- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Imagine living in an area where foreign wildlife invaders have taken hold, threatening to destroy ever-increasing amounts of valuable marine grasses, in the process affecting every native species whose health and future abundance depends on the waterlogged vegetation. Then imagine a state government saying it had enough and it wanted to get rid of the destructive pests. However, an animal-rights group that just about hates everything there is (except animals) petitions the federal government to stop the control program. The Feds cave, then ask the state to cave, and now both governments are in a corner whimpering like, well, wimps.

That is precisely what has happened in Maryland, where major sectors of aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay are being eaten by a European import, the mute swan. Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources was ready with a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-permitted program to rid the bay of the harmful swans that are said to devour an estimated 10million pounds of underwater grasses each year. These are the same grasses that are sorely needed by crabs, striped bass, white perch, various shiners and minnows, native waterfowl and certain marine birds — an entire life-giving chain of Maryland wildlife.

But the Fund for Animals got into the act. That’s the same bunch that, like their cousins, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, would value the life of an alley rat over that of a human being.

The Fund for Animals filed suit to halt the shooting of perhaps as many as 1,500 mute swans. The Feds immediately collapsed and turned into a quivering heap of Jell-O, asking Maryland to halt the swan control program. Maryland gave in too, though it didn’t have to. When talking about being politically correct, the F&WS; and the Maryland DNR earn the brass ring.

Now the animal worshippers are crowing loudly. The president of the Fund for Animals, Michael Markarian, said the federal government’s decision to ask Maryland to stop the swan killing was “a major victory for mute swans in Maryland. Hundreds of these majestic, graceful birds have been saved from slaughter.”

Way to go, DNR and F&WS.; Are you aware that you now have opened the door to people who pray at the altar of animals? These types of lawsuits will become a standard avenue for the animal rightists. But then we should remember that the Fish & Wildlife people who asked for the swan hunt cessation might be the same people who for years have been suspected of walking in lock-step with the animal-rights movement. It is part of the legacy of the Clinton years.

Chesapeake blue crab hearings — The Maryland DNR’s Fisheries Service will hold a public hearing about the Chesapeake Bay blue crab regulations that were approved by a committee of the General Assembly and implemented April1. The hearing will provide an opportunity for the department to clarify the changes made this season, which allow for the importation of sponge crabs, prohibit commercial crabbing on the last two Thursdays in November in addition to the selected day off, and change the minimum size of male hard crabs (it’s back to 5 inches from the former 5 inches), peeler crabs and soft crabs. The DNR will take comments and recommendations for future blue crab regulations. The public hearing will be held at 7 tonight in the C-1 conference room at the Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis. All interested parties are invited to give their views. Comments may be sent to Gina Hunt or Cynthia Goshorn, Fisheries Service, Tawes State Office Building, B-2, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401; fax 410/260-8278, or e-mail [email protected] Comments must be received by June2.

Contaminated waters — The Roanoke Times’ Mike Gangloff says Virginia state officials last week issued advisories against eating fish from three Buchanan and Washington county waterways because of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination. In Buchanan County, the state health department says not to eat fish caught in the 12 miles of the Levisa Fork between Grundy and the Kentucky state line. The department urges people to limit themselves to two meals a month of fish caught in 17 miles of Knox Creek between its headwaters near the West Virginia line and the Kentucky line. In Washington County, the state says people shouldn’t eat more than one meal of fish a month if they were caught in Beaver Creek between the Beaver Creek Lake dam and the Tennessee state line. Young children, and women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant are advised not to eat any fish from these streams. PCBs are a class of chemicals used in electrical equipment and other applications until they were banned in 1977. They have been linked to a wide range of health concerns, including cancer. The source of the PCBs is not yet known.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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