Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alaska Wood Bison Update!

Admit that the future of the 103 wood bison lounging in a pen at Girdwood, Alaska, waiting for bureaucrats to determine their fate, has kept you on pins and needles since our previous post. Well, the latest news on this situation from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner isn't going to put your mind at ease:

Release of bison into Alaska wilderness put on hold again
by Tim Mowry /
08.14.11 - 12:32 am
FAIRBANKS — The re-introduction of wood bison in Alaska has been delayed for at least another year, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is paying for it.

The federal agency recently forked over $200,000 to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to maintain a captive herd of more than 100 wood bison for another year at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood south of Anchorage.

The hope is it will give federal and state agencies enough time to negotiate a special rule that will make the animals exempt from the Endangered Species Act when they are finally set loose in Alaska. The state has been holding the bison at the AWCC for more than three years as part of a plan to restore the shaggy beasts to the Alaska landscape. The Department of Fish and Game imported 53 bison from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada, in June 2007 to complement a herd of 33 wood bison that were already being held at the AWCC.

The herd size has since grown to 103 with the addition of calves the past four years.

The Fish and Wildlife Service gave the state $200,000 to maintain the herd for another year “because we support the reintroduction and believe that it is clearly in line with our missions and mandates,” agency spokesman Bruce Woods wrote in an email. The money will cover food and veterinary costs for the herd for the next year.

Release stalled

The department’s original plan was to release at least 40 of the animals in one of three locations — the Yukon Flats, Minto Flats or the Innoko River Flats — in spring 2010. The most recent plan, after concerns were raised about releasing the animals in the Yukon Flats (national wildlife refuge) and Minto Flats (oil and gas development), was to release a small herd into the Innoko River Flats in western Alaska in spring 2011.

But that release has been stalled while the state waits for the Fish and Wildlife Service to approve a special rule, called a 10j rule, that would not prohibit resource development, i.e. oil and gas drilling, in areas where the bison may be released. The snag at this point is over a provision in the 10j rule that will allow future hunting of wood bison after they are released, assuming the population increases to allow for that.

“The main obstacle we are dealing with is a lack of inclusion of general hunting in the special rule,” Doug Vincent-Lang, a special assistant to ADF&G commissioner Cora Campbell and the state’s endangered species coordinator, wrote in an email.

Wood bison existed in Alaska in the 1800s before becoming extinct because of a combination of hunting and changing habitat.

There are no wood bison in the United States but they are still listed as endangered because they are listed as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, that country’s equivalent of the Endangered Species Act in the U.S. Wood bison were downlisted from endangered to threatened in Canada in 1988 but they were not downlisted in the U.S.

The fact there are no wood bison in the U.S. and they are still listed as endangered is “simply amazing,” Vincent-Lang said.

Hunting is integral

The Fish and Wildlife Service gave the state the option in March of publishing a proposed rule in the federal register by the end of April without a provision allowing future hunting or waiting for several months until the issue could be discussed further and, hopefully, resolved.

Releasing the animals without a clause that would allow hunting down the road was not an option, Vincent-Lang said.

“Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison when we put them on the landscape,” he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that, spokesman Bruce Woods at the Anchorage regional office said, but has yet to figure out a way to incorporate such language into the 10j rule without compromising legal requirements. The provisions of the ESA that allow designation of nonessential experimental populations are legally complex, he said.

“The service has always known that hunting would be among the ultimate goals of this re-introduction, but 10j rules are designed to aid the recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act and the agency is focusing on this goal,” Woods wrote in an email. “While the Fish and Wildlife Service remains committed to and supportive of the reintroduction and ultimately the hunting of wood bison in Alaska, the agency wants to provide assurances to the state that the rule establishing the population of wood bison is within the legal framework.”

Hunting is an integral part of wood bison restoration and management in Canada, where the population of wood bison has increased to approximately 4,400 animals in seven disease-free, free-ranging herds.

“Even though they’re listed in Canada as a threatened species, Canada recognizes the need for hunting,” Vincent-Lang said. “We are working closely with the USFWS to resolve this issue and remain confident that we can reach a solution.”

