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Observations from Southern Florida – Panthers, Bureaucrats & Pandering Politicians

florida-panther-scratches-treeJim Beers
Retired U.S. Fish & Wildlife Agent
February 7, 2016


The following is a report of a recent journey I took through the wet woodlands and grasslands of Southern Florida.  This is an area inhabited by “endangered” Florida “panthers”, mink, terrapins and squirrels; formerly “threatened” (and now hunted) black bears; bobcats and turkeys; dwindling deer herds; omnipresent (in road ditches and perched on equipment) “endangered” wood storks; plus conniving bureaucrats; and pandering politicians afloat in a thick stew spiced with steady human development and Invasive Species of all sorts from pythons, Africanized killer bees and cattle egrets to Australian pines, boa constrictors and Brazilian Pepper Trees.  More than 30 species of orchids nestle in trees and in nooks and crannies known to only those that study them.  While this may not sound like any other part of the US to most Americans, what I found was a replica of the “red” wolf controversy area in North Carolina; the “Mexican” wolf scandal environs in Arizona and New Mexico; the wolf and grizzly bear insanity plaguing the Upper Rocky Mountain States; and the Great Lakes’ wolf impacts covered up and denied in a growing number of states as merely “global warming”, “old myths”, “hybrids” and “bad winters”.  In other words; what I found was bureaucrats and politicians serving primarily themselves; wildlife and “nature” being destroyed under the legal auspices and aura of “saving” them; and local residents and communities being persecuted by government as their rights, property, traditions and cultures are manipulated into oblivion by unfettered bureaucracies and unjust laws.

If you look at a Florida map, just N of the Keys is the Everglades National Park; 1,508,000 acres of unmanaged, closed and overgrown swampland where pythons and boa constrictors compete with the panthers, bears and other predators for the dwindling and unmanaged deer, birds and remaining mammals sufficiently large enough to provide more calories than those expended to catch them.

NW of the Everglades is the Big Cypress National Preserve, 720,000 acres also controlled by and not managed by the National Park Service.  Although authorized by Congress and purchased by the Park Service as a “National Preserve” where hunting, fishing and other recreational uses and access were to be not only protected, but allowed in perpetuity: the history of the Preserve has been a sordid one of attempts to make much of it “Wilderness”; force out in-holders; and constrict access and access requirements.  Access has been continuously reduced, transportation in that wet and inhospitable habitat likewise has been restricted and ratchetted down (like most incremental gun controls designed and intended to one day facilitate a gun ban).  Inholdings like residences and hunting camps likewise suffer regulatory and other bureaucratic harassments and impositions designed to make them sell out or for their heirs to be discouraged from using the properties and therefore become anxious to sell them to government realtors.  National Park Service bureaucrats are known for their highly developed skill at lying to and making promises to local people about everything from future Park Service plans to access guarantees and accountability for employee misbehavior.

Along the W edge of the Big Cypress lies the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, 26,400 acres owned and operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  This comparatively small ownership is ground zero for the “most endangered of all species, the Florida Panther”.  The Refuge lies N across a highway from the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve and the Picayune Strand State Forest, each (non-) managed by Florida State agencies.  To drive this highway is like acting in a cheap science fiction movie on the SyFi channel.  Each side of the highway for miles is an expensive 10’ high chain link fence with outward barbed wire stanchions like some apocalyptic road in one of those Mad Max movies.  Ostensibly to keep the “endangered” but auto-vulnerable panthers off the road: between the numerous vines covering sections and the “where do you go now?” situation confronting any panther finding itself in this miles-long and straight-as-an-arrow canyon from hell, this perverted excuse for “management” is every bit as sorry as the recent history of this unlucky “endangered” critter.

