06/09/2006: "Squirrels For Diversity"
Is it really the job of Washington State wildlife biologists (WDFW) to be environmental saboteurs and pranksters? Do we pay them to play practical jokes on us? It seems that way to me. Just like children, when bureaucrats have too much time on their hands they tend to goof off and waste our hard earned money.
Do you remember the Canadian lynx hair hoax? Let me remind you. In order to close down large areas of public forestlands to humans', federal and state wildlife biologists planted hair of this rare species on likely scratching posts in two national forests. Low and behold this false evidence was found by other WDFW people and turned over to the labs for DNA tests. It turned out the samples were taken from a cat from the zoo and one from someone's pet Canadian lynx (good kitty).
If this DNA test had not revealed that the fur-balls were bogus most human activity including recreation and use of natural resources in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Wenatchee National Forest would now be banned. This is their mission.
The offending WDFW employees stated that they were just experimenting to find out if the labs really had the ability to test DNA accurately. I guess this would be like robbing a bank to see if the security is adequate.
No one was fired. It turned out several of the biologists were members of radical environmental groups that always have a "higher purpose" for their dishonest actions ("Friends of the Forest" perhaps?).
That brings me to the most ridiculous item I have read in years. I came across this article in The Wenatchee World, (5-12) entitled, "Rejected Squirrels Getting State Help". After reading this I am absolutely convinced that we cannot take anything that our Fish and Wildlife people say seriously.
Using peanut butter in live traps, our Wildlife people caught and tranquilized a bunch of squirrels and outfitted them with tiny radio collars to track their movements. This did not provide them with accurate population data but now they know that they live in trees. (This fact will be important later). Even though WDFW officials admit that they don't know how many gray squirrels are out there they have put together a plan to save them anyway.
They disagree with U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials who have said that our gray squirrel population is not "genetically unique". They are just common regular gray squirrels therefore they do not qualify as a threatened species. State law prohibits killing them or destroying their nests. But legal protection is not enough. Our WDFW people want to give these rodents some special fringe benefits at our expense.
The expenditure of our tax money begins with the production of a 99-page plan to save the common gray squirrels and that can be reviewed at WDFW website . You have until August 15 to comment on the plan. Let me summarize the highlights just in case you really don't care to read it. Even Though I found the entire report humorous, for the sake of brevity I will emphasize the funniest parts.
The plan calls for importing squirrels from other areas to give these critters some genetic "diversity". Apparently these gray squirrels are in-breeders. That could be the reason for the buckteeth. So for the sake of diversity we should import some of their distant cousins from Tennessee or some such place. Ain't that a good plan?
The report also points out that squirrels often end up on the menu at the road-kill cafe. I had to swerve to miss one in Omak. Never mind that this proves that squirrels are all over the place. The report recommends road closures, reduced speed limits and a plan to build "squirrel bridges" over the highways! How would gray squirrels know these bridges were for their exclusive use anyway? While we're at it, why not build bridges for deer, raccoons, and chipmunks also? Of course that's not on the agenda.
Deep into the report the master plan is revealed. (This is where the tree part comes up again). The "higher purpose" of the WDFW activists justifies the use of any means, dishonest or not, to stop all logging and recreation in the forests of our state. In this case it calls for using the bogus threat of squirrel extinction to bring in other government agencies to protect squirrels from logging operations, road building, snowmobiling, camping, basically all human activity.
I wish these dishonest environmental extremists disguised as WDFW employees would just be honest and come out and say it. "We will close down the State Forests to all human activity if it takes spending every nickel of your money to do it." That would be more sincere than this silly and wasteful plan to build "squirrel bridges", don't you think?