The Case for Living in Harmony with Wildlife

As the outside temperature increases, so do the chances of encountering wildlife in many parts of the country. While seeingrabbit (1) wildlife can sometimes be a pleasant experience, finding skunks under the porch, rabbits in the flower bed, or bats in the attic can be frustrating. As a result, humans have developed an entire arsenal of deadly traps, poisons, and weapons designed to destroy animals we do not like or animals we do not want around our property. While lethal means of “pest control” are in many cases legal, we degrade our environment when we fail to make the effort to live harmoniously with wildlife.

Even the self-described “animal lovers” among us sometimes fall into the erroneous thinking that there are “good animals” and “bad animals.” In reality, all species serve a purpose within their native environments. Consider for instance, the copperhead, sometimes found in rural areas near bodies of water in the summer. Rare is the person who forgives the black rat snake for being a snake – but even rarer is the person who concedes the right of existence to the venomous pit viper. Nonetheless, copperheads, as many other species of snake, are valuable predators that help limit the populations of other animals, including mice and insects. In turn, the copperhead is as well, a food source for larger predators. To destroy native species to satisfy our own fear and contempt will in time lead to permanent imbalances within nature. As the famous conservationist John Muir once wrote, “”When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

There is also no denying that killing an animal in many cases, may be the quick and easy solution. Therefore, many of us might ask, “Why not snare the rabbit and cut off the head of a snake? It is clearly the quickest way to rid myself of the animal, and there is no law to stop me!” However, as caretakers of our environment, we have a responsibility to consider methods that effectively impede conflicts with wild animals without destroying them. For instance, proper disposal of trash or use of specially designed bins can effectively prevent wild animals from invading outdoor garbage cans. Using lattice under porches and sealing holes in attics can prevent infiltration by groundhogs, opossums, bats, and other animals. Keeping grass neatly trimmed around the home can eliminate hiding places for snakes. While measures like these may require extra effort, they are often more effective in the long-term, and most importantly, preserve our environment and the lives of our animal friends.

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American Trophy Hunters Travel to South Africa for Chance to Kill “Unusual” African Wildlife

pawsdownPaws Down!

To Africa Hunt Lodge in Texas for supporting a 2500-acre trophy-hunting ranch in South Africa.

According to a recent news article, businessman Barry York has become a wealthy man operating a

Photo by Arno Meintjes / Getty Images

Photo by Arno Meintjes / Getty Images

ranch outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Although the landscape appears natural, the purpose behind the ranch is nothing short of bizarre and disturbing. It is here that Barry York breeds lions, gnus, impalas, and other African wildlife characterized by genetic anomalies. The animals are intentionally bred for traits that rarely appear in nature – such as blue eyes in a lion or white fur on an impala. Although in many cases the mutations occur alongside other, medically hazardous anomalies, many of these animals are not intended to live a normal lifespan. That’s because Barry York has found that American big-game hunters will pay small fortunes for the opportunity to kill these unusual creatures. Businesses like the Texas-based Africa Hunt Lodge are getting in on the action by selling tour packages to the ranch where, according to the Africa Hunt Lodge website, clients can expect to pay upwards of $50,000 to kill a golden wildebeest. Although the breeding of the hunted animals occurs in the nation of South Africa, much of the money funding the operation comes from right here in the United States. While client motivation may be in part the experience of killing the animal, hunters are also motivated by the possibility of bringing home a “trophy” – that is the head, horns or other body part of the animal.

Take Action: Contact your legislator and express your opposition to the importation of the body parts of wildlife killed in trophy hunts.

Wolves Need Help Now

Wolves are a top predator and, as such, are important to the ecological balance of a region. Removing wolves from the Endangered Species List would upset that balance.


Wolves occupy a vital part of the food chain.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed removing protections for wolves in the rest of the lower 48 states, having already stripped wolves of their protection in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes.

Please let the FWS know you want wolves protected. Comments are being accepted by FWS until March 27. Write the director of FWS now.

Daniel M. Ashe, Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street, NW, Room 3358
Washington, DC 20240-0001

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When you think about it…killing to conserve is an oxymoron.

