*fo-ren-sic, adj. 1.pertaining to, connected with, or used in courts of law or public discussion and debate. 2. Adapted or suited to argumentation; argumentative.
Seventeen years ago I was a whistleblower concerning the theft (or “diversion” for those that believe in bureaucrats and tooth fairies) of $45 to 60 Million in two years (1995 & 1996) by US Fish and Wildlife Service bureaucrats from Excise Taxes that, according to law, could only be spent by State fish and Wildlife Agencies for State fish and wildlife management programs for human benefits. The stolen funds were used by federal bureaucrats to capture, import and release Canadian wolves into Yellowstone from which they spread throughout the NW US and to open an office in California – two things that the US Congress had refused to either authorize or fund. Funds not used for these two purposes were used to increase bonus payouts to select top bureaucrats to essentially “look the other way”. How do we know this? General Accounting Office Accountant Auditors submitted a Forensic* Audit Report to the Chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee detailing the receipt, diversion and use of the stolen funding to federal illicit purposes from the fish and wildlife benefits generated by state wildlife agencies.
In other words; wildlife and fishery management in every state was diminished to benefit illegal actions by federal bureaucrats (releasing wolves with no state permission) to ultimately create a situation that:
1. Decreased big game herds.
2. Enabled closure of public lands to grazing by livestock.
3. Decreased the presence and use of dogs for everything from hunting and guarding homes to guarding and herding livestock.
4. Created a “scientific” cottage industry wherein millions are used to buy from University professors and other favored “experts”, a body of “reports” and propaganda imaginings about reputed “benefits from wolves’ presence that are silly, nonsensical in that they defy both logic and common sense.
5. Spawned a public information system wherein attacks on humans, dangers to children, disease threats to other animals and humans, and a whole host of other dangerous and destructive impacts from wolves are distorted or covered up not unlike the past decade of reporting of Islamic terror incidents in North America and Europe.
I thought of this recently as I noted an increase in citizen’s “demanding” to know how much their state was spending to maintain wolves. The larger question, “How much are the federal agencies (i.e. USFWS, USFS, NPS, BLM, APHIS) spending (and have spent) on wolves”, is beyond the ability and grasp of local citizens; and the national Non-Government Organizations (i.e. RMEF, WU, DU, PF, NRA, et al) are both concerned with other “don’t-rock-the-boat” matters and with their own position in the current fish and wildlife Federal/State/NGO/Radical Environmental Complex (to paraphrase Eisenhower’s famous “Military/Industrial Complex” remark).
Concerning my opening remarks about the stolen $45 to 60 Million; even though an indisputable Forensic Audit publicly described the theft and use of the funds – nothing happened. A Presidential election was underway and the controversy was thought to harm both Parties. State Directors (from whose programs the funds were stolen) were embarrassed that they never even noticed and who, as big players in the “Complex”, were only too glad to keep quiet and never ask for the funds to be replaced as the USFWS wove tales of “bookkeeping errors” and poor records. The NGO’s all feigned ignorance and laid low. The Director at the time went on to a big job at the National Wildlife Federation and then on to an even bigger job at the Defenders of Wildlife. The political staff director that had lost his job when his “Committee Staff” job was eliminated in the mid 1990’s and who was the hired by USFWS to be in charge of the Excise Taxes was made a “Science Advisor” under President Bush and the Director of USFWS under President Obama has gone on to a big job with a Zoo and Aquarium NGO/Lobby Group. Bonuses were enlarged for everyone involved and no one even received a Letter of Reprimand as they all did double arabesques and pirouetted off the stage.
So, was the “Forensic” Audit a failure? I would answer, no. Like the curtain pulled back by Toto in the Wizard of Oz, we had a glimpse of government environmentalism – and wolves – as criminal enterprises that like Prohibition must be either repealed or carefully monitored by the general public when the corruption and harms they generate are understood and opposed by an abundance of local communities. There is no Constitutional Amendment, like the 2nd Amendment protects gun rights, protecting federal overreach into state authorities and Jurisdictions as was done with wolves. There is no Constitutional Amendment, like the 4th Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures, authorizing anything like the federal imposition of wolves: indeed wolves are a prime example of an egregious violation of the 5th Amendment. Is not a federal wolf that kills my dog or my livestock or the state-owned game animals I hunt a “taking” of my private property that can only be done with “due process of law” or “for public use, without just compensation”? Are not persons killed or attacked by federally-imposed wolves; be they in Idaho, Wisconsin, or Minnesota “deprived of life” and “liberty” by government as prohibited in the 5th Amendment? Are not federally-imposed wolves the antithesis of the words mentioned in The Preamble of the Constitution as justifying a federal government to “establish Justice”, “insure Domestic Tranquility”, and “promote the general Welfare”?
