Animals lose friends in D.C.

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:

WASHINGTON D.C.––Bureau of Land Management chief
James Baca resigned February 3 rather than be kicked upstairs by Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who had offered to make him his deputy assis-
tant. Baca was unpopular with ranchers and miners due to his demand for
tougher environmental controls on use of the 270 million acres of BLM
land, and for reform of leasing agreements to gain market value returns
from grazing leases and mining claims. Ranchers also recall that Baca
threw the USDA’s Animal Damage Control agency out of New Mexico in
1992 for failing to inspect traps at least once every 24 hours, to reduce
animal suffering and harm to endangered speces.
Babbitt said he remained “deeply committed to getting grazing
rules worked out and also to getting reforms of the mining law of 1872
enacted,” but ousted Baca because they have “different approaches to
management style and consensus building.”

Responded Sierra Club
president Carl Pope, “Babbitt is
trying to move a reform agenda
without alienating the opponents
of reform. I don’t think he can
achieve it, and I think he is foolish
to try.”
Baca’s ouster came five
weeks after Agriculture Secretary
Mike Espy announced the appar-
ently forced resignation of
Assistant Secretary for Marketing
and Inspection Services Gene
Branstool, whom Espy found
expendable as part of his effort to
gain meat industry acceptance of
cooking safety labels on packag-
ing. Under Branstool, the USDA
Animal and Plant Inspection
Service had stepped up slaughter-
house inspections and enforcement
of the Animal Welfare Act, crack-
ing down on pet theft and roadside
zoos. A farmer, former Ohio state
representative, state senator, and
Democratic party chair, Branstool
blocked a bill to legalize dove
hunting in 1981, after which,
recalls Ritchie Laymon of the
Ohio activist group Protect Our
Earth’s Treasures, “A dozen of his
children’s 4-H ducks were found
torn apart and thrown under one of
his sons’ bedroom window.”
Branstool responded by giving up
hunting and becoming a semi-veg-
etarian. Support from animal
rights activists may have signed
his political death warrant.
Warned Laymon on October 5, “If
Gene is seen as too accommodat-
ing of animal advocates, you’ll
have the National Association for
Biomedical Research and the Farm
Bureau calling for his head, and
they’ll get it.”
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