do you draw the line?"
our state wildlife agency be allowed to violate our wildlife
law for politics? When do we uphold personal conservation ethics,
as individuals or the collective of a conservation organization?
When it is politically convenient?
will the cost be?
are questions I thought on last night, after fighting a major
uphill battle in the last week and a half, even against other
conservationists, simply to file a lawsuit on Friday before
a deadline. The complaint is against our Montana Fish, Wildlife
& Parks and Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission which
has bypassed the required Environmental Impact Study in favor
of the political Elk Management in Areas with Brucellosis program
and subsequent Work Plans. The FWP elk brucellosis plan, within
4 Montana counties, involves pasture wide, tall, wildlife obstructing
fences paid for by sportsmen dollars; kill permits and removal
hunts with no private landowner requirement of public hunter
access as in current game damage laws, in essence anytime of
the year – basically a move towards privatizing our wildlife.
This is not scientific wildlife management and is violating
Montana law. The public should never have had to go to court
to get our wildlife agency to follow these laws.
and author David Petersen wrote, "A minimal level of sportsman
ethics afield is mandated by written law. Beyond that, say,
when an action is legal but ethically questionable, or when
(as Aldo Leopold long ago pointed out) no one is watching, hunter
ethics is an individual responsibility. As the existentialists
would have it, we determine our own honor minute by minute,
action by action, one decision at a time." Very good words to
live by. But is it also applicable for "conservation"?
the most basic terms, conservation is protecting something from
harm or destruction. So let's replace the word “sportsman”,
in Petersen's quote, with “conservationist”. Some conservation
ethics is mandated by law, with state and federal agencies acting
as trustees for the Public Trust. At a bare minimum, we need
our agencies to abide by the mandated laws set in place to conserve
and manage. Above that, you hope that they are a conservationist,
rather than just a political bureaucrat.
Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the FWP Commission are members
of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).
In WAFWA's Public Trust Doctrine Resolution it mandates, “that
fish and wildlife resources are to be held in trust by government
for the benefit of present and future generations.” It further
states, “...the public must be made aware of this Public Trust,
and it must be enforceable against the government.”
Kroger, retired BLM, wrote a book, “Choosing a Conservation
Vocation or a Bureaucratic Career: Personal Choices and the
Environmental Consequences.” In it he states, “In essence, big
money interests of our society use the political process to
set the stage for unsustainable natural resource use, but it
is the bureaucratic careerists in government agencies who embrace
the orders to carry out the destructive missions which result
in needless degradation of our environment... All that is necessary
is for more natural resource professionals in government agencies
to do their lives' work as dedicated conservation vocationists
rather than self-serving bureaucratic careerists who always
conform to the interests of the powerful big money interests.”
a personal/individual conservation level, or that of the conservation
organizations, conservation ethics seem to be a gray area for
some and that may be an understatement in some cases. Politics
directs actions and agendas, rather than the basic principle
of protecting something from harm or destruction, or as Leopold
put it, “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one
else is watching - even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”
is it right to favor political and personal relationships over
scientific wildlife management and wildlife law?
it conservationally right to politically throw one species under
the bus in an effort get your favored species out?
it right to prevent or obstruct others from legally seeking
redress from governmental conservation violations?
would be curious how the actions of some "conservationists"
over the last 2 years of this elk brucellosis debacle, even
up to the very morning of our trying to get this lawsuit filed
on Friday, would stand in the light of day?
me an idealist, but I believe in conservation, in the purest
sense. I dont believe that the teachings and works of the early
conservationists, such as Roosevelt, Pinchot, Muir, Leopold,
Grinnell, Thoreau, or even contemporary conservationists are
merely so we can get a warm fuzzy feeling while reading or quoting
them, a moral high.
is a moral partnership between the present and future generations.
And as Petersen put it, "...we determine our own honor minute
by minute, action by action, one decision at a time."
I would like to give a special thanks to Dyrck Van Hyning for
his heroic efforts in helping to secure this last minute filing
of the elk brucellosis lawsuit before the deadline.
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and
Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission
Filed Jan. 9, 2015, 3:46 PM
Case No. ADV 201522