Take it from one that knows, many more Millions have been spent by USFWS on wolves over the past 30 years than will ever be known. Add in all the USFS/BLM/NPS wolf work far and beyond what they received money to do (therefore it is never recorded much less reported) and you have untold millions more. Add in all the environmental/animal rights radical federal employees hired and promoted in the last 30 years sharing a quasi-religious commitment to eliminate hunting, grazing, logging, state authorities, private property, guns, etc. that gives them a self-righteous attitude of doing more and more of such unreported environmental activist work and the wolf costs and spending ratchets up millions more.
Then there is the state spending on wolves. States that never asked for the stolen money to be replaced and then watched the federal bureaucrats get away not only scot free but go on to fame, rewards and bigger salaries. States that have watched their authorities erode into federal bureaucracies. States, whose Directors and employees look forward to possible federal employment or federal grants when they retire. States that, like their federal counterparts, have hired and promoted “New Normal” activists convinced that hunting and fishing are vanishing (along with the license fees and Excise Taxes that are the bread and butter of state wildlife agencies). That the future is a vast rural America under government control and ownership that they will be paid from general tax revenue to “patrol”, “research”, “interpret” and generally tinker with endlessly.
The states have been complicit in assuming the costs of federally-imposed wolves for more than two decades. The money was diverted from the Hunting, Fishing, Trapping and other License and Permit Fees charged by the agencies. It has been diverted from the Excise Taxes established to enhance hunting, fishing and trapping but have become (thanks to faux auditing) little more than cash cows for agency “walking around money”. It has been diverted from law enforcement grants supposedly only to be used for law enforcement.
Wolf costs are hidden both purposely and due to slipshod and misleading record keeping ploys once used to mask wildlife funds used to illegally supplement state park paychecks over the winter or to buy vehicles for state motor pools. Big stuff like the illegal Whitewater wildlife land transfer to land developers (with attendant corrupt payoffs), or the state prison built on wildlife lands, or timber harvest revenue placed in state general revenue coffers, all on lands bought with Excise Taxes and License Fee Revenue, are examples of a robust history of corrupt State precedents hidden from the public and especially auditors. Thus finding out the truth is a difficult matter.
State wardens that spend no time on “wolves” often spend a majority of their time running down reports of wolf carcasses. Directors may spend a month or more going to briefings and high level meeting about wolves with no cost record. Administrative staff may spend months on wolf work. Biologists, wardens, staff assistants and others may be dragooned into wolf “volunteer” support and/or participation.
A quick list of the real Costs of Wolves at the state level would include – Population Surveys and Reporting; Meeting Attendance; Training Others; Required Training; Vehicle Costs; Gas Costs; Office Space Costs; Travel Costs; Contract Development, Negotiation & Compliance; Damage Compensation; Enforcement Investigation, & Court Preparation; Regulation Development, Hearings, & Publishing; Lobbying the Legislature and Federal Agencies; Mandatory Report Preparation; Public Relations; Public Education; Research; Data Analysis and Review; “Partnerships”; Relieving Impacts on Game, Livestock, Dogs and Human Welfare; Judicial Proceedings (preparation, attendance, testifying); and Welfare (i.e. health insurance, Social Security, retirement) costs for all of the above employees while doing wolf work.
Lest this boggles your mind, these are all the real costs of accepting and maintaining wolves that were not present before federal wolf hegemony was asserted. States like Minnesota, Montana and Alaska once did just fine killing problem wolves, maintaining acceptable (to local communities) wolf levels and impacts by reasonable and affordable state management and control levels. The foregoing real wolf costs are what you need to get a handle on in “Your” State and then “We” can begin to force federal cost disclosures. Forensic audits are the key and if there is no watchdog agency in your state either do it yourself or re-form the agency that will not do its job.
I believe that truth be known, the wolf totals over the past 30 years is actually in the hundreds of Millions if not a Billion or more.
18 May 2017
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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 Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.