The area of these government ownerships is bounded on the N by an Indian Reservation, sugar cane plantations and a web of very large drainage canals and subsidiaries built by the US Army Corps of Engineers early in the last century to divert enormous amounts of runoff from Lake Okeechobee and below to the Atlantic Ocean from Miami northward and the Gulf of Mexico from Marco Island to Cape Coral.  This water management (just as in other gargantuan, organized government drainage projects such as NW Minnesota, central North Dakota, The Boot Heel of Missouri, etc.) made possible the stable living conditions and agricultural prosperity that facilitated the dense human settlements of the Lower Florida coasts that bound the area (E & W) that I visited and will now describe in more detail.

Panthers –

A panther is a cougar is a puma is a mountain lion; regardless of what you call them or where they live – they are ONE SPECIES named Felis concolor.  Cougars are a widely distributed and ubiquitous large predator from Tierra Del Fuego (the S tip of South America) up the western mountain chains to SE Alaska and W Canada.  The E US once had and occasionally today still has wandering cougars and ephemeral cougar population pockets that historically were wiped out when children disappeared or livestock losses became unbearable.  Southern Florida became such a pocket of cougars in the S swamps as sugar cane, government ownerships and urban developments inexorably locked them into the Everglades/Big Cypress area.

Floridians knew the panthers were disappearing in the 1950’s.  Tales of roadside zoo and “pet” cougars being released here and even pumas from South America being released into this area were rumored with a sort of proud reverence as help in “saving” these magnificent (?) animals from “extinction”.

Along comes the federal Endangered Species Act touting all those “charismatic megaspecies” (i.e. bald eagles, alligators, elephants, manatees, whales, etc., etc.) and the Florida Panther was placed into the federal fold under supreme federal authority and the “protection” that only Uncle Sam could provide.  Thus The Big Cypress was authorized in 1974 and the Panther Refuge was authorized in 1989.  Interestingly, the refuge is described on Wikipedia (often a good indicator of public perception resulting from public information) as founded for, “The Florida panther, the only cougar species found east of the Mississippi River”.

Still, how has this pocket of cougars fared since then?

Cougars, like wolves, are notoriously hard (some would say impossible) to count or monitor with certitude.  Thus bureaucrats and their subsidiary employees like University professors and NGO advocate/cooperators like the Defenders of Wildlife et al (again as with wolves) can make numbers go up or down with political needs and who is to disagree?  On what basis could or would you disagree?  “Show me YOUR credentials” is a common refrain.

We are told there are 120 to 160 “Florida” Panthers extant but is that true?  How many were there 60 to 70 years ago when roadside zoo/pet pumas were “released”?  How many were there when the USFWS brought in 8 or more female cougars from Texas?  What is a “Florida” panther when it is part Texas or South American cougar?  Doesn’t the USFWS say that hatchery salmon aren’t really salmon?  Aren’t we told that domestic buffalo aren’t really worthy of being forced (like Yellowstone buffalo) on rural America as “free-roaming’ to be endured, or else?  Aren’t USFWS bureaucrats able to bring Alberta wolves into the Upper Rockies to spread from the Pacific Ocean to the Mississippi but ONLY “mexican” wolves (whatever they are purported to be other than found in Mexican backcountry) can be federally-imposed on Arizona and New Mexico?  Is a “red” wolf mostly coyote, or dog, or mostly coyote AND dog?  Just what is the federal role (and all that un-Constitutional “ legal” authority they exercise) goal?  It’s limit?  What is a “Florida” cougar??  What is the federal endgame for mountain lions in the Old South?

USFWS says it is to repopulate something called their “original” range purported to be (by USFWS and their enablers) roughly from Tennessee to the Mississippi and the Atlantic Coast southward.  That is what is commonly called a WAG or Wild A%$ Guess based primarily on how much they can claim or get away with down the road given some politicians looking for votes and available funding from a compliant Congress.  Truth be known, Florida wants no panthers N of where they are today and NO OTHER Eastern State wants them either.  Two current conditions also contribute to this stalemate; 1) there is currently a set of Governors that would resist any federal cougar dumps and 2) there is a pending Presidential election (plus a lot of incumbents) on hand and no one is going to use that old “I’ll just issue an Executive Order” or “elections have consequences” approach in this period of serious voter unrest.

