Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why Fear the Ferret?

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Rich County residents have grown gun-shy of a proposal to start an experimental colony of endangered black-footed ferrets on a private, church-owned ranch there. And well they should be.

As Colorado learned the hard way, when former Gov. Bill Owens sucked us into a similar "experiment" with reintroduced Canada lynx, federal assurances that a wave of regulations won't follow in the wake of such experiments just can't be trusted. Folks in Utah are being told the same lies:

"Biologists tried to supply (skeptics with) certainty. Releasing the animals as an experimental, nonessential population, as the government has done with other ferret colonies, gives flexibility not allowed with endangered species enjoying full federal protection. Program managers said they wouldn’t impose restrictions on grazing or other uses even if ferrets migrate onto federal Bureau of Land Management land."

Such assurances are meaningless, as they proved meaningless in Colorado, because federal biologists and bureaucrats don't really control the process. They don't decide where federal regulations apply and were they don't. Listing and de-listing decisions generally are made by federal judges, responding to saturation litigation brought by professional environmental zealots, who have been shopping around for a judge who will place these "experimental" colonies under full federal protection. These efforts haven't succeeded, yet, but all it takes is one judge with a fondness for ferrets to nullify such agreements and lay-out a welcome mat for the feds.

Colorado welcomed reintroduced lynx based on similar assurances. That we were double-crossed should serve as a warning to all who are tempted by similar inducements to do something stupid. Until the Endangered Species Act is repealed or significantly reformed, and a bit more reason and sound science is introduced into federal efforts to preserve truly endangered species, only fools would invite a colony of black-footed ferrets into their backyards.

(Just click on the key words "Canada lynx" below for more on the Colorado case.)

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