What’s the most dangerous predator in the world? The polar bear, or the great white shark, or the Siberian tiger?
Not one of them comes close to the track record of homo sapiens as predator. We kill other carnivores at a more intense and severe rate than any predator kills their top prey within any ecosystem, according to a new study in the journal Science.
Carnivore protection and conservation was not even a subject of discussion until the later part of the 20th century. Rather, they were mostly viewed as ‘bad’ animals whose eradication was both warranted and proper because this would improve conditions for ‘good’ animals and humans. Now we have an abundance of field work from scientists to demonstrate a broad array of benefits for ecosystems and the economy by keeping predator populations healthy. And while some attitudes have changed for the better, some individuals, groups, and communities still show a visceral dislike for these animals – a dislike out of whack with any threats the animals pose.
While we do protect some carnivores – California forbids trophy hunting of mountain lions, and a number of states ban or severely restrict the use of body-gripping traps for carnivores and other animals who are trapped for their fur – those protective standards are the exceptions to the rule. Yesterday New Mexico game commissioners approved a plan to allow the snaring of cougars on nine million acres of state trust lands. The new plan will allow each hunter permission to kill four cougars a year, even though cougars are inedible. We continue to be ruthless towards mountain lions in other western states (allowing hounding of them in most of them); persecute wolves in states where federal protections for them have been lifted; hunt bears with packs of dogs or over bait stations in many states; and recently opened a new trophy hunting season on bears in Florida after more than two decades of protecting them. We have an entire federal agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, that alone kills 100,000 coyotes a year, mainly on western lands, in order to make public-land grazing safer for sheep and cows.
Yet there are signs of change. The recent killing of Cecil the lion created a global furor, causing more than 40 airlines to stop shipping trophies taken from any of the Africa Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffalo). Last November, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly rejected the idea of trophy hunting or trapping of the 630 or so wolves in the state’s Upper Peninsula. Wolves are reclaiming their native lands in Washington, Oregon, and most recently, California.
Starting on October 12th, The HSUS will assemble many of the top predator scientists in the nation, and key government leaders, for a conference about predators and their management. It’s called Living Large – Wolves, Bears, Cougars and Humans in North America, and I hope you will make plans to attend. We’ll have many of the biggest names in the study of carnivores, including Dr David Macdonald of Oxford University’s WildCRU (the unit that was following Cecil in Hwange National Park), John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, who is an expert on the wolves of Isle Royale; Dr. Howard Quigley, director of Panthera’s jaguar and puma programs; Paul Paquet, an expert on predators in Canada; and Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose agency sets the rules for federal listed predators, including wolves in the Great Lakes, the Northern Rockies, and the Southwest. Space is still available for the three-day conference, and here’s how you can register.
This is an important conference, and it’s been pulled together by the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy. Make your plans now to come to Washington, and join the conversation about this roiling debate over predators and people. For carnivores in North America and throughout the world, so much is at stake. The only way they’ll survive is if we raise our voices for them.
Horse Soring Exposed: Results Show 100 percent of Samples at Major Stable Test Positive for Illegal Substances
Two days ago I announced on A Humane Nation our latest undercover investigation – this one, providing incontrovertible proof that a major stable in Murfreesboro, Tenn., called ThorSport Farm, is knee-deep in the practice of horse “soring” – the deliberate injuring of horses’ legs and hooves by chemical or mechanical means. We’ve been campaigning aggressively . . .
Last week, I announced that The HSUS, the Massachusetts SPCA, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the ASPCA, Zoo New England, and a number of other prominent organizations have launched a ballot initiative in the Bay State to stop extreme confinement of laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves, and to ensure that any shell eggs . . .
Moments ago, I announced at a press conference the findings of the latest HSUS undercover investigation documenting horrific abuse of Tennessee walking horses, with major trainers caught red-handed hurting horses and prepping animals for the breed’s upcoming National Celebration – the multi-day pinnacle event in Shelbyville, Tennessee – by cooking chemicals into their legs. A . . .
In a dramatic action, The HSUS was on the scene yesterday in Chester County, South Carolina, assisting local authorities in breaking up a massive dogfight—an event that Chris Schindler, animal fighting manager at The HSUS, described as being “likely one of the largest if not the largest dogfights ever taken down.” Using intelligence provided by . . .
Hurricane Katrina is forever seared in my memory, and it forever changed the perceptions and stature of the humane movement in this country – for the better. It was a moment of extraordinary turmoil and overwhelming tragedy, but it also brought the issue of animal rescue and the human-animal bond into the mainstream like never before. While . . .
The reverberations from the early July slaying of Cecil the lion continue to be felt worldwide, with the news that authorities in Zimbabwe have charged the second of two men who guided Safari Club International member Walter Palmer’s illicit trophy kill just outside the borders of Hwange National Park. “Cecil was delivered to him like a . . .
Today, The HSUS and a remarkable group of organizational partners launched a ballot initiative campaign in Massachusetts that, if successful, will bring our society dramatically closer to ending the era of extreme animal confinement on the nation’s factory farms. Just moments ago, I announced the initiative petition at the state house in Boston, accompanied by . . .
In recent years, the Department of Defense has been improving in its efforts to reduce and replace the use of animals in laboratory and field testing. Here are some of the major areas of progress: Investments made by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 2004 to 2009 have led to the development of . . .
Last week, I trekked to one of America’s most magical and least-known national parks – Michigan’s Isle Royale, an archipelago almost dead smack in the middle of Lake Superior and just a quick boat ride from the Canadian border. It was a great pleasure to spend time there with U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., a . . .