“Extreme Huntress” and hunting’s flimsy facade

mtnliontrophy

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

How extreme does one have to be to earn the title of “Extreme Huntress”? Don’t let the diminutive -ess suffix trick you into thinking this title is a shoddy substitute for the real (male) deal. These women will get up off their childbirth bed to score a trophy–and tote two-week-old Junior along for the thrill of the kill.  Continue reading

A (trophy animal) picture is worth a thousand (angry, violent) words

 

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From Huffington Post; click image for article & original photo credit

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

One woman (sporting a Safari Club International cap), one gun, one dead giraffe. One pump-my-ego photo posted and then shared hundreds of times on animal rights Facebook pages, generating thousands of sad or angry comments.

Many–distressingly many–of the responses to these vile, celebratory trophy photos are vile and violent themselves. When the killer is a woman, the comments can also be terribly misogynistic: “Stupid brainless b*tch!” “This fat ugly b*tch should be shot!” “Shoot this b*tch!”  Continue reading

White tigers: Tragic–not magic

KennytigerKathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Kenny died in 2008. If you didn’t mark his passing (you probably didn’t even know about it), don’t feel bad. Kenny, you see, was not the beautiful white tiger on posters for glitzy magic acts. He wasn’t the star attraction drawing crowds of admirers to the zoo. As the product of unscrupulous white tiger breeding, Kenny’s life and death ran under the radar. It was only through the compassion of a wildlife refuge in Arkansas that he was able to live out his life in comfort and even found a modicum of fame (video)–one of the luckiest of the unlucky. He died at 10 years of age from cancer (source).   Continue reading

Bad advice: “Homework is for kids who don’t hunt”

homeworkhuntKathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

“Homework is for kids who don’t hunt.” This proclamation, delivered on a Realtree brand boys’ T-shirt, appeared recently in a Shopko sales flier. I looked twice to make sure I read it correctly, so shocking was the message to this former teacher. Flashback to rural New Mexico and a boy in my 9th grade English class. He was a nice kid–congenial, polite–if not a committed student. His greatest enthusiasm during the school year manifested itself immediately before his week-long absence every autumn to go hunting. Attend class? Do homework? Make up missed assignments? Pff. That shirt would have fit him to a ‘T’.   Continue reading

Harming animals to help humans: When charity isn’t charitable redux

Impala and friend – click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Can the act of killing an animal in Africa help addicted, teen mothers in Montana? Sadly, yes. That’s just the crazy, speciesist world we live in–the one created by us, for us.

Though humans today and forever have found divisions–think race, religion, country, tribe–over which to oppress and kill each other, one thing that unites us categorically is our species, particularly in relation to other animals. It’s us against them, or us over them–the human animal lording it over all “lower” animals. Except for those who have value to us as “pets,” the idea of noblesse oblige doesn’t cross species lines. What some of us recognize as brutal, self-serving exploitation of the other animal nations is seen, by many others, as the natural, beneficial order of things. Ain’t that how it goes with the privileged class?!?    Continue reading

Hog Wild: Where Florida Hogs Can’t Catch a Break

Seth Victor

Population control is a powerful justification. If a species has outgrown its habitat, the population needs to be managed, lest the over-abundance of animals wreak havoc on the natural environment. And if that habitat wasn’t destroyed by the animals, but instead was converted into pools and condominiums, limiting the range of the animal, it seems that the solution remains the same.

I don’t intend to discuss the hypocrisy of population control as a whole just now. I bring it up, however, because the way in which it is done is of great concern. The problems with wolf hunts have been covered extensively in this blawg. Recently, their ranks of the persecuted have been joined by a perhaps unlikely bedfellow – hogs. Continue reading

Guns N’ Poses: Altruism gone awry

Global Post screengrab-click image

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

It’s been hard to miss the spectacle: The Donald’s two sons and a whole passel of dead African animals. A short video of trophy still shots includes one Son of a Trump holding a knife and an elephant’s tail.  The hunt was arranged through Hunting Legends (motto: “Legends are forged in the crucible of Africa’s wild places.  The legend within answers to the call of your hunter’s spirit. Don’t just be…be the legend”). Apparently the company is feeling the sting of criticism from legitimate conservationists, given this defensive post. (Sorry, but “The Trumps hunt Africa” page is password protected.) Continue reading

Bill to Ban Canned Hunting in NY in the Pipeline

Once upon a time, the NY State Legislature passed a bill outlawing canned hunting only to have then Governor Pataki veto it.  The current law permits canned hunts except that the animals can’t be tied to a stationary object of confined in a pen or box.  The current bill, which is pending in the Assembly Codes Committee, would ban hunting in fenced areas, essentially ending the practice in NY.

Hat tip for the skinny to the Animal Law Coalition blog, which has an informative and excellent post here.

–David Cassuto

Canned Hunting of Endangered Species is Illegal

From the Stuff You Probably Thought Was Too Obvious to Have to Sue About Desk:

elk-hunt-01A district court in Washington D.C. has struck down a Bush Era U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rule that allowed canned hunting of endangered species.  Canned hunting is the shooting of semi-tame animals on fenced  “ranches” (see here for some previous posts).  During canned excursions, the animals have nowhere to run — even if they knew they were in danger — and thus can be slaughtered with ease.  Such “hunts” require no skill (indeed, many “ranches” offer a guaranteed kill).  Reviled by most hunters, they are primarily the province of folks like Dick Cheney and his fellow “sportsmen.”

