Property Rights Foundation of America®

Presented at the
Tenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights
Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.
Albany, N.Y. - October 14, 2006

Wild Cities, Suburb Zoos & Rural Outrages —
Reflections on My Career in Wildlife Management

Nathaniel R. Dickinson

Thank you very much, Carol. As Carol mentioned, I have been writing for PRFA. Actually it has been about twelve years now, so I have been writing and been associated with her for about twelve years, and every dealing I have had with her has been an absolute pleasure. She is a wonderful lady. As far as I am concerned she is one of the finest ladies I have ever met.

That title stumped me at first, too. She suggested I write an article something like "wild cities, suburb zoos," and finally we got straight what she was talking about, which is the horrendous conflicts you have now at the increasingly alarming rate between wildlife and people. What she had was "wild cities and suburb zoos." I figured you can't do this. We had to add something else. You don't want to fit in with the environmentalists, who try to lead you to believe that there is no rural land left. If you know anything about the United States, the vast acreage of the United States is rural, and most of that is decidedly wild.

But anyway, I've done a number of articles recently, either book reviews or just straight articles like "Outfoxing the Foxes" that took off on a newspaper article. I talked about the problems in all of England—not only near London but also all of England—from foxes becoming nuisances and actually getting to the point of living in people's houses, and the suggestion that maybe part of this comes to be from the banning of fox hunting with the use of dogs, which is a very logical.

Another one was "Beast in the Garden." That was a book review I did, and it dealt with the actual killing of humans by animals in the areas around Boulder, Colorado. Boulder, of course, is right near Denver. Apparently there are preserves, and, as a result of that, the mountain lions tend to get a little tamer than you want them, and they come in looking for targets, and once in a while they kill humans.

Another one was dealing and talking about grizzly bears, a book on "The Essential Grizzly," and I took off on what does "essential" mean. Everybody should have a grizzly.

With all of this, in order to understand this alarming increase in the conflict between different species of wildlife and man, you have to go back to Earth Day. That was back in 1970, and, of course, Rachel Carson was the hero of the Earth Day and one of the ones that instigated the whole thing.

Remember, Rachel Carson was the one who predicted the extinction of the robin. Well, I haven't had an environmentalist explain to me yet why the robins are still here, let alone, also, why they now choose to spend their winters in much of the Northeast. This hasn't been explained to me at all.

Another one of Rachel Carson's arguments was that the use of DDT is causing egg shell thinness and one of the reasons for the decrease in the eagle populations. Well, this is totally refuted by my friend, J. Gordon Edwards. I wonder if Gordon is still alive. He has got to be in his eighties. He was one of the various guys in the United States that they didn't like that but who totally refuted the things that were being accepted, showing egg shell thickness had nothing to do with DDT. He was a professor at San Jose State. Among other things to convince his students that DDT was safe, you might remember seeing the gentleman getting up there and eating spoons full of DDT in front of the students. He also testified at the hearings.

Earth Day led to a greater interest in species other than the ones that were just hunted. Most of the conservation agencies in the past were focused on game animals and also fish. They were the things that people hunted or fished for. I remember doing a needs inventory about the time and wondered why don't people spend more time with the non-game species. They delegated the responsibility for the management of them and just started working for environmental conservation. I suggested in the needs analysis that we are responsible for all species of wildlife and that enough time should be spent with each particular species to determine whether some more time is needed or not.

This was the start when these funds became available for non-game work. It sort of started the environmental movement. Everybody seemed to drop onto the bandwagon, those on the other side of the aisle from us. I refer to this as a strange bedfellow situation. You had everything from the Earth First radicals to once passive groups like the Audubon Society holding hands and pushing for more and more control of the environment and more and more control over people's lives. Along with that came radical groups like Earth First and anti-hunting groups and animal rights groups. These people all formed a coalition, and they all talked the same party line. They stick together like glue, and they have tremendous impact. One of the reasons they have so much impact is they have all sorts of money from the foundations of any number of industrial businesses.

They also get a lot from contributions. They play on the emotions of gullible people, and, I put a note here, I used to refer to these people as useful idiots. As far as I am concerned, their concern for the environment is somewhere out in the wings. Their big concern is power and control, control over people's lives and power, and this becomes more and more obvious as time goes by.

