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USFWS misappropriating Pittman-Robertson funds

Discussion in 'Politics, Elections & Legislation' started by Brian in Oregon, Jan 5, 2011.

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  1. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Pittman-Robertson funds are paid for by an excise tax on ammunition and firearms, requested by sportsman for wildlife preservation, conservation, range development and other hunting related activities concerning habitat and wildlife.

    It's come to life that USFWS has been absconding with these funds, using them to fund environmentalist projects, like wolf reintroduction.

    -----------

    http://www.allamericanpatriot.com/content/how-legal-was-introduction-canadian-wolves-northern-rockies

    How Legal Was The Introduction Of Canadian Wolves Into The Northern Rockies?


    * Featured Stories

    By Toby Bridges | LOBO WATCH

    Stephen King would be hard pressed to come up with a blockbuster novel that is more suspenseful than the hate, fear and distrust that plagues the Western Wolf Recovery Project. One thing is for certain, if this story is ever written, based on truth, it will be filled with lies, deceit, secrecy, collusion, theft, threats, massive killings, human endangerment and government failure - all with a touch of international flavor. And that plot thickened on May 16, 2010, in Bozeman, MT, when former Chief of National Wildlife Refuge Operations, Jim Beers, spoke to a crowd of about 300 on the topic of the “Criminal Activities Associated With The Introduction, Protection, And Spread Of Wolves In The Lower 48 States”.
    Beers, a 32 year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, went to work with that agency in 1969, as a wildlife biologist banding waterfowl in Minnesota. Through the years, he also served as a special agent, worked the Port of Entry in New York City to curtail the traffic of threatened and endangered wildlife (and the products made from those animals), and eventually worked his way up to Chief of Operations for the National Wildlife Refuge System. During the mid 1990s, he began working with the distribution of the excise taxes collected on firearms, ammunition and fishing tackle back to state wildlife agencies, under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Those funds are to be used exclusively for bankrolling state wildlife habitat and fisheries improvement, to insure hunting and fishing opportunities for sportsmen. And the amount collected annually totals into the hundreds of millions of dollars. (For 2009, the amount distributed back to state wildlife agencies amounted to more than $700-million.)

    In his presentation to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon sportsmen, guides & outfitters, media and politicians, Jim Beers shared how he worked his way up through the ranks. And while working with the Pittman-Robertson funds, he was also appointed to work with U.S. Trade Representative groups and the State Department to address a European Union ban on furs taken with leg hold traps in the U.S. and Russia.

    Beers has always considered himself a wildlife manager, holding a Bachelors Degree in Wildlife Resources. He sees the use of leg hold traps as an effective tool for managing furbearers, such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes and mink. And made an all out effort to get the European ban removed from U.S. furs. And thanks largely to his efforts, it was.

    He says that he was fully aware of USFWS regularly meeting with “environmental” and “animal rights” groups in secrecy, and entering into under the table agreements with them. After the defeat of the efforts to outlaw the use of leg hold traps in the U.S., he noticed a very different attitude toward him. Beers feels that the outcome was not what USFWS may have agreed to with groups pushing for the elimination of leg hold traps in this country.

    Later in the 1990s, while working with the distribution of sportsmen provided excise taxes, he began to question why the amount of Pittman-Robertson funds being distributed to state wildlife agencies had failed to increase over a several year period. This was during the Clinton administration, and a fear that the administration would make it increasingly difficult to buy firearms and ammunition resulted in frenzy buying and stockpiling. With such record sales, Beers rationalized that there should be a parallel increase in the amount of excise taxes collected - but he was not seeing that trend in the amount he had to distribute. His probing of this issue must have hit a nerve or two with upper USFWS management, and he suddenly found himself put on administrative leave, and told to “Go Fishing...With Pay!”

    TOP PHOTO: Robert T. Fanning holds the County Bounty record book. The book has the records of all the bounty brought in from 1895 thru 1945. Which was only 200 wolves in that time period. At that time the county consisted of Livingston,Gallatin, Ringling, Springdale and North to Yellowstone park over by Gardiner. A very large area with very few wolves.

    He was also threatened, and told not to discuss the issue with anyone, or he could lose his job and health benefits. However, while Beers was not officially “on the job”, co-workers handling the distribution of Pittman-Robertson monies often asked him to take a look at this or that, and for advice. While stepping into the office to “visit” on one opportunity, one of those co-workers asked him to look over a massive print out of the expenditures made with Pittman-Robertson funds, and Jim was surprised to find numerous uses of the taxes collected to fund non-hunting and non-fishing related projects. Those discrepancies included funding for wildlife management lands used for the building of a prison, to fund park improvements, and for purchasing USFWS vehicles. None of which qualify for funding under the Pittman-Robertson Act.

    So, what does all of this have to do with wolves? Read on.

    Beers blew the whistle on the misappropriation of monies that were supposed to be used exclusively for wildlife habitat and fisheries improvement. And Congress launched an official inquiry.

