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Viewpoint: DLNR another bureaucracy in need of accountability

February 28, 2014 - 12:05am

I have long been an animal lover. Not a militant PETA vegan, but an animal lover nevertheless. I have, therefore, been a supporter of the Endangered Species Act and other programs designed to protect threatened and endangered species from stress, dwindling populations and possible extinction. Too many species have been driven to extinction in the last few centuries, at an ever increasing rate, and I sincerely wanted this tendency to halt by any and all means available to biologists similarly disposed and who had the capacity and means to slow down or stop the harm done.

No more.

There is currently an effort to repeal much or all of the ESA led by people who are clearly not animal lovers, announced Feb. 4 of this year. I don’t know yet which side of the debate I’ll support, but it’s likely to be the position in favor of reining in what has become another bureaucracy in need of accountability, that being the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which seems to have the power to pass laws without representative review, conduct “preservation” activities without oversight and have the final say in all matters, public and private, which they insist fall within their purview.

The same DLNR gestapo, which threatens children for “removing” found shells at the beach, now wants to broaden its slaughter of the innocents to include useful nonnative owls and stately cattle egrets to “preserve” birds such as the palila that are unarguably threatened. House cats, ungulates, swine and parrots are to be joined by two more wild species in this holocaust to “preserve” birds that nobody ever sees, hears, or are certain to have their situation improved for long by this massive bloodletting. Is this the best solution that these scions of bureaucracy can come up with?

Evidently captive-breeding programs are too work-intensive for bureau biologists, who would rather shoot “invasive species” bravely from the air. Look forward to worrying about pets — and perhaps children — getting caught in federal traps when blasting lead fails to improve the environment. I reckon I’ll have to inform my potential visitors — most of them also animal lovers — not to visit us here unless they want to be treated to the spectacle of beautiful white cattle egrets being shot out of the sky or owls beaten to death as they try to roost for the day. Meanwhile, environmental “experts” — whose individual environmental footprint for one day equals all the damage done by collective “invasive species” for decades — somehow fail to see that they themselves are an invasive species putting enormous stresses on the very environment that they, and they only, can “save.” Pardon me for stating the obvious, but if these environmentalists wish to save the island from invasive species, they should all go home, pack their bags, and move somewhere else. Death Valley may need their expertise.

I truly pity the poor bird species which are unquestionably within their last few generations in these islands and know that there is no way to turn back the clock on the threats to their continued survival. And I support any and all efforts to keep the species from extinction by massive captive-breeding programs, both public and private. But the line has to be drawn somewhere, which is why I’m on the fence about legislation favoring the repeal of ESA. They cannot make all of Hawaii Kai a massive nature conservatory and exterminate everything alive that doesn’t meet their approval without depopulating the archipelago of people, too. What’s next on their list, the black-crowned night heron? The Japanese white eye? When does it stop?

The DLNR and associated bureaus have become the “Nature Nazis.” Is this what we really want?

Thomas Munden is a resident of Kapaau.

Viewpoint articles are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily the opinion of West Hawaii Today.

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