I am not going to discuss the individual groups. I have written nineteen articles on the different environmental groups. These are available on Carol's web site, prfamerica.org, if anybody wants to pursue that further. Another thing that became obvious is that these people, the various segments of the environmental movement, are getting more and more infiltrated into governmental agencies. Part of this was done with what was referred to as a Natural Heritage Program, which I thought was a good idea. It was supposed to be two years on contract for people to join and work for the different states in cataloging all the plants and animals that existed in a particular state. Well, this was a long time ago, and a lot of these people from these outfits are still there in employment, and I think some of it was illegal. These people were under contract, and they became permanent public civil servants, undoubtedly, in violation of a lot of the rules as far as how people are selected.

With this money that became available, some monsters were also created. One of them, the Endangered Species Act, is an unscientific piece of junk, and it is prepared in such a way that they can take any species, a race, subspecies or a race, anywhere that exists in the United States and find someplace where they can be declared endangered. All you have to do for any species is just go to the marginal range. You have your prime range where the population thrives, then you have marginal habitat where animals are just barely making it through and just holding on because the habitat is not suitable. So you go and declare this thing as an endangered species.

Other monsters, wetlands. Some wetlands are important, but they developed this big love affair for wetlands. One of the things they say is that wetlands are good for flood control. Wetlands are naturally shallow water bodies. Comes the flood, they fill up right away, and then every drop of rain that goes into that wetland leaves it. All of their stuff is so easy to blow out of the water, these different causes.

I can sit down and I start writing these things, and my pencil keeps up with me. I usually use paper and a pencil. My wife is the computer expert and so forth. I think I amaze Carol how quickly I can prepare these things, and it is so easy to blow the arguments out of the water, you get to thinking how the devil did these people get away with this.

I would like to backtrack for a minute or two. As Carol mentioned, I worked for Encon, and in 1979 I was offered the big game unit leader's job. I had to do a lot of thinking about this. Although I had been working in the field for a long time, I had never managed a deer population before in my life. I worked with deer habitat in Maine and Vermont and also in New York, and also I did some pioneer work as far as beaver management goes in these different states too. But, anyway, after a while I said I'll try anything,

I took up the challenge and as soon as I found I was going to be working a job I did a lot of reading, I talked to people, and I found an awful lot of stuff that bothered me. I found that one thing they weren't really adhering to was the mandate of the law and not doing adequate control of deer population. The deer, as you are aware, causes agriculture damage, damage to landscape plants, and also is responsible for all sorts of accidents, some of them resulting in human fatalities.

Over a period of years I made major revisions and had a more disciplined program. One thing is that I referred to legal mandates. It is clear. It is still in the law but no one is paying any attention to it. Maintenance of desirable species needs logical bounds. It is very simple. Maintain deer in balance with natural food supplies. That also is very simple.

Create conditions under which man and nature can thrive in harmony. It is a two-way street. Hey, give and take. There are places where there should be wildlife and places where there shouldn't be and there are these conflicts.

What I did is I drew up a whole manual on deer management for the state of New York, among other things. Whatever the case is. I made all sorts of innovations as far as population modeling, the calculation of deer harvest prescription, and everything.

It must have been worthwhile because I had two people, one in California and one in New York State, who plagiarized my papers they thought they were so good. They virtually got away with it. One guy was a graduate student in college up the road here, and supposedly he was being punished, but I don't think anything ever happened to him.

I had a lot of job offers. As a matter of fact, I would have loved to work under George Allen and Becky Norton Dunlop in the state of Virginia. The big game unit leader job was open, and I was offered that, but somehow I stayed in New York.

Then in 1990, after I had done all these wonderful things, I was told I was no longer big game unit leader. I would be the deer expert for the state. Well, right, deer expert of the state. I received no copy of a memo. The outdoor writers eith whom I became very close in New York State were not contacted. I had to contact them myself. I ended up never,—no explanation was given why I was relieved. I have all sorts of thoughts in my mind of what happened, but I still haven't really found out all the details. But I requested a meeting with the director and he consented. I spent two hours talking to the director. Had a wonderful discussion about all sorts of different things. Never once responded to my question about why I was relieved of my position. Then I spent a day in the field with him in the Catskills where he agreed to go with me so I could show him the horrendous over browsing and destruction of natural vegetation in all the Catskills. He didn't want to hear it. Never said anything about it. Then, after he retired—I was retired and he retired—I ran into him in a bookstore just down the road from here. We were in the bookstore and you know how sometimes you run into somebody and you can immediately tell they start to shy away. They don't want you to talk to them. Stay away. But I went right up to him and confronted him. The only thing he said to me was, I should have stood up against the environmentalists. But still I don't know. It is a mystery.

