Follow the Money; Part III

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The Players

As stated in Part II, The Pittman Robertson excise tax funds are given to the Secretary of The Interior who is tasked with delivering these monies to the states. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, it appears that somewhere between $60 million to $70 million dollars went missing in order to introduce wolves into Yellowstone and to open an environmental liaison office in California, two things that Congress had refused to fund or authorize.
 
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Bruce Babbitt is the 47th United States Secretary of the Interior and served from January 22, 1993 – January 2, 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Born June 27, 1938, Babbitt grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, where his family pioneered a ranching and trading business in the 1880’s. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, where he was Student Body President, he received a Master’s Degree in geophysics from the University of Newcastle in England which he attended as a Marshall Scholar. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1965.

“In Genesis, Noah was commanded to take into the ark two by two and seven by seven every living thing in creation… And when the waters receded, and the dove flew off to dry land, God set all the creatures free, commanding them to multiply upon the earth. Then, in the words of the covenant with Noah, ‘when the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between me and all living things on earth… Compelled by this ancient command, modern America… forged our collective moral imperative into one landmark law: The 1973 Endangered Species Act.”

-Bruce Babbitt, “Between the Flood and the Rainbow: Our Covenant to Protect the Whole of Creation,” December 16, 1995

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Jamie Rappaport Clark was confirmed as Director of the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) by the United States Senate on July 31, 1997. Prior to being confirmed, she had been the acting Director following the resignation of the Director in 1996.

Prior to being named Director, Clark was the Assistant Director for Ecological Services for the Service, a position she was named to in 1994. As the Assistant Director, she oversaw Service responsibilities for the Endangered Species Act; federal permit coordination and reviews. Ms. Clark also served as the Chief of Endangered Species, where she was responsible for the overall direction and management of the Service’s program for threatened and endangered species.

“Americans have made a significant commitment to recovering the wolf over the past 30 years. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is planning to turn back the clock on wolf recovery by prematurely passing management responsibility to states such as Idaho that has expressed a clear intention of immediately exterminating all of the wolves in the state.”
Jamie Rappaport Clark

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Ed Bangs is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the northwestern U.S. He received a B.S. degree in game management from Utah State University in 1974 and M.S. in wildlife management from University of Nevada, Reno in 1979. He was an instructor for gun, hunter, and bear safety and was a master instructor for the national bow hunter education program. Ed was involved with the recovery and management of wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming since 1988 and led the interagency program to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho.

In an interview with PBS’ Nova, Ed Bangs tells why they decided to capture and introduce Canis Lupus Occidentalis:

NOVA: I understand you helped direct the program that reintroduced wolves to the United States, after years of extinction. Where did you get the wolves?

Ed Bangs: “Well, we needed wolves that knew how to make a living in an area like Yellowstone National Park. And so we began to think about where to get wolves that would know what an elk is, how to find one, and how to kill one—and where to get wolves that are used to living in cold mountainous terrain. All you have to do is look north of the border and you find that next to Banff National Park in Alberta, and a little bit farther north in British Columbia, you have such wolves. So we contacted the governments of Alberta and British Columbia and asked if they had any wolves to spare. And they said, “We think so, but first we’d like you to come up and tag some wolves and do some preliminary looking to make sure we’ve got enough.” So we did that and sure enough, there were a lot of wolves. The first year, 1995, we got 29 wolves from Alberta, and shipped them into Yellowstone and Central Idaho, and the next year, 1996, we went up to British Columbia and I think we took 37 wolves and brought them down.”

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Jim Beers is a former employee of the USFWS. He has a BS in Wildlife Resources from Utah State and an MA in Public Administration from the U of No. Colorado. In the early 1990’s he was offered the position of Wildlife Biologist overseeing the use of excise taxes collected on arms and ammunition (Pittman-Robertson funding).

I would like to allow Jim Beers to introduce his involvement by including these excerpts from a speech given at Bozeman, MT 16 May 2010 for Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd:

“In 1997 we (the US, Canada, and Russia) succeeded in getting the EU to back down on banning the import of furs and I was told without fanfare that I was being transferred to Boston (the end of the earth in USFWS unless you are from New England) to an unspecified job at an unspecified grade level (this, while I was putting 3 kids through college and my wife and I were each working 2 jobs). Such a job action (station transfer from an existing job without cause when that job and similar jobs were available in the same location and a possible downgrade (loss in pay and retirement) when all my performance evaluations were satisfactory and above was only possible if I consented and I did not consent. This made me a pariah at work (other employees shunned me and even jumped off elevators or went “up” “down” escalators rather than be seen with me). The hostility of the Director and her assistant in charge of excise taxes became more and more apparent.

I was home for about a week when I was contacted by staff from the US House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee. They had heard about my situation and we had a long talk about what it was about. In the course of that conversation there was mention of the strangely changing levels of Pittman-Robertson (excise taxes) going to state agencies. Shortly thereafter I was again contacted by them and asked to come up to their offices.

I volunteered to go through the printouts. Using colored magic markers, colored pens, and my budget experience I spent long days for more than 2 weeks in those Congressional offices going through those 2 years of records and discovering, marking, and explaining the millions of dollars in excise taxes (over and above the legitimate excise tax “administrative” expenses) being used to do 2 things that Congress had refused to fund or authorize (introducing wolves into Yellowstone and opening an environmental liaison office in California). Additionally, millions were being used to pay increased bonuses to USFWS employees in Washington, Regional Offices, and field stations that had no role in “administering” the excise taxes but many of whom would have been aware of the “funny” and prohibited use of excise tax money for the California Office and the Wolf introduction that had been turned down by Congress.”