Trapping Cruelty Addressed In New House Bills Seeking Bans

GR: The economic justification for trapping and hunting is fading away along with the animals. Even indigenous cultures with strong animal hunting and eating traditions need to change because their human populations are growing too large to survive on meat. We need our leaders to make family planning and vegetarian diets more acceptable and accessible. Read more about this “barbaric sport.”

Let’s end cruelty to wild animals in the United States. “Continue reading” the article below for information and links for giving your opinion to your elected representatives.

Oregon coyote caught in a Wildlife Services trap: Brooks Fahy/Predator Defense

“Brooks Fahy has been working for decades to save wild animals from painful traps — and while he has seen hundreds of sad cases, there’s one coyote he’ll never forget.

“Fahy, who is the executive director of the nonprofit Predator Defense, received a call from a concerned citizen about an animal caught in a trap. After scouring the Oregon woods, he found the young coyote — his leg was badly pinched in a leghold trap.

“When I walked up on that coyote, he looked at me and then he looked down, like he was ready to accept his fate,” Fahy told The Dodo.

“Animals caught in traps can wait days before they’re found and killed — sometimes for their meat or fur, other times just for recreation. Some animals caught in traps try to gnaw off their own limbs out of desperation. “Traps are notoriously nonselective, whether it’s an M44, a neck snare, a leghold trap, any animal that comes along could get caught,” Fahy said. Endangered species and even people’s beloved dogs can be injured or even killed because of indiscriminate traps.

The trap was set out by Wildlife Services, a branch of the USDA that kills tens of thousands of coyotes each year by trapping, shooting, snaring and poisoning them.

Warning: Graphic image below

“The coyote Fahy found seemed to be determined to stay alive. There were some puddles of melted snow near him, which he appeared to have been drinking from, Fahy said: “He had been in the trap a long time, a week minimum.”

Fahy also noticed a branch sticking up out of the ground beside him that was all chewed up.

“He’d been gnawing on it to relieve the pain,” Fahy said.

“As Fahy got closer, he noticed paw prints in the ground and the vestiges of smaller animals. “There were these small bones around him — we realized that a mate was bringing him food,” Fahy remembers. “It’s gut-wrenching. It haunts me to this day.” –Sarah V. Schweig (Continue reading:  Trapping Cruelty Addressed In New House Bills Seeking Bans.)

Unlocking The Cage

GR:  Legal personhood for chimps is the subject of a New York Supreme Court trial underway now. The film described below provides background on the issue. Like Aldo Leopold, I believe that our acceptance of animal equality is as important as controlling human population and global warming if ever we hope to form a sustainable culture on this planet. Respecting chimpanzee rights is a step in the right direction. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is preparing other cases. I believe Elephant freedom will be next. Click this link for the Animal Bill of Rights and other legal information.

Here’s the film trailer. The film synopsis follows.

Synopsis, Unlocking the Cage

“Unlocking the Cage follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. After thirty years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Steve and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a thing with no rights to a person with legal protections.

“Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Steve maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights (such as bodily liberty) that would protect them from physical abuse.  Using writs of habeas corpus (historically used to free humans from unlawful imprisonment), Wise argues on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

“Unlocking the Cage captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Steve’s impassioned arguments. It is an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect “nonhuman” animals.”  –Source: Unlocking The Cage.

Carnivores in the Crosshairs (H.J. Res. 69)

GR:  This type of management (eliminate predators to please human hunters) is more than just a crime against nature; it’s a foolish plan that has failed many times before. Predator and prey populations go through natural cycles. When people interfere, we can’t predict what will happen. It would be better to hand all the hunters a camera and challenge them to get some unique photos.

The Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule is under siege, and the consequences could be dire for bears and wolves in the state.

“You may have heard about H.J. Res. 69, a dangerous bill that jeopardizes bears, wolves and other carnivores by tossing out the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule. This legislation is set to hit the Senate floor any day now, and its enactment could have drastic implications for wildlife in Alaska and public lands management nationwide.

The Low-Down on H.J. Res 69

“H.J. Res. 69 would overturn the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule, which the Obama administration issued last year to conserve native carnivores, including bears, wolves and their young, on as many as 76 million acres of national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The timing of when this rule was finalized matters significantly, as its fate is now subject to the Congressional Review Act (CRA)—you can read more about that here.

“Legislators and their special interest allies already jammed H.J. Res. 69 through the House of Representatives, despite strong bipartisan opposition that labeled it as “The Killing Baby Animals in Alaska Act.” The Senate is currently considering whether to bring this harmful bill up for a vote.

