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US Fish and Wildlife stole $60
A POLITICAL BEDTIME STORY (FOR HUNTERS, FISHERMEN, TRAPPERS & OTHER NEOPHYTES)
by Jim Beers 12/30/06
This morning I had breakfast with an old friend. He mentioned the continuing misuse of the hunting and fishing excise tax money by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These are the hundreds of millions of dollars collected annually as taxes on arms, ammunition, fishing tackle, and motorboat fuel. These funds are specified for sport fish and wildlife programs managed by State (not Federal) fish and wildlife agencies. The only portion of these funds that may be used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (the Administrator of the funds) is a specified amount for administration. The US Fish and Wildlife Service not only continues to withhold more than this amount, they are cleverly influencing the use of the funds to advance the environmental and animal rights agendas so in vogue in Washington these days.
My friend asked if I could do anything about these growing scandals. He named someone who knew some things that I might find interesting. Would I call him?
I thought about this for a moment. My response (dolled up as a Bedtime Story to get your attention) went something like this:
Once upon a time...
From the 1930's through the Reagan Administration the excise taxes went unhindered to state fish and wildlife agencies to provide hunting and fishing programs that also and in large measure provided benefits to the environment, all wild things, and people of all stripes that enjoyed the outdoors and all it offered. The US Fish and Wildlife Service worked with state agencies and helped protect them from the occasional state politician that would divert the funds for other purposes. Each year the amount withheld for "administration" by the US Fish and Wildlife Service was less
(often less than half) of the amount allowed by law.
Beginning under the first Bush Administration, hunting and fishing were downplayed as Endangered Species and Marine Mammals and Environmental falderal displaced hunting and fishing activities. Environmental and animal rights activists were being hired and promoted to key management as well as entry positions for two decades by then. The combination of Civil Service Reform and Equal Opportunity bonuses likewise further reduced qualification requirements and resource management experience in the Federal agencies. Instead of taking minimal amounts from the excise taxes for "administration", the entire allowed amount began to be taken and used for various Federal purposes by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Fortuitously (for the Federal activists) state fish and wildlife agencies
(who were losing funds due to the larger Federal "cut") were diverted to the "new" "promise of the future". That "promise" was the dream of a "non-game" tax and "more" Federal grants from the US Congress through the Federal agencies. To this day, state fish and wildlife managers (like state Highway Department managers and Chiefs of Police et al) look to access to "more" Federal funding as the answer to higher pay, more bonuses, increased retirements, and job security if they please Federal masters. So the states never squawked as the "Federal administration cut" went up. Hunters, fishermen, trappers, and other beneficiaries never suspected anything because the US Fish and Wildlife Service still had some shred of respect and state fish and wildlife employees were some of the most trusted public employees in the nation. They said everything was OK and we all believed them.
Then along came the Clinton Administration and (more than the Nixon or Ford or Carter [?] or Reagan or Bush Administration) a cadre of environmental and animal rights activists. They were truly "hard core" types. They were very circumspect about declaring this to keep opponents asleep in their chairs. One of the first things they zeroed in on was all those millions supporting "hunting and fishing". As they sped up the already overheated funding and support of Endangered Species and Marine Mammal animal worship and the destruction of private property rights, they developed a subterfuge to eliminate hunting and fishing. It was not uncommon to hear that "many states would ban trapping and several would ban hunting by the millennium".
Then the Republicans took over the House of Representatives (1994) for the first time in 40 years. Fired political activists from House Committees were placed in Federal agencies including the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The "second" female Director (the "first" one had just passed away in office) of the US Fish and Wildlife Service was appointed after a rocket-like ascent up through the Endangered Species Office. Both indifferent and hostile (to hunting, fishing, trapping, resource management et al) top managers assumed top jobs and sped up the hiring of their clones and the firing of "hook and bullet" employees like yours truly. They even picked up, at a high level, the child of a powerful politician of the opposite party that proved to be a powerful chess piece in subsequent political maneuvering.
And, more of the hunting and fishing excise taxes began to disappear..