Thus we have 40+ cougars a year found dead (mostly from autos) out of a 120-160 population??  There are all sorts of indications of a high rate of inbreeding (a sure sign of crowding and an unhealthy population) throughout panther habitat.  Cougars have begun denning in housing development areas and raising kittens.  Dogs and cats are disappearing.  Some people actually wonder in private if their little kids should play outside when a cougar is frequenting the area.  More federal funds go to constructing tunnels (no cheap[ feat in those wetlands) under roads blocked with chain link fences like prisons.  As if cougars migrate like wildebeests and will cross the roads in numbers other than those individuals that have home ranges on each tunnel side.  Given “the most endangered” warblings of federal bureaucrats, one would think the last thing you would do is essentially divide remaining individuals into separate genetic groups and then bemoan “interbreeding”, but federal science is little more than alchemy these days anyway.  The chain link fence stands like a Berlin Wall of “endangered” wildlife.

The remaining mountain lions in Florida (note I did not refer to them as “Florida panthers) have had all the good luck of Hansel and Gretel captured by a cannibalistic witch (the federal government) with no one to save them.

The Habitat –

The federal and state Park/Wildlife bureaucrats bemoan all of the “logging” that went on before their arrival on the scene to purchase (close) the land and campaign ceaselessly to eliminate all human presence in their “let Nature take her course” estate.  As if trees do not grow back.  They bemoan the hunting they want to eradicate.  They whine about the airboats and “buggies” necessary to get around in these swamps.  They invent strawmen – “orchids are being stolen”, “ORV tracks ‘destroy’ (fill-in-the-blank)”, “we need to restrict here and there and this and that or the whole place will collapse”, “in-holders are mostly poachers and untrustworthy”, etc. – to request MORE money, MORE employees, MORE people-regulation, MORE land, and MORE land control.  One proposed regulation actually requires people to haul out their own feces much like dog-walkers are required to do for their dogs in Central Park.

The majority of the water that naturally and historically flowed from N to S and into the Gulf of Mexico N of the Keys over these government landholdings now flows outwards via very large US Army Corps of Engineers Drainage Canals E & W into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.  Thus the water no longer seeps into the ground and underground aquifers as it flows South to the Gulf by the Keys and the groundwater level is consequently dropping.  This causes all sorts of problems for the natural diversity in the plant and animal communities dependent on such a water regime that once supported panthers, bears, et al long ago.  Periodically flooded land; dry hummocks; low-lying land; organic soils; limestone outcroppings; etc. each grow certain plants and support certain segments of the ecosystem: lower the periodic surface flooding and the groundwater levels, and an entirely new community of plants (and animal abundance) emerges that is more often than not hostile to previously understood human interests.  If that weren’t enough, Florida is awash with plants once imported for landscaping from Brazilian Pepper trees to Australian pines and which are now everywhere.

Add in, at this point that fire was historically a major factor in maintaining the rich plant community that formerly supported deer for bears and panthers to eat and turkeys for bobcats to eat.  Indians set fires, Europeans set fires, lightning caused fires and fires burned until it rained or the wind shifted.  Today fires are put out by federal and state firefighters almost before they ignite.  Urban development and agriculture ringing these areas and require firm fire protection management and control to protect homes and communities from the ravages of fire.   This requires dollars and personnel that federal and State bureaucrats simply spend and use elsewhere.  If you cannot do these things necessary for why the public bought the land, why even own it?  If you can’t control what you have, how can you ask for more?  It was actually far more wildlife-productive in private ownership with broad public use and state management.  Additionally, no bureaucrat wants the responsibility with potential responsibility (gasp) for starting a fire that gets out of hand.  The result of all this is an overgrown Everglades and Big Cypress, changing State lands and refuges, prairie losses to overwhelming Invasive plants, and thick forest canopies that shade out for years what would otherwise be a diverse and productive habitat for all wildlife with the historic patches of cypress canopies, pine tree islands and the scattered grass prairies.  Thus the deer are decreasing and non-existent in some locations while panthers and bears increasingly tend toward residential areas and conflicts with humans to find food.

