Brian Steed, Bureau of Land Management’s Acting Director

“Federal agencies are not supposed to be run like a temp service.” – PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

For Immediate Release: Feb 12, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337


All Decisions by Acting Park Service, BLM, and Fish & Wildlife Heads Legally Void

Washington, DC — President Trump’s record tardiness in nominating agency leaders may undo months of work inside the Department of Interior, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The way the Trump administration has filled agency leadership slots with temporary or acting directors violates a law enacted to prevent a president from circumventing the U.S. Senate’s constitutional advice and consent power.

The PEER complaint filed with Interior’s Office of Inspector General charges that the acting directors of the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) are in blatant violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.  Under that act, any action taken by a noncompliant official “shall have no force or effect” nor may it be later “ratified.”

“The law prevents a president from installing acting directors for long periods and completely bypassing Senate confirmation,” argued PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that President Trump has not nominated or even announced an intention to nominate, persons to fil the NPS, BLM, or FWS vacancies.  “Federal agencies are not supposed to be run like a temp service.”

The complaint recounts Vacancies Reform Act violations invalidating the appointments of –

  • NPS Acting Director P. Daniel Smith, who did not serve in a senior position for 90 days during the prior year, as the Act requires. Nor did Trump appoint him, another requirement of the act;
  • BLM Acting Director Brian Steed, who also did not serve in a senior position for 90 days and Interior Secretary Zinke, not Trump, appointed him.
  • FWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan, who not only suffers from these same deficiencies but also now exceeds the 210-day limit the act imposes.

Read the rest of this press release HERE.




Former USFWS Special Agent Sam Jojola calls out Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop and Zinke’s fake “International Wildlife Conservation Council”

Killer of Cecil the Lion, Minneapolis dentist & big game hunter, Walter Palmer (left) (photo: dailystar.co.uk)


by Sam Jojola, Retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent

The more things change, the more they stay the same

On November 8, 2017, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced the creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council.  The devil is in the details and what will follow in days, weeks and months to come will shape this Council and their priorities. Since the Council involves aspects of conservation, hunting and law enforcement, I wonder if Council heads will be selected from recognized leading experts in those three areas of focus.  I am particularly concerned how the Council will deal with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) foreign listed species and import permits that are mentioned in this press release: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-zinke-announces-creation-international-wildlife-conservation-council

I believe the creation of this Council comes at a very bad time given the recent news of Zimbabwe’s regime shakeup and the most recent proposal for the U.S. to lift the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zambia and Zimbabwe.  I hope now that President Trump has moved to keep the ban in place, that he and Secretary Zinke will consider keeping the ban given the current developing instability of Zimbabwe over the past several days: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/trump-puts-decision-allow-elephant-hunting-trophy-imports-hold-022152590.html

Five illegal Leopard trophies entering U.S. in 2008 detail Zimbabwe’s corruption

In 2008, sources from outside the U.S. contacted me and provided specific details about a shipment of leopard trophies entering the U.S. with fraudulent CITES permits from Zimbabwe.  I passed on my initial investigation to USFWS Special Agents in Colorado who seized the leopard trophies and completed the investigation after trophy hunters and a foreign guide were prosecuted: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/south-dakota-man-sentenced-smuggling-big-game-leopard-hide-united-states

There are a number of articles on the Internet that detail how widespread illegal hunting has been in Zimbabwe over the years. There are disturbing estimates of large numbers of rhinos that have been killed for years in Zimbabwe.

Google “illegal trophy hunting in Zimbabwe”

Readers will be shocked at the details of pages with disturbing accounts, estimates and reports that reflect the widespread killing of staggering numbers of elephants and rhinos over the years.

Knowing history to avoid repeating the same mistakes

To really grasp what is happening now with wildlife resources across the globe and how they are managed (and mismanaged, due to poor regulations, corruption, greed, etc.), it is very important to examine bad decisions of the past to insure these decisions are not repeated now and in the future.  One of the key documents everyone should read is from an October, 1996 posting on the website from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that consists of 29 pages, titled “Tarnished Trophies.”

