­er­at­ed.

Our Con­sti­tu­tion­al Repub­lic that was once the envy of all the rest of the world is in deep per­il.