Bison Timeline


After numerous meetings with Native villagers in the Yukon Flats to document the existence of wood bison in Alaska in the 1800s, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game begins working on a wood bison re-introduction plan.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces it cannot support the wood bison restoration effort because of concerns that doing so would not be compatible with the purposes of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. The project is put on hold.


ADF&G re-evaluates the re-introduction effort and determines it is an outstanding wildlife conservation opportunity for Alaska that should be fully examined in an open, public decision-making process. Still unsure if the feds will go along with a release in the Yukon Flats, ADF&G begins looking at other possible release sites.

June 2005

ADF&G forms the Wood Bison Restoration Advisory Group, a consortium of environmentalists, Native subsistence hunters and trophy hunters, and holds a two-day public meeting to determine if there is public support for the project. The group endorses the plan and comes up with three possible release sites — the Yukon Flats, Minto Flats and Innoko River Flats.


Local advisory committees in the Minto and lower Innoko-Yukon River areas endorse the wood bison restoration plan after meeting with ADF&G. The Eastern Interior and Western Interior federal subsistence advisory councils also endorse the plan.

August 2006

ADF&G initiates an evaluation of the wood bison restoration plan according to the state’s wildlife transplant policy and determines “that wood bison are an extirpated indigenous species and are native to Alaska.”

January 2007

A wildlife transplant policy review committee concludes that wood bison restoration will not likely effect a significant reduction in the range, distribution, habitat, or preexisting human use of other species in Alaska.

June 2008

ADF&G imports 53 wood bison — 27 females and 26 males — from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada. The state used a $100,000 grant from the Turner Foundation to transport the animals by truck to Alaska, where they were released into pens at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to serve a two-year quarantine.

January 2009

After meeting with officials from Doyon, Ltd., who expressed concern that releasing wood bison on the Minto Flats could jeopardize the Native corporation’s plan to drill for oil and gas in the Nenana Basin, former state Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, introduces a resolution calling for a halt to the wood bison introduction until Alaska gets the federal reassurance it wants.

April 2009

Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin asks the departments of fish and game and natural resources to look for places other than the Minto Flats to release the wood bison because their release there could endanger oil and gas or mineral exploration, production or development under the Endangered Species Act.

February 2010

A notice of the state’s intent to develop a “10j rule” that would establish wood bison as a “nonessential experimental population” is published in the federal register.

March 2010

In a presentation to the Board of Game in Fairbanks, ADF&G officials say the Innoko River Flats is now the preferred release site because of concerns over the Yukon Flats and Minto Flats. Game Board chairman Cliff Judkins directs ADF&G to come up with a harvest plan for both subsistence and sport hunting before any bison are released.

July 2010

The state delivers its version of the proposed 10j rule to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review.

November 2010

ADF&G announces the wood bison have been given a clean bill of health by state veterinarians after being tested multiple times for tuberculosis and brucellosis. The only thing preventing their release is the adoption of a 10j rule to make them exempt from the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tells the state it hopes to have the final rule in place by the end of July 2011.

April 2011

Rep. Alan Dick, R-Stony River, introduces a bill — HB 186 — that would require legislative approval before the bison could be moved into the Interior. Dick says environmental groups would sue the state to make money and ensure the land where the bison are is off limits to human use. The Alaska House Resources Committee refers the bill to the Alaska House Rules Committee, where it is still sits.

Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.


Erich von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's "Leftism, From DeSade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse" was published in 1974. Here are some of the first few pages:

"Let us state at the outset of our investigation that, viewed from a certain angle, we all are subject to two basic drives: one toward identity, the other toward diversity. Neither in ourselves as persons, nor in the nations through the course of history are these drives always the same in their intensity and in their balance. How do they manifest themselves? We can all experience a mood during which we feel the desire to be in the company of people of our own age, our own class, our own sex, conviction, religion or taste. It is quite possible that this drive toward conformity, this herd instinct, is something we share with the animal world. This strong identitarian feeling can rest squarely on a real herd instinct, a strong feeling ofcommonness and community directed in a hostile sense toward another group. In race riots and demonstrations of ethnic groups this collective sentiment can manifest itself with great strength. This sort of conformist herd instinct was the driving motor of the nationalistic gymnastic organizations of the Germans and the Slavs, so potent in the first half of this century and engaging in enormous, carefully synchronized gymnastic performances. When five or ten thousand identically dressed men or women are carrying out identical movements, the onlooker gets an overpowering impression of homogeneity, synchronization, symmetry, uniformity.

