Like the ancient symbol of the theatre, the sad mask signifying drama and
the laughing mask signifying comedy, all governments represent the potential
to bring sadness or happiness to all of us. These two sides of government
occurred to me as I read and listened to all the news for the past week
about Avian Flu.
Avian Flu is certainly being reported as possibly the most dangerous threat
to human life in my lifetime. It has killed a few people so far in SE Asia.
It spreads in flocks of domestic waterfowl and chickens. It has been
documented in wild migratory birds in central and northern Asia. It has now
been found in domestic fowl in Romania and Turkey where wild migratory birds
are believed to have carried it. The words "pandemic", "epidemic", and
"mutating to spread in humans" bring chills to the spine. Vaccine shortages
and talk of military quarantine contingencies complete the reality of what
at first seemed like a science fiction movie plot. Only one thing was
Where are the Federal bureaucrats that administer Federal primary authority
over migratory birds? Where are the wildlife "biologists" and wildlife
"professors" that appear at the drop of a lawyers' hat when there is a grant
or environmental lawsuit popping up somewhere? Where are "our" State fish
and wildlife agencies that are trying to "grow up" like their wildly
successful Federal cousins? They are probably "doing lunch" with some
environmental lobbyist or animal rights organization executive about the
"opportunities" that Avian Flu may create.
Here are but a few things the Federal bureaucrats are sweeping under the
covers as they think ahead about their careers and how Avian Flu may affect
them. Ask yourself why the Federal agency and Department of the Interior
(that "manage" Migratory Birds) are silent about:
- Is there any research on the likelihood of transmission of Avian
Flu to wild North American migratory birds?
- Is it dangerous for US hunters to be handling, cleaning, or eating
wild migratory birds?
- How much mixing is there of wild migratory birds from Asia and
North American birds in the Aleutians? On the west coast? With birds that
nest in far northern climes where E-W distances between Asia and North
America are minimal? With birds that winter in central or eastern US?
- Is there any research on the potential for Avian Flu outbreaks
where large concentrations of migratory birds congregate?
- Are there contingency plans for dispersing or destroying
concentrations of migratory birds that are believed to be or about to be the
source of an outbreak?
- Is there any research on killing and/or dispersal methodologies
for emergency outbreaks? On private land? On National Wildlife Refuges?
- Have potential hotspots been identified (CA Central Valley,
Central Platte in NE, Chincoteague VA and TX/LA goose areas, Rice Lake MN
ringneck duck stopovers, etc.)?
- Have species or REAL concern (not all the money-driven drivel
about "keystone", "threatened", "declining", "invasive", etc nonsense) been
identified like snow geese, scaup, mallards, Canada geese, and others that
gather for extended periods in large concentrations?
- Have areas where wild and domestic fowl intermingle or water
supplies are shared, or runoff from wild birds contaminates domestic fowl
areas been identified? Are there plans to minimize or eliminate such
mixing? How could this be effected?
I could go on but you get the point. Why aren't all these wildlife gurus
that tell us we "need" wolves or that Indiana bats are "endangered" or that
marine mammals "must be protected" or that dams must be "dismantled", etc.
informed and prepared for these deadly implications? Why aren't the
newspapers and TV commentators either interviewing them or summarizing for
us what they are saying? The answer is because they are AWOL. This is
tough stuff, not the warm fuzzies of "partnering" with some radicals to get
more Federal money for bureaucrats and central authority over the rest of
I was recently on a radio program where I was asked about wolves and the
simple fact that they spread many very dangerous (to humans, wildlife,
livestock, and pets) diseases and parasites. The question was "doesn't the
government have to certify that wolves won't spread disease before they
introduce them? The answer is of course, NO. "Sound science" is merely a
"high-falooting" term to make the public accept a government decree. Saying
that "they belong" or they are "native" or they "balance the ecosystem" is
merely propaganda. "Real" science and responsibility for the diseases and
economic and physical harm is nowhere required or recognized. Is the
government responsible for the girl killed in a sleeping bag by a protected
and introduced grizzly bear"? Is the bureaucratic bunch that introduces and
protects (more than you and I get in a bad neighborhood) wolves responsible
for the dead pets? The dead livestock? The vanishing elk herds and elk
hunting? The increased danger in rural living? Of course not, and they don't
even have to admit any of these harms or research the effects of their
For instance, there is ample foreign documentation (oddly enough much of it
from the same Asian breeding grounds of the wild migratory birds enabling
the Avian Flu outbreak) that wolves carry many parasites that infect humans,
livestock, and wildlife such as caribou. Wolves are vectors for rabies,
foot and mouth, BSE (mad-cow), brucellosis (undulant fever in humans),
chronic wasting disease in wildlife, neosporosis (abortions) in livestock
and buffalo, and other things to be covered in a comprehensive book being
written by a Mr. Will Graves as I write this. However none of this was
mentioned as the wolves were forced back into the lower 48 states with money
stolen by Federal bureaucrats from State Wildlife Restoration and State
Sport Fish Restoration funds. This was after Congress refused to fund the
wolf introductions. Those funds ($45-60M) were never restored to the State
agencies. The State agencies never asked that they be replaced. Those in
charge at the time went on to leadership of national animal rights
organizations and Federal career moves. To this day (12 years later) the
mention of wolves and disease is like the mention of the "lynx scandal" or
the existence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Arkansas: something you must
doubt (that any Federal "environmental" bureaucrat would cheat) or must
believe (that all the Federal money and land acquisition so far is justified
for a bird that no one can substantiate exists). In the case of wolves and
disease, you "must" believe all the Defenders of Wildlife and Wolf Animal
Shelter propaganda that wolves are just like your dog and that they don't
harm anything and that they are (health-wise) as pure as the driven snow.
Avian Flu shortcomings and the cover-up of wolves as disease vectors bring
us back to an even older governmental scam about how government action and
inaction endangers us all as we are led to believe environmental/animal
rights fairy tales. I speak of "resident" Canada geese.
In the 1970's the US Fish and Wildlife Service permitted (by issuing
permits) States and cities to "establish" goose flocks on public parks and
other urban settings. At first it was (just like wolves, grizzlies,
cougars, etc.) "reestablishing" "giant" Canada geese from days of yore but
soon enough it was any Canada geese as golf courses and cities and parks and
even private owners wanted the beautiful geese "around". What we discovered
(as we are with wolves, cougars, bears, etc.) was that if you clipped the
wings of geese they were just like muscovy ducks, they could nest anywhere,
eat anything, and get by in or near any pond or catch basin the year around.
Today millions of "resident" Canada geese inhabit the northern half of the
lower 48 and much of southern Canada the year around. They poop in
schoolyards, shopping mall parking lots, public parks, residential and
commercial lawns, golf courses, swimming beaches, campgrounds, and on and
Do you hear any reports of the human health threats from all of the goose
poop being deposited in urban settings? (The last time I drove through
Chicago I observed 8 different large goose flocks fluttering around the
City.) Why, no. Not from the Federal or State bureaucrats either. Not
from the University professors and not from the conservation groups or the
environmental/animal rights radicals as well. The newspapers ignore it and
the TV news treats it as a non-issue. Why?
Three years ago I was asked by some Nebraska farmers to tell them how much
pollution wild waterfowl can deposit. They had literally millions of ducks
and geese spending months in their area roosting on five or six wetlands
each night and (after feeding each morning in fields) loafing in the middle
of certain large picked fields. The wetlands water turns to split pea soup
each fall and each spring the loafing sites in the fields were unable to
grow crops because of nitrogen enrichment (from goose "you-know-what"). The
Federal and State bureaucrats that wanted to buy land there and shut down
irrigation were accusing the farmers of polluting the soil and water by
using "too much" fertilizer.
I agreed to try and help. What I found astounded me and was more of this
"two-faces" of government.
