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Whistleblower puts Nevada’s BLM chummy industry relationships in the spotlight

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BLM’s Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado (photo:  Elkodaily.com)

Source:  The Nevada Independent

“BLM is far too close to the industries it’s supposed to be watching. “These are not merely probable breaches of law by private persons,” the complaint alleges, “but a pervasive pattern of lawlessness which BLM has taken affirmative steps to further and encourage.”

by John L. Smith

As an environmental protection specialist in the Bureau of Land Management’s enormous Battle Mountain District, Dan Patterson was accustomed to working under difficult conditions.

When you’re one of a handful of BLM ecologists in an area that stretches over five Nevada counties and covers 10.5 million acres, you often toil alone and can find yourself a long way from his home office in Tonopah.

But these days Patterson finds himself even further from his supervisors after filing a withering whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and Department of Interior Office of Inspector General alleging “illegalities and wrongdoing” by managers at the BLM’s Nevada state office and Battle Mountain district. Patterson’s complaint takes dead aim at the management style and decision-making of BLM Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado and accuses him of abusing his authority by fast-tracking mining and oil and gas drilling projects and playing politics with enforcement, in the process violating laws and regulations meant to protect public lands. “As an Environmental Protection Specialist, Mr. Patterson’s professional responsibilities are in conflict with the objectives of District Manager Furtado,” the whistleblower’s attorney Kevin H. Bell of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) asserts in a 13-page complaint.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

BLM employees ordered to wear propaganda badges

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Source:  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

New Uniform “Vision Cards” Display Images of Oil Rig and Livestock Grazing

Washington, DC — U.S. Bureau of Land Management employees are now under orders to wear “Vision Cards” on their uniforms displaying official maxims, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  These cards are little message boards with aphoristic statements about vision, mission, values, and guiding principles of the BLM.

Vision card grazing   image card

“The person of federal employees should not be used for political messaging,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting the Vison Cards’ similarity to propaganda placards used by totalitarian regimes. “This is supposed to be the Bureau of Land Management not Mao’s Red Guard.”

The two Vision Cards for uniform wear repeat language from the agency website.  The cards –

  • Display the image of an oil rig and what appears to be livestock grazing, in contrast to the official BLM logo which shows a tree, river, and mountain;
  • Reference serving “stakeholders” and “customers” but do not mention serving the public; and
  • Declare that the purpose of improving “the health and productivity of the land” is “to support the BLM multiple-use mission.”

It is not clear from where the order to wear the Vison Cards emanates.  BLM has no permanent director nor has the Trump White House even named a nominee.  During the past year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and a small band of political appointees in DC have dictated BLM policy.  While reports of the mandatory card display have reached PEER from the West, the organization is still trying to determine whether the order is national in scope.

Read the rest of this news release HERE.

Kirsten Stade, Advocacy Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 3/21/18)

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painy

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Trophy Hunting Threatened Species Travesty

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by: Sam Jojola

Post updated 11/18

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  1. “The proposal is a monumental waste of money due to Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) who has helped push five (5) bills from the Natural Resources Committee that would conceivably dismantle the Endangered Species Act over a period of time. The ESA plays a major part of wildlife conservation. It would make more sense to form a council to fight these destructive proposals that would destroy the ESA or have the Secretary of Interior request Rep. Rob Bishop to resign. If Rep. Rob Bishop has his way to “invalidate” the ESA, imagine trying to protect wildlife and regulate hunting. Dismantling the ESA in any form or fashion is destroying large fragile ecosystems at the expense of wildlife resources for future generations.”

