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A (NOBLE) BRIEF FOR ANIMALS

By Paul Craig Roberts

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The article below is reprinted from CounterPunch, January 12, 2011. Since the article was first published, Washington has added the slaughter of Libyans, Yemeni, and Syrians along with that of wolves to its accomplishments. An addendum describes the wicked new “sport” of “canned hunting.”

Hribal’s “Fear of the Animal Planet”
A Brief for Animals
by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

hunters-animals hunting pics (15)

Jason Hribal in a book just off the CounterPunch/AK press, Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance, regales the reader with tales of animal rebellion and escape from captivity. In Hribal’s account, when big cats, elephants, and orcas injure or kill their trainers and keepers they are inflicting retribution for the abuse and exploitation that they suffer.

[pullquote] As is inevitable for all people who are both decent and intelligent, Dr Roberts is also an animal liberationist. He sees clearly through the abject, groundless prejudices that privilege humans at the expense of animals. Indeed, the battle against speciesism, the oldest and most brutal form of mass tyranny on record, will constitute the last revolution in the advance of human beings toward virtue. [/pullquote]

One of Hribal’s most convincing examples is Tatiana, a Siberian tiger in the San Francisco zoo. On December 25, 2007, Tatiana cleared the 12 foot high wall of her enclosure to decimate the teenagers who enjoyed themselves tormenting her. Tatiana ripped one of her tormenters to pieces, and, during her 20 minutes of freedom, she searched the zoo grounds for the other two, ignoring zoo visitors, park employees, and emergency responders. As Hribal puts it, “Tatiana was singular in her purpose.” She could have killed any number of people, but ignored them in pursuit of her tormentors.

Obviously, Tatiana could have escaped from her enclosure whenever she had wished, but had accepted her situation until torment ended her acceptance.

Most people, were they to read Hribal’s book, would have a hard time with the intent that he ascribes to animals. Like the executives of circuses, zoos, and Sea World, most humans ascribe captive animal attacks to unpredictable wild instinct, to accident, or to the animal being spooked by noise or the behavior of some third party. Hribal confronts this view head on. Orcas purposely drown their trainers, and elephants purposely kill their keepers. Captive animals seek escape.

Hribal presents captive animals as exploited and abused slaves serving the profits of their owners. Just as human slaves ran away, captive animals run away. Hribal tells the stories of many animal escapes.

He also tells the story of animal executions. Animals that do not accept their slave status, rebel and cease to perform have been executed in the most barbaric and cruel ways. One can hardly be surprised in these days of “the war on terror” at human cruelty to animals when humans are equally cruel to humans. The video–allegedly leaked by Bradley Manning who is confined by the US military in conditions worse than captive animals–of American soldiers intentionally murdering news reporters and civilians for the fun of it, demonstrates the evil and wickedness that finds its home only in humans.

In contrast, animals do not commit wicked and evil acts. Satan’s sphere belongs to humans. Predator animals kill to eat, but, unlike human hunters, they do not kill for fun.

Lions bring down a wildebeest or an antelope; they do not decimate the entire herd.

In contrast, I have heard hunters describe shooting 1,000 doves in one morning and 500 prairie dogs in one afternoon. It was all done for the fun of killing. Humans get pleasure from killing, but there is no evidence than animals do.

So, we are faced with a paradox: a wicked life form holds a non-wicked life form in captivity. Why did God give the wicked dominion over the non-wicked?

A number of Hribal’s examples of animal abuse date back far in time. Today some of the human species who interact with animals follow a more respectful approach. If animals, as Hribal says, respond to their abuse with intelligence, would they not also respond to affection and respect with intelligence?

The answer seems to be that animals do. We have the case of Christian the lion, the cub rescued from Harrod’s department store in London by two Englishmen who raised an African male lion in their London apartment and exercised him on the Church green.

When Christian became too large to continue living in the London flat, the Englishmen consulted an expert, transported Christian to Africa and released him. A year or so later, the room mates who had raised Christian missed him and returned to Africa to find him. They were warned by conventional wisdom that Christian was now wild and would be a danger to them if they encountered him.

As the videos available on youtube show, when the men found Christian the lion was overcome with joy and lavished affection on his friends. Christian was forming a pride, and the wild lionesses were content with the human company and to be petted by men. The video shows them all–Christian, lionesses, cubs, and men curled up together taking a nap.

