By Jim Beers
Spring is bursting forth all around my Minnesota home. Among the phenomenon like nesting bluebirds, migrating Blue-winged teal, and tulips in newly-green yards; pairs of “resident” Canada geese are courting and nesting in every wet “nook and cranny” they can find.
Several lakes that I drive by daily are playing host to flocks of unpaired “resident” Canada geese that gambol about much like fall and summer flocks of Canada geese. These unpaired goose flocks are mostly young adults from last year that will not raise young this year, unlike the late summer flocks that will consist of young-of-the-year, adults no longer raising young, and non-breeding birds all in various stages of molting feathers that cause them to hide or remain in open water as they are temporarily flightless. By fall these “resident” Canada geese will gather in larger flocks and spend the fall and winter in their “local neighborhood” of urban parks, ball fields, playgrounds, local rivers and lakes, and various cornfields and grassy lots. Mixing with migratory Canada geese in fall and winter will be temporary as they linger at feeding sites and in water sites, especially as winter covers feed like corn and shrinks open water with ice. We could go on and on here about this “fascinating” natural history of these “resident” Canada geese that reputedly occurred here before the 1492 “invasion” of Europeans with their diseases and “non-Native” species entourage.
Canada geese that nested in the northern areas of this formerly pristine paradise now known as the “Lower 48” historically migrated south and wintered along the coasts and in Southern (US) river valleys in constantly varying numbers with their Canadian and Alaskan “cousins”. European settlement changed the face of their nesting areas by both increasing and decreasing wetlands; shifting grasslands to grain fields and pastures; increasing predation on nesting birds (fewer wolves meant more coyotes and foxes et al, in more restricted and therefore more vulnerable goose nesting habitats); and shifting the taking of adults, young birds, and eggs from scattered Indian villages to widely-settled American homesteads using modern weaponry. Likewise the southern wintering areas changed from sterile (to geese) woodlands to fields of abundant and nourishing grains, and the southern wetlands of abundant wild animal and plant foods (for geese) were abandoned for wetlands and open waters where roosting and drinking were the only necessity for now well-fed wintering geese.
By the mid-20th century the few remaining Canada geese nesting in the Lower 48 were still migratory and stable for all practical purposes as a small segment of the migrating horde of Canada geese from Canada and Alaska. Even their wintering areas began changing thanks to agriculture to increasingly northerly locations in the Lower 48. Canada geese that historically wintered in Louisiana soon moved to Arkansas and then to Illinois and Kentucky and even to Wisconsin. This northerly progression of wintering areas was matched on the Plains as Texas birds increasingly stayed as far north (Nebraska and Colorado) as winter water allowed. East Coast geese likewise abandoned first South Carolina and soon North Carolina until today former goose abundances in coastal Virginia often remain in Maryland as wintering goose flocks became more common on the Upper Chesapeake and even up into New York state.
It was in the 1950’s and 60’s that the federal government spent millions to “raise” and “reintroduce” Canada geese (particularly the “Giant” variety) in the Lower 48. While the “reintroduction” into “the wild” consisted of a few federal and state refuges (most of which had some geese already in the area) the federal program began allowing naïve cities and states to obtain federal “permits” and birds for city parks, country clubs, and golf courses. This not only justified the money already spent but also provided a basis for new and increasing funding as necessary for “federal oversight”.
At first everyone was happy, then geese began to overpopulate these areas and costly annual “relocations into wilderness” (read other towns unaware of the consequences) proved ineffective and “buyers remorse” set in but it was too late. The birds stayed in one place, refused to migrate and because they mixed with migrants in the fall, the resident birds either escaped harvest in the fall by staying in urban areas or mixed with wintering birds where low limits and other restrictions made harvest of “residents” insignificant. Soon park ponds were turning green, goose crap covered children’s playgrounds, ladies on lunchtime strolls were attacked by nesting geese, questions about human health threats from goose crap went unanswered or evaded by government agencies, the effects of resident geese on other birds in urban settings were ignored, and calls to eliminate the geese were drowned out by those unaffected by the geese. Federal bureaucracies raced to “permit” state agencies to “take care of the problem”. This latter “passing the buck” was lauded as proof of a benevolent federal bureaucracy “responding” to local issues. Thus was born the term?, species?, whatever – RESIDENT Canada goose. Although not described in any taxonomy books and numbering in the millions today, their origin in the short mists of recent time is already distorted and denied by their federal inventors.