There is NO active wildlife management anywhere in this government quagmire.  Everything is left to whatever happens. There is NO burning or select logging for deer.  There is NO trapping of bobcats to maintain a healthy bobcat population size and density as well as to minimize turkey nest destruction.  There is NO concern about bear numbers to minimize human conflicts or to balance their numbers with available food and land area.  Deer are rare to gone in the Everglades as formerly open flooded prairies of short thin grasses are head high thickets of grass bereft of any abundant animals species as pythons and boa constrictors multiply and carve out an unknown place in an environment more hostile to humans and human activity.

What of the panther in this mishmash of “natural” chaos?  If you are losing 1/3 +/- of your panthers (40 out of 120 -160 per the experts) annually without human interference; you have too many panthers for the available habitat.  If there are abundant indications of interbreeding (as there are); you have too many panthers for the habitat.  If you have panthers being killed on busy Interstate Interchanges and kittens born in housing areas; you have too many panthers for the available habitat.  So what can you do with the panthers?

You can’t kill any panthers; all those Floridians in the new development residences (former panther habitat in more than a few instances) would revolt.  You can’t transplant any; no one wants them and no place can handle or tolerate any more in The Lower 48 States.  You can’t truly “manage” them in the short-term (for the immediate health of the population) much less in a sustainable and long-term way (a sustainable and healthy future population) if your only option is “protection”.  You don’t even have the option of managing for “fewer” or “less” since the ESA always dictates complete “protection” and ultimately species sanctification ad infinitum from any and all disturbance caused by humans for ever higher and more dense populations, regardless.

As if all this weren’t enough to make you concerned about the future of rare wildlife and irresponsible bureaucracy, “I have one word for you” (to paraphrase The Graduate movie while in reality having three words); oil and gas.  When the government(s) purchased these lands, the former owner neither sold nor did Uncle Sam or the Governor purchase the mineral rights under these flowing swamps.  Oil and gas were found years ago and a few wells were drilled.  Oil prices, while currently in the tank are coming from high levels that many analysts believe may never return but who knows? Fracking technology has made formerly marginal oilfields and formerly unknown fields potentially, fabulously profitable.  Bureaucrats vow to “fight” any oil exploration or drilling anywhere they can.  Environmentalists will flock to “defend” the area from oilmen like Russians flocking to Stalingrad in the fall and winter of 1942. Can a nation $18+ Trillion in debt afford to condemn the mineral rights and compensate the value of frackable oil and gas?  Does responsible and well-regulated oil and gas development really create a mortal threat to panthers or terrapins or mink?  My answer to this last is NO.

Invasive (Harmful and Injurious) Species

I could write extensively about all the recently-arrived plants now established everywhere as a result of landscaping imports and hobby plants brought in for collectors.  Certainly, the impacts of these vegetative changes are dramatic on wildlife but I will focus on two animals that are having dramatic impacts on both wildlife and human welfare.  I speak here of python species and boa constrictors and I speak of them because of the bureaucratic and political implications of their appearance and what this means for the future.

The large constrictors and pythons that have become established and are spreading daily to eat mammals and endangering human safety are blamed on “Hurricane Andrew” in 1992.  The story goes that “pet” pythons and constrictors were released during the hurricane as homes on the Atlantic coast of S Florida were destroyed.  Blaming the hurricane is like blaming the spoon for obesity.  The blame lies at the feet of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida State Wildlife bureaucracies, and the state and federal elected politicians paid to manage these bureaucracies and their employees.

In 1900, the Congress passed The Lacey Act that charged the Secretary of Agriculture (where the predecessor of USFWS, The Biological Survey, was located) with “prohibiting the importation of Injurious wildlife” such as mongooses, fruit bats, etc.  In 1960 the Act was amended to authorize the Secretaries of Interior (the current USFWS location), Commerce and Treasury to expand the importation prohibitions to species injurious to “human beings, agriculture, forestry, wildlife or the wildlife resources of the United States”.  This was never done and pythons and constrictors were allowed to be imported for retail sale or as baggage.