Read page 9 of this report that is titled “Fish and Wildlife Safari Service.”  This “white paper” documents corruption of a high level department of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at that time with respect to promoting trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species: https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/whitepapers/1996_tarnished_trophies.pdf

As one of my colleagues who is a renowned former wildlife research biologist put it simply, “humanity’s DNA is seriously flawed” and we as a species can many times make the wrong decisions, particularly when managing wildlife resources now and in the future for generations.

My comments on the creation of an International Wildlife Conservation Council

On November 15, 2017, I submitted my comments to the USFWS via e-mail regarding the proposed creation of an International Wildlife Conservation Council:

  1. The proposal is a monumental waste of money due to Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) who has helped push five (5) bills from the Natural Resources Committee that would conceivably dismantle the Endangered Species Act over a period of time. The ESA plays a major part of wildlife conservation. It would make more sense to form a council to fight these destructive proposals that would destroy the ESA or have the Secretary of Interior request Rep. Rob Bishop to resign. If Rep. Rob Bishop has his way to “invalidate” the ESA, imagine trying to protect wildlife and regulate hunting. Dismantling the ESA in any form or fashion is destroying large fragile ecosystems at the expense of wildlife resources for future generations.
  2. The International Wildlife Conservation Council should actually be renamed to accurately portray the proposed actions. It should be re-named “The International Wildlife Conservation, Hunting and Law Enforcement Council” which is more appropriate.
  3. One of the “duties of the Council” will be to “Recommend removal of barriers to the importation of the United States of legally hunted wildlife”. The recent lifting of the ban this month to allow trophy hunters who legally killed elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016 and 2017 can now import those trophy elephants into the U.S. U.S. trophy hunters who legally hunt elephants in those countries in 2018 can apply for a USFWS permit and import their trophies here. This proves the implementation of this Council is without merit and unnecessary and barriers are obviously already removed without the Council in place.
  4. A Council formed to help African nations re-write wildlife laws in their respective countries would be a better proposal. Zimbabwe is a notoriously corrupt nation reportedly losing upwards of 1 billion dollars annually to corruption. Why should the U.S. allow U.S. trophy hunters to kill any wildlife in that country and allow their importation here? We are rewarding a corrupt regime. The U.S. should instead provide legal expertise and offer to help Zimbabwe and other countries re-write their wildlife laws that seal loopholes that contributed to the Cecil the Lion incident.
  5. There are already plenty of loopholes in the ESA across the board. Why constrict Special Agents and Wildlife Inspectors from doing their job to enforce regulations with additional bureaucracy?

Task Force concept needed to address transnational wildlife criminal syndicates

The U.S. should instead focus on addressing the exponential growth of the global illegal wildlife trade by improving U.S. law enforcement strategies through the formation of a task force comprised of USFWS, the FBI, IRS, ICE, DSS (State Department), the CIA, NSA, and a U.S. Special Operations group to fully address the transnational wildlife criminal syndicates that are dismantling ecosystems across the planet.


In 2008, Walter Palmer pleaded guilty to making false statement to the Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he shot outside authorized hunting zones in Wisconsin.  He tried to have release of the incriminating photograph stopped.

ALL burros and horses to be rounded up in Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be removing ALL of the feral burros and horses on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge during July and August.   Please go observe the roundups.  You have to register by June 30th, and you can read all of the details below the article.  –  Debbie


Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service, © D.E. Kirkland, photographer

SOURCE:  Heraldandnews.com

By LEE JUILLERAT H&N Regional Editor Herald and News

Efforts are planned in July and August to remove all feral burros and horses from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.

Those wishing to observe the burro gather that’s expected to last from July 14 to 18 have until June 30 to apply; a deadline for the horse gather has not yet been finalized.