In 1998 and 1999 I told the Republican House Resources Committee about the diversion of the funding. There were three big and well-attended hearings. The General Accounting Office audited the books and found that in just two years $45 to 60 Million had been "skimmed" (i.e. STOLEN) by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to 1.) introduce wolves into Yellowstone and open a California Office (both of which had been denied funding by Congress) and
2.) pay bonuses and salaries to various favored employees unattached to the "administration" of the excise taxes (a direct violation of the law).
1.) No Federal employee even missed a bonus much less was disciplined, fired, prosecuted, or tried.
2.) The State agencies (from whom the funds were stolen) never even asked for the funding to be replaced.
3.) "Our" hunting and fishing organizations acted duly grim but never raised a fuss.
4.) The wolves have spread; decimated elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and ranching operations; and the California Office remains a magnet for and command center for California environment and animal rights radicals.
5.) Hunters, fishermen, and trappers remain suspicious of Federal employees but still respect the integrity of state agency managers.
6.) The money was never replaced.
7.) To this day, there has been no outcry about the loss of $60+ Million worth of hunting and fishing programs or the use of hunter and fishermen excise taxes to implement Federal programs to decimate hunting and fishing.
When the current Bush Administration came in, the old Director resigned, served a lucrative stint with the Wildlife Federation (formerly a hunting support organization) and she now serves as a top manager in the anti-hunting and anti- trapping Defenders of Wildlife that (among other things) serves as a smokescreen "reimbursing ranchers for losses to wolves" as Federal wolves wreak havoc. The political activists remain in place, the same Deputy Director (also from the Endangered Species/ "international UN cooperation" wing of the Service) likewise remains. The politician's child has moved up and they all have carefully balanced their jobs with getting the Party that favors "more" funding, personnel, and programs (translation: higher pay, more power, more benefits) back in power.
And the excise tax manipulations continued to the loss of hunters et al (notice I no longer say the state fish and wildlife agency).
Over the past six years Congress authorized the states to spend $80 Million to compose environmental "wish-lists" with no boundaries. Called State Comprehensive Wildlife Plans, they are little more than environmental fantasies about all the land and rights and human activities the states "need" to control to "prevent species from becoming endangered". They have been rolled up in Washington and (I will make an "educated" guess) total Billions. At an opportune moment (the "new" House [?] or the next President [?] or some "emergency [?]) the Congress will start funding these state programs. "Funding" is "governmentese" for directing and steering by Federal bureaucrats.
And so boys and girls, the disgraced old bureaucrat (that would be me) tried for six years to get all the hunting and fishing excise taxes applied to hunting and fishing as they were intended to be. He wrote about it, he talked about it, and he lobbied about it: all to no avail. An abundance of truly vicious things said about me and written to me know no bounds of sex, race, or age. I am despised by retirees (who feel that their lifelong "mission" is tarnished by my activities). State wildlife agency directors and non-government agency lobbyists deeply resent what they believe to be my jeopardizing their future plans for Federal funding and their duplicity with members and supporters. Federal employees, well need I say more? (They have been protected from me by concerned Federal managers that have blocked government access to my blog and do not look kindly on any contact to my phone or computer by government employees.) University professors merely sniff at my name and ponder the floor where they look for me. Animal rights and environmental activists rattle at my name. Politicians and their staffs merely ask, "who?"
When I "blew the whistle" to Congress years ago there were Congressmen
(Richard Pombo, Helen Chenoweth, Don Young, etc.) who were duly skeptical about bureaucrats and took their oath of office seriously. Today, Congresswoman Chenoweth has passed away, Congressman Pombo was destroyed by environmentalists (like the Defenders of Wildlife, hmmm), and Congressman Young does other things. In truth, a great deal of their success was due to a Republican House anxious to embarrass a Democrat President. That incentive has not existed for six years while a single party has controlled the White House and both branches of Congress. Hence, the lack of interest in pursuing scandals during this period.