    What they discovered was that USFWS had embezzled as much as $60- to $70-million from the excise taxes collected on sportsman purchases of guns, ammo and fishing tackle. According to Beers, when USFWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark was questioned about the unauthorized use of these monies, her comment was something to the effect of, “I was told the money was to be used where I felt it was needed.”

    So, where did USFWS use “your” tax dollars...the money that was supposed to be for funding projects that insure the health of the wildlife and fish resources sportsmen have worked so hard to build? According to Jim Beers, one use was to fund the introduction of those Canadian wolves into the Northern Rockies. That’s right, they used “your” money to fund dumping wolves into one of the richest wildlife areas of North America - unleashing the wildlife equivalent of cancer to destroy the past hundred years of sound wildlife conservation efforts (at the cost of hundreds of millions of sportsman dollars). And those wolves are now at out-of-control numbers, and they are dealing a death blow to elk, moose, deer and other big game populations in many areas of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

    Beers says another use of “your” excise tax dollars was to construct a new Regional USFWS Office in California.

    Congress had already turned down funding for both these projects - so USFWS took it upon themselves to dip deeply into Pittman-Robertson funds to finance these projects...without any authorization whatsoever. And if these two misappropriations of funds is not enough of a slap in the face to the sportsmen who provided those monies, USFWS also used “your” money to establish a “slush fund” to provide bonuses for Director Clark, division chiefs, and managers at federal and regional levels. And they rewarded themselves well. Those who had excelled at their jobs generally received $25,000 to $30,000. But even those who only mustered a mediocre rating in how they performed their responsibilities usually received a bonus of around $5,000. What the heck, it was free money...so why not?

    (I followed all of this back in the late 1990s, and I remember that some of the Pittman-Robertson monies that were wrongfully taken from hunters and fishermen were even used to reimburse USFWS employees for relocation expenses. T.B.)

    So, what did Jim Beers receive for being so honest and forthright? How about a forced retirement, and once again the threat of losing benefits if he kept the spotlight on this issue. In fact, he was offered a payoff to keep quiet about it for three years. He took the money. Still, he kept researching elements of the Wolf Recovery Project that were handled improperly. Following are some issues which he says are in violation of the law:

    *Unauthorized taking of Pittman-Robertson funds to finance projects (and bonuses) that did not qualify.

    *That Wolf Recovery Project coordinator Ed Bangs failed to file an appropriate and accurate Environmental Impact Statement. Beers says Bangs purposely ignored all established wolf science and research, dismissing known wolf depredation impact to wildlife & livestock, and he ignored the dangers of the parasites and diseases carried which are a threat to other wildlife, livestock, pets and to humans (Beers claims that wolves carry 30 known parasites & diseases - most of which are a danger to humans). He says Ed Bangs ignored published historic record of wolf impact and health/safety issues.

    *Ed Bangs failed to file Form 3-177, which is required for importation of any wildlife or fish species, including wolves. The form requires declaration of the number being brought into the country, and the species/subspecies being brought into the country. Beers says there is no record of the mandatory form ever being filed.

    *That for USFWS to go ahead and “find funding elsewhere” for constructing the California Regional Office, and to fund the introduction of wolves even after the projects had been turned down by Congress is a violation of the agency’s authority.

    *That USFWS wrongfully supplemented federal funds with private money to introduce wolves. (Even if approved by Congress, federal budgets cannot by supplemented with private contributions from companies or organizations - or with monies misappropriated from other federal project funds.)

    *Beers also claims that for USFWS to allow Defenders of Wildlife to reimburse livestock producers for the loss of stock to wolves, but for them not to reimburse for the loss of wildlife or not to reimburse for the loss of a pet or not to reimburse for losses/injury to humans caused by wolves violates the equal treatment outlined by the Constitution.

    While as much as $70-million dollars was robbed from Pittman-Robertson funds, and used to fund non Congress approved projects, very little (nothing) was done to investigate this crime - or exactly where all of that money went. USFWS was, at that time, pushing a non-hunting agenda (and still does today). Likewise, so were most all state wildlife agencies. Beers feels that much of the missing millions ended up funding bird watching areas, hiking trails and like projects in many states - even though the money had been collected from hunting and fishing gear sales, and was supposed to go right back into game and fisheries habitat improvement.

    Not one state wildlife agency demanded that USFWS replace the stolen money - and not one person involved was ever tried for such grand theft.

    During his Bozeman presentation, Jim Beers did not mesh words when he stated that those responsible for the wolf disaster must be held accountable. And a large number of those in attendance voiced that former USFWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark (now Executive Vice President of Defenders of Wildlife) and Wolf Recovery Project coordinator Ed Bangs both need to do time behind bars.

    Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd sponsored Beers’ presentation, which was videoed and will be offered for sale in the near future. More on Jim Beers’ talk will be published on the LOBO WATCH website, at www.lobowatch.com, before the end of May, along with details on how to order a copy of the presentation. All money from the sale of this DVD will go into a legal fund. It is the goal of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd to take USFWS, and others, to court to insure they stand accountable for the theft of $60- to $70-million from Pittman-Robertson funds, the manner in which the money was used, and other failures to adhere to many other violated laws.

