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Kit Fox Takes a Bullet(Train)!

Lin's tractor was confiscated, he was ordered to stop working the land until the case was resolved, but creditors still demanded to be paid.

Feb 05, 2015

In 1994 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents showed Tuang Ming Lin a dead rat, told him "the rodent was found on his land and accused him of violating the Endangered Species Act. LIN, 51, pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of knowingly killing an endangered species and destroying its habitat. If convicted, he could have been jailed for up to a year and fined $300,000.

A Fish and Wildlife agent said, "“We’re the caretakers and the stewards of the land, and we have no right to deny the existence of these endangered species.” Lin's tractor was confiscated, he was ordered to stop working the land until the case was resolved, but creditors still demanded to be paid.

Contrast the treatment of Tuang Ming Lin and that of High-Speed Rail's run-in with the Kit Fox. According to the Fresno Bee(High-speed rail project runs afoul of kit fox conservation requirements), "both the Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional office in Sacramento and the state rail authority characterized the problem as a communication issue, not willful disregard of the rules. The authority has pledged to make up for the loss of the kit fox habitat by providing additional habitat elsewhere in the Valley...They do not require project activities to come to a halt during this process...Because the rail authority has notified Fish and Wildlife of the problems and asked to reopen the environmental consultation, “they are essentially operating within the letter of the law.”

When you're a nice state-sponsored well-meaning project backed by environmental concerns these problems can be worked out, but when you're a struggling farmer, it's time to halt everything and head for court. We're not surprised.

Kill a Rat: Go to Jail

By Roger Canfield, originally written for California State Senator Phil Wyman

In August of 1994 a Bakersfield farmer faced a year in jail and a $300,000 fine for a strange crime, “kill a rat, go to jail. The farmer had the gall to plow his own field with his own tractor.

Tuang Ming-Lin and his family were Taiwanese immigrants, free Chinese, who purchased a 720-acre farm near Bakersfield, their little piece of the American Dream.
Lin had borrowed a lot of money to buy a tractor and other farm equipment. Once equipped, Lin got on his heavily mortgaged tractor and disced his field on his property to grow bamboo, alfalfa and other vegetables to sell to markets that cater to Southern California’s booming Asian population.

LIN’S life turned upside down when federal agents claimed his tractor ran over endangered Tipton kangaroo rats.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents showed LIN a dead rat, told him the rodent was found on his land and accused him of violating the Endangered Species Act. LIN, 51, pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of knowingly killing an endangered species and destroying its habitat. If convicted, he could have been jailed for up to a year and fined $300,000.

In a similar case involving the endangered blunt-nose leopard lizard, owners of a farm in neighboring Tulare County pleaded guiltyto the same charge. The owners of that farm handed over part of their land to the Fish and wildlife Service in lieu of paying a $5,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney KAREN KALIMANIR claimed the government was simply enforcing the Endangered Species Act. ROGER GEPHART, a Fish and wildlife Service’agent, said these cases are becoming more prevalent because of public demand that endangered species be protected. “We’re the caretakers and the stewards of the land, and we have no right to deny the existence of these endangered species,” GEPHART said.

The civil suit, which is separate from the criminal complaint, was filed against LIN’S $50,000 tractor. Agents confiscated the tractor to try to forfeit it to the government. However, LIN still was obligated to pay the remaining $37,000 he owed said his equipment company.

“This man is trying to create jobs,” farm manager ROBERT SANCHEZ said. “Isn’t that what the government wants?”

The California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by their actions have once again placed a higher value on rodents’ housing rights — habitat — than on lawful, honest human economic activities. Both departments, in an attempt to enforce the Endangered Species Act (ESA) , have mercilessly crushed the dreams and livelihood of a family in Bakersfield, sort of like smashing a bug -­ except that the environmentalist Gestapo protects pests and vermin.

They do not smash bugs; they go after people, their property and their habitat.

The lives of the Lin family were abruptly and further shattered when federal agents, acting in conjunction with the state Fish and Game Department, claimed to have found on his property, prime habitat for three endangered species: the K-rat, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the kit fox.

Adding vicious insult to actual injury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office originally had filed a civil suit against Mr. Lin’s tractor.

But in late June, the Department of Fish and Wildlife rescinded their charge, and ped the suit against the farm vehicle.

Can’t get real blood out of inanimate machinery.

He has been ordered to stop cultivating his land until his case is concluded.

While his livelihood is on hold, his creditors are knocking on his door to keep him current on mortgage and property expenses.

The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Fish and Game are enforcing the ESA with absolutely no regard for the rights of individuals, in particular, private property.

Enforcement agencies have trampled upon the rights of individuals and property owners under the banner of this onerously applied law.

The Endangered Species Act, particularly as it is being applied in California, represents a flagrant and abominable abuse of governmental authority.

Government is stifling growth and entrepreneurship. This is counterproductive and an affront to hard-working people, not only in California, but everywhere in the nation.

Once again the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife has placed rodent interests above honest human livelihood.

 

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