 

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

On November 8, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council. The devil is in the details and what will follow in days, weeks and months to come will shape this Council and their priorities. Since the Council involves aspects of conservation, hunting and law enforcement, I wonder if Council heads will be selected from recognized leading experts in those three areas of focus. I am particularly concerned how the Council will deal with the ESA’s foreign listed species and import permits that are mentioned in this press release: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-zinke-announces-creation-international-wildlife-conservation-council

I believe the creation of this Council comes at a very bad time given the recent news of Zimbabwe’s regime shakeup and the most recent proposal for the U.S. to lift the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zambia and Zimbabwe. I hope now that President Trump has moved to keep the ban in place, that he and Secretary Zinke will consider keeping the ban given the current developing instability of Zimbabwe over the past several days: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/trump-puts-decision-allow-elephant-hunting-trophy-imports-hold-022152590.html

Five illegal Leopard trophies entering U.S. in 2008 detail Zimbabwe’s corruption

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Fighting Wildlife Crime amid Bureaucracy and Solutions

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Sam Jojola

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Background

“This article was originally published for World Animal News in November, 2015 and titled “Wildlife Crimes: Why Is It So Difficult to Enforce Laws”. This is an updated version that includes reference to a 2016 GAO report detailing the shortcomings and successes of combating wildlife trafficking. It often seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are some positive changes, but they are slow.”

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Global Anti-Poaching Act of 2015

The passage of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494) through the House on June 25, 2015 was long overdue and very encouraging news for wildlife law enforcement. It will greatly assist in addressing the rapid expansion of wildlife criminal syndicates and terrorist groups globally. Finally, after decades of “paralysis by analysis” there is some political motivation in the U.S. to deal with the exponential growth of wildlife crime here and around the world. Why has it taken so long?

The most recent GAO report dated September, 2016 titled Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Agencies are taking a range of actions but the task force lacks performance targets for assessing progress: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679968.pdf

Perhaps there will be another GAO report this year to show measurable progress.

Layers of bureaucracy and political meddling

When one examines the primary agency responsible for investigating wildlife crimes on the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS/OLE) has been and is the lead entity to do so. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is primarily a biological entity under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior that oversees a host of at least nine (9) agencies, like the U.S. Park Service (USPS), the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to name a few. The USFWS/OLE is just one of fifteen (15) National programs managed by USFWS. In essence many layers of government within the Department of the Interior which is not a law enforcement entity like the Department of Justice. Other law enforcement agencies like the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, and the Secret Service, are not under the umbrella of a non-law enforcement entity that can sometimes run political interference and impede wildlife investigations and protection. More

Washington State University silences researcher to placate ranchers and politicians

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SOURCE:  SEATTLE TIMES

A motion-triggered wildlife camera at the den site of the Profanity Peak pack captures pack members on camera last June 30. Seven pack members were killed by Department of Fish and Wildlife after the wolves killed cattle grazing on public land at the Colville National Forest. (WSU wolf livestock research program)

A WAR OVER WOLVES

Outspoken researcher says his university and lawmakers silenced and punished him

By Lynda V. Mapes, Seattle Times environment reporter

By a slow slide of river deep in Washington’s wolf country, Robert Wielgus laughs at the tattoo on his arm of Four Claws, the grizzly that almost killed him.

“I would rather face charging grizzly bears trying to kill me than politicians and university administrators, because it is over quickly,” said Wielgus, director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University.

A Harley-riding, self-described adrenaline junkie at home in black motorcycle leathers with a Stetson and a .357 in the pickup, Wielgus, 60, is no tweed-jacket academic. For decades he has traveled North America wrangling bears, cougars and wolves to collar and study their behavior, including collaborations with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Wielgus now finds himself crosswise with ranchers, lawmakers and WSU administrators — and their lobbyists. He’s lost grant funding for his summer research, has been forbidden from talking to media in his professional role and has been reviewed — and cleared — for scientific misconduct.

To understand why involves a look at state policy concerning a menagerie of animals: cougars, sheep, cattle and wolves. And one more animal: homo sapiens.

In Washington, it turns out, wolves and livestock are getting along better than the people who manage and study them.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national nonprofit specializing in government scientist whistleblower protection, in April filed a 12-page complaint against WSU officials, alleging the university punished and silenced Wielgus to placate ranchers and state legislators who objected to his research. WSU officials declined to comment for this story, citing possible litigation.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

Kirsten Stade of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 2/24/16)

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painy

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