I would just like to say, in my old age, I have a lot of time to reminisce. I have always been a competitor, determined, and often obnoxious person. I will be the first to admit it, but I have things in my mind, I have to spout them off. I see something that is wrong, I have to speak up.

Anyway, some of my best memories are some of my associations with different sports — like I was on a championship football team at Fort Garden, New Jersey, pardon me, Fort Garden, Georgia. We ended up a season with a 13 and 0 record. I was told that I was the leading receiver on the team. And you know how many receptions I had? I have no idea. You know how many touchdowns I scored? I have no idea. The important thing is we played together as a team, and we won. I see too many people that are involved in some of these things, I am not going to refer to any particular one. Too many people the big thing is to make a name for themselves. And I think more of us, we all have to be more concerned about.

I ended up coaching for about twenty-odd years. I learned a lot in coaching because I was pretty green about it. I had played a lot of sports but coaching is entirely different. The first year I had my own team in Vermont back in the sixties sometime. We ended up 17 and 1. I had a great bunch of kids to work with. We hated to lose that one game, though. Then I went on and, when we moved to New York, I ended up coaching here, and my first year coaching in high school we were 14 and 2 and through the process I learned a lot—teamwork, responsibilities, players, positioning of players, motivation, dedication to winning, game plans, and respect for team members and the opponents.

When I look at our efforts—most of you are on the right side—our efforts to counter some of this nonsense and the control over people's lives that is resulting from the environmental movement, I find it very disturbing. We have a long way to go, really, to get back even to negative numbers. You go back and you see how things started, Earth Day. If we could get back and start all over again and have things happened the way they did, with Earth Day, and then go forward and start winning things. But we have to make up so much lost ground with the control that the environmental movement have.

I feel we need a new strategy, if we have a strategy to start off with. Otherwise we might have to start there. We have to have a new strategy incorporating all these on how to produce a great and winning team. I for one hate to be whipped by a bunch of wimps who are short on moral standards and do not play by the rules. This is a little strong and I won't mention any names. I haven't, maybe, so I am not going to be subject to any lawsuits I hope, but anyway this is what I feel. And it really bothers me.

One thing is that I don't think we communicate enough. In this modern day and age with all of these modern conveniences that should improve communications, I think communications are getting worse. People are getting lazy. I have given away my book Common Sense Wildlife Management. I sold it for two years, recouped everything I invested and more, didn't want to get involved in the IRS anymore, so from that time on I gave books away. I have given away 1,500 books. It is sad. You get lonely after a while. You get no response from anybody saying—I would like to have somebody write and say, your book was a piece of junk. At least you would get a response from it. The same thing I get some through Carol's web site. All you get is a handful of responses. You wonder, is anybody listening? Does anybody care? I thought I was pretty successful.

It's funny. A short while before I was relieved of my position as big game unit leader, a survey was done, a statistically reliable sample study, of seven New York deer hunters. How do you rate New York's deer program? Three out of four rated good to excellent. Question comes to mind—why did you get rid of your leader then? As I said, I still really don't know the answers. I've got a lot of suspicions and so forth.

Another thing is that I never turn down any speaking engagements, and I had a lot of them because things got really hot. [It was said] the state was issuing too many deer management permits, but it was in line with the mandates, the mandate to maintain populations in balance with the natural food supplies and carrying capacity and so on and so forth. I had it worked out. It was simple paper and pencil, population simulations, test targets, prescriptions, etc. how many permits had to be issued.

Also field trips. I never turned them down. Someone wanted to go out in the field. I said, hey, you want me to show you this. I'll take you out in the field. A couple of the outdoor writers got people signed up for this. We had wonderful times. I think all this had to do with why three out of four rated the program good to excellent.

I think that is about all. You people started getting me excited. Whatever, God bless Carol LaGrasse.

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