Why shouldn't we believe everything we hear?


(Note: Rather than 'BS,' it's more likely to be bovine excreta, but makes some excellent -- and undeniable -- points!)


October 3, 2003


Weekly News from Secretary Larry Gabriel

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture

Pierre, South Dakota


Contact: Paul.Riley@state.sd.us or 605-773-4234


Have you heard about the latest new conspiracy to expand the Endangered Species Act to the “Endangered Something-or-other Act”?

The story is supposedly based on a conversation between two unemployed range scientists sitting in the Two-Bit Saloon, where they were commiserating about a lack of federal grant money. The conversation allegedly went something like this…


MAN ONE: I have a plan that will put us back to work and funnel in more grant money than you can imagine. All we need is a little political clout and the ability to pitch this with a straight face.

MAN TWO: So let’s hear it!

MAN ONE: As you know, 'protecting' 'endangered' or 'rare' things under the assumption that they might have some unique unknown property, such as a cure for cancer, is an easy sell to the American public. They support it without knowing anything about it, because it has become the “right thing” to do.

MAN TWO: So what? That has nothing to do with range science. Our science is one of how to use things in a beneficial manner. It has nothing to do with preserving just for the sake of preserving.

MAN ONE: That’s my whole point. We are really missing the boat and the gravy train. Look at all the hundreds of millions of dollars the feds spend each year paying biologists to study snakes, snails, butterflies, rodents and bugs, just because some group 'finds' something 'unique' about one of them and claims it is a new subspecies that must be 'preserved' for 'future generations.'

MAN TWO: I still don't see what that has to do with us, other than the fact that those guys are now getting the federal research money we used to get.

MAN ONE: You and I both know that snails, for example, are classified by the features of their shells. All you have to do is pick up any common land snail and throw it into any new environment where it can survive and it will transform into a “unique new subspecies,” because of the different soils and water it now inhabits. Presto! You have a 'new subspecies' -- and even get to name it after yourself. We have a product in range science that operates the same way.

MAN TWO: If we do, I can't imagine what it is.

MAN ONE: It is so simple and obvious that you will kick yourself for not thinking of it. (Leaning over close and whispering) It's cow pies.


MAN ONE: Sh-h-h-h-h-h! Keep it down. I'm not crazy. If Congress is foolish enough to believe that the bugs crawling around in it may contain the cure for cancer, what makes you think they won't buy the same assumption about cow pies? Think about it! They are a perfect candidate. Nobody knows what they are good for. They change features and texture and even shape in different environments. We could study and classify them for the next twenty years and barely scratch the surface of all the possible variations.

MAN TWO: I think cows will fly before your idea does (he rubbed his chin a little, and then a gleam came to his eye and he continued). However, I think there is real possibility we could get them to designate cow pies as 'critical habitat' for the bugs that use them and study that for twenty years.

Personally, I don't believe this story. It sounds like of bunch of 'BS' to me, but I'm not a member of Congress.


Copyright 2004, The South Dakota Department of Agriculture.