    More on Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd can be found at:
    www.fotnyeh.org
     
  2. b12

    b12 Well-Known Member

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    The very sad part there will not be enough deterent to keep it from happening again.
    There should be long prison terms when the people we put our faith in to do honest work on out behalf and pourposley steel funds from the taxpayers.
     
  3. Model Number 12

    Model Number 12 TS Member

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    The misappropriation of P-R funds is important to every shooter here on TS.com. Every trap gun or flat of shells, every camo shotgun, every AR-15, every box of 30/30 shells has a 10% excise tax built right into the price. This is the money that makes up the P-R fund and is meant to be used for wildlife management, habitat acquisition, hunter safety programs, etc.
    Instead it is becoming a private fund for the environmental and animal rights industries and a slush fund for the USFWS.
    Imagine how much money has been collected in the past few years after the big run we had on guns and ammo. These are the funds that are being misused.
    This is our money!
    I guess it took an issue as big as the wolves to finally push this issue out in the open. Jim Beers has a lot of courage, I hope it isn't for nothing.
     
  4. timberfaller

    timberfaller Well-Known Member

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    Don't have the bill in front of me, but isn't there a "jail" clause in the bill?

    Thats why Ted Kenndy quit going after the funds for other purposes of his likeing! He found out there was a go directly to jail phrase in the bill.

    Can someone comfirm this??
     
  5. shooterIII

    shooterIII Member

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    That is the somewhat the same thing that happened to the Social Security money, it was dedicated but the politicians stole it and used it for other things. Now it is almost bankrupt.
     
  6. 870

    870 Well-Known Member

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    You know, without even looking into this subject I just get a feeling from the wording of that copied text that there are many factual errors in how it represents that law. Just a guess.
     
  7. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    870, for example?
     
  8. 870

    870 Well-Known Member

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    Brian:

    Not saying there aren't any issues there, but that article you copied makes it sound like they "embezzeled" funds because any use of the funds for non-hunting or fishing realted projects is automatically illegal - "to look over a massive print out of the expenditures made with Pittman-Robertson funds, and Jim was surprised to find numerous uses of the taxes collected to fund non-hunting and non-fishing related projects."

    I'm not going to look it up right now, but I doubt that law restricts spending to just helping hunting and fishing. Those things are usually written a little more broadly than that. Add in the fact that the article is written in connection with a very emotional topic and I think it's likely you get some misleading points. That's my opinion of many internet blogs, posts etc., no matter which side of the issue you are on.
     
  9. shooterIII

    shooterIII Member

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    870 writes

    "I'm not going to look it up right now, but I doubt that law restricts spending to just helping hunting and fishing"


    Maybe before you make assumptions you should read the law.
     
  10. 870

    870 Well-Known Member

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    Shooter:

    I made it clear in my post that I was only stating my view of that article. I didn't make any statement couched as fact in an attempt to mislead anyone. For your benefit, I just did a quick check on that, and it seems that just as I guessed, the PR act DOES NOT restrict spending to hunting and fishing related projects. Much more broad uses are allowable than simply hunting and fishing related projects.

    I'm just telling you that, at least to me, an article such as copied above will generally have some facts correct and some issues that are a bit on the misleading side.

    The issue I'm picking on here doesn't mean the funds were spent wisely, just that it is not a clear cut crime as that article makes it sound. I just don't blindly believe everything I read on the net.
     
  11. over the hill

    over the hill Active Member

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    Years ago a group of shooters solicited such funds which also had monies for Range Development. (OH). Our club was forced to close or move.

    However, the requirements at that time were such that we scrapped the idea.


    Regards....Gerald
     
  12. Model Number 12

    Model Number 12 TS Member

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    The laws governing disbursement of these funds are quite strict. In fact a state may lose their funds if they attenpt to divert them to any other use. These funds may make up half (or more) of the total budget of some state fish and wildlife agencies and the loss of this annual funding would be crippling. This is not the first time that the Feds have been caught misappropriating P-R monies. Anybody here remember when the Feds were caught trying to use Duck Stamp money to buy some islands in Hawaii even though there were no ducks living there? (I think Clark was at the helm then as well). Also remember the Clintons and the infamous Whitewater Scandal? The Feds used P-R money to build an access road to a river's boat landing. The "access road" just happened to go through the land that was being developed and the Clintons were part owners. I can also remember when Jim Beers was involved with the European Union and the attempt by them to ban furs from the U.S. and Canada because they may have been caught in foothold traps. This was nothing more than an attempt by European fur farmers (who produce ranched mink and foxes) to gain an economic advantage for themselves. Mickey Kantor was the U.S. Trade representative and he correctly identified this as a trade issue, even though the animal rights industry in Europe was using it to further their anti-fur agenda. In fact, the establishment and acceptance of Best Management Practices for traps was a result of this. Jim Beers was the wildlife expert who assisted Kantor and he was beaten up by the animal rights sympathizers from PETA and HSUS who work at the USFWS because of his involvement (they absolutely do not want anything done to support traps and trapping). Based on past history and behavior of the USWFS I don't doubt for one minute that they have been caught misappropriating P-R monies again.
     
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