The destruction and danger now being wrought by pythons and constrictors is immense.  They will spread slowly North to??  They compete with other predators for food.  They are very dangerous to children, adults and pets as they invade residential areas.  You did not and do not have to have a college degree in Wildlife to understand that these snakes can become established in areas like the Gulf Coast swamps from which they can spread northward up the Mississippi or a dozen other rivers from Jacksonville, Florida to Houston Texas.  They can and will adapt and learn to take advantage of weather phenomenon and available food and winter protection in this northward march.

Why did USFWS and their political bosses not prohibit importation of these snakes 100+ years ago?  Why not 60 years ago when the more specific designations were amended into the Lacey Act?  Why would Florida (or Alabama, Mississippi or Texas for that matter) bureaucrats and their political bosses allow the sale or possession of these animals?  Who is REALLY AT FAULT for these Invasive (Harmful/Injurious) animals that are now established and spreading?  Who got payoffs or lobbying support from the pet store lobbyists?  Who is paying for what is beginning to happen thanks to these states?  Aren’t these federal and state boys and girls, and politicians the same ones we want to own and “protect” all these National Park/National Wildlife Refuge/National Preserve/State Forest/State Preserve lands?  Aren’t they the ones stopping all human use and active resource management?  Aren’t they the same ones hyping the media and schools and politicians about all this “most endangered” this and that propaganda?

The snakes aren’t the only example of unmentioned/hidden consequences of government wrecking of ”the ecosystem” while posing like saviors of environmental purity.  I speak here of the Asian (grass, silver, bighead) carp that have decimated the aquatic environment of the Lower Mississippi and the Illinois River while currently spreading up to the Twin Cities and down to Louisiana.  We are currently spending millions of dollars merely to keep them from passing through Chicago and into The Great Lakes, an impossible task in the long run.

Why, just like the pythons and the constrictors, would anyone (much less these bureaucrats and politicians that belittle and abjure wildlife “management” while embracing “saving” and “protecting” the animals of their choice and location) allow the importation of these ecological and human welfare time-bombs to be imported?  The answer is catfish farmers wanted them imported to keep their ponds clean by eating all the detritus and plants that accumulate as a result of catfish husbandry.  Again it does not take a genius IQ to notice that these ponds are in low spots near streams that flood and that the carp will escape into the stream/river nearby and provide these aquatic plant eaters an environment to explode in and destroy as in the estimate that 95% of the fish biomass in the Illinois River is Asian carp.  Our space is limited or we could discuss the associated loss of waterfowl winter habitat and muskrat/beaver/turtle habitat and the dangers to boaters and the degradation of the riverine environment as a recreational resource and the danger to valuable sport fisheries from these carp allowed to be imported by the same bureaucracies we now all but worship and trust implicitly.  These are the same agencies urging airlines as I write not to transport animal trophies.  These are the same bureaucracies restricting licensed concealed carry handgun owners from exercising their 2nd Amendment Rights in the federal agency’s buildings, parking lots, and lands.


All of the foregoing concerns can ultimately be blamed on the politicians at both the federal and state levels.  They passed the Endangered Species Act with more un-Constitutional authority than any law passed in my long life.  They passed the Wilderness Act, The Marine Protection Act, The Animal Welfare Act and many others trying to make the federal government the controlling authority over every citizen and every move they make.  State politicians, like many state bureaucrats, both knowingly and unknowingly acquiesce to federal hegemony in return for federal money, federal jobs and federal guarantees of future employment when state and local governments (they think) become totally irrelevant.

With the foregoing in mind, one of my hosts on my Southern Florida pilgrimage happened to mention a particularly hard-core Federal employee that lied with stunning alacrity day in and day out.  Then my host mentioned how Florida already had one Marine Sanctuary (a contrived federal “Wilderness” Declaration in federal oceanic waters) that was established with a “guarantee that there would never be more than one in Florida and now another was being proposed”, I perked up.  He asked how could “they” do this and I said “easily”.  “The bureaucrat or politician that said it is probably retired into a gated community somewhere and despite the reality that their word meant nothing, all the latest politicians have to do is insert a sentence in the newest Marine Sanctuary Declaration that says – ‘this bill amends section XX of the Jim Beers Marine Sanctuary Law 1234 to read as Congress determines new Sanctuaries in the future’”.