The Sheldon refuge, located just south of the Oregon and Nevada border about 65 miles from Lakeview, is managed by the Sheldon-Hart National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Lakeview.

Megan Nagel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Portland regional office, said the goal is to remove about 70 feral burros from the Sheldon refuge as part of ongoing management actions to protect the refuge’s native wildlife and habitat.

Protecting native wildlife

In August, the Service will begin to gather about 420 feral horses, also to protect native wildlife.

Nagel said the goal is to remove all burros and horses from the refuge. After they are captured, the service will work with adoption contractors, such as Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, to have feral horses and burros adopted.

The Sheldon refuge, which spans 575,000 acres, is the largest remaining intact tract of the Great Basin ecosystem in the American West. It was established in 1931 to protect native wildlife, especially the American pronghorn, also known as antelope. The refuge also has several rare and imperiled species, including the greater sage grouse.

“The once-domestic feral horses and burros, which some people call wild horses and burros, cause significant damage to the refuge’s fragile landscape,” Nagel said. “If feral horses and burros are not removed from Sheldon, the Service will be unable to restore and conserve habitat conditions for native, fish, wildlife and plants that depend on the refuge. Removing feral horses and burros is critical to conserve and protect the native habitat and wildlife that depend on the refuge”

Damaging landscape

She said the refuge previously had more than 1,600 feral horses and burros that “significantly damaged the fragile landscape. These once-domestic animals compete directly with native wildlife for forage and water, both scarce resources in this arid environment. Though cattle grazing is not allowed on the refuge, feral horses and burros place year-round pressure on native habitats and wildlife and scarce water resources.”

Nagel said studies indicate feral horses and burros have degraded almost half of the streams and 80 percent of the refuge’s springs and other riparian areas, such as wet meadows, ephemeral wetlands, and emergent marshes.

During the gathers, which have drawn attention from groups opposing the removal of horses and burros, Nagel said the service is “committed to humane treatment of all animals. Animals will be gathered and transported to selected adoption contractors, consistent with the guidelines for humane treatment and safety outlined in the Sheldon comprehensive conservation plan.”

Occasional closures

To conduct effective and efficient operations, improve safety for horses and burros, and to ensure public safety, Nagel said the administrative facility, where horses and burros are held temporarily, will be closed to public entry.

Portions of the Sheldon’s surrounding gather operations, including some roads, will be occasionally closed to public entry July 14 through Oct. 15.

Nagel said the Service will provide limited escorted opportunities for the public and media to observe feral burro gather operations from July 14 to 18.

“Primary considerations for selection of observation sites are safety and to ensure efficient and effective gather operations,” she said. “The exact location of the gather sites will depend on site-specific conditions that may vary from day-to-day. The observation locations will be selected to provide an opportunity to view the gather without disrupting gather operations or creating a safety hazard. Consequently, members of the public/media should not expect opportunities for up-close observation or observation of all gather operations and should be prepared to travel to different locations within the broader gather area.”

It’s expected the burro gather will end July 18, although schedules are subject to change.


Register by June 30 to observe gather

Those wanting to observe the July 14 to 18 feral burro gather must make reservations with Megan Nagel by contacting her at megan_nagel@fws.gov or 503-231-6123 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 503-231-6123 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting by June 30.

Information on the feral horse gather planned in August will be issued in July and updated information posted at fws.gov/sheldonhartmtn/Sheldon/horseburro.html once dates are finalized.

As with burro gathers, opportunities to observe horse gather operations will be provided by reservation only. Observers will not be allowed into closed areas without prior reservation and escort.

Travel to observation sites will be on gravel and dirt roads suitable only for high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. The Service will not provide transportation.

Variable weather is possible, with temperatures from 30 to 90 degrees. Facilities will not be available. Observers should plan accordingly and provide adequate food and water. Observers should be prepared to hike through steep, rocky and uneven terrain up to a half-mile and remain at observation sites for a minimum of four hours.