For years, the lords of the land in Wisconsin's building industries and in the Legislature had stamped their boots over the endangered species' status given by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to the lowly Butler's garter snake.
Wisconsin State Sen. and noted wildlife expert Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend), has been trying to remove the snake fromprotected species lists since 2006, when The Washington Post covered the issue and found that Grothman knew there were plenty of the snakes.
The paper didn't miss Grothman's precise, scientific approach:
"The snake is everywhere. There are probably as many snakes as people," he said.
And where there were McMansions to build, and new highway lanes to be lay down, and that stupid snake - - as part of an ecosystem in which it is integrated, eating worms and slugs, and serving as a habitat food source for numerous predators - - was in the way.
Published reports had the development or expansion of a motocycle dealership, housing subdivision, private high school athletic field and a separate, private aquatic center stalled, so talk about endangered species!
And really, c'mon: weren't there plenty of other crawling and flying things to satisfy the owlhuggers (more about that in a minute or two) out there? I mean, you already can't shoot bald eagles. And the snake is basically just a worm, right?
You need to know that Walker hired three people from the home-building industry for top jobs at the DNR - - Secretary Cathy Stepp, Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney, and Air and Waste division chief Pat Stevens - - yet now Stepp and Moroney tell the Journal Sentinel they are stunned to find out that DNR staffers are recommending the agency consider removing the Butler's garter snake protected status - - along with 15 other species' protections, too.
"When I first heard the news of this, I thought, 'you've got to be kidding - everyone is going to say I was behind this," Stepp said Friday.
Said Moroney: "I thought, 'this can't be happening to me.' My jaw nearly hit the ground."Actually, those lines would be more appropriate to the snake, doncha think?, but this much we do know:
There hasn't been a state Republican this pleasantly shocked since Jim Sensenbrenner won the lottery, again.
And you Butler's garter snakes - - you were warned not long ago a well-connected person that bad things happen when public employees with agendas and time on their hands get together in their taxpayer-paid offices on the Capitol Square and act out their Big Government fantasies (more about this in a minute):
"...they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff...Stepp has a special relationship with this issue.
She famously displayed her anti-DNR chops - - and how great for her that Walker was looking for someone with a chamber of commerce mentality to run the agency, he said - - by bashing the DNR and its endangered species' work work in her famous blog rant in 2009 - - an audition that no doubt caught Walker's attention:
"Those of you that haven't had the pleasure of peeking behind the scenes of our state agencies like DNR, Health and Family Services, etc...need to know how some of the most far-reaching policies come down on our heads.
The most crushing/controversial rules that businesses have to follow in our state are--most times--done through the "rule making process" of our state agencies. Without bogging everyone down with some really boring procedure talk, suffice it to say that many of these great ideas (sarcasm) come from deep inside the agencies and tend to be reflections of that agency's culture.
For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA.
And, yes, say the DNR honchos, the proposed species' delistings will depend on the science - - like the mining and stream-filling and riverbank-clearing and open-pit, hill-clearing 'science' that is in the Walkerites' DNA and explains why they want to rush more public resource giveaways into law through legislation, including Special Session Bill 24.So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with..."
One more thing: About my owlhugging wisecrack above:
The Journal Sentinel's report says the DNR is considering delisting from protected status two plant or animal species for every new one considered for inclusion - - and wouldn't you know that the barn owl on there, too.
Stupid barn owl. Just basically an insect, right?