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Tue Jul 24, 2012, 10:26 PM

The Gap Between Wildlife and the Animal Rights Movement

Animal rights. I know on some level, I think that’s something almost all of us can get behind…no one, except the most callous and cold-hearted of the human race thinks its fine to torture animals, or deny that they are capable of pain and suffering. Unfortunately, once we discuss anything beyond this basic point, people vastly disagree on what is right and wrong.

The animal rights movement is (rightly) closely associated with protesting things like factory farming, dogfighting, etc…basically, the mistreatment of animals. This makes perfect sense. What I don’t understand is why animal rights organizations almost completely ignore wildlife. It seems that these people, who purport to claim to care so much about animals, are completely ignorant of the existence of any animal life beyond horses, cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. Sure PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who are the biggest and best known animal rights organization), Sea Shepards and the like are involved with protesting and interfering with whaling operations (and I wish them all the best on that front), but they are essentially voiceless when it comes to two of the big evils that face wildlife around the world, namely, habitat destruction and invasive species. As you can see here, PETA does not even address these issues at all, while portraying themselves as indeed giving a damn. Habitat destruction and degradation is far and away the number one reason why wildlife populations are extirpated or go extinct. There is nothing abstract or controversial about this. The number of individual birds and mammals alone that are affected by these factors are countless; and when you consider fish, reptiles and amphibians, it is hard to comprehend the magnitude of life that gets wiped out around the world (and certainly including the U.S.) on a daily basis, both legally and otherwise.

What’s even more frustrating is when animal rights people learn of plans to cull nonnative species. Nonnative species have huge impacts on wildlife species everywhere….mice kill seabird chicks in their burrows, rats eat endangered bird eggs, overpopulated deer clear the understory of forests, pigs root out native plants and terrestrial animals, cats kill anything they can get their paws on. A classic example of what an invasive species is capable of resides on the island of Guam…when one species of snake made its way onto to the island via airplane, practically all of the island’s birds went extinct in a matter of a few decades. The birds had evolved without a predator like this, and with the new snake having no predators, it had no problem decimating the island’s birdlife.

Many governments around the world are now privy to the ecological and economic harm invasive species cause, and some (such as New Zealand and the United States) have invested large sums of money to help make things right, both in programs to prevent nonnative species from becoming established, and to eradicate populations of nonnative animals that have significant impacts on native wildlife. Among biologists and birders alike, these programs are usually met with great praise. For example, when the U.S. Navy wiped out every single rat on Midway Atoll, seabirds flourished afterwards. Rats had previously preyed on eggs and young of practically every defenseless seabird on the island, and had taken to even attacking adult albatross as they sat on their nests. The number of bird lives saved as a result of the rat removal operation can easily be estimated to be into the millions by now. Albatross chicks will no longer have to endure slowly getting eaten alive, unlike this poor bird.


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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Gap Between Wildlife and the Animal Rights Movement (Original post)
XemaSab Jul 2012 OP
DreamGypsy Jul 2012 #1
flvegan Jul 2012 #2
GliderGuider Jul 2012 #3
XemaSab Jul 2012 #4
flvegan Jul 2012 #5
phantom power Jul 2012 #6

Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Wed Jul 25, 2012, 12:21 AM

1. When the Killing's Done

For a thought provoking, entertaining, disturbing, hilarious, confusing, tragic, and challenging journey into the topic of this post, I recommend reading T.C. Boyle's recent novel When the Killing's Done.

I picked up my copy of the book during a long wait in the Manchester UK airport and read it in a single sitting the next day on a flight from Amsterdam to Portland, Oregon, as I contemplated the vast ocean, the Greenland glaciers, the broken sea ice, the Canadian Rockies, and the volcanic summits of Rainier, St. Helens, and Hood that passed below.

If you are not familiar with the writings of T.C. Boyle or T. Coraghessan Boyle, then When the Killing's Done could be a good place to start. If you already know his work, then you won't be surprised or disappointed. Here's a link to a review of the book:


When the Killing's Done is Boyle's finest novel yet. Depicting a fierce conflict over the best way to protect the natural environment of two islands off the California coast, he takes the long and tragic view. Of course our efforts to clean up the messes we've made are flawed, he suggests as he surveys more than a century's worth of attempts to make those wild islands serve people's economic demands.

I found Boyle's story a well-cooked stew of history and modern life, human hubris and good intentions, spiced with enough absurdity and sex to keep things interesting. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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Response to XemaSab (Original post)

Wed Jul 25, 2012, 06:54 PM

2. Sorry, I just can't

read through a scolding of my movement by a site/group that chooses to align itself with pro-hunting organizations. "Animal" and "culling" when put together won't go very far with most of us.

And the number one destroyer of habitat (and most guilty of the introduction of invasive speicies) is mankind.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 25, 2012, 07:22 PM

3. I was just going to raise the point about humans -

AFAICT, the only significant difference between migrations across the Bering Land Bridge and carrying stowaways on a ship or plane is the human guilt factor. The end result is ecologically identical.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but we are the world's ultimate "invasive species". Pot, kettle etc.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 25, 2012, 07:43 PM

4. 10000 Birds is more like a consortium of bloggers than a group

So the post is just that one dude's opinion.

I think there's a heavy dose of "wildlife management" thinking in this piece, and it's that kind of thinking that led me to switch majors away from wildlife. That being said, I think he brings up some good points.

(Full disclosure: I used to work with the author of the article and we went to the same school. The birding world is a very small one.)

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 25, 2012, 09:39 PM

5. But it points fingers.

I can respect that it's not the membership of the site, okay. I didn't read that far into the consortium of bloggers that it is. In my opinion, and this doesn't make me fabulously popular with the more militant vegans of the world, the activists in the wildlife/birding (I hope that's appropriate, I don't have anything better to categorize that) world, enviromentalists and animal rights and welfare folks are all on the same side on so many things. We should channel our energies into what we agree upon rather than scolding each other at every turn when it suits us. It makes temporary enemies of folks we should be friends with on whatever front we can be.

Just like my reaction. I took a swipe at your site and tossed a haymaker at the Sierra Club at the same time. I'll bet you dollars to (vegan) donuts there's some important shit we could all work together on instead.

Politics be damned, on some things we're all in the same gang. Time to fucking act like it.

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