Letters for Wednesday, June 27, 2012

• Moving dead endangered birds is against the ESA • Thanks but no thanks on that ride offer

Moving dead endangered birds is against the ESA

As a 30-year career biologist with a degree in biological sciences and an expert on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), I am appalled that the DLNR would ask the public in Hanalei to violate this federal law openly, in The Garden Island article about avian botulism in the Hanalei wetlands.

The DLNR asked the public to remove any dead or dying endangered birds from the wetland. I taught a class on the ESA to government officials for many years and I learned about this law years ago from the attorney who wrote the law in 1972, Craig Potter. I know this law inside and out, including many Supreme Court cases.

It is a federal crime to take any endangered species from its natural habitat. The ESA 3(19) defines “take” as meaning “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect or attempt to engage in such conduct.” There are five endangered birds that live in the Hanalei wetland.

Not even the president of the United States can violate this law unless he declares a national emergency.

State biologists cannot even collect a dead endangered bird in the Hanalei wetland without a “take” permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Many people have gone to jail for taking endangered birds and the DLNR previously lost a Supreme Court case over violating the ESA.

Even a restoration project of the Hanalei River needs a federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and an Incidental Take Permit to work in an area with endangered species.

The taro farmers, on the other hand, can fall under a clause in the law called the Safe Harbor Act so they will not violate the ESA by doing normal farming practices in an area where endangered species live.

 You, me, the governor, local non-profits, land owners and everyone else are violating the ESA if we so much as attempt to touch any endangered bird or  have the “likelihood” of disturbing its nesting, breeding, feeding or behavior.

This is Supreme Court wording, not mine. I have been in court over 60 times working with this law.

 What bothers me the most is that the DLNR and their advisers seems to have a total disregard for following the wildlife laws that have been in effect in Hanalei for over 30 years.

These laws are good as they cause studies to happen. Without these studies huge environmental blunders happen, like killing over 1,000 corals in Hanalei Bay, all caught on HD video covered in river mud.

 One other very disturbing detail about the article is 300 birds died. Botulism in birds may not directly affect people but what causes the botulism can make humans sick.

Dead buffalo floating in the river after the rains can cause botulism in birds and can also be the cause of the many skin infections people get while playing in the river and bay.

We need more studies on this and we need the DLNR and DOH to come clean and tell the public what they know about the health of the Hanalei River and Bay.

Dead buffalo in the river can easily be considered a “take” under the ESA laws. Just go to the website of the EPA or USFWS and read the Endangered Species Act.

I am available to give free talks on this subject and to show anyone the wording in the law. The “omission” of enforcing this law is also a violation of the law itself. If I was a government official I would want to think about that, before responding to this letter and spreading more false information.

Terry Lilley, Hanalei

Thanks but no thanks on that ride offer

I just want to thank TGI for giving coverage to this “burning issue” of late. In particular, what has just happened is that a face and a name has been put on the bigotry that is ever-present here.

It is undeniable. While people can claim that this discussion is about trying to preserve a way of life which is changing, the disingenuous nature of that argument is wholly evident when people write into the newspaper calling for those who don’t look and act like them to basically be shipped away — simply for asking for clean air!

There must be a serious disease of the mind when clean air is anathema to a culture that purports itself to be all about care for nature. Certain people have now clearly shown us the depths of that disease.

I’d rather believe that these people don’t speak for anyone but themselves but since I’m not hearing any voices to suggest this, I am forced to believe that the disease is widespread.

What intrigues me now is just how far such people will go. The talk is becoming very big and bold. Are we going to start getting burning crosses on our lawns? Certainly wouldn’t be original. Will people start forcing others at gunpoint onto planes with one-way tickets?

I’ll pass on any offer for a ride to the airport by these people. If they drive the way they think, we’re unlikely to make it out of the driveway.

Michael Mann, Lihu‘e


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