Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Friday, August 17, 2007

I hope the President's Executive Order includes Sage Grouse and Prairie Chickens

President Bush just signed Executive Order: Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation :

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. The purpose of this order is to direct Federal agencies that have programs and activities that have a measurable effect on public land management, outdoor recreation, and wildlife management, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitat.

(Read the entire executive order here.)
Do you think this was intended to help protect grasslands and sagebrush habitat for the Sage Grouse and Greater and Lesser Prairie-Chickens? I sure hope so. Julie MacDonald, the administration's political appointee attack dog who ran roughshod over US Fish and Wildlife Service scientists, lost her job in May, but at this point I don't know who was taking her place or whether things would improve. According to a May 2, 2007 New York Times article by Felicity Barringer:

Among other actions that drew the ire of wildlife biologists and lawyers, Ms. MacDonald had heavily edited biologists' reports on sage grouse, a species that in the end was not placed on the threatened or endangered lists. Their habitat overlaps with vast parts of the Rocky Mountain West, where oil and gas drilling and cattle ranching are prevalent; listing the grouse as endangered or threatened could have curbed those industries' access to federal lands.

In another case in the inspector general's report, Ms. MacDonald demanded that scientists reduce the nesting range for the Southwest willow flycatcher to a radius of 1.8 miles, from a 2.1-miles, so it would not cross into California, where her husband has a ranch.

She also gave internal agency documents to industry lawyers and a lawyer from the Pacific Legal Foundation, all of whom frequently filed suit against the Interior Department over endangered species decisions.

Can things be worse than that?


  1. I think it's exactly what it says: intended to maximize the hunting opportunities. The protection of species is secondary. Making sure Bush's base always have animals to shoot is primary. If they cared about conservation for its own sake, the executive order would emphasize protecting the species, not protecting what humans do with (to) the species.

  2. Obviously you are not educated on the effect that hunting conservation groups has had on the health and protection of many species. The monies earned from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and the support of groups like Ducks Unlimited have been the primary resources used to manage and maintain many of the animals in our country. Protecting and maintaining the species and the environment is what matters. It is ignorant comments like yours that lead to the extinction of species.

  3. Hunters, via the Duck Stamp and other licenses, taxes on ammo and guns through the Pittman-Robertson Act, and such organizations as Ducks Unlimited, have since passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1917 had a HUGE positive impact on conservation. Indeed, they have done more than birders have, financially and in supporting important legislation, to protect birds.

    That said, modern hunting is starting to look more like what was done before the MBTA was passed. People are now shooting huge numbers of birds on game farms without even buying licenses. Dick Cheney's "70 pheasants and an undisclosed number of Mallards" shot in a single day is becoming the new fashion. This is not sporting, and it does not support conservation.

    Bush's track record, based on his Administration's appointment of Julie MacDonald, is not a very good one for bird conservation. The Sage Grouse is an excellent game bird cherished by hunters, yet this administration has caused the species to be in ever greater trouble.

  4. First, if it is pure conservation you are interested in I suggest you look at president Bush's 2004 executive order 13352 The facilitation of cooperative conservation and if you are worried about Julie McDonald's replacement not having a commitment to Grouse conservation then I suggest you google her replacement James (Jim) Mosher; who just moved to the department of the interiopr after a long carreer dedictated to Grouse preservation.

  5. "Cooperative conservation" hasn't done squat to rein in oil and gas drilling or cattle ranching on sensitive sagebrush habitat.

  6. No comment on James Mosher? I expected some sort of positive feedback. Why not comment on the good Bush has done as well as the bad? Don’t forget the President has restored, protected and conserved over 3 million acres of wetlands during his tenure.

  7. I can see why you're going by "anonymous." What Bush did with wetlands was redefine them to include golf ponds, catch-ponds, and other extremely low-quality bits of water as wetlands.

    Maybe you should start your own blog. One where you weren't embarrassed to use your name.

  8. Sorry if I upset you. Are you not happy about James Moser becoming MacDonald's replacement? I thought you would be happy to learn about that. I didn't mean to make anyone angry.

    I have no knowledge of myself as I am, but merely as I appear to myself. Immanuel Kant

  9. "Obviously you are not educated on the effect that hunting conservation groups has had on the health and protection of many species."

    I am aware of the good work that hunting/conservation groups do. But the issue here isn't groups that support conservation. The issue is George W. Bush's long record of creating an image of supporting a good cause while, in reality, undermining it.

    I searched in Google Web, News, and Government, then I searched, and I could find no reference at all to James Mosher or Jim Mosher being nominated to anything by George W. Bush.

  10. As I read some of these diatribes I am left wondering when it was determined that I (me) lost my rights to my share of the federal lands holdings in this country. I am more than willing to allow energy exploration and production on my share of the government lands. I dare say that I shovel as much - if not more - into the tax system as anyone else in this country. I enjoy hunting, fishing and wildife activities in general. I'm also not ashamed to admit it. $100+ Billion a year in those activities makes them an important piece of the economy. Remember, "Hunters Pay For Conservation."

  11. You write, "I am more than willing to allow energy exploration and production on my share of the government lands."

    Me, too, as long as my share of the government lands doesn't include sensitive habitat. The issue isn't energy exploration--it's habitat destruction, which should not happen in those areas where a dangerously declining species lives.

    The National Audubon Society recently listed 20 of the most rapidly declining common birds in the country. The list includes four game species--the bobwhite, pintail, greater scaup, and ruffed grouse. In my opinion, it should have also included the woodcock. Hunters have historically done an admirable job of protecting the birds they shoot, but licenses sold are declining dangerously. Prairie chickens and sage grouse are disappearing, and I'm not seeing a huge outcry by hunters, are you?

    It's interesting but incorrect to call any posts in this respectful debate a "diatribe."