This “new” (i.e. “resident”) species of Canada goose become a “valuable?” part of our “ecosystem”(?) thanks to an all-too-powerful federal government, supine state governments, and politically powerful nature-worship organizations. And so it is with the wolf.
Timber (or gray) wolves in Minnesota were wrenched from state jurisdiction by federal bureaucrats and politicians using an early and questionable Endangered Species Act in 1967. “Canadian” wolves were “reintroduced” into the Upper Rocky Mountain States (with money stolen from state hunting and fishing programs and never replaced) in the 1990’s under the subsequent “steroid-injected” Endangered Species Act. Simultaneously, “Mexican” wolves were “reintroduced” into the Southwest. Currently wolves are spreading into every western state and even where they have not reached (like the Grand Canyon) federal “reintroduction” planning exists. All these wolves are causing great harm to residents, rural economies, and rural lifestyles.
Federal authority over the wolves has become, like federal authority over all Canada geese, absolute. State governments have become mere federal “permit” applicants like some rich banker or politician getting a federal “permit” to raise exotic ducks on his country estate. In each case, the federal government lays out the conditions, oversees everything forever, and becomes the forceful expressions of the whims and fancies of current federal Presidents, Congress, and their circle of friends and supporters. It is delusional to believe that “delisting” offers any real hope. “Delisting can be yanked by any court at any time. “Delisting” provisions can be modified by any agency or federal politician with only modest effort. “Delisting” is merely a plantation owner telling slave labor what their output is to be while he is away “or else”. Federal oversight and Federal control, like James Bond’s diamonds, “Are Forever”.
Think hard about this last; how since the federal government is becoming less and less accountable to the Constitution and laws, radicals and extremists can and do twist the government authority for their personal benefit every bit as much as Mugabe, Chavez, or Castro. Look hard at the White House staff and the stated values and goals of those controlling Washington today. A federal “permit” (to “control” geese) or a “delisting” (of wolves for instance) is but a fig leaf covering a repugnant fact of life. No matter how much geese or wolves offend or harm or destroy American communities, families, economies, human health, or the “general Welfare” of American citizens; the federal government is responsible but unaccountable. The federal politicians and federal bureaucrats and the nature-worship organizations all PROFIT from the distress and harm that they are causing American citizens!
As elk hunting disappears, as ranching becomes more and more problematic, as rural life becomes more and more hazardous, as questions about the presence and spread of disease go unanswered, and as pets are turned into skulls and spines for children to find; the wolves causing the destruction are protected and states grovel for a “PERMIT”. “Biologists” spew forth warbling about “genetic diversity”, as if an animal like the wolf that occurs in the millions worldwide and can and does mate successfully with dogs, coyotes, dingoes, and jackals can even truthfully be said to have it’s “own” “species” genes.
Like Canada goose taxonomy (an arcane mish mash of “complexes”, “groups”, species, and subspecies that curiously never mentions “resident” Canada geese), wolf taxonomy has become a tangle of scientific mumbo-jumbo dressed-up as scientific justification for political chicanery. Timber wolves are gray wolves. Red wolves are gray wolves. There are 7 species and 32 subspecies or is it the other way around? Quick, if the wolves in Mexico are Mexican wolves, what do you call wolves in Ethiopia or wolves in Italy? State employees run from and avoid meetings where uncomfortable questions are anticipated. Federal “experts” retire and make “biological” pronouncements from their new jobs with the nature worshippers. University professors make profitable careers out of enabling the flow of power and money to and from Washington for these “important” members of the “Native Ecosystem”.
