An Open Letter To Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior
December 5, 2011
Honorable Ken Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington. D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar;
You and I have met. The photo here shows you and I shaking hands in the small western Montana town of Ovando.
During your visit to the “Crown of the Continent” this past summer, you stopped in Ovando to address a small crowd there to greet you, and to welcome you to the area. You praised conservation efforts in the area to save several wildlife species. However, you totally failed to address a very serious wildlife conservation disaster – the extremely negative impact USFWS transplanted non-native wolves are having on elk, moose, deer and other big game populations right in that same exact area.
I was the one who dared to show up packing a wolf protest sign. If you remember, the sign read “Thank You U.S.F.W.S. – Non-Native Canadian Wolves!” I know that you read the sign.
When you were appointed Secretary of the Interior, you certainly inherited a lot of tainted USFWS baggage, especially with the wolf problem.
The sportsmen of the Northern Rockies have grown weary of watching wolves destroy the past 75 to 100 years of wildlife restoration. The very area you visited in the Blackfoot River and Clearwater River drainages has seen elk populations plummet by 80+ percent, deer numbers cut in half, and moose nearly wiped out by wolves that USFWS wrongly dumped into western Montana, most of Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming.
Those who have footed the bill for wildlife conservation in the Northern Rockies have a lot of questions, and I hope you are man enough to provide some very honest answers.
Probably the number one question plaguing the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project has been, “Where did the funding for this fiasco come from?” I and many others have spent countless hours on the internet researching every aspect of this project, and we have not been able to find where Congress ever authorized such funding. One reasonably high ranking former USFWS staffer claims that the money was embezzled from the excise tax dollars that sportsmen pay on the purchases of firearms, ammunition, archery gear, fishing tackle and other similar outdoor products. He says the money was literally stolen from the Pittman-Robertson Funds that, by law, are to be used exclusively for funding wildlife habitat and fisheries improvement.
Several other former USFWS staffers have said the same thing. They’ve claimed that among the various illegal uses of the $45- to $65-million stolen from these funds, USFWS covered the costs of trapping wolves in Canada…used the money for transporting them into this country…for construction of elaborate holding compounds …and for covering the salaries of those USFWS employees assigned to work on this project.
If this is true, why isn’t former USFWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark serving time behind bars? I’ve heard that she even used some of the stolen money to hand out bonuses to USFWS staffers, including herself.
Why did USFWS choose to transplant Canadian wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis) as replacement wolves for the native wolf (Canis lupus irremotus) of the Northern Rockies? Sure, we’ve heard the claims that ALL gray wolves are the same. Hogwash! There’s a reason why earlier taxonomists recognized 24 subspecies of wolves in North America – and that’s because they had different characteristics, different physical features, or different instinctive habits. For USFWS to simply lump ALL gray wolves together and claim they are ALL the same establishes a very dangerous precedence. What keeps them from doing the same thing with other species/subspecies? Using the same illogical logic, then the Sonoran pronghorn can easily be “unendangered” by simply trucking down a few thousand pronghorn from Wyoming. Likewise, the threatened Florida Keys deer can easily be saved by transplanting thousands of whitetails from Iowa or Illinois, where there’s an overabundance. So what if they’re a bit larger subspecies? That sure didn’t stop USFWS when it comes to wolves, now did it?
It’s extremely evident why USFWS took this route. First, the large number of wolves in Canada sure made their job easier when it came to sourcing wolves for the project. Secondly, it allowed overzealous USFWS “wolf experts” to greatly accelerate saturating the Northern Rockies with the aggressive apex predators. The manner in which the agency manipulated science, and replaced one subspecies with another, is a violation of the Endangered Species Act itself.
The residents of the affected region are extremely suspect of the real number of Canadian wolves transplanted where they never ever inhabited before. Was Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project coordinator Ed Bangs given carte blanche power with this project? Try as hard as one may, the mandatory USFWS Form No. 3-177 that is to be completed and filed for every wildlife shipment into the U.S. cannot be found for the wolves flown in from Canada. Without those forms, there is no verification of the number of wolves imported…where they all came from…the subspecies of the wolves…or the cost of the shipments. In other words, there’s no paper trail.
Who qualified the “wolf experts” chosen to compile the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan, and to compile the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement for this project that was submitted by USFWS? I personally have spent hundreds of hours mulling through these two official documents, and one thing is very, very clear. And that is what the so-called “experts” claimed, predicted, forecasted, and stated as “fact” was far from the wolf impact we are now realizing. When the time is taken to compare what was outlined in those two Wolf Recovery Project documents to what has happened and continues to happen, it’s easy to see that those experts missed by a country mile. Likewise, those experts failed to address a number of other negative issues wolves bring to an ecosystem. Their plan and their EIS were far from complete – or correct.
Was this an oversight on their part? Could it be that they were not qualified for assessing the impact wolves would have on the Northern Rockies? Or, were these documents just more of the lies, deceit and secrecy surrounding the introduction of non-native wolves here? Has USFWS turned against the sportsmen of this country, and now sides with the radical environmental groups?
There are still far too many unanswered questions surrounding the idiocy of allowing wolves to destroy what took nearly a century to rebuild. This is a building firestorm that has already ruined any trust that sportsmen have in USFWS. As we near the 2012 elections, things are sure to erupt.