Threatening Wildlife in Their Home

“Without the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule in place, the state of Alaska could pursue its scientifically indefensible predator control program on these federal lands. This controversial program allows the killing of mother bears and their cubs, killing wolves and their pups in their dens, and trapping, baiting and using airplanes to scout and shoot bears. The state’s goal is to drive down carnivore numbers to artificially inflate populations of game species.” –Defenders of Wildlife (Continue reading:  Carnivores in the Crosshairs – Defenders of Wildlife Blog.)

On Nature Conservation

Defining Nature Conservation

Wild animals live in constant peril from weather, predators, and competitors. Their plight evokes sympathy and is the most common spur that goads me into action.  I agree with Aldo Leopold who concluded that survival of life on earth requires that humans accept that they are no more important than any other species.

Sand_county_almanac cover[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”  Aldo Leopold, 1949.

Not bad.  “Earth ethic” would indicate the shared importance of life in the oceans and on land. This ethic should encompass air, animals, plants, rivers, rocks, and sea.  It seems to me that, at the time of his death, Leopold hadn’t yet fleshed out his ethics ideas. He hadn’t seen human impacts reach the catastrophic level we see today.  Were he living now, Leopold would most likely be a leading conservation activist.

Few people accept Leopold’s conclusion.  Most of our conservation ideas and practices developed while the needs and impacts of the human population were small compared to the extent and productivity of natural ecosystems. Climate change and other human impacts show that nature is limited.  However, it is difficult for most people to shift their view to include equality for other species. Few can give up the comfort and convenience that often comes at the expense of other species whose lives we take in order to benefit our own.

But look what’s happening. The past decade’s droughts, storms, and spreading deserts show that humanity is changing the Earth. Research coming from many sources shows that worldwide animal extinctions are occurring 100 times faster than in Earth’s previous mass-extinction events recorded in the fossil record.

Extinction isn’t the only concern. Total loss of a species results after years of decline. In 2014, the World Wildlife Fund, the Zoological Society of London, and other organizations carried out an extensive analysis of more than 10,000 wildlife studies. The analysis reached a stunning conclusion: The total number of animals on Earth has declined by more than 50% since 1970.

animal-declinesThis figure illustrates the findings of the World Wildlife Fund (2014) that, from 1970 to 2010, we lost 52% of all animals on Earth. The 2016 WWF report showed that in 2012, the decline reached 57%. Biologists predict it will reach 67% by 2020. The cause? Massive overpopulation by humans and their unsustainable overuse of space and resources.

A look at two sympathetic attitudes toward animals might help understand the different views of nature conservation.  Leopold’s approach aligns with the Rights Position, and traditional conservation aligns with the Welfare Position.

f0268080-8c59-44bc-95ba-3dca72f8c60c.jpgFuture of Nature Conservation

Having followed the news and events of the past decade, I have adopted a cautiously pessimistic attitude toward nature conservation. Nature conservation was humanity’s

polluted-water

Lake Karachay, Russia, has been used by the Soviet Union to dump nuclear waste for years now. The lake has several times the allowed pollutant, and 1 hour of exposure is said to be fatal to everyone (photo from lolwot.com).

great challenge for the Twentieth Century. Nineteenth Century naturalists warned about the environmental damage humans were doing (Andrea Wulff–The Invention of Nature). At the start of the Twentieth Century conservationists like U. S. President Teddy Roosevelt began setting up protective government agencies such as the National Park Service, Forest Service, and others. The Dust Bowl raised awareness of the need for conservation among farmers and schoolchildren everywhere. However, in spite of public concern, we were never able to control the ‘progress’ that inch by inch was converting nature into profits. Farmers, grazers, and loggers eroded the soils, consumed the grasslands, and cut the forests. As these enterprises grew, most of us moved to the cities and abandoned nature to for-profit businesses. Nature conservation faded from common knowledge. We are on our way to destroying most if not all of life on Earth.

With no effective controls over our population and resource use, I believe human extinction is a real possibility. A major war or disease might slow our devastation of the planet, but the only effective inhibitors of our steady destruction of nature are themselves global killers. The most likely are a great solar flare, a massive meteor, and of course, human-caused climate change. The last one, climate change, is a sure bet unless we treat it like the emergency it is and combat it with all of our resources. Our surrender to progress and profit has locked us into a global-warming cycle that will extinguish us and most other species unless we get busy and solve the problem. If we don’t, our grandchildren will inherit an impoverished world on its way toward a complete loss of human civilization.

One ray of hope comes from the predicted intensification of weather extremes. Growing storms, floods, and fires may soon force our leaders to get serious about stopping climate change. Let’s hope, and while we’re hoping, let’s work to limit progress and profit however we can.

Garry Rogers Nature Conservation Articles