Monday, June 14, 2010


By Michael R. Shannon

Normally I don't revisit column topics until a decent interval has passed, but there have been so many feathers flying in poultry news that I'm forced to return to the subject of chickens in Prince William County, VA where I live.
You may recall a group of would-be poultry promoters who are trying to convince the Board of Supervisors here to allow them to run herds of chickens on lots as small as one acre. The column was titled: "Here a Chick, There a Chick, Everywhere a Chick, Chick."
This headline evidently confused some of my readers who are not up to speed on poultry lore. There were complaints that a "chick" was either a comely young woman or a baby bird; and somehow the term was incorrect in a column about mature hens.
My response is to take all complaints to the author of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" because that's where I stole the headline. And while they're at it, those readers might familiarize themselves with the collected works of Foghorn Leghorn.
By now you are no doubt brooding over the question of why would anyone want to keep chickens in the Washington, DC metro area? You can't travel and harbor chickens at home, because there are no chicken boarding coops. And no self-respecting teenager is going to risk his position in the pecking order by hiring out to walk your chickens while you're gone.
So when poultry infrastructure is as scarce as hen's teeth, where's the advantage for the potentate of poultry? Simple, a few hens scratching along the pipestem leading to your home make you special.
Any lame brain can keep a dog and many do. Heck the local PWC newspaper attempts to give dogs away every Friday. Even those really wrinkly dogs, that look like a pile of old socks, are now passé among the beautiful people. But keeping chickens - now that makes you an agri-demonstration project and puts you one up on the lowly canine owner.
According to the latest news, urban hen-punchers are not alone. Chickens appear to be all the rage among trendy, boutique farmers. Some chicken hatcheries are running at full capacity to satisfy the demand.
But status in the world of animal domestication is never one of the reasons given for keeping chickens in a metro area. Usually it's - and I quote one of our leghorn lobbyists - "farm-fresh eggs, there's nothing like it."
But actually there is. Wegmanns fresh eggs; Costco fresh eggs (in the handy 52-dozen container) and Safeway fresh eggs all taste just as good as the eggs that come from the urban-pioneer hen.
This quaint belief a chicken that is considered part of the family and allowed to share the Xbox with the kids, will somehow be so thankful that her eggs will contain that delicate flavor of gratitude is yet another "greenie" fantasy that won't withstand the scientific method.
Greenies believe that commercially produced eggs come from grim factory farms notable only for unspeakable cruelty; and the merchants of misery that own these plants all conspire to make the product taste bad.
None of which is true. In point of fact a food writer for the Washington Post - who owns her own hens and suffers from the delusion that giving a bird its own toothbrush results in tastier eggs - conducted a blind taste test to see if eggs from contented birds had less cholesterol and better flavor.
She matched her high-esteem eggs with the commonplace product from three competitors: a run-of-the-mill grocery store; an "organic" supermarket and finally eggs from a high-end super "organic" store where the hens are owned by PhDs in gender studies.
All the taste-testers were blindfolded, the eggs were cooked identically and each portion was served by a robot to make sure no one was influenced by body language.
Sacre bleu! The results were a devastating blow to back-to-nature fantasists. No one could tell the difference between the eggs. All those hours of letting her chickens watch "Baby Einstein" videos had been wasted. The writer's eggs tasted no different from the product of those ignorant chickens at Legree's Mega Factory Farm. "Organic" eggs tasted just like those suicidally depressed eggs from Safeway.
What's more, an authentic poultry scientist at Auburn University confirmed the results explaining, "people's perception of egg flavor is mostly psychological. When you have them actually taste, there's not enough difference to tell."
So there you have it. Chickens don't respond to human fantasy. The local poultry lobby can climb off the perch at zoning committee hearings and get back to commonly accepted animal pursuits.
Like checking next Friday's issue of the News & Messenger for photos of adorable dogs eager to come to your home, after you dispose of the chicken litter.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He can be reached at

Monday, June 7, 2010


By Jim Beers
WOLVES - They're Not Just for Rural Americans Anymore
Part I - Wolf Country in 2010
It was 1974 when the wolf was "Listed" by federal bureaucrats as "Endangered" in the midst of an explosion of new federal laws and authority over everything from marine mammals to hawks, spotted owls, snail darters, and cormorants. Despite the superabundance of wolves worldwide throughout the Northern Hemisphere, their romantic status as a "symbol" of wilderness coupled with anthropomorphic "biology" from environmental and animal rights radical organizations made any questions concerning the propriety of such a Listing both politically incorrect and an indication of someone completely out of step with the "New Age" biology sweeping the Nation.