But then a funny thing happened.  I asked how far out at sea was this current federal Sanctuary and he answered, “out from the beach”.  As far as I knew, States OWN and CONTROL the bottom and waters into the Ocean/Gulf for 3 miles from the shore and when I asked what was controlled he said, “boats, commercial fishing, sport fishing, diving…”  I did not understand how the federal government could declare jurisdiction and authority over everything in the waters and on the bottom of STATE lands.

When I got home and began writing these observations, an interesting (to me) fact came to my attention.  The Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary is comprised of 2,800 square miles and is under the authority of NOAA, EPA, NPS and the State of Florida.  It was declared in 1990 when the immensely unpopular Republican Governor Bob Martinez (only the second Republican Governor since Reconstruction) was up for reelection.  Republican President GHW Bush was in his second year of office and unconcerned about re-election at the time..  While Democrat Lawton Chiles won that election against Martinez by 11% (a large margin); evidently Bush and Martinez had tried something big to get Martinez re-elected before the vote.  Bush proposed and Martinez okayed (i.e. surrendered State sovereignty for all intents and purposes) a “Marine Sanctuary” along the Keys and out at the end of the chain in the Gulf.  I’ll bet the environmentalists and swarms of newly-arrived Northeasterners gushed about it.  The Republican voters could have cared less since they already were either for or against Martinez.  The Democrat “swing” voters evidently didn’t take the bait and so Martinez lost and a large chunk of Florida became yet another federal enclave that no one seems to notice.  This is reminiscent of old President Nixon that started much of this environmental law and bureaucracy mayhem but who is ignored and despised by modern-day enviros who celebrate Earth Day as some sort of holy day for Wisconsin Senator US Senator (D) Gaylord Nelson, (the “father of – blah, blah, blah).

Florida is Arizona, is North Carolina, is Minnesota, is California…

What I learned and have tried to describe are environmental scams and destruction perpetrated by state and federal politicians pandering for votes, federal and state bureaucrats manipulating an avalanche of unjust authority and jurisdictions created in the new laws intended to keep politicians and their “Parties” in office ad infinitum. Look no farther than California sanctification of cougars and wolves; or federal force imposing wolves and grizzly bears killing people and property in Upper Rocky Mountain States; or lying Great Lakes State bureaucrats adjusting wolf numbers and impacts (“moose have disappeared because of global warming”, “wolf numbers are down; no up”, “wolf attacks don’t happen”, etc.) to give cover to federal lies and infamies; or federal “cooperation” to release “mexican” wolves just S of the Big Bend National Park on the Rio Grande in hopes they will go N across the river into the National Park and infest Texas (a big opponent of ANY federal wolves) just like the feds caused in Yellowstone 20 years ago; or North Carolina landowners that have been lied to about wolves by federal bureaucrats more than international nuclear inspectors in Iran.  This is the same play only with different actors and a different set on the stage.  Federal power grabs, state indifference and deference, a public perception of the action with all of the recognition of a Picasso painting with a title no one understands. 

Mike Elfenbein is the Florida panther man that schooled me in what is going on and what he is trying to do for this article.  He did this just like Bob Fanning and Dale Potter schooled me in what is happening with wolves in the Upper Rockies; and Don Meamber and Bert Holzhauser have done the same for me about N California and wolves; and Scott Ferebee has done for me about “red” wolves in North Carolina; and Doyel Shamley has done for me in Arizona.  As I told a radio show audience recently, all of these disparate groups are fighting the same battle one at a time against an uncaring and supposedly invulnerable federal behemoth run from Washington.  Unless and until we came begin to come together we will remain like post-Civil War individual western Indian tribes that found themselves one at a time up against battle-hardened US Army veterans that were probably the toughest Army in the world in those days.  The outcome was never in doubt.