There are a number of videos available online of people who have raised cougars (mountain lions) and bob cats and live with them in their homes. Perhaps the most extraordinary story is that of Casey Anderson, a wildlife naturalist who found two
newborn grizzly cubs next to a dead mother bear and took them home to save.

One didn’t make it, but the other did. The photos on youtube document the interaction between humans and grizzly, considered by many the most dangerous and unpredictable of all wild animals, at least in North America. The 800-pound grizzly enjoys the family swimming pool, Thanksgiving dinner with the extended human family, serves as “best man” in the wedding of his human friend, and demonstrates genuine affection for the man who raised him. It is unclear whether the bear thinks he is human or that the humans are bears, but he, and they, are perfectly at ease with one another.

As this will strike many as unbelievable, see http://www.slideshare.net/Slyoldawg/family-raised-grizzly-bear-3399716
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/videos/meet-casey-and-brutus/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1174259/Meet-Brutus-800lb-grizzly-bear-likes-eat-meals-dinner-table.html

Hribal’s book would have benefitted, in my opinion, from examining what appear to be successful human interactions with animals. Animals’ personalities differ, as do people’s personalities. Just as wives murder husbands, husbands murder wives, mothers murder children, and children murder mothers, animals can turn on their human companions. However, animals seldom turn on humans who treat them with respect and affection.

There are examples of humans interacting successfully with the great predator animals.
The story of Christian the lion is one, but there are others. The “lion man,” Kevin Richardson, did not raise many of the lions with whom he interacts, along with leopards and hyenas, all of whom accept him as one of them. Google Kevin Richardson and watch the extraordinary videos of Kevin’s acceptance by lions as a member of the pride.

Clearly, humans have very little understanding of other life forms and little respect for them. So that we can enjoy transportation in oversize vehicles that get 12 miles to the gallon, we destroy the Gulf of Mexico. What happens to the bird life and aquatic life is of no concern.

Some thoughtful people wonder if humans belong on planet earth. Humans are great destroyers of animal and plant life, water resources, and the soil itself. Some people think of humans as alien invaders of planet earth. If one looks at it in this way, it seems clear that humans have contributed nothing to the health of the planet or to its life forms.

The notion that the life of a human, regardless of the person’s intellect, accomplishment, and moral fiber, is superior to that of an elephant, tiger, lion, leopard, grizzly, orca, eagle, seal, or fox, is a form of hubris that keeps the human race confined in its ignorance.

Humans who fire-bomb civilian cities, drop nuclear bombs on civilian populations, act out ideological hatreds taught to them by sociopaths posing as pundits and journalists, and decimate their own kind out of total ignorance could be regarded as a life form that is inferior to wild animals.

Perhaps the human claim to moral superiority needs questioning. Without the presence of mankind, there would be no evil on the planet.

Many humans have difficulty with the idea that animals have rights. However, in the introduction to Hribal’s book, Jeffrey St. Clair reports that in Europe of the 13th-17th centuries animals had rights and were represented in court by attorneys. This suggests that those who are trying to stop the slaughter of wolves and to protect animal habitat are not modern-day crazies but are empathetic people operating from an old tradition.

Those trying to curtail the abuse of animals face a difficult task. As long as humanity has insufficient empathy for its own kind to stop the slaughter of Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, and Palestinians, protection for animals is unlikely to move to the forefront.

Addendum: Recently, The Guardian brought to light a video on South Africa’s flourishing “canned hunting” business. Lion breeders make money first by selling tickets to tourists who enjoy holding and petting lion and tiger cubs. When the animals reach maturity, the right to “hunt” the tame animals is sold to wealthy white Europeans and Americans.

The “hunt” is conducted as follows. The tame lion, accustomed to humans, is put into a fenced enclosure. Then 3, 4 or 5 macho tough-guy white males shoot the unsuspecting lion and return home with their “trophy.” No doubt they describe to friends and associates and anyone who will listen their dangerous exploit.

This tells a lot about humans. One, they enjoy killing and will pay large sums of money for the pleasure of killing. Two, some business-minded people understand this and make money pandering to the human need to kill.

Canned hunting shows the human species in its worst light. There is no danger to the “hunter,” better described as a murderer. There is no empathy for other life forms. There is a need to brag and boast about never encountered dangers.