Alaska and Canada have had robust wolf populations for centuries and damage by wolves to big game herds, livestock, dogs, and the ever-present danger of human attacks have been stressful factors of life there just as in Asia and Europe where wolves are abundant. The following report concerns the disgraceful and un-Constitutional imposition of wolves by the federal government and a cabal of environmental, animal rights, anti-gun, andanti-rural America radicals and lawyers in the past 35 years.
The "Timber" or "Gray" wolves that were roaming northern Minnesota in limited numbers were the only wolves recognized in the Lower 48 States when the 1974 "Listing" of wolves as "Endangered" was pronounced. Immediately,
federal bureaucrats pre-empted all Constitutional State authority over wolves in Minnesota over weak protests by State government. Wolves were given complete protection and millions of dollars were spent to increase their numbers and range. Today, those wolves have spread into Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Livestock losses; loss of foals, goats, and other privately owned animals: loss of deer numbers and deer hunting license revenue; loss of hunting dogs, pets, and watchdogs; visible
decreases in rural economies and land prices; and increasingly stressful rural life where wolf attacks and sightings have placed parents and grandparents in fear when kids ask to go fishing or to go to or come from rural school bus stops or to take out garbage: all of these things bedevil rural Americans where the wolves have become abundant and where they are no spreading like an infection to Lower Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa.
When government or radicals want to cite "science" about wolf "species" keep in mind the following. Wolves, like white-tailed deer and most mammals that exist from near the Equator to the Far North, are smaller in the South and
larger in the North. Small-bodied animals do better in hot climates and large-bodied animals are better suited to cold climates. Prior to the Endangered Species Act, whether we called the large ones "timber" wolves or the little ones "Key" deer was a matter of biological curiosity. Key Deer from Florida can raise fawns when bred with big Saskatchewan whitetails just as big wolves from the Yukon can breed successfully with "little" Mexican wolves (or coyotes, or dingoes, or dogs for that matter). So contain any emotion when told that "saving" this or that wolf "species" is "vital" to some obscure biological purpose. One thing is for sure; the "big" northern wolves were the ones plopped unceremoniously into Yellowstone Park 15 years ago and are now into 6 or more states.
In 1980, federal bureaucrats declared the "Red" wolf "extinct. In reality, the "Red" wolf is merely a "wolf" with an abundance of coyote and domestic dog genes. However, "Red" wolves (from "re-discovered" captive wolves) were introduced to South Carolina in 1988 and later Tennessee where these small wolves have been killed by local people, and where they have bred with and were bred by all manner of free-roaming dogs, hunting dogs, and watchdogs.
In 1995, federal bureaucrats stole Millions of dollars from excise taxes collected on arms and ammunition for the exclusive use of state fish and wildlife agencies for hunting programs and wildlife land acquisition. The
money was used illegally by federal bureaucrats to capture wolves in northern Canada and then quickly release them in Yellowstone Park. These wolves have, in just 15 years, all but eradicated the two largest elk herds in Montana (The Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd) and Idaho (The Lolo Elk Herd)
and the moose in Yellowstone Park. The losses of livestock to these wolves have been in the Millions of dollars just as the loss of state hunting license revenue (in this period of states "going broke") attributable to the
thousands of wolves now existing in these 2 states is being hidden and distorted by both state and federal fish and wildlife agencies that are increasingly seen as tools of the cabal mentioned in the second paragraph.
These wolves are now becoming established and spreading through Oregon and Washington where livestock, wildlife, and domestic dog losses are becoming common and desperate rural residents and rural governments search for a
solution in vain. Utah is beginning to get wolves and reports of wolves in Colorado have been filed.
"Mexican" wolves were introduced into Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. While a small wolf like the "Red" wolf, these wolves have caused high livestock, elk, and deer losses and additionally have begun stalking rural school kids as they go to, wait for, and return from school buses. (Alternative food sources are comparatively rare in that stark desert country.) This has gotten so bad that some school bus stops are cages to which children are
driven and picked up by fearful parents.
While hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by state and federal bureaucracies to collar, "move", and rarely kill offending wolves; such actions where wolves are abundant are akin to removing your hand from a bucket of water and expecting a "hole" in the water to remain. Today, state agencies admit they cannot "count" or "census" wolves so the question of numbers becomes a wolf-"hater" v. wolf-"lover" matter for lawyers and judges. Big game numbers are being "adjusted" by state agencies
increasingly dependent on federal agencies for funding. Just as, for instance, Montana bureaucrats claim a Yellowstone elk herd of 6K and wolf numbers of a thousand; ranchers, hunters, and rural residents know the elk
herd that was at one time 30K and was averaging 19K is now less than 2K mostly old non-breeders with a paltry 4 or 5 elk calves per 100 cows in a dying herd in the midst of many thousands of wolves increasing at rates of 35-40%
per year. Hundreds of dogs killed and eaten by wolves increase annually and mostly go unreported, undiscovered, and ignored by newspapers and bureaucrats in the West as well as the Great Lakes States.
Small towns are dying in the West, rural land prices are decreasing as wolves make rural living and working more tenuous, and stressed rural residents in "Wolf
Country" increasingly resemble stressed New Yorkers in traffic jams on the BQE.
One ranch is being "studied" in central Idaho and the costs of wolves are astounding. Losses of calves and cows plus the loss in weight of constantly stressed steers sent to market is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars
per year. The time and work "reporting to and dealing with" government bureaucracies added to the work trying to avoid losses in the herds is hundreds of thousands per year. The stress on employees and the long hours
necessary are leading more and more owners and their employees to ask "how can ranching persist" and "how can I keep doing this?"
While rural Americans are increasingly suffering and growing angry with federal and state governments run amok, the cabal cited in the second paragraph continues to indoctrinate children in schools and urban residents
with false propaganda. When asked "Why wolves?", the only answer is pagan babbling about "native ecosystem" (like Hitler's "pre-Roman plants and animals") or "the need for 'apex' predators" as if there were something
desirable about uncontrolled killing of animals that complement human society and animal populations that are either overabundant or extinct due to factors that could and should be controlled for societal benefits. The
truth is there is no good answer to the question "Why" when wolves had already been purposefully and prudently eliminated from the most successful and desirable human society the earth has known.
The truthful answer to "Why wolves?" is:
To eliminate hunting.
To eliminate gun owner numbers by eliminating hunting.
To destroy family traditions like annual get-togethers.
To further emasculate rural economic activity and health.
To eliminate grazing on public lands.
To eliminate ranching on private property.
To create political-cover "science" to justify more Public Land closures from Wilderness and Road Closures to "Critical" habitats and Pagan Land Closures like "Corridors", "Wildlands", and "Commons".
To eliminate the management and use of renewable natural resources like timber, forage, wildlife, and fisheries.
To replace the funding of state and federal agency budgets with revenues from hunting, fishing, grazing and timber cutting with increased federal funds from the National Treasury that is so "Broke".
To make current residents of rural communities fearful and stressed such that they will move to cities where they must give up guns, ride public transportation, and live dictated lives where powerful government authority is unchallenged.
To reduce rural land prices as people move away, businesses go broke, and new residents no longer see business or retirement or comfortable living circumstances.
To make rural land prices ever cheaper as federal and state agencies "pick-up" parcels and Non-government profiteers like The Nature Conservancy profit from taking "Easements" and reselling parcels to government bureaucrats at a healthy profit.
To grow the power and budgets of federal bureaucrats and agencies as they claim more land and species that need "protection" (i.e. lock-up).
To assure re-election of "concerned" politicians as they brag at election time and get "support" from radical organizations for "saving" this, that, and the other environmental nonsense.
To strengthen the State/Federal fish and wildlife agency alliance at the expense of state government and rural state residents.
To create the future (immeasurable and never-ending) publicly-funded goal of "Restoring The Ecosystem" for state and federal natural resource agencies.
Finally, to please the imaginings of urban American voters (often a voting majority) that controls the national government and many state governments wherein the destruction of rural voters' rights in the emerging democracy that is replacing our Constitutional Republic has become acceptable.
Thus far, wolves have been the result of urban voters' acceptance of propaganda and misinformation about the havoc and ruin that wolves have been wreaking on "others". The urban voters turn a blind eye to the loss of rural America and traditions and cultures that they neither know nor will
miss. Urban voters and their children are told the lie that wolves are tolerable and that a few rural eggs must be broken to make an imaginary "ecosystem" wherein they may hear a wolf howl during some future but improbable vacation. For mentioning these things I am described as
everything from a "lunatic" to an "anti-predator" extremist that just wants to "kill animals". Nothing could be farther from the truth.