There was no research on when wild ducks and geese poop or what their poop
consisted of. What effect weather and the kind of food had on their amount
and frequency of pooping was also lacking. Do they poop on the fly or while
roosting or while loafing or while feeding or all four? There was no
research (think of 90 years of Wildlife Refuges with millions of birds on
them for months at a time) on the effect of half a million birds roosting on
one 50 acre pond each night or loafing for 6 hours each day in the same
spot. Think of the health implications for visitors or employees on
So I asked a noted waterfowl biologist and he told me they "knew" that it
wasn't a problem. (Just like an Oregon State Veterinarian I asked about the
disease implications of wolves and he said there were "none". When I asked
him how he knew he said it was because he was a Veterinarian and "knew" such
So I asked professors of domestic bird husbandry and duck farm owners about
domestic duck poop. Here is what I learned. Years ago (20?, 30?) the EPA
began conducting research on domestic duck poop. Their research would fill a
room today. They then used their findings to obtain Federal legislation and
funding for the Federal government to seize jurisdiction over all flocks of
domestic ducks of 5,000 or more. Today Federal inspectors have driven out
many duck farmers and raised the cost of production dramatically. The
Inspectors rule with an iron fist and lined settling ponds, on site
aerators, double lagoons, and threats of business permit revocation for
runoff during storms are a fact of life and farmers are reluctant to be
quoted for fear of angering the all powerful Federal Inspectors. How did
the Federal government seize control of all flocks of domestic ducks of
5,000 or more? Simple they showed the dire consequences of duck poop.
Keep in mind the following as you consider Federal Avian Flu pronouncements,
wolf benevolence ala bureaucrats and professors and the plight of urban kids
playing in goose poop or Nebraska farmers "over fertilizing".
The EPA documented the following things in domestic duck poop:
- Fecal coliform bacteria
- Fecal streptococcus bacteria
- High pH
- Suspended solids
- Settleable solids
- Dissolved oxygen
There are standards for all these.
The EPA documented "threats" to groundwater, surface water, soil, human
health, air, wildlife, plants, and other etceteras. The Federal regulations
on Feedlots are of two types: ALL EXCEPT DUCKS and DUCKS.
So you see 5,000 7-8 lb. domestic ducks are a threat to America as we know
it but 2 million 6-10 lb. geese on the Platte River wetlands for months on
end or 80,000 snow geese wintering at Chincoteague Refuge or 30,000 geese in
Chicago parks or 12,000 geese on Minneapolis golf courses and parks are
different. On the one hand (domestic ducks) the Federal government wanted a
new task, more money, and more authority and they were successful by
painting a dismal picture. On the other, the Federal government didn't want
to be given the tough task of getting rid of or at least reducing the
"resident" Canada geese so they ignored the health implications and it
worked. Like the fictionalizing of wolf disease implications, we all
swallowed the bait like a crappie swallowing a minnow while the bureaucrats
do a double arabesque and pirouette off stage right.
Well Avian Flu control may just be the toughest task we (wildlife managers)
have ever faced. We don't need to continue these politically-correct fairy
tales and we don't need to depend on a bunch of green animal "protectors".
If ever the times demanded hard-nosed, common sense, it is now. Continued
reliance on the fairy tale spinners of the past may suddenly cost more than
just our freedoms and our property. It may very well involve our very lives
and the lives of those we hold most dear.
Mention this when you can to the Federal bureaucrats and their "silent"
State partners. Mention this to the professors and the politicians that
fund them. Mention this to "our" conservation groups that keep their
members "on the reservation" while they sell them out for their own careers.
Mention this to any environmental or animal rights advocates you know.
Mention this to the US or UN managers speaking about how more government
controls are needed. Oh yeah and if they snicker, as some will, that maybe
"the environment might benefit from fewer people" or "it's just natures'
way": smack 'em one for me and tell your friends that this problem of
two-faced government is getting more serious every day.
16 October 2005
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