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.



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.