I have never seen the virtue in killing creatures that are more beautiful and magnificent than humans. However, in the 19th century, big game hunting required courage on the part of the human, which canned hunting does not require. Any coward can participate in canned hunting, and I suspect most of those who participate are cowards and morally defective as well.

In the 19th century there were no tame lions to shoot. The hunter walked the veldt with a guide. Each had double-barreled rifles, or four shots, assuming no misfire.

In the close quarters in which a lion might be encountered, if the hunter missed the charging lion, the guide could save the day, or the lion would prevail. There are actual accounts of lions being hit in vital areas, but completing the charge and killing the hunter before expiring itself.

Today, hunters have become risk-averse killers. They are too cowardly to hunt. They only want to kill. So they go on “canned hunts.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2013/jun/03/lions-canned-hunting-south-africa-video

Little wonder that US “soldiers” can sit in front of screens thousands of miles away from the country under attack and push a button to send a hellfire missile to obliterate some poor Afghan or Pakistani farmers’ house and his wife and children. Or maybe it was a local medical center, a school room or aid workers.

Little wonder that the few remaining moral humans who expose these crimes–Bradley Manning, Julian Assange–are targets for destruction by the United States government, the epitome of evil.

In America the desire to kill is so great that wildlife refuges have been turned into killing fields. Pam Martens reports that thanks to President Clinton and the National Rifle Association, 300 of the 556 national refuges have been opened to what managers of refuges describe as “enjoyable recreation experiences” by which is meant that hunters are permitted to kill alligators, bobcats, cougars, blue and green wing teal, wood ducks, hooded merganzers along with many other species. In other words, an American wildlife refuge is a place where hunters can kill the wildlife. http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/nra-turns-300-tax-funded-wildlife-refuges-killing-fields

About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

 

pcr-withkitties_150_120Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.




British feds to cull badgers, ignoring lessons of 1,000 years

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2013:
SPECIAL to The Greanville Post

Badger targeted for mass killing: humans never learn.

 Let us remember that the planned mass murder of these animals is a collateral of meat production, since the policy is being implemented supposedly to protect the cattle herds. 

[pullquote]The government is bowing to the National Farmers Union,  which is a major funder of the [governing] Conservative Party.  The Department of the Environment,  Food,  and Rural Affairs is simply using badgers as a convenient scapegoat,  rather than implementing the fundamental changes to cattle farming that are necessary to get bovine TB under control.[/pullquote]

LONDON––Though culling predators has come to be recognized as one of the larger ecological mistakes of the Romans,  the Normans,  the Georgians in the 18th century,  and 20th century British governments, British environment secretary Owen Paterson on February 27,  2013 announced that badgers will be culled this summer in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

“A third area in Dorset is also being prepared for a possible cull,”  reported Fiona Harvey of The Guardian.  “Farmers conducting the cull will have to agree to kill at least 70% of the badger population in the affected areas.”

Paterson ordered the culling ostensibly to control bovine tuberculosis,  against the advice of almost every scientist who has studied the alleged role of badgers as a reservoir for bovine TB,   including Lord John Krebs,  the biologist who led nine years of experimental culling,  1997-2006.

“All the evidence shows that the answer to the problem of bovine TB in cattle does not lie in a cull that will be ineffective,  wasteful and potentially damaging to the welfare of both farm and wild animals,” summarized Royal SPCA chief executive Gavin Grant.

Originally scheduled for September and October 2012,  the Gloucestershire and Somerset culls were postponed at the last minute after the House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution against culling badgers by a vote of 147-28 and the Badger Trust filed notice of intent to sue Natural England,  the government agency licensing the cull participants.

Charged Naturewatch campaigns manager Carolyn Barker,  “The government is bowing to the National Farmers Union,  which is a major funder of the [governing] Conservative Party.  The Department of the Environment,  Food,  and Rural Affairs is simply using badgers as a convenient scapegoat,  rather than implementing the fundamental changes to cattle farming that are necessary to get bovine TB under control.

“In the 1970s,”  Barker recalled,  “bovine TB was almost eliminated through regular testing of cattle, slaughtering infected animals,  and placing their herds under quarantine until further testing results were clear.   Eleven years of localized badger culling failed to reduce bovine TB any further.  In the mid-1980s the annual testing of cattle ended,  and during the bovine spongiform encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth crises [1996-2001] no testing was done.  Many farms lost entire herds and afterward regulations were relaxed as farms restocked.  Cattle were bought and sold and moved all over the country.  These relaxations of the movement and testing regimes,  not badgers,  are to blame,”  Barker said,  for bovine TB resurging.

