Fish Or Man

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Something Else the Government Is Willing to Kill Over

Let's head to Florida for a moment.

The only people that want the saw palmettos around are the berry pickers. Thorny little nasty weeds growing in wetlands that no sane person would be willing to enter, (alligators have a way of discouraging the sane). Anyone actually owning vacant land in Florida wants it turned into condos and golf courses.

But, government owned land? That's a different story. While these palmettos aren't even close to endangered, the govenment sees/creates a problem; berry pickers. And as we already know, government solves every "problem" with the same solution, armed violence, (its all the power they really have anyway). This time force is applied against those who actually benefit from the plants existence, in the name of saving the not-even-close to endangered saw palmetto... of course. AP wire
Charles Robinson, a deputy in the Palm Beach County wildlands unit, was well into the fifth hour of his stakeout of the remote swamp when, suddenly, a head popped out of the thicket.

FIVE hours, over a plant. Meanwhile, a driveby shooting and two car-jacking attempts took place. Good to know priorities are in place in Palm Beach County. But, you say it's the law and it needs to be enforced? Ok, but let's remember that next time you pick up a pine cone.

This time, Operation Berry Picker was a success...

This time
...??? So, what they are saying is these five hour stakeouts Deputy Nobinson plays commando in the wetlands, he usually ends up only playing with himself... great.
...the poacher and his partner (who popped up moments later to see if the coast was clear) were arrested and charged with violating County Ordinance 94-13, which makes it illegal to remove even a pine cone from a natural area.

There is your pine cone! The law is the law, right smartass? Deputy Nobnbob says so:

That's missing the point, says Robinson. If a picker gets a private landowner's permission to harvest berries, "that's one thing. But if they're doing it on protected natural areas, we're going to have to enforce the laws."

You go, Nobsrubber! Enforce the pine cone law on a group of school kids, then, why dontcha? Not gonna happen is it? (Atleast not this week) So, Deputy Nobhard, you have now caught two of the elusive poachers... what do you do now?
A friend of mine last year got arrested and had to pay $200 for picking berries.

200 bucks? Are you joking me? Deputy Nobnrob, you wasted more then that in gas during your 5 hour stakeout! Thousands of man hours wasted on a weed no body gives a rats ass about for the off chance of fining someone $200 bucks??? I know, you readers are thinking, "that makes for a very expensive cat and mouse game!!!"

You don't know the half of it.

For berry patrol, each deputy dons green fatigues or camouflage, army boots, a black motorcycle helmet or military "Bonnie Hat," heavy duty gloves, and a belt with bush necessities: automatic pistol, taser, pepper spray, baton, night-vision goggles, infrared binoculars, high-powered flashlight, cell phone, bullet pack and infrared strobe light, "so that violators don't notice when we signal a helicopter," says John Gibson, a member of the unit.

To roam the badlands, the deputies use six all-terrain vehicles and six 4-by-4 off-roaders. Most impressive are two Ford F250s, with their 38-inch tires, heavy duty winches and satellite antennas. They hit speeds of 90 mph, though speeding in dense brush is generally avoided, Gibson adds, "because it's hard to stop them once you get them going."

Gibson should know! He's getting a hard-on just thinking about the last time he had to use that winch on himself after getting that huge air while cruising on their own "private" mudding hole.

Maybe if we keep talking about all the cool stuff we get to play with, kids will want to grow up to be just like us.
Each off-roader comes with a laptop, printer, and GPS mapping capability. ("It's easy to get lost in the bush," Robinson says. "There are no road signs - well, no roads either.") Twelve-gauge shotguns are stowed in a floor case; collapsible, AR-15 "Bushmasters," as the semiautomatic rifles are known, are fixed to the ceiling for easy access.

And then there's the Encore - a jeep, normally built for the military, that can drive for miles through swamps, submerged.


From the air, using the latest Forward Looking Infrared technology, crews can spot the most elusive of berry pickers, day or night, no matter how thick the thickets may be.

You may be able to spot them, but none of your panzy-asses is willing to go in there and get them, am I right?

And who are "them" anyway?
They are men, women, children of all ages and sizes. Many are Mexican, Guatemalan, Haitian. Some are in the United States legally; many aren't.

Well, now I understand. "These people" are suppose to be on government "approved" assistance programs, not out making it on their own hard work. And work they do:

These are the same people who follow the trail from coast to coast, season after season, gathering America's harvests for pennies on the pound. By late July, when the orange and tomato seasons end in Florida, most pickers move on to Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, or Pennsylvania.

But some stay behind, waiting for the berries to bloom.

By mid-August, "they're all desperate," says Lucas Benitez, 30, of Guerrero, Mexico. Thirteen years ago, he co-founded the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworkers group in the main hub of the berry market on the western edge of the Everglades.

"The tomato fields are picked clean. There are no more oranges on the trees. Families are eating crackers for dinner. It's all they can do to hang on for the start of the palmetto season."

It's all they can do to collect the berries.

Humid heat, which turns glades into steam baths even on cloudy days, has a way of making pickers walk in circles, aimlessly, or faint. (Pickers wear long-sleeved shirts, jeans, boots and heavy gloves to protect against mosquitoes, sea lice, fire ants and the palmetto's thorny needles.)

Rattlesnakes, which wrap themselves around the palmetto trunks to avoid the roiling sun, strike at least a handful of pickers each year. And, says Miguel Garcia, of Villermosa, Mexico, "you don't know what fear is until you have come face-to-face with an alligator."

Garcia, 34, recalls wading through chest-high swamp water last August, a 100-pound sack of berries on his back, when a full-sized alligator surfaced not 10 feet in front of him. Lazily, it blinked its eyes, opened its jaws.

Stock-still, Garcia asked his four companions in a whisper, "Anybody know how to scare a gator?"

"Frogs," came a reply, "they don't like frogs."

So Garcia and his fellow pickers went about scooping up frogs and tossing them at the alligator until the beast shut its mouth and slipped underwater. Just as Garcia let out a relieved sigh, the alligator resurfaced.

"All right," he muttered. "Any other bright ideas?"

The alligator, he says, let them go with no fuss. The authorities are not so easy to shake.

"A friend of mine last year got arrested and had to pay $200 for picking berries. Why was that? I don't think of myself as a thief. All I'm doing is picking God's produce, trying to make a little extra to send to my wife and two little boys in Mexico."

How dare you!

Last year, the wildlands task force caught about 85 pickers. "That's probably just a 1 percent slice of the total picker work force in this county," Robinson concedes. Still, from season to season, he says, "we've been narrowing the trap."

You mean, you had been catching less then 1 percent??? Well, why didn't you say so! Showing such amazing strides of success, (and gaining nationwide PR coverage), your budget has just been increased. Go order yourself up a couple more F250s.

He, for one, has learned over the last several years to differentiate between tracks left by wild hogs and those left by humans. And every day, he gets a little sharper at tracking the poachers. "Nowadays," he says, "I feel like an Indian."

They issue these idiots firearms in the protection of pine cones??? Wild hogs and humans! You've gone to some "special" classes, haven't you, Deputy Robnsteal?

On the bright side, (if there is one): Taxes are being spent on the handicapped.