Identity and identitarian drives tend towards an effacement of self, towards a nostrism ("usness") in which the ego becomes submerged. Of course, nostrism (a term created by the Austrian Nazi Walter Pembaur) can be and usually is a clever multiplication of egoisms. Whoever praises and extols a collective unit in which he participates (a nation,a race, a class, a party) only praises himself. And therefore all identitarian drives not only take a stand for sameness and oppose otherness, but also are self-seeking. There is an identitarian (and nonsexual) aspect to homosexuality ("homoeroticism") coupled with the refusal to establish the sometimes difficult intellectual, spiritual, psychological bridge to the other sex. And in this respect homosexuality is a form of narcissism, of immaturity and implies the limitations of the "simpleton."

Luckily man in his maturity and in the fullness of his qualifications has not only identitarian but also diversitarian drives, not only a herd instinct but also a romantic sentiment. More often than not we have the yearning to meet people of the other sex, another age group, another mentality, another class, even of another faith and another political conviction. All varieties of the novarum rerum cupiditas (curiosity for the new)-our eagerness to travel and to eat other food, hear another music, see a different landscape, to get in touch with another culture and civilization are derived from this diversitarian tendency in us. A dog neither wants to travel, nor does he particularly mind getting the same food day in and day out, if it is healthy fare. Man, however, wants change.
The ant state, the termite state, might remain the same all through the centuries, but man's desire for change results in "history" as we know it. There is something in us that cannot stand repetition, and this hunger for the new can be quite fatal if it is not blended with an element ofpermanence -and prudence.

All higher theist religions rest squarely on this longing, this love for otherness. Though I would not subscribe to Karl Barth's formula of Gott als der ganz andere (God as the totally different One), no theist will deny God's otherness. We are created in His image, though we are not a facsimile of God. This is one of the reasons why the Incarnation moves man so profoundly, why over its exact nature the first Ecumenical Council raged with such bitterness and led to tragic heresies and schisms.

Viewing these two tendencies, these two drives, both with psychological foundations, but only the romantic sentiment with an intellectual character, we inevitably come to the conclusion that modern times are more favorable to the herd instinct than to the enthusiasm for diversity. This is perhaps not immediately evident, because in a few ways the opposite seems to be the case: The craving for travel can now more
easily be satisfied, and in the domain of art a greater variety of tastes
and schools exists today than in the past. In other, more important realms, however, identity has been pushed in every way, partly by passions (mostly of an animal order), partly by modern technology and procedures forming part and parcel of modern civilization. In another book we have dealt with the dishonesty in the use of the fashionable term "pluralism." As a matter of fact all modern trends point to the
specter of a terrifying, bigger and more pitiless conformity. In this connection we must never forget that identity is a cousin of equality. Everything which is identical is automatically equal. Two fifty-cent coins of the same issue are not only identical but also equal. Two quarters are equal to a fifty-cent coin, but they are not identical with it. Identity is equality: It is equality-at-first-sight, an equality which takes no lengthy reasoning or painstaking investigation to discover.
Therefore all political or social forms which are inspired by the ideal of equality will almost inevitably point into the direction of identitarianism and foster the herd instinct (with subsequent suspicion, if not hatred, for those who dare to be different or have a claim to superiority).

There exists a dull, animalistic leaning toward identitarian gregariousness, but we encounter also a programmatic, passionate, fanatical drive in that direction. Nietzsche knew of it, so did Jacob Burckhardt. It has fear as its driving motor in the form of an inferiority complex engendering hatred and envy as its blood brother. Fear implies a feeling of being inferior to another person (or to a situation): Hatred is possible only if one feels helpless in the face of a person considered to be stronger or more powerful. A feeble and cowardly slave can fear and hate his master; his master in return will not hate, but will have mere contempt for the slave. Haters all through history have committed horrible acts of cruelty (which is the inferior's revenge), whereas contempt-always coupled with a feeling of superiority-has rarely produced cruelty. In order to avoid that fear, that feeling of inferiority, the
demand for equality and identity arises. Nobody is better, nobody superior, all can relax, all can be at ease, nobody feels challenged, everybody is "safe." And if identity, if sameness has been achieved, then the other person's actions and reactions can be forecast. No (disagreeable) surprise can be expected, everybody can read thoughts and feelings in everybody else's face. And thus a warm herd feeling of
brotherhood will emerge. These sentiments, these emotions, this rejection of quality (which can never be the same with everybody!) explain much of the spirit of the mass movements of the last 200 years.

