This week we bring you this G. George Ostrom column he picked out from June 1968...
1. The Federal Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife’s Division of Rodent and Predator Control arranged a meeting through the County Extension office with farmers having gopher problems.
2. Bureau sold farmers on a program of gopher control whereby highly toxic 1080 poison (used in Flathead on hand broadcast basis since 1946) would be dropped from aircraft. Several farmers who need help signed up for the program.
3. Many sportsmen, fish and game biologists and conservationists became concerned over possible unknown long-term affects on non-target wildlife and water resources.
4. Bureau’s head man in Montana came to Kalispell and addressed a joint meeting of all concerned individuals and groups. The Bureau was told that the terrain and proximity of water made airdropping questionable.
5. This meeting and resultant publicity caused hard feelings between landowners and conservation oriented people.
6. I wrote a column on this matter.
7. Senator Lee Metcalf, without one single word from me, sent my Hungry Horse News column, along with a letter of inquiry, to the head officer of the Federal Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife in Washington, D.C. In his letter, Senator Metcalf pointed out that he was concerned over the indiscriminate use of pesticides and its resultant effect on our environment.
8. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, one of the men from “The Bureau” finally made a tour with the county extension agent of the actual areas where the airdrops of poison were supposed to be made. He THEN decided that the general terrain and the proximity to water made the airdropping of 1080 unfeasible.
9. I was subsequently informed of this belated decision by a Xerox letter from “The Bureau” and a phone call from the extension office. In the letter, there were some not so subtle insinuations that the conservationists, me undoubtedly included, had unnecessarily and ignorantly raised a tempest in a tea cup over nothing and that “The Bureau” had merely been doing their duty in their usual tireless, thankless and efficient matter.
Here’s what I think. I think someone in “The Bureau” has perpetrated a sad hoax on the farmers and ranchers, upset the already strained relationship between farmers and sportsmen, wasted hundreds of taxpayer’s dollars and didn’t accomplish one damn thing, and then had the brass to try and pass blame for the whole mess onto the people who are traditionally “The Bureau’s” most effective supporters on programs for efficient use of our natural resources.
I don’t know how the local farmers feel about all this, what Senator Metcalf thinks about all this or what my fellow local conservationists think about all this; but I personally feel someone owes me and many others an apology. The Xerox letter I have “explaining” what really happened is a constant and extremely irritation reminder that there are an increasing number of tax-supported employees who don’t have the guts to admit they are human enough to make mistakes.