Keep off the grouse

One comment on the Freeh report about the outrageous pedophilia scandal at Penn State (S.F. Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler suggests the school nickname be changed to the Cowardly Lions). Louis Freeh says 3.5 million emails were examined. 3.5 million? Good lord. Those people were chatty. I mean, I would have believed 3.5 THOUSAND emails, sure, but 3.5 mill? Wow. Talk about a paper trail.


A big concern for Nevada right now is the looming threat that the sage grouse might be listed as an endangered species. There was a major look at the story in the local fishwrap a couple of Sundays ago, talking about the problems with such a listing, especially the negative economic impacts of this coming to pass.

OK, it’s something to be concerned about, for sure. It’s something to be avoided, for sure. So in this regard, well, gee, uh, maybe the state might want to suspend its sage grouse hunting season for a while. Just a thought.

The 2012 Sage Grouse season is all set. Game on. Tag applications available through August 3 at the Division of Wildlife. But what kind of message is this to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? That we have a bird on the verge of being listed, but we’re still gonna go ahead and blast a few every fall, goddammit. Actually, it’s misleading to say “a few.” There won’t be dozens of grouse killed in the field this year, there’ll be thousands. In 2010, 7,355 sage grouse were “harvested” in Nevada. In ’11, that number was 6,141.

So again, what kind of confusing, disconnected bullshit in defiance of common sense is taking place here? You’ve got a bird—and a great bird at that, one completely deserving of protection—that’s in danger of being listed, and if it’s listed, it will cost the state millions in jobs and development. And yet, you’ve got a Division of Wildlife that continues, in the face of all this potential hardship, to allow its killing by the thousands. Kafka would have felt right at home with this.

Yes, I’m sure biologists have their defenses, their stats, their reasons. I’m sure they’re all righteous and persuasive. I’m really just talking PR here. Sometimes you gotta play that game. Sometimes, that game pays off. Taking a couple of years off, for example. Why would that be “wrong?”

It’s not as though a suspension of the sage grouse hunting season is gonna take food off the table for hundreds of Nevada families. Pul-leez. As a food source, sage grouse is? well, check out this time-honored high desert recipe for Grouse Under Glass: 1. Take plucked grouse. 2. Place on cedar slab. 3. Place slab on grill and cover. 4. Cook for one hour at 350 degrees. 5. Take grouse. Throw away. 6. Eat cedar slab.