Truthfully, neither of these animals (resident Canada geese or wolves) belongs anywhere in the Lower 48 in my opinion. The Lower 48 today is as similar to 1492 America as Spain is to pre-Roman Iberia. If the people of Minnesota wish to tolerate wolves in their North with the resulting lower moose and deer hunting plus the loss of dogs and livestock plus the increased human danger, well that is their decision. In such case they accept the consequences and the costs of managing the wolves accordingly. It is my firm belief that without strict, persistent and effective controls over time, Minnesotans (like any other Lower 48 state tolerating wolves) would come to deeply regret such a decision as would Chicagoans allowing abundant resident geese free-rein on the City’s open spaces and waters.
Whether wolves or resident Canada geese exist anywhere in the United States of America is a question for those living with or near these Federally-Created disasters. Looking to federal bureaucrats or federal politicians or all their “cooperators”, “partners”, “sponsors” and “benefactors” for a resolution is not only hopeless (due to all their agendas that conflict with any sane resolution), it is un-American. Being ruled in such matters by a far-away central bureaucracy be it Moscow, Beijing, or Khartoum is the definition of tyranny.
What is the answer?
The answer was given to us 230 years ago. The answer is found in the US Constitution. The Preamble of the US Constitution describes succinctly WHY the Constitution was drafted and adopted: it says WHY a federal government was being formed and what its specific and limited purpose was to be:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The debate during the Constitutional Convention about whether or not to include the “Rights” of citizens in the document ended in agreement amongst the states to adopting the first ten Amendments to the Constitution at once and these first ten Amendments are called The Bill of Rights. The tenth or last Amendment in this Bill of Rights reads:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The American answer to whether, where, and how many resident geese or wolves (both truly local animals) exist in any state lies with the State in which they do or might occur – NOT with the federal government. Federal actions have neither promoted “the general welfare” nor secured “the Blessings of Liberty” while exercising “powers not delegated to the United States” (i.e. the federal government). Primary jurisdiction over these animals, NOT delegated federal directives or “permits” or “agreements, etc., should reside exclusively with State governments. I know that means changing the Endangered Species Act, that means renegotiating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, that means renegotiating or withdrawing from certain interlocking UN Conventions and Agreements, and that means finding and electing federal politicians with guts and commitment: so be it. Ridding ourselves of the corruption and extreme harm of Prohibition 80 years ago meant REPEAL of the 18th Amendment and our parents and grandparents did not shrink from that even more formidable task.
State governments are more answerable to and responsive to residents of their state than any federal bureaucrat or politician ever can be. The American way is a limited federal government defending the nation and “regulating”(i.e. keeping “regular”) commerce between the states while State governments preserve the culture, traditions, “general Welfare” and way of life of the residents of each individual state. The Constitution was conceived to preserve the “general Welfare” with specifically limited powers granted to a necessary federal government and those powers not specifically granted to the federal government were and are to remain with the States and The People, not federal bureaucracies and international cabals.
The current approach to “managing” resident geese and wolves from a far-off unaccountable, central location by nameless bureaucracies is more like monarchical?, socialist?, fascist?, communist?, tyrannical?, (take your pick) societies that this country was created to specifically avoid. The current approach fits right in with currently nationalized auto companies, exclusive federal education loan authority, federalized health care, federalized financial institutions, and “Czars” for everything from salaries to race and sex programs.
Here are some suggestions:
- Send this to people running for office.
- Ask campaigning politicians if they would support returning jurisdiction over resident geese and wolves to state authorities.
- Write letters to the editor and tell your neighbors and associates that the return of much of the federal authority over wild plants and animals to state governments is one important and necessary step in the return of this nation to the tried and true principles and values on which this nation was founded.
Things will only get worse if we do nothing: they can only improve if we each get involved and fight for the right things.
10 April 2010
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