Friday, February 2, 2007

De-Listing of Wolves: Imminent

Take action now if you care about wolves being de-listed. Contact the Department of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne in particular, as ask for wolf protections. You can send an email direct from the Defenders of Wildlife website. Wyoming has a plan to hunt and kill 2/3 of their wolves, and Idaho is still talking about hunting all but 100 of theirs. While these animals may no longer be endangered, they are still recovering, and if we go back to the practices that brought them to the verge of extinction, we will undo the progress we have made. Why did we spend money helping wolves recover, only to de-list them and then take aim at them?

Maybe we need a new act - a Recovering Species Act which protects animals which are no longer endangered, but are still recovering. The Act could place limits on hunting and impose penalties for any unlicensed destruction of the animals.

Generally I oppose government controls, and federal controls in particular. I consider myself Libertarian on most issues. But, the environment and species protection are two areas where I believe federal action is appropriate. People simply do not act responsibly, with a long term view towards preservation, when it comes to animals and the earth. We have centuries of "rape an pillage" mentality that most people just can't overcome. Why protect a forest when you can make money clear cutting it? Screw the species that depend on that forest - they don't have dollars to contribute. For centuries man has basically plundered and taken anything and everything from the natural world, not hesitating to kill animals or to destroy habitats. If we think this is all going to be overcome without federal intervention we are kidding ourselves.

Let's look at racism. Racism was so deeply entrenched in the South that fighting a war to free the slaves wasn't enough. It was a heck of a step in the right direction, but it took the Civil Rights Act, at the federal level, to place penalties on discrimination and to start enforcing equality as a legal right, not a philosophical ideal. It took Brown vs. Board of Education, a federal decision, to eliminate the "separate but equal" garbage that was still going on by racists. Would any Southern Governor or Legislature have acted to eliminate racist practices and policies? Of course not. It took federal action to drag some states, kicking and screaming, towards progress.

In all probability, as an aside, we'll have to go through a similar process with homosexuals to ensure their equal protection in society. We already have some important Supreme Court decisions on gay rights, yet we also have a push by some of the more backwards-thinking states to pass State Constitutional marriage amendments. Pockets of prejudice as big as states are still all over the map, and it will likely take federal action, with legal consequences, to help put all people, regardless of their sexual preference, on equal footing.

Well, wolves need federal help too. Obviously the gun-toting, animal-hunting, wolf-hating politicians in Idaho and Wyoming cannot be counted on to do the right thing. They have in the past failed to protect wolves, they still hate wolves, and guess what? They are excited about the prospect of a wolf killing spree. When prejudicial behavior, whether towards a skin color, a species, or a sexual preference, raises its ugly head we have to fight back. I believe the legal system is one of the most effective weapons we have for doing so and that we need to keep some sort of legal protections in place for wolves. The only reason they got this far is federal protection. If you care about wolves, please act now to help protect them.

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