But all this is about to change. Read Part II, "Wolves, A Deadly Threat Coming to Urban America". The wolves are no longer just for nameless rural Americans.
Part II - Wolves, A Deadly Coming to Urban America
Wolves are increasing at rates of 35-50% per year in the Upper Rocky Mountain States. They are spreading almost as rapidly in the Upper Great Lakes States. As they spread into Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Utah, plans are in place to put them into The Grand Canyon and their spread into Nevada and California is inevitable.
Traditional means to control, much less eradicate wolves locally, are both inadequate and very costly for limited and temporary effect in The Lower 48 States. Hunting is a totally inadequate control measure as the recent purchase of 35K+ wolf licenses in Idaho showed it to be inadequate to kill a couple of hundred "dumb" (i.e. previously un-hunted) wolves. Wolves, just like coyotes and dogs, adapt and get "smarter" when threatened. Wolves seldom, if ever, come to calls or bait. Federal laws prohibit the use of
airplanes to kill wolves by anyone but government bureaucrats. Federal laws prohibit the poisons used to great effect by our forbearers. More and more landowners from Ted Turner to the widow in the assisted living home in
Seattle will not allow any predator control on their property. States increasingly prohibit the use of traps for wolves (the most effective method used in British Columbia as this is written). When wolves depress or
locally eradicate wildlife-food like deer and elk; alternatives from live dog-meat and livestock to foals, colts, goats, emus, dumpsters, garbage cans, garage-bins, storage sheds, etc., etc. precludes any "natural decrease" in their numbers or their spread.
One thing that goes unmentioned about early collaring and tracking (by GPS of wolves in addition to their presence at so many livestock deaths is the routine nighttime travel through farmyards and ranch buildings. Also, wolves use roads and trails routinely, especially at night. Wolves neither fear men nor do they avoid human habitations or roads.
Consider further that wolves travel in packs as well as alone and they easily cover 30+ miles per day. In their wide-ranging travels they are putting their snouts into all manner of wild and domestic animals that they kill. They are picking up soil between their toes and on their hair. They pick up fleas and ticks from all manner of rodents and wildlife as they kill and burrow into dens. They breathe in, lick, and are otherwise exposed to all manner of disease and infections as they go from pasture to pasture or
big-game winter area to big-game winter area or rural backyard to URBAN backyard.
When wolves were imposed by federal fiat there was a public impression that all manner of "science" had been used to forecast the results: nothing could be further from the truth. Disease is one such example of a (purposely?)
omitted aspect of the future that wolves would usher in.
Wolves carry many, many diseases and infections. I am neither a veterinarian nor a pathologist - but I can list at least 30 such dangers carried by any wolves at any time. Those more expert than I can list many
more. There is no argument that wolves can carry these dangerous infections nor that they can spread them far and wide as they envelop urban areas and increasingly investigate urban areas at night after picking up the following infections.
Wolves carry the following infections. Those known to infect humans are followed by an (H). Those known to infect other animals, both wild and domestic, are followed by (OA)
1. Rabies (greatly feared by American Indians, Settlers, early Soldiers, etc.) (H) (OA)
2. Brucellosis (H) (OA)
3. Echinococcus granulosis (potentially deadly and debilitating tapeworm) (H) (OA)
4. Echinococcus multilocularis (a deadly tapeworm) (H) (OA)
5. Anthrax (H) (OA)
6. Encephalitis (H) (OA)
7. Great Lakes Tapeworm (H) (OA)
8. Smallpox (H) (OA)
9. Mad Cow (BSE) (H) (OA)
10. Chronic Wasting Disease (H?) (OA)
11. Anemia (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
12. Dermatosis (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
13. Tick Paralysis (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
14. Babesiosis (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
15. Anaplasmosis (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
16. Erlichia (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
17. E Coast Fever (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
18. Relapsing Fever (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
19. Rocky Mtn. Spotted Fever (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
20. Lyme Disease (carried by ticks on wolves) (H)
21. Plague (carried by fleas on wolves) (H)
22. Bubonic Plague (carried by fleas on wolves) (H)
23. Pneumonic Plague (carried by fleas on wolves) (H)
24. Flea-borne Typhus (carried by fleas on wolves) (H)
25. Distemper (OA)
26. Neospora caninum (causes spontaneous abortions) (OA)
27. Mange (3 types including Scabies) (H) (OA)
28. GID (a deadly disease of wild and domestic sheep) (OA)
29. Foot-and-Mouth (OA)
30. Tularemia (H) (OA)
31. Helminthes (flat-worms) 2 sp. (H) (OA)
Of the 31 diseases and infections carried by wolves listed above, only 3 are not dangerous to humans and even those (especially foot-and-mouth and distemper) are of great danger to the American Livestock Industry and the
American dog population. An authority on foot-and-mouth has told me that if foot-and-mouth were to break out here (it is in Japan, So. America, and Australia as I write this) in "Wolf Country" it could NOT be isolated.