The Endangered Species Act, Section 9 makes it illegal to “take” any animal on the endangered species list.  Yet, among the animals FWS allowed to be canned and killed were the scimitar-horned oryx, addax and dama gazelle, all endangered African species.  Thus the lawsuit.

To the chagrin of the Safari Club and their ilk, the court found that charging  “sportsmen” big bucks to shoot endangered animals violates the Endangered Species Act.  Kudos to the Humane Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Born Free USA, Kimya Institute and several others for forcing the courts to state the obvious and thus stop at least this part of the slaughter.  Read the HSUS press release here and the Safari Club’s Orwellian spin on how killing these animals actually protects them here.

–David Cassuto

Human Superiority and Other Educational Tropes

In my son’s 4th grade classroom – which I happened to visit yesterday – the chalkboard had written upon it the following explanation of the difference between humans and animals:

Birds build nests.  Humans build houses.

Birds can fly.  Humans build airplanes.

There was more but I don’t remember it all.  The point seemed to be that animals’ skills are both narrow and limited while human skills are unbounded, as is their potential.

As an initial matter, the opposition is flawed.  For the comparison to work, all humans must be able to build houses and airplanes just as all birds (or the vast majority, anyway) can build nests and fly.  Of course, this is simply not so.  The majority of humans can build neither a house nor a nest.  And most of us certainly couldn’t build an airplane, much less fly one.

So, the comparison should say:

Birds build nests and can fly.  Some humans can do some of the following: build houses and build and fly airplanes.  Precious few can do all three.

Phrased thus, the human side of the equation appears much less majestic.  It rather highlights the fact that most of us lack basic survival and building skills that birds (and other animals) possess in abundance.  We compensate for our individual shortcomings by relying on a select few people who possess the skills necessary to create an environment in which the rest of us can survive (as I write this, a contractor is at work on my house, insulating a portion of the house too cold for my family to inhabit).

One wonders, therefore, why we aggrandize humanity.  One further wonders why we feel entitled to take credit for the achievements and abilities of others while simultaneously derogating other beings who are individually far more skilled and better adapted for survival than we.

This hubris has cascading consequences.  Because we classify nonhumans as “lesser creatures,” they fall beneath our normative notice.  Thus, industrial farming, canned hunting, pseudo-scientific experimentation, and other horrific wrongs are routinely perpetrated upon them because they allegedly lack the necessary qualities for membership in the moral community.  Our laws memorialize this normative vision, which then gets perpetuated in (among other places) my son’s classroom.

I want to talk to him about all this. But I don’t know what to say.

David Cassuto

The Semiotics of a Deer Beheading in Houston

I read today that a tame deer was beheaded at the Bear Creek Pioneer Park “wildlife sanctuary” in Houston.  Having spent some time in Houston, it surprised me to learn of the existence of a wildlife sanctuary there.  So I looked it up.  Wikipedia describes Bear Creek Pioneers Park thus (the park itself has no working url):

Bear Creek Pioneers Park . . . has paved roads and parking spaces that visitors can use. The park also has walking trails, an equestrian trail, a small zoo (including buffalos, an ostrich, and emus) and aviary, playgrounds, soccer fields, little league and softball fields, four lighted tennis courts, eight picnic pavilions, horseshoe courts, and hundreds of picnic tables and grills. Near the aviary ducks can been seen walking freely around a pond. The park also has restrooms all around the park and drinking water fountains. The park is open all week from 7:00 am until 10:00 pm (local time).

Though I have never been to this place, I have visited quite a few wildlife sanctuaries.  None had little league fields, playgrounds, or lighted tennis courts.  And most importantly, none had zoos.  Indeed, wildlife sanctuaries are in many (most? all?) respects the antithesis of zoos.  They are supposed to be places where wildlife can live in their natural habitat, free of human encroachment and predation.  As a result, one rarely encounters wildlife sanctuaries in major cities.  Indeed, Houston would have topped my list of the least likely places to find one.  Furthermore, animals in wildlife sanctuaries are not “tame.”  “Tame wildlife” is an oxymoron.  I could say more about this but, of necessity, I move on.

At this alleged wildlife sanctuary, someone cut through the fence penning in the animals and beheaded a “tame deer” that dwelt within.  The perpetrator then made off with the head and antlers.  This act outraged the Harris County Commissioner who declared that anyone who kills an animal in captivity “is just the lowest of the low.”   The article informs us that taxidermy shops throughout Houston were alerted to the crime.

One has to wonder what the taxidermy shops were told to look for.  Is it unusual for someone to stride into such places clutching a bloody head and antlers?  While such patrons would stand out in most places, taxidermists cater to people who kill animals and then seek to turn parts of the corpses into wall hangings.

I wonder too if the Harris County Commissioner feels equally outraged by the many “ranches” in Texas offering “high fenced” hunting safaris for those discerning sportsmen who crave a guaranteed kill.  Does he revile our soon-to-be former vice president, who regularly patronizes such places (and only occasionally shoots his host)?  This type of “canned hunting” is quite common in Texas as well as in many other states.

Perhaps the Commissioner (who I have never met and know nothing about) does revile activities of this sort.  Still, I remain bemused.  Of course, the slaughter of the deer was an atrocity.  But does no one else find it ironic that killing a captive deer in a “wildlife sanctuary” in a state where canned hunts are a popular pastime would generate such outrage and opprobrium?

I am beginning to truly grasp the meaning of “tragicomic.”

David Cassuto

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