Polar Bears, Politics & Prognostications
by Jim Beers
March 20, 2007
Well, the snow geese and ducks have gone back North so I am no longer
dropping everything when a Low Pressure Area or temperature drop approaches
Virginia. The decoys are all put away 'til next year and the fishing gear
and paddles are in the canoes as I contemplate bass, crappies, warm weather
and the pools and rapids in Virginia streams. The past month
(February/March) found me driving through 18 states and visiting 6 Caribbean
nations (transiting the Panama Canal and spending a day in the high country
of Costa Rica were the highlights). I returned late last night.
In spite of 800+ e-mails to sort through and a pile of notes (made over the
past 4 months for future articles and a play) next to my computer, something
caught my eye as I skimmed all those e-mails after unpacking last night. A
friend that is a renowned expert on international wildlife law asked me the
following question in one of those e-mails:
"I'd be most interested in your opinion on the USF&WS's polar bear listing
proposal. The IUCN's Polar Bear Specialist Group is practically in the
driver's seat as their immediate past chairman is writing it and cites the
present chair over a hundred times."
This is an insightful question, the answer to which provides an opportunity
to say some things that are important but are too often unmentioned. There
are 3 parts to my "opinion":
I. POLAR BEARS
Polar bears are doing just fine and have been doing fine for as long as we
know. The passage of The Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 took
authority to manage (and therefore hunt) polar bears in the United States
away from the state of Alaska and placed it under Federal jurisdiction.
There was NO biological reason to do this: it was strictly a political shift
in US Constitutional principles (states rights and the ownership and use of
wildlife). Federal seizure of authority over all other marine mammals at
this time was also accompanied by wording in the Act that management
authority (for walruses, sea otters, manatees, and seals within in state
controlled areas) would be returned to state governments when "OSP" (Optimum
Sustainable Populations) were "achieved". Over 35 years now, OSP has never
been achieved and both US national and international policies regarding ALL
marine mammals have been policies of no-management, no-use, and total
protection. Marine Mammals, like "Endangered" races and sub-populations of
animals and varieties of plants, have become little more than the tools of
environmental and animal rights agendas that are subverting far more aspects
of society than environmental matters.
Polar bear hunts in not only Canada but also Greenland and Russia have been
made impossible for US hunters since US policy under the Act has prohibited
the importation of polar bear hides that are the trophies that wealthy
hunters seek. This has reduced the amount of income available for many
northern indigenous people and for the management of polar bears since
licenses and hunting expenditures for polar bears (like sheep hunting and
African trophy hunts) are high-end trips that cost a lot.
Suddenly, the cynical political exploitation of this animal (like the
analogous manipulation of wolves, extinct woodpeckers, and lynx, etc.) has
been, to quote Emeril the chef, "kicked up a notch". Just as the
non-existent Ivory-billed Woodpecker was used to stop an airport expansion
and modern wolf mythology is being used to eliminate hunting and ranching
and rural livelihoods; so is the polar bear now being used not only to
eliminate wildlife management and hunting but to implement a national US
policy that has been rejected by the US government.
The US policy involved here is US acquiescence to the harmful, draconian,
and ineffectual provisions of the Kyoto Protocol to "reduce" "global
warming". Despite all the current posturing and kibitzing by politicians,
the US Senate and the last two Presidents have wisely avoided ratifying this
"Treaty" that would disadvantage and harm the US for strictly political
purposes. However, just as jumping mice are being used to stop development
in the West and plovers are being used to establish Federal land control
over Platte River water users and unmanaged and overpopulated seals and sea
lions are being used to eliminate sport fishing so too is the proposal to
"List" the polar bear a bold and innovative move that sets an extremely
dangerous new precedent, namely that a mere Federal assertion that some
portion of a wild animal's habitat is changing is sufficient to "List" the
What the Federal government is asserting is that the "pack ice" in some
areas of the polar ice cap is diminishing and that since polar bears inhabit
(only part of the year) this pack ice they "must" be "Listed". Now I could
write pages here about their numbers and their adaptability but I won't. I
could be sarcastic about the explosion of seal and sea lion numbers (polar
bears eat them) that resulted from total protection of these animals and how
the polar bears ought to be fat, dumb, and happy but I won't. I could write
about how polar habitats have changed throughout history and how polar bears
have "weathered" changes but I won't. I could write about how ice is
decreasing here but increasing there but I won't. Anything I say would be
countered by some University professor on a grant or some bureaucrat
building a retirement or some social radical disguised as a "Marine Center"
or "Marine Council" "Executive Secretary" or some such title. Why? Because
this has NOTHING to do with science or facts, it is POLITICAL. So lets look
at the politics involved.
The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is a European
creation that fronts for the UN and for European Union Green political
parties and their agendas. These groups all work to control the 3rd World
nations through UN assertions implemented through UN Conventions and
Treaties that, like US environmental and animal rights laws and other such
laws like gun control proposals, are proposed as solutions for some
contrived problem and once passed are grown beyond the wildest fears of
opponents or the claims of supporters. The IUCN, like the UN bureaucracy
and the European Union (and Russia, China, and India) want the US to commit
to the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. Their reasons vary from gaining
competitive economic advantage over and even control of the US to a desire
by individuals and even some nations to destroy the US for a variety of
The only nation in the world where a "Treaty" becomes absolutely "the Law of
the Land" is the United States. That is why the Endangered Species Act
(based on a UN Convention that the US Courts define as a "Treaty") can take
private property for a non-public use without compensation. Just as the
spotted owl "Listing" authorized the government to prohibit logging in West
Coast forests and red-cockaded woodpecker "Listing" did the same for logging
in the South, so too will polar bear "Listing" hobble the US economy on
behalf of the un-ratified Kyoto Protocol.