Remember the anthrax scare in Washington? A little white powder and buildings were closed and fumigated for days by men in Hazmat suits. British farms with Mad Cow or South Dakota farms with anthrax are not only isolated with workers fumigated and not allowed off the property without
non-work clothes: dogs are quarantined or shot. What of wolves running through pastures at night? Rabid wolves were one of the most feared dangers
in early America. Tapeworm eggs in wolf feces not only infect soil and spread with rain or drying, such eggs are carried into homes and onto rugs where they last for long periods in wait for a child's hand that is later placed into its mouth or a man to eat a peanut mistakenly dropped on the floor.
What's that you say? How come Russians or other such people "fortunate" enough to live in "Wolf Country" aren't all sick? A fair question deserves a fair answer.
Wolves are a far greater URBAN human health threat in the United States than probably anywhere else in the world. Let's compare St. Petersburg and Moscow (2 urban enclaves enveloped by wolves) to any Urban area in the US
similarly enveloped by wolves (Boise?, Missoula? Duluth? Or soon Spokane or Portland?)
Consider the following differences between US and Russian Cities:
American cities have paths, trails, and walkways interconnected like a spider web through the city.
American paths are increasingly heavily vegetated with "natural" cover.
American parks are increasingly "natural" with vegetated areas.
Wolves have very enticing entry and exit and rest areas in American cities.
Wolves will defecate, urinate, and lick spots where food had been dropped in these urban walkway areas.
Wolves will snarl at and leave saliva on and near kenneled dogs or dogs in fenced yards.
Wolves will carry and transmit to dogs, fleas and ticks picked up far away.
Wolves will gradually get "habituated" and pose a mortal danger to joggers and other walkers as is happening around Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Mom or kids walk "the dog". And Bowser -
Sniffs wolf feces, urinates where wolves urinate, licks the spot the wolf licked, and touches other objects like certain plants or objects that the wolf similarly found interesting.
When Mom and the neighbor meet, Bowser and Buffy -
Sniff anuses, touch noses, lick each other, sneeze near each other, and "swap spit" on occasion as they tussle.
Then Mom takes the dog into the home where - Kids "kiss" Bowser. Bowser licks their face (including mouths and noses) and any cuts. Bowser sleeps in the kids' bed. Bowser vomits (especially if it picked up a bone/hairball up-chucked by a wolf that eats such things as
it feeds) in the house. Bowser drags its tapeworm-infected anus across the rug or deposits the eggs in the yard when he poops.
Stray or loose dogs (especially as urban budgets become tight) will further transmit all the pathological wolf-wonders around the urban area.
Even the childless and single condo dwellers downtown will not be exempt.
What do they do on weekends? Why they "take the dog" jogging or out to "the country". Those suburban paths, or worse yet those National Forest/State Park paths will serve to transmit all manner of dangerous pathogens to "the
dog" to take back to the condo and share with all the urban pooches AND THEIR OWNERS!
In Russia dogs are kept outside in rural Russia and NONE of the above mentioned practices occur. Russians and others in ancient "Wolf Country" have learned and kept the lessons necessary to survive with wolves. These are lessons that we have chosen to forget and deny at our own peril.
No, wolves aren't just for Rural Americans anymore. Urban Americans should
consider facing reality and rejecting the pagan nostrum being spread by all those mentioned in Part I. Urban Americans should join with Rural Americans and stop this wolf catastrophe before it gets worse. The cost will be
prohibitive but it will only grow worse the more we delay.
If ever there was a time when Americans need to come together, this is it.
If Rural-Americans and Urban-Americans can resolve this wolf problem, perhaps we can drop the hyphens and once again be simply Americans whose freedoms and respect for each others' rights once made us the envy of the
entire world.

Jim Beers
7 June 2010
Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and
Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting at