Beers behind D.C. allegations?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2000:

WASHINGTON, D.C.– – ANIMAL PEOPLE suspects former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chief of refuge operations and liaison to state agencies James Beers is the “former Fish and Wildlife official, who asked not to be identified,” who was the primary source behind a February 22 Washington Times “expose” of Friends of Animals’ 1993 use of $46,000 in USFWS funding to outfit anti-poaching patrols in Senegal.

All the information in the article pertaining to FoA had already been summarized several times both in the FoA magazine Action Line and in ANIMAL PEOPLE.

FoA president Priscilla Feral in a memo to ANIMAL PEOPLE accused former Fish and Wildlife Service and FoA special investigator Carroll Cox of planting the story. Cox has filed discrimination cases against both the Fish and Wildlife Service and FoA. The Washington D.C. Department of Human Rights in September 1999 ruled that there was probable cause to believe that FoA violated the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 when it fired Cox in August 1997; FoA is appealing.

The National Rifle Association in 1997 named Beers “Conservationist of the Year” for his work as coordinator of the successful U.S. effort to kill the European Community ban on imports of trapped fur, to have taken effect in 1997.

ANIMAL PEOPLE in April 1997 revealed a Beers memo to wildlife refuge managers which in essence ordered them to use leghold traps for predator control work which might be said to help endangered species. The claim that leghold trapping was used to save endangered species was central to the U.S. case against the EC ban.

The Beers memo was leaked to ANIMAL PEOPLE via Cox. Cox has long been outspoken against the prohunting-and-trapping orientation of USFWS, contending that it inhibits wildlife protection law enforcement.

Soon thereafter, Beers opposed an application from the Fund for Animals for a Pittman-Robertson grant in support of a wildlife education program. Beers held that as an anti-hunting organization, the Fund should not share in revenues collected from taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.

Beers later told Austin Gribbin of The Washington Times that he was transferred to Massachusetts in retaliation, and alleged that USFWS was trying to fire him for accepting the NRA award––much as Cox was dismissed for accepting the 1994 Joe A. Calloway Award for Civic Courage from the Shafeek Nader Foundation, formed by consumer advocate Ralph Nader in memory of his father.

In early June 1999 USFWS apologized to Beers and paid him $150,000 plus legal fees and back pay.

In July 1999, Beers told the House Resources Committee about alleged extensive misuse of PittmanRobertson funds and purported collusion between the Fish and Wildlife Service and “animal rights representatives.”

Beers thanked the National Wildlife Institute for support––a wise-use group whose national advisory board includes House Resources Committee chair Don Young (R-Alaska), and Eugene Lapointe, who formerly led Canadian efforts to defend trapping and seal hunting.

Beers’ testimony was backed by NWI executive director Rob Gordon, the only source quoted on the record in the Washington Times article about FoA.

Beers’ House testimony was also backed by Bonnie Kline, a former Fish and Wildlife Service clerical staff member who claims she was wrongfully treated for refusing to destroy computer records pertaining to the Beers case.

The Beers and Kline claims resurfaced concurrent with the Washington Times article of February via public allegations from James J. Baker, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, and James J. Fotis, executive director of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, which appears to work parallel to the pro-hunting Wildlife Legislative Fund of America and Wildlife Conservation Fund of America. The latter were formed initially in opposition to an anti-trapping initiative which failed in Ohio in 1984.

“Clinton Administration appointees funneled money to extreme animal rights groups,” Fotis charged.

But even the USFWS and USAid programs that have granted some money and equipment to FoA and the Fund have sent far more support to the pro-hunting National Wildlife Federation, African Safari Club, Safari Club International, Friends of Conservation, and NRA “educational” affiliates.

Nonprofit hunting fronts are also financially assisted at many other levels of government. The National Wildlife Federation headquarters, for instance, is reported beneficiary of a $300,000-a-year tax break from Fairfax County, Virginia. NWF is the national umbrella for 48 state hunting clubs.

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