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One Helluva Policy

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Protecting the peace isn’t easy. Sometimes it calls for extraordinary action. Like a recent police assault to capture and kill an outlaw . . .

In this case, the targeted outlaw wasn’t really a person at all, but a fawn named Giggles.

The baby deer was being illegally held by the Society of St. Francis no-kill animal shelter and farm near Kenosha, Wisconsin, without the required state permit. Giggles had been nursed back to health by shelter employees, who told reporters they were within days of moving the fawn to an Illinois wildlife facility.

Four sheriff deputies and nine Department of Natural Resources agents took the heavily-armed SWAT-like approach, and, through “aerial surveillance,” were able descend upon the fawn and kill it.

It is policy to euthanize because of the potential for disease and danger to humans.

“That’s one hell of a policy,” said the man who had cared for the dangerous Giggles.

Why the rush to kill this deer? And, why not make a phone call to talk to the folks at the Society of St. Francis, instead of a launching a military-style assault?

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust,” DNR spokeswomen Jennifer Niemeyer explained, “they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up.”

Right. No quarter is given to outlaws. Even if they are innocent forest creatures who had received illegal charity from well-meaning humanitarians.

This is Common Sense? I’m Paul Jacob.

They Shoot Deer, Don’t They?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Eight dead sea lions — a water mammal belonging to the taxonomical grouping called pinnipeds, but known to most as “big seals” — were found washed ashore with bullet holes in their carcasses.

Sad. Sea lions are interesting if not exactly beautiful mammals.

The sentimentalist in me shudders at any such death. But, as I sit back eating a hamburger, I can’t say I am against killing non-human animals. Perhaps we should save our shudders for the  wasteful nature of the slaughter: No meat, blubber, or hide was used.Seal of Approval

The news report I read warily mentions how fishermen view sea lions — as competition. The report doesn’t mention the sea lions’ protected status: You can get into big trouble shooting a sea lion in most places.

And yet, from reports I’ve heard (and occasionally read: this is an unpopular topic for journalists to cover), these carnivorous mammals are indeed quite a problem for west coast fisheries. Oft told are tales of removing sea lions from Columbia River dams’ fish ladders, where they gorge themselves, and shipping them off to the ocean — only to have them reappear at the dams lickety-split.

An alternative to such heroic and expensive protection and removal schemes would be to manage sea lion populations with planned hunting seasons. River fish are increasingly scarce, so leaving pinniped populations unmanaged will further upset ecosystem balance.

Besides, with sea lion hunts, we would see less poaching.

After all, hunters shoot deer, don’t they? And deer are a lot prettier than sea lions.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Bitterroot Water Ruling

Friday, January 8th, 2010

“Frankly, I’m an Obama guy . . . You hear these sort-of horror stories about the government is gonna take your property, or they’re gonna confiscate your ground, and I always thought it was some sort of libertarian gobbledy-gook. But in this case this is exactly what’s happening.”

That was Huey Lewis; this is the news: The Mitchell Slough, in the Bitterroots of Montana, is a century-old irrigation ditch. Newcomers to the area, including rocker Huey Lewis, worked on the slough to make it better for fish. Though farmers were at first skeptical, the redigging and unsilting made the slough better for agriculture as well as for fish.

But those fish are valuable. Other folks covet them.

In Montana, natural water bodies must be accessible to the public. So the recreation lobby took the slough’s owners to court.

At first, the historical facts of this man-made water system held sway. But the Montana State Supreme Court overturned all this, caving in to the intense political pressure to open up the slough to public access.

People with fishing rods may rejoice now, but their victory will be Pyrrhic. The fish and wildlife will degrade. Basically, Montana’s highest court unleashed what is called the “tragedy of the commons.” Public access of a common resource often leads to overuse, in this case, over-fishing. It’s sad news for Huey Lewis, farmers, fishermen . . . and fish.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.