Libertarian Gets Eagle off Endangered List

It looks like the Bald Eagle will soon be off the government’s official endangered species list, probably by February of next year. The story from MSNBC...

Seven years after the U.S. government moved to take the bald eagle off the endangered species list, the Bush administration intends to complete the step by February, prodded by a frustrated libertarian property owner in Minnesota.

The delisting, supported by mainstream environmental groups, would represent a formal declaration that the eagle population has sufficiently rebounded, increasing more than 15-fold since its 1963 nadir to more than 7,000 nesting pairs.

That libertarian they mentioned is the founder of the Minnesota Libertarian Party, Edmund Contoski, who was prevented from developing some land he owns due to a Bald Eagle nest…

Libertarian’s lawsuit prompts deadline

It was a bald eagle’s nest that undid Edmund Contoski. And it was Edmund Contoski who filed a federal lawsuit that prompted U.S. District Judge John Tunheim to set the February deadline for the government to act or explain why not.

Contoski’s problem, as he saw it, was the nest high in a pine on his property alongside Sullivan Lake, about 100 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. When the nest was reported to state environmental authorities, he was a few weeks away from carving out a road and several lots, hoping to make good on a family investment.

No eagles were using the nest that year—they returned later—but the discovery meant that no one could build within 330 feet. The land was suddenly useless for development, and Contoski was steamed.

“I can’t even cut firewood,” he said. “I can’t trim a tree. I can’t do anything.”

He tracked down the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has a record of challenging endangered-species rules. Better yet, Pacific attorney Damien Schiff was willing to file suit for free.

For attorney and client, the case was more about principle than principal.

Contoski, 69, is not a prosperous man, although he owns his comfortable Minneapolis home free and clear. He lives with his black cat, Victor, and reads a lot. A table is piled high with such volumes as “Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths” and “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”

A former city planner, published author and founder three decades ago of Minnesota’s Libertarian Party, Contoski is not enthusiastic about government rules. During a recent ride to a restaurant, he declined to wear his seatbelt despite an insistent dashboard beep.

He would not mind wearing a seatbelt in a world without such laws, he explained, “but I’ll be [expletive] if I’ll wear it if the government insists.”

When he studies his Constitution, he sees a guarantee of inalienable rights.

“It doesn’t say, ‘unless eagles need a home.’ It’s unfair that we pay taxes all these years and now we can’t recoup that. If it’s public benefit, let the federal government or the state pay us for it.”

Contoski’s family bought 23 acres in 1939. The lakefront land provides gorgeous views to the far shore, about a mile away, but he sees no justification for paying taxes on property they will not use.

“I’m 69 years old and I have a heart condition. How long am I going to live?” asked Contoski, who likes to say he pays taxes and eagles don’t. “It’s not as though I’m against the eagles. If the eagles lose this tree, they’ll go to their other nests.”

Hence the lawsuit, which Contoski filed in 2005 and won in August.

3 Responses to “Libertarian Gets Eagle off Endangered List”

  1. torah Says:

    Allen Hacker is the topic of a Free State Project Forum thread:



  3. Brian Says:

    What a bonehead. Won’t wear a seatbelt because the governemnt says too? Such a rebel! Well hopefully that heart problem takes care of this selfish, greedy a-hole first but if not it’s nice to know he’ll go through his windshield should he ever get in a wreck.