Barbed Wire by Doug Cooper: Conformity in thought and fashion

I recently attended a meeting of the Northwest Sage Grouse Working Group in Buffalo, Wyo. Only in Wyoming does it require a 120 mile drive to attend a local group meeting. These local working groups are sort of the Hitler Youth level of sage grouse management. The local groups were created before the core area strategy to protect sage grouse was developed but their actual history is somewhat murky. I am always suspicious of groups that form just in time to be able promote a certain coarse of action. The groups consist of representatives of the BLM, the Forest Service, Wyoming Game & Fish, a few mineral industry folks, and a token landowner or two. How exactly a person is appointed is unclear but the true believers show up wearing identical shirts with a sage grouse stitched over one pocket.

At these kind of meetings about all that is very interesting is that occasionally the curtain is lifted and some odd fact gets exposed. The group heard a report from a Canadian researcher who is working on testing the use of fathead minnows to control mosquito larvae in order to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus. Evidently fathead minnows are very hardy and eat mosquito larvae like popcorn. The researcher had to get permits to plant fathead minnows in several ponds in northeast Wyoming. After the researcher described how they selected the ponds, purchased the minnows, and hauled 2,500 minnows to each one, someone asked if they had caught any of the minnows after stocking the ponds. The answer was no because they didn’t have a permit to catch any fish. Only in America do we need separate permits for putting fish in a pond and then taking them out. I felt so much safer after learning that.

If you listen carefully you can also learn what people really think. Once in a while they slip up and tell us the truth. The group was discussing funding projects and a suggestion was made to fund only projects within the core areas. Someone thought there might be areas adjacent to the core that could benefit from a project. A biologist from the Wyoming Game & Fish replied that they should only fund projects within core areas because projects outside the core would not be protected and could be ruined by future development. In other words, we can expect development within the core to be banned.

I think I need to get a shirt with a bulls-eye sewed on it. Or maybe I can get the image of an ox being gored put on a shirt before the next meeting. At least they didn’t have identical bumper stickers. Historically, we should be a little nervous when those that seek to regulate us start dressing alike. Nothing good ever comes out of conformity in thought and fashion.