‘Humane’ Isn’t a Dirty Word
As we watch in horror as birds and reptiles get
slimed with toxic gunk as a result of man’s blundering about in our fragile
environment, our state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should never
demonize people who care about wildlife.
And, in fact, the DNR has taken the positive step of
collaborating with a national animal welfare organization to produce public
service announcements warning kindhearted people not to remove baby animals
from the wild.
This is important public information because all of
us have been propagandized by heartwarming movies about lonely children
adopting wild animals that become their best pals.
In truth, wild animals are far better off staying in
the wild instead of growing into domesticated beasts that might do what comes
naturally and eat their little friend, Johnny.
The DNR and the Humane Society of the United States
(HSUS) split the $12,000 cost of two radio spots, “Don’t Bother Wildlife in the
Wild” and “Wildlife Are Not Pets.” Who could possibly object to securing
private funds to reduce government’s cost of public education and reach more
people with valuable information?
The answer is Wisconsin
hunters who’ve always felt—often accurately—the DNR exists only to serve them.
To hunters, anyone who advocates “humane” treatment of animals is a sworn
George Meyer, a former secretary of the DNR,
obviously took the agency’s pro-hunting stance to his current job as executive
director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.
The wildlife federation describes itself as an
organization of “hunters, anglers, trappers and others that are actively
engaged in the outdoors” working “to assure that healthy wildlife
populations…will be available for our children and grandchildren to
By “appreciate,” the federation apparently means
Meyer’s reaction to the collaboration of the DNR and
the HSUS was “shock and disbelief.”
“If I hadn’t seen it on the DNR’s website, I would
have thought it was a hoax,” Meyer said. “This is a group that has worked to
end hunting, fishing, trapping and the animal livestock industry.”
Seeing Past the Rhetoric
Meyer’s rhetoric is the usual overblown hyperbole by
hunters who claim the only true friends of animals are those who go out and
Hunting, fishing and raising animals for food are
not going to end in the United
States any time soon, despite commercials
telling people not to bring home wild bunnies.
Rob Sexton, a lobbyist for the U.S. Sportsmen’s
Alliance, a national pro-hunting organization, made the even more absurd
statement the HSUS was supporting the Wisconsin DNR campaign to try to
“sanitize its image.”
Since when does an organization with “humane” in its
name need to clean up its image? When did “humane” become a dirty word?
What has gotten twisted in Wisconsin is the idea advanced by hunters in
defense of their blood sport that the only way to protect wildlife is to kill
it. It’s the old Vietnam
concept of destroying the village in order to save it.
Controlled hunting is a tool the DNR employs that,
in fact, can help to maintain a healthy wildlife population. The problem is
hunters have used that argument so often to, yes, sanitize what they do,
they’ve deluded themselves into believing animals should get up off the ground
and thank those hunters who blow them away.
In fact, the public debate over how to protect
wildlife is changing with the growth of animal protection organizations such as
the HSUS and even the dreaded People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
In fact, the ad campaign partially funded by the
HSUS is not the first time the organization’s efforts have coincided with the
interests of legitimate hunters.
One of the primary missions of the HSUS is to stop
illegal hunting. And once again they’ve put their money where their mouths are.
Since 2008, the HSUS has offered $180,000 in rewards for the arrest and
conviction of poachers who kill endangered species or hunt out of season or in
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS, says
illegal poaching probably kills more animals than all legal hunting. Curiously,
you don’t hear about pro-hunting groups posting any rewards to stop competition
from illegal poachers.
Hunter, traditionally all-powerful in Wisconsin, are a
diminishing voice in the environmental debate as their numbers decline. Wisconsin was so
desperate to increase new hunters that it lowered the hunting age to 10.
Hunters always press to kill more stuff, such as the
endangered gray wolf gracing the state’s environmental license plates. Animal
protection groups including HSUS have successfully raised counterarguments.
The DNR, as the state agency protecting our
threatened natural environment, has to listen to both sides, not just to the
most heavily armed.