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Opinion: Columnists

Ron Arnold: Does Big Green care about people or nature?

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It's nothing new to see Big Green figures deploring the fact that people exist. Back in 1974, the elite Club of Rome published "Mankind at the Turning Point" with its infamous motto, "The Earth has a cancer and the cancer is man."

Today it has become routine for some well-funded Big Green group to block life-saving projects supposedly to save some allegedly threatened creature. In a previous column, I detailed a particularly outrageous example: a campaign that stopped an approved life-saving gravel road between two remote Alaska towns because it might annoy some geese.

The towns are Kings Cove, with the state's largest salmon processing plant, and Cold Bay, which has the only reliable medical evacuation airport in the region. Lack of an all-weather road between them has contributed to 11 deaths. Congress and President Obama had approved a carefully crafted Kings Cove-Cold Bay road plan and a gift of land for a wildlife refuge for the geese.

The culprits that killed the road were led by Rodger Schlickeisen (2011 compensation: $364,000), former president of Defenders of Wildlife (2011 assets: $35.3 million). Defenders spent $4 million on direct mail and $899,000 on telemarketing for a "get out the comments" campaign that cowed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service into stopping the road.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, had only one parting word for them: "Shameful."

Last week, Montana rancher Bill Hoppe awoke one day, walked to a river bank, and "all I could see were dead sheep," he told a reporter. There were 19 in all, five ewes and 14 lambs killed by two wolves, according to the evidence. "The grandkids, those were their sheep, their lambs," Hoppe said. "They had a lot of them named, could catch them,"

Hoppe has lived in Paradise Valley his whole life. Wolves had never attacked his livestock before. Hoppe blames the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for caving in to Big Green pressure groups to stop controlling wolf populations.

Steve Kelly of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, "Anyone in the sheep business knows it's not a good place to raise sheep."

I spoke about Kelly's crass remark with Frank DuBois, who was a deputy assistant secretary of interior under President Reagan.

DuBois told me, "The Hoppe family has been around for five generations, but this guy comes hippity skipping in with the audacity to tell him how to run his business and doesn't give a twit about the grandkids' sheep. Somebody needs to tell Kelly the Paradise Valley is not a 'good place' to raise little enviros. There are better places, although I can't think of one right now."

There is a saying that wildlife's worst predator is wildlife biologists. That has certainly been the case with jaguars in the American Southwest, where the big cats, largest in the Western Hemisphere, have long been considered extinct because settlers pushed them back to their core range in Mexico.

The last known female jaguar in the U.S. was killed in 1963, attracted by a predator call and shot by a Fish & Wildlife contract sniper, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Then, on Feb. 18, 2009, a male jaguar known as Macho B (Macho A had disappeared years earlier) was captured in a wire snare set by Emil McCain, a subcontractor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Game and Fish personnel tranquilized Macho B, attached a radio collar to him, and released him.

Twelve days later, the jaguar was observed ailing, was recaptured, diagnosed as terminally ill from kidney failure, and euthanized. McCain pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act and his superior in Arizona Game and Fish was fired for lying to federal investigators.

Washington Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

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