The other factor is envy. Envy has complex psychological roots .. several, not just one. There exists, first of all, the curious feeling that whatever the other person possesses has in some (roundabout) waybeen taken away from me. "I am poor because he is rich." This inner, often unspoken argument rests on the assumption that all goods and good things in this world are finite. In the case of money or, even more so, of landed property, such argument might have some substance. (Hence the enormous envy of peasants as to each other's real estate.) Yet this argument is often unconsciously extended to values which are not finite. Isabel is beautiful; Eloise is ugly. Yet Isabel's beauty is not the result of Eloise's plainness, nor Bob's brightness of Tim's stupidity. Again envy might subconsciously use a statistical argument. ("Not all
of us brothers can be bright, not all of us sisters pretty. Fate handed it to her, to him, and discriminated against me!")

The second aspect of envy lies in the superiority of another person in an important respect. The mere suspicion that the other person feels superior on account of looks, of brain-power, of brawn, of cash, etc., can create a burning feeling of envy. The only way to find a compensation lies in a successful search for inferior qualities in the person who figures as the object of envy. "He is rich, but he is evil," "He is
successful, but he has a miserable family life," "He is well born and well connected, but, oh, so stupid." Sometimes these shortcomings of an envied person serve as a consolation: sometimes they also serve as a "moral" excuse for an attack, especially if the object of real or imagined envy has moral shortcomings. In the last 200 years the exploitation of envy, its mobilization among the masses, coupled with the denigration of individuals, but more frequently of classes, races, nations or religious communities has been the very key to political success. The history of the Western World since the end of the eighteenth century cannot be written without this
fact constantly in mind. All leftist "isms" harp on this theme, i. e. , on the privilege of groups, minority groups, to be sure, who are objects of envy and at the same time subjects of intellectual-moral inferiorities. They have no right to their exalted positions. They ought to conform to the rest, become identical with "the people," renounce their privileges, conform. If they speak another language, they ought to drop it and talk the lingo of the majority. If they are wealthy their riches should be taxed away or confiscated. If they adhere to an unpopular ideology, they ought to forget it. Everything special, everything esoteric and not easily understood by the many becomes suspect and evil (as for instance the increasingly "undemocratic" modern art and poetry). Of course there is one type of unpopular minority that cannot
conform and therefore is always in danger of being exiled, suppressed or slaughtered: the racial minority.

As always hypocrisy is the compliment which vice pays to virtue,and in inciting envy, this ugly feeling will never be openly invoked. The nonconforming person or group sinning against the sacred principle of sameness will always be treated as a traitor, and if he is not a traitor the envious majority will push him in that direction. (As late as 1934 there were German Jews who tried to form a Nazi group of their own:
naively enough they considered anti-Semitism a "passing phase." Yet can one imagine a German Jew in 1943 not praying in his heart for an Allied victory? He was pushed in that direction.) Thus to be different will be treated as or made into treason. And even if the formula Nonconformist-Traitor will not always be promulgated with such clarity, it lurks at the back of modern man's mind only too often, whether he openly embraces totalitarianism or not. One wonders how many people who sincerely reject all totalitarian creeds today would subscribe to the famous dictum of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, who wrote in his will to his heir presumptive, St. Emmeric: "A Kingdom of only one language and one custom is a fragile and stupid thing. "

Unity and uniformity have been blended in our minds. The modern magic of sameness has been enhanced not only by a technology producing identical objects (e.g., one type of car owned "commonly" by half-a-million people), but also by the subconscious
realization that sameness is related to cheapness and that sameness makes for greater intelligibility, especially to simpler minds. Identical laws, identical measurements, an identical language, an identical currency, an identical education, an intellectual level, an identical political power ("one-man-one-vote"), identical pay rates, identical or nearrency, an identical education, an identical intellectual level, an identical political power ("one-man-one-vote"), identical pay rates, identical or
near-identical clothes (the blue denim of Communist China!)-all this seems highly desirable. It simplifies matters. It is cheaper. It saves thinking. To certain minds it even seems "more just."