The Dallas Safari Club is planning to raise conservation funds for the black rhino population by raffling off a permit to hunt and kill a member of the species.

The Dallas Safari Club is planning to raise conservation funds for the black rhino population by raffling a permit to hunt and kill a member of the species.

A recent news article noted that the Dallas Safari Club wants to raise funds to help conserve the black rhino by selling chances to win a permit to kill a black rhino.

There just seems to be something terribly wrong when an organization that purports to want to save a species is doing so by auctioning off a permit that will allow a hunter to kill a member of that species. Why not sell 50/50 raffle tickets or have a bake sale—okay, that won’t raise the kind of money the Dallas Safari Club contends it can raise for conservation—but to kill what you want to save just doesn’t make sense.

How will the winner of the hunting permit decide which animal’s life should be taken? Why is one life less important than another? Each rhino’s life is inherently important to that rhino and possibly to that rhino’s family and herd members. Who are we to decide one of the rhinos’ lives is to be spared and another’s is to be taken—all in the name of conserving the species? Yes, money is needed to protect dwindling numbers of many wild animals. But is raising that money by taking a life the best way to do so?

When you think about it…killing to conserve is an oxymoron.

Sea Turtles in Confinement

Sea turtles can migrate long distances between where they are hatched and where they feed.

Sea turtles can migrate long distances between where they are hatched and where they feed.

Cayman Turtle Farm is a tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands, located in the western Caribbean Sea. This farm houses more than 6,000 turtles, many of whom are living lives far removed from their natural environment. Sea turtles can migrate long distances between where they are hatched and where they feed. Their natural habitat and, therefore, their physical and psychological needs cannot be provided for in the confines of a turtle farm.

Often conservation is the stated reason for confining animals whether in zoos, aquariums , or, as in this case, farms . Unless an organization is actually improving the chances of a threatened or endangered species to increase its numbers, zoos, aquariums, and farms are nothing more than a way for the owners to make money by displaying these animals in less than ideal settings. Protecting, not exploiting, animals should be every conservationist’s mission.

Please write the director of tourism urging his agency to reconsider the value of the turtle farm and its role in the conservation of sea turtles. While on the surface this farm appears to be a tourist attraction, it really serves as a mark against the government of the Cayman Islands.

Mr. Shomari Scott
Director of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism
PO Box 67
Grand Cayman KY1-1102
Tele. No.: 1-345-949-0623
Fax: 1-345-946-4053

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Protect Jaguars’ Habitat

Jaguars are an elusive, beautiful species of bit cat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to protect 838,232 acres of critical habitat for endangered jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Placing a species on the Endangered Species List is often not enough to ensure their ability to survive. Often their habitat has to be protected as well. Critical habitat is a designation of land that is essential to the survival of the endangered or threatened species. Whenever we can save a species from the brink of extinction and preserve enough of the habitat for them to thrive, we keep a part of our natural world intact for future generations.

Let the Service know that you want to see the jaguars’ habitat protected by commenting on the proposal no later than October 19.

Rowan W. Gould, Acting Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

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Make Room for Bison

We need to protect our natural, wild heritage in the form of the magnificent bison, the largest land mammal in North America.

Paws Up!

To the state of Montana for proposing year-round habitat for wild bison in Montana outside Yellowstone National Park.

According to a news story, “Bison could roam year-round in large areas adjacent to Yellowstone National Park under a proposal released [recently] by Montana officials who want to further ease restrictions on the iconic, burly animals.”

“Current rules allow some bison to migrate to grazing areas in Montana each winter. But they must return to the park each spring—a perennial source of friction between conservationists who want more room for bison and ranchers who say they are a disease threat.”

We need to protect our natural, wild heritage in the form of the magnificent bison, the largest land mammal in North America. Allowing the bison to roam free in areas outside Yellowstone National Park, instead of forcing them to return to the Park, will allow the bison to flourish in their natural environment year-round.

Take Action: Contact the governor of Montana and let him know you are pleased with his state’s decision to allow bison to roam year-round in areas adjacent to Yellowstone National Park.

The Honorable Brian Schweitzer
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
P.O. Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801
Tele. No.: 406-444-3111
Fax: 406-444-5529

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