By Jim Beers July 7, 2009
As hunters and trappers and fishermen see a White House and federal agencies stuffed with anti-hunting, anti-gun rights, environmental extremists and as an unfettered US House and Senate are churning out all manner of extremist and costly legislation; questions are being raised about minor things that we ignored for years but which are beginning to appear as razors that have been quietly slashing our hunting, trapping, and fishing heritage, traditions, and rights. I speak here of the federal programs originally known as the Pittman Robertson (1936) and Dingell-Johnson (1950) Acts.
These two Acts provided that the federal government collect excise taxes on certain items and that each year these funds be apportioned to all State fish and wildlife agencies for "Wildlife Restoration" and "Sport Fish Restoration" projects. Funds for "Wildlife Restoration" are derived from an 11 percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition; a 10 percent tax on pistols and revolvers, one-half of which may be used by the States for hunter safety programs; and an11-percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and their parts and accessories. Funds for "Sport Fish Restoration" are derived from a 10-percent excise tax on certain items of sport fishing tackle (Internal Revenue Code of 1954, sec. 4161), a 3-percent excise tax on fish finders and electric trolling motors, import duties on fishing tackle, yachts and pleasure craft, interest on the account, and a portion of motorboat fuel tax revenues and small engine fuel taxes. The current annual collections vary from $500 Million to over a Billion considering the ongoing stampede for arms and ammunition in anticipation of federal government attempts to subvert the 2nd Amendment to The Constitution of the United States of America.
These Acts have been manipulated and amended by politicians to name Amendments after themselves (Wallop-Breaux); to gain votes from certain blocs like boat owners and archers; and to give favors to ethnic voting groups like Puerto Ricans and Samoans. Importation of arms and fishing tackle has made up increasing amounts of these taxed items while federal bureaucrats have increasingly ignored the collection of these import taxes and as importers have exploited the indifference of federal bureaucrats by smuggling (the correct term) such items to competitive retail outlet stores. While there are strict rules for use of the funds by state agencies, required 5-year audits and "oversight" by federal bureaucrats are intermittent, poorly administered, and ideologically driven by federal and now state bureaucrats enacting agendas aimed ultimately at destroying hunting, fishing, and trapping. State fish and wildlife Directors want to be free to please the Governors that appoint them like offering (illegally) to allow a prison to be built on wildlife areas or to put wildlife vehicles in state motor pools for use by others. So, just like federal thieves, state thieves exist and benefit personally from foregone or slipshod oversight and audits.
All that said, let us focus on the terms "Wildlife" and "Sport Fish" and "Restoration".
- "Wildlife" in the original Act and in the eyes of American citizens meant deer, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, etc. (i.e. "GAME" animals whether or not they were present during the Ice Age, were eaten by Sitting Bull, or were brought over from China or Europe on a sailing ship). The "sporting" uses were what generated the funds and thus did everyone understand that game animals were to be the primary beneficiaries of the funding. The other animals that shared habitats with and benefited from the MANAGEMENT AND EXISTENCE of the habitats for those game animals were significant but secondary beneficiaries of much of the projects generated by the collected taxes. Harmful animals were to be controlled thus benefiting rural America while other "users" like campers, hikers, school groups, canoeists, and birdwatchers, etc. were always free to use the purchased wildlife areas and facilities like boat ramps.
- "Sport Fish" in the original Act was necessary because "Commercial Fish" and "Marine Fish" were jealously guarded (meaning they generated employees and funding) functions of the Commerce Department as opposed the Interior Department where the US Fish and Wildlife Service was ensconced. Consider for the moment how the Endangered Species Act divided the whales and seals and porpoises from other "endangered" animals between the Commerce and Interior Departments. (National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service always "cooperated" for environmental benefit like the CIA and FBI always shared info with other agencies for the common good.)
- Finally, the term "Restoration" always (up until the radical 60's and 70's) meant the active "MANAGEMENT" of these desired (i.e. GAME and SPORT FISH) species to levels, distribution, abundance, and harvest levels known to previous generations CONSISTENT WITH THE EXPANDING AMERICAN SOCIETY, AMERICAN RIGHTS, AND AMERICAN TRADITIONS.
For the sake of brevity, let me observe that the White House, Congress, federal agencies, and state agencies have for the past 4 decades hired, promoted, and encouraged anti-management (of all natural resources), anti -use (of fish, wildlife, timber, forage, and other resources both renewable and non-renewable) acolytes of extremist environmental urban agendas. From destroying property rights to imposing deadly and destructive animals on an increasingly disarmed rural citizenry, politicians and bureaucrats have catered to urban voters unaffected by their work and international agendas to increase federal employment and power at the expense of State Constitutional authorities, local government controls, and individual rights.
