By Kathryn Burton

In October, 2003 several major changes were put forward that will change wildlife regulations in this country; but one entry into the Federal Register will be remembered as a turning point for this government, with reverberations around the world. It was announced with just days left for what is commonly called “public comment,” but can be rescinded and would be, if the word got out.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, whose aim over the past years has been to go international and spread its expertise in animal and land management, proposed a plan to pay foreign (poor) countries for endangered species, which will be brought here, ranched to increase their numbers and offered to wealthy hunters bored with killing the same old animals and birds, and leery of going to countries where they’d have to cope with widespread political unrest or epidemics.

The money, theoretically, will go towards the environmental programs in those countries, but spokesmen on site say it never does and never will. Starving animals, starving people and selfish leaders have been the rule, not the exception, too many times. Providing “trophies” for the dwindling number of hunters, the vast majority of whom will not be able to afford these luxury kills, says a lot about the agency, and removes any possibility that they can claim their role is one of protecting the wildlife and environment.

Thrown into this program, is the legalizing of certain ivory imports into the United States, and unexplained “parts, skins, eggs, etc.” of animals. The bare sketch, with vast underlying potential, is not a scientific document, but a shopping list with no control and no limits. Considering our manufacturing facilities at present, it would appear the real benefit of this program will not be to the United States but to “partner” countries that would be condemned for such activities done on their own, but have a huge, willing market here, after processing and manufacturing goods from rare skins and pelts. It takes advantage of the poor countries and steals their future, for what?

Photo courtesy of Betty W. Butler

The agencies are big businesses and have to please their customers in order to stay employed. This program will work, they claim, based on “scientific studies.” Their long term goals are to keep a healthy environment and flourishing wildlife. The truth is they want that money coming in so they can stay in business, and it is never enough.

In the Washington Post article, it says:

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s parrot proposal cited scientific estimates by Enrique Bucher, a top Argentine parrot biologist, in determining how many birds could be safely captured. But in a telephone interview from the University of Cordoba in Argentina, Bucher said his research actually showed the U.S. proposal was poorly conceived and lacked scientific oversight. “It’s a very romantic idea, but in practice I do not know any positive examples,” he said, referring to “sustainable use” plans. “The assumption that local communities will have the organization and altruism to put the money into long-term protection of the environment where you have terrible economic forces pushing for deforestation is a little naïve.”

Where are the major NGOs? There was not one letter of protest in The Washington Post in the two weeks following the announcement. It reveals the truth, that most of the NGO’s are bought and paid for with grant money. They look the other way on even such degradation as this. Go down the list of names in your mind, start with Audubon. Why haven’t they screamed about this proposed program?

This new killing program does not reflect the will or the character of the American public, and I for one am terribly ashamed that it got this far.

Only legislative action will stop this program. Your senators and congressmen probably don’t even know about it. Email me at Kburton759@aol.comand I’ll send you the story from the Post, which you can then send on. That will be more influential than individual “interpretations,” such as my own.

Kathryn Burton, President, SOS, Save Our Swans, KBurton759@aol.com


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