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Trust Us

Written by Dennis Sun

    “Trust us” is the meaning of the words in press releases the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) sent earlier this month. They are looking for more land on which to release Black-footed ferrets that have been bred and born in captivity.

As the press release said, “On April 10, the FWS published a proposal to establish a non-essential, experimental 10(j) area for the Black-footed ferret throughout the state of Wyoming.”

Why did they just pick Wyoming? This announcement opens a 60-day public comment period, which closes on June 9. A 10(j) designation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would increase management flexibility and lessen regulatory requirements related to future ferret reintroductions in the state of Wyoming. The goal of this proposal is to help facilitate new reintroductions of the Black-footed ferret.

Ok, before we all start lining up, don’t we need to think about this a little? That is all I’m going to think on it, just a little. 

Noreen Walsh, the regional director of the USFWS Mountain-Prairie Region, said “Private landowners are the key to the success of the Black-footed ferret recovery effort. What we’re trying to do is give landowners the comfort level they need to consider establishing ferrets on their property.” 

I get that, but I still have huge reservations.

Those reservations come from living with the current ESA that, in my and others’ views, doesn’t resemble the intent of the ESA had when it was written. Having visited with some who were involved years ago writing the ESA, they have said they don’t recognize it as what they wrote. The words may be the same, but the intent and how it is used is different today.

Today, the ESA is a big stick – or rather a big club – used against the state of Wyoming for managing several species, and we just don’t trust the Act anymore, even when they hide the club. 

I don’t think there are any ranchers in the state out there that have something against the ferret or would be against having them on their lands if they didn’t have all the baggage of the Act. It is the same with those who are a part of and work with the FWS. We don’t dislike them. They are good people, but the baggage they have to carry is huge.

It is the same for the Wild Horse and Burro Act. If they would stay with the original intent of the law, we wouldn’t have all the issues and feral horses running around today. Now the government is trapped with all  of these horses and nowhere to go with them. They are even asking the misinformed and uninformed public for comments on what to do with the over-population of these horses. That would be like asking you or me to schedule the garbage collections in New York City. We just don’t know the facts to make a sound decision.

It is not the people but the laws and how they are interpreted that cause Wyoming all the issues. If the law or the interpretation is changed, sign me up for ferrets.