These identical tendencies run into two obstacles; nature and man (who is part nature). Still, nature is more easily pressed into identical patterns by human endeavor, as witness certain types of gardening. Hills can be "leveled." Geometry can be impressed upon the landscape. To make man more identitarian is a more difficult task, yet not such a hopeless one to the dolt who "optimistically" declares, "All men are equal" and then "All people are more alike than unlike." Here one has to remember Procrustes, the legendary Greek robber and sadist who flung his victim onto a bed: Those who were too short were stretched and hammered until they filled it, those who were too long were "cut to size." Procrustes is the forerunner of modern tyranny.
Here, however, the identitarian comes up against the mystery of personality. Human beings are different: They are of different ages, different sexes, they vary according to their physical strength, their intellect, their education, their ambitions. They have different character and different kinds of memory, different dispositions. They react differently to the same treatment. All this enervates and antagonizes the identitarian. The shoemaker takes it for granted; it is a headache for the shoe manufacturer. It is natural to the governess and no mystery to parents, but it can become an insoluble problem to the teacher of a large class. Along with this goes the proclivity among large groups to give up at least part of the personality. Mass-man in a mass has the tendency to think, act, and react in synchro-mesh with the crowd, a
phenomenon that might have a scientific explanation. And precisely because human identity is difficult to achieve, a poor substitute often has to be brought in. This equally unworkable substitute is equality."

The remainder of this work can be found here:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Handicapped Parking

It seems that even the smallest parking lots have handicapped parking spots reserved. No doubt it's a legal requirement. But what happens to a handicapped driver when all the handicapped slots are filled, as they often are? Do they then go to another location where they can more easily park? Do they wait, engine idling, for a cripple to leave so they can inherit the spot? Or do they just go home, hoping to try again later?

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Federal Mandates

The AP reports on the latest mis-guided HHS policy implementation:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications for health care as well as social mores.

The requirement is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women's preventive care under President Barack Obama's health care law. Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual "well-woman" physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy, counseling on domestic violence, and other services.

"These historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases. Over time, they are expected to apply to most employer-based insurance plans, as well as coverage purchased individually. Plans that are considered "grandfathered" under the law will not be affected, at least initially. Consumers should check with their health insurance plan administrator.

Sebelius acted after a near-unanimous recommendation last month from a panel of experts convened by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, which advises the government. Panel chairwoman Linda Rosenstock, dean of public health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that prevention of unintended pregnancies is essential for the psychological, emotional and physical health of women.

Birth control use is virtually universal in the United States, according to a government study issued last summer. Generic versions of the pill are available for as little as $9 a month. Still, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Many are among women using some form of contraception, and forgetting to take the pill is a major reason.

Contraception is about more than simply preventing pregnancy - it can help make a woman's next pregnancy healthier by spacing births far enough apart, generally 18 months to two years. Research links closely spaced births to a risk of such problems as prematurity, low birth weight, even autism. Research has shown that even modest copays for medical care can discourage use.

In a nod to social and religious conservatives, the rules issued Monday by Sebelius include a provision that would allow religious institutions to opt out of offering birth control coverage. However, many conservatives are supporting legislation by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., that would codify a range of exceptions to the new health care law on religious and conscience grounds.

Although the new women's preventive services will be free of any additional charge to patients, somebody will have to pay. The cost will be spread among other people with health insurance, resulting in slightly higher premiums. That may be offset to some degree with savings from diseases prevented, or pregnancies that are planned to minimize any potential ill effects to the mother and baby.

The administration did allow insurers some leeway in determining what they will cover. For example, health plans will be able to charge copays for branded drugs in cases where a generic version is just as effective and safe for the patient.