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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Endangered species roulette

All I have ever tried to do as a wilderness gossip columnist was to remove the dirty linen from the seamy underbelly of our local endangered species for an intimate view of nature in the raw.
For example, the bull trout is not an endangered species. It is not even a species.
Sure it may be genetically different than a Dolly Varden but you and I are genetically different too. This does not make us different species. We are both tax payers.
The Dolly Varden and the bull trout are both char.
If the Bull trout is endangered, I have often pondered in my career as a professional fishing guide, how come on some days on some rivers, that is all we catch?
If the bull trout are endangered, why are they subjected to a commercial gillnet fishery? If the bull trout are endangered, why does the National Park buy them from the gill net fishery just so the biologists can study the bull trout ear bones?
Don’t get me wrong. I would love to be a biologist. I would work for free if they would just pay for my ammunition and gasoline.
It must be fun to play God with an ecosystem by increasing endangered predators that endanger still more species until the entire system crashes.
The bull trout was aptly named. It has spawned a vast bureaucracy that administers the control of land, water and “public education.”  This “education” does not tell you that the Bull trout have been protected for so long, they are endangering other species.
Last year, more than 100,000 endangered spring chinook smolts were released into the Dungeness River.  Only about 2,700 survived the journey to salt water.
The bull trout along with the other varmints got the rest. Protection of the predatory bull trout limits the reproduction of other species and keeps the Dungeness spring chinook and steelhead in an endangered status limbo of endless studies and no action.
The recent release of the weasel-like fisher is yet another example of this management philosophy. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to ask the locals if they had seen any fishers before they started transplanting more fishers in from British Columbia.
It opened the floodgate of fisher feuds across the North Olympic Peninsula.
A fisher ate a man’s cat on the Lyre River. A fisher got into a chicken house on the Bogachiel.
On the Pysht River a fisher stole a steelhead that some poor guy caught and left on the beach. Other fishers have become endangered species speed bumps while trying to cross U.S. Highway 101.
Inquiring minds want to know, what they should do if they see a fisher in the wilderness. I would advise you not to panic. Stand your ground. Make a large profile. Get out your checkbook.
Each one of these large weasels took more than $8,000 to get here! Your donations are gladly accepted. It’s when you see a fisher near your home that you should panic.
Congratulations, your home is now fisher habitat. You may have an opportunity to become a willing seller like the people who were removed from along the Dungeness once their homes were declared bull trout habitat.
Like the Bull trout, the fisher will be dining on other endangered species, namely the marbled murrelet and the spotted owl. These birds are creatures whose numbers continue to decline despite our best efforts to preserve them.
To paraphrase another fairy tale, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, might not bring back our endangered species again. 


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