As a first priority,  Barker recommended,  DEFRA should “Develop fully functional vaccines for both badgers and cattle.  Incredibly,”  Barker remembered,   “just two months after coming into office,  [former environment secretary] Caroline Spelman [Paterson’s predecessor] cancelled five out of the six badger vaccination trials started by the [preceding] Labour government,  making clear that DEFRA had already made up its mind to cull.”

Paterson announced the resumption of badger culling 40 days after Science Daily published findings from a September 2011 survey of Welsh farmers directed by Bangor University researcher Paul Cross, which found that about one in ten had killed a badger in the previous 12 months.  This included 14.5% of cattle farmers,  and 6.7% of sheep farmers,  even though bovine TB does not infect sheep.  The participation of sheep farmers in killing badgers “may suggest a background level of badger-killing for sport,”  Cross suggested.

In Ireland,  meanwhile,  the Department of Agriculture,  Food & the Marine on January 18,  2013 rejected an appeal from the Irish Wildlife Trust for a suspension of culling badgers during the months when females are nursing young.

Chiefly insectivores,  European badgers also eat rabbits,  rodents,  shrews,  moles,  and hedgehogs––many of them also considered problematic by farmers––and seasonal fruits,  grains,  and windfallen nuts. European badgers have historically been persecuted as alleged henhouse raiders.  Badger-baiting with dogs,  popular in Britain and Ireland in the Middle Ages,  has been banned in Britain since 1835.  The original anti-baiting law was reinforced in 1911,  and again by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.   In addition,  Northern Ireland passed separate legislation protecting badgers in 1973.  Yet illegal badger-baiting continues to surface.

Pine marten

As debate over culling badgers reheated,  University of Galway researcher Emma Sheehy published evidence of the ecologically destructive effects of decades of British and Irish policies that allowed pine marten to be trapped to the verge of extirpation.  Like badgers,  pine marten were persecuted as alleged hen house raiders.

After pine marten disappeared from much of Britain and Ireland in the mid-20th century,  coinciding with the rise of the prices paid for their pelts,  grey squirrels proliferated,  and red squirrels followed pine marten into scarcity.

Native to North America,  grey squirrels were introduced to Cheshire in 1876.  Soon grey squirrels spread throughout Britain and Ireland.  As in much of the U.S.,  grey squirrels and indigenous European red squirrels at first appeared to co-exist,  but after about 50 years the balance visibly tipped.

“Although greys do not attack reds,  the red squirrel population declined as the greys increased,” recounted Conal Urquhart of The Guardian.  “Greys are bigger,  stronger,  more adaptable,  and have more offspring than reds,  but most importantly they carry squirrel pox,  which does not harm them,  but can kill a red squirrel in days.”

Added Jenny Fyall,   environment correspondent for The Scotsman,  “Between 1932 and 1957, except during the Second World War years,  the Ministry of Agriculture paid a bounty for every grey squirrel tail brought to a police station,  but this was abandoned as ineffective.  The grey squirrel population range even expanded during the scheme.  Greys now outnumber reds by about three million to 130,000.”

Though the bounty system failed,  killing grey squirrels in the name of protecting red squirrels and native tree species continues to be vigorously promoted by the British and Irish agriculture ministries,  and by nonprofit organizations including the European Squirrel Initiative,  Songbird Survival,  the Royal Forestry Society,  the Countryside Landowners Association,  the Forest & Timber Association,  and about 2,000 British and Irish gun clubs.

Sheehy in 2009-2012 studied squirrels and pine martens in the Irish midlands.  Though pine martens have been protected in Ireland since 1976,  they did not recover until after trapped fur prices fell in the 1990s.

Wrote Urquhart,  “Sheehy gathered hair samples of martens to find DNA and analysed their feces to establish diet.  She found that there were three to four pine martens per square kilometer in the woods, which was enough to force out almost all of the grey squirrels.  Sheehy added it was clear from analysis of pine marten faeces that they ate a lot of grey squirrel,  but that alone could not account for the population crash.”

Sheehy theorized that “The presence of predators can disrupt the grey squirrel’s feeding,  breeding, and sense of security,”  Urquhart summarized,  noting that “Pine martens rarely eat red squirrels. Scientists believe that the red is more agile than the grey and rarely feeds on the ground,  so is less exposed to danger.”