These politicians and bureaucrats now interpret and write laws and regulations using our three terms thus:
- "Wildlife" means all "Mother Nature's (?)" creatures from snakes to lizards and rats. In fact, since the "Game" animals have gotten so much over the years we need to treat the other species like women and minorities under the "Equal" opportunity or employment Acts (i.e. award lots of "preferences" no matter the results).
- "Sport Fish" should be interpreted very broadly to include the other fish being eaten by or associated with the "sport fish" and funding of research should focus on getting money to environmental activist professors to establish all manner of "ecological" dependence and connections within the "aquatic community" to justify the broadest possible use of "Sport" fish project money from destroying dams to re-establishing "population segments" recently invented at nearby University Environmental Global Research Centers.
- "Restoration" means just that; "restoration" but not restoration of abundant game animals: no, "restoration" means restoration of the imaginary and vaunted "Native Ecosystem". Therefore, funds do not necessarily go to the encouragement of desired and useful species as well as the suppression of harmful animal populations; instead they may be used for "Invasive" (not necessarily harmful to civilization or the desired animals - just someone's idea of what not ought to be) "Species", "Introduced Species", "Native Species" (often very harmful to game species), etc., etc. The funds can go to whatever destroys hunting like "Prairie Restoration" in Iowa just South of my home that decimates pheasant and Hungarian partridge populations or cougar protection that decreases hunting species, rural safety, animal husbandry, pet ownership, etc., etc.
While they mumble about the esoteric pristine goals of their agendas, these environmental and animal rights extremists are ultimately working to impose an American society where guns, hunting, fishing, trapping and a whole host of other things from pet ownership to animal husbandry are forbidden by government fiat. It has been going on for four decades now and I have been writing about it for 10 years, ever since the Government Accounting Office found that the US Fish and Wildlife Service had STOLEN $45 to 60 Million FROM THE FUNDS COLLECTED FOR STATE WILDLIFE AND FISH PROGRAMS in a two year period to do two things rejected by Congress (introducing wolves into Yellowstone and opening a California Office to collaborate with West Coast radicals) and to pay top managers handsome bonuses for political pandering. The real kicker was that when the state agencies were notified, THEY NEVER ASKED FOR THE MONEY TO BE REPLACED! In other words the anti's stole millions from OUR fish and wildlife programs to use to destroy OUR hunting, fishing, and trapping and OUR (?) state agencies were more beholden to those thieves than to you and me (and things have only gotten worse since then).
It is my opinion that this decay of our traditions for four decades now parallels other cultural declines like the loss of parental rights to teachers and bureaucrats in such areas as same-sex indoctrination, birth control availability and abortion services; the loss of property rights resulting in un-Constitutional "Kelo"-takings unlawful impositions on property owners by governments; the loss of State's Rights to federal mandates accompanying funding like transportation and education funds; the emergence of government-owned businesses; socialized medicine ostensibly for the poor that will eliminate specialists, force abortion provisions everywhere thus closing Catholic hospitals and eliminating Catholic health care providers, lethal rationing of health care to the very young and the elderly and on and on. We have let lies and power-hungry individuals enrich themselves by eliminating the very things that have made this country great. No longer can a local community prohibit or allow cockfighting pits in accord with their own local community standards: state and federal laws prohibit it. No longer can State governments ration or manage natural resources or regulate gun possession on the gargantuan federal estates within the State: federal law supercedes them. Duplicitously, the federal government declares their own helplessness in oppressing American citizens and their rights by citing voluntarily-signed International and UN "Treaties" and "Conventions" that only we treat as inviolate.
As the American "barn" of freedom and liberty is burning all around us, many of us are beginning to take notice of how our "concern" for things that should never have become government matters and our indifference because we have been "busy" have led us to this point. Is it too late? What can we do? God help us because I do not know what to say. The three terms discussed here are but a symptom of a larger cancer we have ignored too long.
The theft of our liberties by those who would replace our Constitution with raw power wielded by themselves is like the attempted bank robbery by the James-Younger Gang in Northfield Minnesota in September of 1876. In spite of the fact that there were eight experienced armed robbers and most townsmen were out hunting prairie chickens - a few ill-armed townsmen men killed and wounded several of the robbers and with neighboring posses hunted down all but two that got away. The money was saved and although a brave clerk was murdered the town survived and thrives today. Most importantly, NO NORTHFIELD BANK HAS BEEN ROBBED SINCE THAT ILL-FATED "RAID"!
Americans of every stripe are beginning to see that their rights and heritage are being stolen and the results are even more catastrophic than the loss of everyone's money in an 1876 Minnesota town. For too long we have been hiding under our beds while these robbers have been helping themselves to our rights, liberties, traditions, and heritage. Just as those Minnesota townsmen were deadly serious about their money and families and town, so too must we become about our rights and Constitutional government.
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