But, you say, won't a Democrat House and/or Senate pursue this? The answer is, sadly, no. Why? Because the Democrats are the party of the environmental and animal rights groups and those groups (and nearly all current Democrat and Republican politicians) want to gain passage of large amounts of Federal funding for state fish and wildlife agencies. (Think of the publicity, why they will probably get votes from as far away as Australia and Switzerland.) This will be a hard sell if it is tried on the heels of another massive scandal involving the misuse of the excise taxes since the funding takeover of state fish and wildlife agencies is touted to be run "just like the hunting and fishing excise taxes". That is through the US Fish and Wildlife Service with regulations and administrative policies that will make state agencies merely subcontractors to Federal bureaucrats. All you hunters et al out there, think about that. How long will "your" state agency defend your rights or your activities? Will they respond to you or your politicians when they get most of their money from Federal bureaucrats to do what Federal bureaucrats say? If anyone tells you they will still work for you, tell them to look at the Universities. The perversion of "research" and "best science" as a direct result of Federal funding and it's control answers the question better than I can. Look at state Highway Departments where Federal bureaucrats even tell them what they can and can't plant along the roadways.
So the Democrats will carry the water for the anti-hunters and the Republicans that survived the last election are all the "middle-of-the-roaders" and "me-tooers" that represent compromise on all issues involving the hidden agendas behind environmental and animal rights "proposals". So who would you suggest we go to and tell about the current funding abuses?
Meanwhile, the old Director dreams about returning to the Department of the Interior as Secretary under the next President. The political activist carefully feeds information to all the likely Democrat Presidential contenders in hopes of a big appointment in two years. The old Deputy Director and the politician's child try to keep informal feelers out to Presidential contenders of both parties in hopes of being kept on in their very lucrative positions. The environmental and animal rights activists tease the Republicans about supporting them if they "play ball" (like Senator Allen and his "Heritage Areas" and Senator Santorum and his "Puppy Protection Act") all the while ready to pull back the ball at the last second like Lucy in Peanuts. One need look no further than the Current Secretary of the Interior's pandering to global warming by Listing polar bears as Threatened by a warm spell (thereby triggering Kyoto without the niceties of ratification). The phones will be alive for the next two years between bureaucrats and NGO's and Congressional staffs after hours. One example after another of Republican mismanagement (not enough funding or people for X, Y or Z: trying to set porpoise take limits: "gutting" the Endangered Species Act: selling off land: etc.) will be fed to the Committees by these bureaucrats and hearings will result in "more" for the "environment" and animal "protection". But there will not be a peep about the excise taxes or any fiscal shenanigans in US Fish and Wildlife Service if for no other reason than the Committees will be dependent on the information fed to them by the bureaucrats doing all the mismanagement.
If you hunt, fish, trap, live in a rural area, own animals or other property, or make your living from natural resources you need to think about this. I don't say these things to be political, only to try and describe political reality. Our rights are eroding all around. Horse owners may no longer sell their horse to a slaughterhouse. More and more public land and waters are being closed as Wildernesses and Marine Sanctuaries. More animals are being "protected" (i.e. forbidden to use or manage). Big game herds are being reduced by unchecked predators and Federal campaigns to "purify" the environment (i.e. Invasive Species jihads) are set to eliminate everything from brown trout to pheasants. Unmanaged marine mammals decimate fisheries that are then used as an excuse to destroy dams and decimate commercial fishing fleets.
Four hundred years ago John Donne said it best. Consider the following in light of what is going on today:
"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee."
We are each involved in the rights of others. If the rights of others can be destroyed, so can ours. Unless we defend each other, we all lose. I hope to begin writing more in line with this new political paradigm. It is my intention to tailor recommendations more in line with an admittedly steeper hill to climb.
Oh and by the way, I plan to keep up with the scandals and to write about them in hopes of a reader or two better understanding what is going on and perhaps seeing solutions that an old bureaucrat can't imagine. I can't end this with the usual "They lived happily everafter", but I can end it with hope for the future and a Happy New Year wish to all!
30 December 2006
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- This article and other recent articles by Jim Beers can be found at
http://jimbeers.blogster.com (Jim Beers Common Sense)
- Jim Beers is available for consulting or to speak. Contact:
- Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal
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