It will work like this. The polar bear will be "Listed" formally because of
the gradual diminishment of polar pack ice. Though the data for this will
be "selectively" presented, the clear and legal wording will present this as
widespread and DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING. To quote a famous detective, "the
rest Watson, is academic".
Once the polar bear is "Listed" you better not stand near any public
entrance to US Courthouses. The stampede of environmental ambulance chasers
from Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council to the
National Wildlife Federation and PETA into the Courts will match what Lewis
and Clark saw when they first encountered buffalo on the Great Plains. New
automobile mileage requirements must be raised and raised because they
create global warming WHICH ENDANGERS POLAR BEARS. Single-family home
construction must be reduced for the same reason. Roads must be closed and
public transportation mandated for the same reason. I could go on here but
truly the list will grow (even in the minds of the radicals and their
solicitors) as they get into this. Think this is absurd? Ask the guy
driving the cab in LA that used to be in an Oregon logging family in a town
that no longer exists. Ask the security guard at the bank that used to be a
commercial fisherman or the guy eating pretzels in front of the TV that used
to fish and hunt. Think it can't happen to you? Think it would be "good
So who is responsible? Here we must get "political".
[I apologize ahead of time. Believe it or not I go to great lengths to not
be "political" but one cannot describe these matters without examining this
very important aspect. To be truthful here, I have had had at least 3
speaking engagements that I know of in the past 12 months fall through
because many folks think I am "too political". With this in mind, I try
very hard not to turn readers off here but it can't be avoided in a thorough
examination of the proposed polar bear "Listing".]
The current Secretary of the Interior is a Republican and former Senator and
Governor from Idaho. He is a "moderate" and known to always be "reaching
out" to "the middle". His Republican staff assistants at Interior are of a
similar mold and are urged on by employees that believe strongly in the
Kyoto Protocols as well as anything that will grow the Federal bureaucracy,
budget, and their careers.
Last November the few Republican politicians that would have opposed this
polar bear "Listing" were decimated at the polls, largely due to massive
spending campaigns by environmental groups. The few such politicians still
in office are ridiculed in the media and vilified by teachers. It is
noteworthy to mention that this "Listing" was publicized after the election.
If this is a Republican "plot", what about the loyal opposition (i.e. the
Democrats)? It is a fact that today's Democrats encompass the environmental
groups and their agendas. They are also the home of the animal rights,
groups and their agendas. They are the Party favored by the European Union
politicians and bureaucracy. They are the most favored Party of the UN
bureaucracy. They are the most comfortable Party with a growing Federal
establishment. The bottom line is that there is no "opposition" to this
continuing expansion of environmental and animal legislation and regulation
or this polar bear "Listing".
Who can we look to, to turn back this polar bear "Listing"?
Environmental and animal rights "feel-good" proposals like this polar bear
"Listing" are "throw-away" political matters. For 40 years now politicians
get votes and support from large swaths (mostly urban) of the population for
"saving" things. Like the old saw about "don't tax him and don't tax me,
tax that guy behind the tree": all of us have become immune to the harm we
do our neighbor by using the Federal behemoth to force others to live as we
imagine best or as we want them to live. (Shades of the European Union
toward the 3rd World or of the UN toward the US!)
The Republicans have 3 front-runners for the Presidential nomination. All
three are termed "metro-Republicans" meaning they are not rural or
rural-oriented. Republicans that pander to environmentalism (Ex-Senator
Santorum sponsored "Puppy Protection" legislation and ex-Senator Allen
sponsored "Historic Heritage" legislation) appear to lose rural votes and
not gain urban votes.
Democrats are, at this moment in time, the Party of choice for groups and
individuals that want "more" Wilderness, Sanctuaries, Government land
purchase, and animal "Listings". There are some Democrats (I wrote an
article lauding one Democrat Senatorial candidate in Louisiana for having
the intestinal fortitude to defend the property right of Louisiana residents
to continue to legally have cockfights) that would oppose things like
"Listing" polar bears but they are seldom elected.
So both Parties support these bad laws and their steady expansion.
Currently, there are not any organized opponents to these expanding abuses
on the horizon. As best I can determine the same thing was said about
Prohibition at one time and that was reversed by a Constitutional Amendment.
Truly the electorate is part of the problem too. Do ranchers help hunters?
Do dog owners understand their stake in the denial of rights to
cockfighters? Do gun owners help land owners oppose UN land control
schemes? Do pet owners see the threat to pet ownership emerging from all
the "humane" laws and animal "welfare" enforcement bureaucracies? Who
really feels that they have a dog in the polar bear "Listing" fight? Who
will step up to the plate?
Not to be too negative, but even if some Interior Solicitor or some White
House administrator were to kill the polar bear "Listing" tomorrow: it would
probably be reinstated by any of the appointees of a President elected out
of the pack running at this time. The problem is these LAWS now in place
and their manipulation and growth for a myriad of hidden agendas.
Those laws must be amended or repealed and that must be done POLITICALLY.
Until that happens we will be all be like Nero, fiddling while things burn
down all around us. Polar bear "Listing" is but a symptom of a much larger
disease. Making the symptom go away is no cure. Searching for the real
cure is something we should all be doing.
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- This article and other recent articles by Jim Beers can be found at
http://jimbeers.blogster.com (Jim Beers Common Sense)
- Jim Beers is available for consulting or to speak. Contact:
- 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 Centreville,
Virginia with his wife of many decades.