By Bob Quarteroni
“The Department of the Interior protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage…” DOI’s Mission Statement
And it does that, apparently, by seeing how many more bald eagles – and other birds and animals — can be killed legally under its guidance.
Yes, a true Trump department, seeing the world through its own peculiar, destructive lens. As well as playing “last tag” politics. So venal and childish.
Bald eagles have been dying in enormous numbers because of lead in bullets.
Researchers at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge autopsied 168 bald eagles. Their tests found nearly half the birds had detectable levels of lead in their livers
Worse, 21 percent of the eagles most likely died from exposure to the toxic metal, its study found.
That sad story is repeated nationwide, including in our backyard. In January, a sick four-year-old female bald eagle found near the Frances Walter Dam in Luzerne County died.
A vet at Companion Animal Hospital in Tamaqua tested the eagle and “found very high levels of lead in its system, the highest she’s ever seen,” according to WNEP-TV. An X-ray showed a metal fragment, possibly from a piece of a bullet the eagle ate.
That’s what kills most eagles and other birds, including condors and: Ingesting lead shotgun pellets or bullet fragments.
They also ingest the bullet fragments while scavenging animals that have been shot but not recovered or by feeding on the entrails of game animals, like deer, which have been “field dressed.”
And it is not just eagles in the crosshairs.
“As many as 20 million birds and other animals die of lead poisoning each year as a result of the nearly 100,000 tons of lead that hunters, fishers and other sportsmen use, according to the Center for Biological Diversity,” according to the Huffington Post.
And we wingless birds aren’t in the clear either.
In England, an estimated 100,000 birds die annually from lead, causing Lord Krebs, emeritus zoology professor at Oxford to say, “People who eat wild game regularly, particularly young children, are at risk of some adverse effects. We don’t allow our children to chew on toys painted with lead paint, so why should we be allowing them to chew on game that contains fragments of lead?”
Because of this heavy metal carnage, hunting with lead bullets on federal lands was scrapped by the Obama Administration, that touchy-feely bunch of do-gooders, on its last full day in office.
But Hi-Ho Silver! Here came the Lone DeRanger to the rescue, actually riding a horse named Tonto (I couldn’t make this up if I tried, believe me).
Probably trying to impress Trump with his Putin like manliness, the new head of Interior, Ryan Zinke arrived at Interior his first day at work wearing a cowboy hat and riding, yep, Tonto.
No word if he bared his chest, ala Vlad the Displayer.
But this is tame stuff for Zinke. If you look into his background you’ll find stuff that would make him ineligible to be a circus clown.
According to Mother Jones, in 2014 the then Montana congressional candidate “…. made waves last week when, speaking at a campaign stop, he called Hillary Clinton the ‘Antichrist.’”
And he hosted an event for General Paul Valley, who, according to inlelligentdisconent.com, “called for a coup against the federal government (and) prayed for a terrorist attack against the United States to lead to the overthrow of President Obama.”
So, even before his spurs cooled, his first action on his first day in office was to scrap the Obama-era ban on hunting with lead bullets on federal lands.
A rather interesting interpretation of that “protect and manage” in DOI’s mission statement, one would say.
What was his rationale? He said the change would increase hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities on lands managed by Fish and Wildlife Service.
It would? That dog don’t even hunt a little bit.
Rather, it was to placate, who else, the National Rifle Association, ears still ringing from their backing of the insane “Hearing Protection Act.”
“This was a reckless, unilateral overreach that would have devastated the sportsmen’s community,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action “…This was not a decision based on sound scientific evidence — it was a last second attack on traditional ammunition and our hunting heritage.”
Who cares that as many as 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning, according to The Center for Biological Diversity estimates.
Or that it “should be a no-brainer” to switch to nontoxic ammunition to save the lives of thousands of birds and other wildlife, prevent hunters and their families from being exposed to toxic lead and protect our water,” according to Jonathan Evans, the CBD’s environmental health legal director.
But it’s just another day, another environmental massacre for Team Trump, piled on top of denying global warming, attempting to gut the Clean Air Act, approving unnecessary oil pipelines and on and on ad infinitum.
Perfect. The Lone DeRanger, Tonto, No Reason Anywhere, all guided by the yellow-haired big chief of environmental madness. What could we possibly have to worry about?
Well, maybe what Tonto said in “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold”:
“Sheriff have sickness in head— cannot fix with medicine.”