What Would I do?

Lest you think of me as only a complainer, I hereby suggest what should be done.

1)    Repeal ANY federal jurisdiction over the purported “Florida” panther.  There is only ONE cougar/puma/mtn. lion/panther SPECIES.  It is doing very well thank you in the US, Canada and from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.  This Florida pocket of cougars is merely a population that if Floridians are fascinated by it, they can preserve them.  They are mongrelized cats with all manner of outside (Texas/ S America/?) genetic material that are about as unique as a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle in an apartment by Central Park.  Their presence or abundance is as much the concern of non-Floridians in our US system of government as lutefisk regulation in Minnesota is a concern of San Franciscans or Bostonians.  Florida panthers are Constitutionally and solely a state responsibility.

2)    Return all of the federal holdings from the Everglades National Park to the Florida Panther NWR and Big Cypress National Preserve to State ownership.  Incorporate them with the Picayune State Forest and Fakahatchee Preserve and relabel them as a unified State Wildlife Management Area.

3)    Begin MANAGING Wildlife. Wildlife Habitat, Forest Resources, Water, and all Renewable Natural Resources on the WMA.

4)    Make and maintain one contiguous firebreak around the ownership wherever any fire could spread to non-government properties.  Make and maintain a smaller sized web of firebreak/access roads as necessary to institute a sustainable surface ecosystem of benefit to the purposes of the WMA listed under #3.

5)    Manage the area for healthy and sustainable populations of bear, deer/ turkey and furbearers to sustain a balance with requirements of alligators, panthers and bird populations.  Hunting, fishing and trapping should be regulated and revenue generated should be used exclusively for WMA management.

6)    Inholding ownerships should be respected and maintained as should their access.

7)    A Volunteer organization of local and other interested persons should be formed and utilized as their time and expertise allow.

8)    When species of concern (as for instance panthers could be if so directed by the Governor) are identified; special management attention should be directed to assure that a sustainable population is maintained.  Fences and other impediments to a natural environment for such species are to be discouraged.  Automobile mortality should be a factor contributing to a mortality level that maintains a healthy objective population.

9)    ORV/ATV access is important to human access and should be encouraged and only restricted when proven harm (not merely visual disturbance) is shown to be remedied by such regulation.

10) Burning regimes should be employed on a rotating basis in order to assure quality habitat to achieve WMA objectives without danger to human safety or private property.

11) Work with the owners of the mineral rights before they apply to develop mineral resources and seek methods to co-exist with various levels and intensities of oil and gas development.  Such things as compatibility with fire regimes, access roads and waste containment are better developed BEFORE federal intervention is required and interminable and intractable wrangling becomes little more than a food fight in the courts.

Actually, such state/private cooperation and local involvement BEFORE wolf/grizzly/panther/spotted owl, etc. federal impositions were hatched would have gone a long way to heading off much of the current rural disasters we are enduring.  One need look no farther than the recent federal failure to make the sage grouse the latest weapon of federal growth in the West.  Two things stopped them: 1) State governments had reams of plans and landowner agreements, way beyond anything the feds could have believably improved on, and 2) a Presidential election was coming up that threatens to replace the Party in power and make their House and Senate Minorities even smaller.

Putting South Florida back into the State of Florida is a no-brainer.  There is also a contentious Presidential election coming up

I ask you to remember Prohibition.  It was a Constitutional Amendment.  That is far more serious than federal agency ownerships and federal laws that are unjust and create corruption just like Prohibition did.  No one ever believed they could Repeal Prohibition except for a few activists.  Like the old (where did it go?) Soviet Union, one day (as a result of a Presidential (FDR) election) the Congress passed a Repeal of Prohibition and sent it to the States (like the old ERA) and it was ratified thereby eliminating an unjust law.  Let’s look to Florida and these other places fighting environmental injustice and consider starting the ball rolling here and maybe making it a national movement like so many of us dare to dream about.

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.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.  You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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