Recoveries of red squirrels and declines in grey squirrels after pine marten become re-established have also been observed in several parts of Scotland,  but have not yet been scientifically quantified.  As of 2002,  Scotland was believed to have about 6,500 adult pine marten;  England about 1,600;  and Wales about 760.

But the numbers are mainly guesswork.  Though pine martens were protected in the United Kingdom by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981,  a roadkilled carcass found in 2012 was the first actual tangible evidence of their presence since another carcass was found in 1971.

Vaccine research

The Moredun Research Institute in Penicuik,  Midlothian,  Scotland,  is trying to develop a vaccine against squirrel pox that could be administered to red squirrels in baited doses.  The project is funded by the Wildlife Ark Trust.

“It will be about two more years before the vaccine is developed,”  Fyall of The Scotsman reported in March 2010,  “and three years of trials after that before it can be used in the wild.

Meanwhile,  evidence has developed that squirrel pox may not actually be the major disease threat to red squirrels.  In July 2010 Vic Simpson and colleagues at the Cornwall-based Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre pointed out in the Veterinary Record that there are no grey squirrels on the Isle of Wight,  yet lesions similar to those produced by squirrel pox were found on the remains of nine red squirrels there and two on the Isle of Jersey,  also believed to have no red squirrels.  Simpson et al found that the cause of the lesions and the squirrels’ fatal illnesses appeared to be an infection transmitted by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus ST49,  endemic to the human nose and skin.

Illnesses transmitted by staphylococcus aureus ST49 “can run from the harmless to life-threatening, including food-poisoning,  pneumonia,  and toxic shock,”  summarized James Meikle of The Guardian. “Types resistant to some common antibiotics are a prime cause of infections caught in hospitals.”

Simpson et al hypothesized that humans may be infecting squirrels by handling food either given directly to squirrels,  or scavenged by squirrels from bird feeders.

The Simpson paper appeared two months after longtime animal advocate Angus MacMillan of Balloch, Dunbartonshire,  suggested in a letter to the Glasgow Herald that grey squirrels may have been wrongly blamed all along for the demise of red squirrels.

“The route of transmission of squirrel pox virus is unknown,”  MacMillan wrote.  “What is known is that infected lesions or crusts may remain infected for a long time,  allowing the spread of the disease throughout the forest by almost any creature who comes into contact with it,  including humans and their dogs.  Indeed, Scottish Natural Heritage admits that it does not know the route of transmission [of squirrel pox] and that possibilities include being passed by ectoparasites,  fleas,  lice,  ticks and mites,  which may transfer from animal to animal.  It also acknowledges that the virus may in fact be airborne.”

Deer

Deer are the British wildlife most recently nominated for intensified culling––because of the success of culls that exterminated bears and lynx in the present United Kingdom before 1,000 CE,  and killed the last wolves circa 1750.

University of East Anglia ecologist Paul Dolman in the March 7,  2013 edition of the Journal of Wildlife Management argued that the present United Kingdom deer population should be reduced by half.

“Deer are implicated as the major cause of unfavorable conditions in woodland structure and regeneration,”  Dolman summarized to Anna-Marie Lever of BBC News.

“There is evidence that deer reduce the number of woodland birds.  In the absence of predators the only way to manage them is to shoot them,”  Dolman said.  “This would be an opportunity for the public to go into a local pub and eat venison,  knowing that they will eat a wild,  free-ranging animal who has been humanely killed.  I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years,”  Dolman added,   “but for anyone to eat meat and complain of culling deer lacks consistency.”

Among the six deer species now inhabiting Britain,  red deer and roe deer are considered native. Fallow deer,  muntjac,  sika,  and Chinese were all introduced within the past 200 years.

In absence of native deer predators,  reported sightings of large exotic cats have increased since the passage of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976.  The act is believed to have prompted some illegal possessors of big cats to release them into the countryside,  possibly starting small feral populations of pumas or panthers.  The British Big Cats Society collects more than 2,000 reported big cat sightings per year.  Two unidentified big cats were reportedly photographed by a thermal imaging camera in 2009,   and a puma skull was discovered in July 2005 by a Devon farmer.

Merritt Clifton
Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
P.O. Box 960 | Clinton, WA 98236
Telephone: 360-579-2505
Cell: 360-969-0450
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