The current issue of New Mexico Stockman, the official publication of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, shows the close connection between hunting and public lands ranching. In an article titled “Hunting – Another Arm of Agriculture,” the executive director of the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides describes the New Mexico Game and Fish Department’s E-plus and A-plus programs allowing ranchers to profit from elk and pronghorn (“antelope”) hunting, respectively. “While it’s not widely spoken of,” the article says, “for many in production agriculture, hunting revenues can mean the difference between staying on the land or moving to town.” The article cautions ranchers that this state giveaway technically only applies to the privately owned portion of a ranch, but, they acknowledge, “sometimes landowners agree to hunting arrangements that violate state and federal regulations.”
While hunting and ranching organizations are well aware of need to support each other, conservation organizations remain blissfully ignorant of the connection between the two. Some conservationists hope to “reform” game department by seeking out areas where there are minor disagreements between the livestock industry and their hunting comrades in arms. Others appeal to “ethical hunters” to oppose “unsportsmanlike” coyote hunting contests.
What sort of ethic promotes killing wild animals for pleasure? This is not a rhetorical question, as it has a clear answer. Conservationists who look to Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” for guidance should be aware that Leopold literally wrote the book on Game Management. As a long-time hunter and government bureaucrat, Leopold defined wildlife as a resource to be managed for human use. Like his bosses at the U.S. Forest Service who managed forests for the benefit of the logging industry, Leopold sought to make hunting sustainable, i.e. to assure that future generations would be able to enjoy killing animals.
We should heed the final words of advice in the New Mexico Stockman article: “It’s time we realize hunting is really just an extension of the agricultural industry and vice versa.”
We are continually exhorted to boycott this product or that, urged to refrain from lending financial support to one company or another, warned to vote with our dollars, or our pounds sterling, or our euros.
I, myself, have asked others to participate in boycotts. And like others, I have seen our efforts sputter and fail.
We are trying to impact systemic problems by acting individually.
We individually become vegan. We individually avoid products tested on animals or are made by child laborers. We individually refrain from traveling to ag-gag states or countries that practice bullfighting or consume dogs or permit female circumcision.
Yet all the horrors we are attempting to end are continuing despite our individual actions. We are vegan, but slaughter continues. We don’t buy L’Oreal, but they continue to torture animals. Walmart still buys goods from child labor factories. Koreans still eat dogs, Utah and Iowa still have ag-gag laws. Islamic lunatics still mutilate their little girls. Spain, Mexico, and France, et al, still have bullfighting.
Our failures suggest that the strategies don’t work or that we need to work harder at them. If only there were more of us working on this campaign or that one. If only we worked harder or longer or smarter, we would achieve our goals.
Sometimes we do. But those are the exceptions rather than the rule. The bigger our targeted enemy, the less likely we will prevail. And Big Agriculture, the architect of the greatest horror in recorded history, is as big an enemy as we have. And it is impossible to defeat Big Ag or to end the Animal Holocaust by individual action. Not just unlikely to defeat Big Agriculture, but actually 100% impossible.
The very same strategy was employed years before the Civil War to attempt to end human slavery. Abolitionists thought that by boycotting goods that were the produced using slave labor they could bring the slaveholding economies to their knees.
Didn’t work. Just as being vegan doesn’t work to end slaughter.
Abolitionists abandoned the boycott of goods and turned their efforts toward institutional solutions to the institutional problem of slavery, including political action; riots; promoting, authorizing, and funding the Civil War. The institution of government is the ultimate arbiter of institutional solutions.
We vegans would hardly return to consuming our fellow Earthlings, as veganism for us is a moral imperative. But as a tool to end the Animal Holocaust it is a completely ineffective exercise.
Instead of hoping to convince one consumer at a time of the cruelty of eating and wearing animals (the individual solution), we must adopt strategies to bring about institutional solutions to the institutionalized exploitation and murder of animals.
While the individual approach is preferable to doing-nothing-at-all, it actually neutralizes activists. Convinced that not eating meat or boycotting companies is a viable strategy, activists are taken out of the struggle by not engaging in tactics that could result in success, or some measure thereof.
Veganism, like the Abolitionists refraining from buying or using slavery-produced goods, is economically incapable of making an impact on the production of animal products.
The most obvious reason is that a growing population is demanding ever-increasing numbers of animal corpses. But even if the population were static or decreasing, animals will continue to be consumed so long as their murders are legal and government is disposed to allow implementation of the horror.
Removing oneself from the marketplace does not mean the marketplace disappears. Many of us refrain from buying or viewing pornography. But such conduct has absolutely no influence on persons who wish to view and purchase it, nor upon the producers who place pornography into the stream of commerce.
Similarly, refusing to eat meat does nothing except to cause Big Ag to divert the corpses one does not consume to other applications. Animals are not saved in the process. They don’t get set free or live out their lives in peace. They are still brutally murdered, but their corpses become animal feed, or are rendered for cosmetics, or are turned into fertilizer.
Every animal in the system is guaranteed to die a horrible, painful death, in terror as they await the knives and the bolt guns.
Just as every slave in bondage would continue to be a slave, whatever the purchasers or non-purchasers of the products of their labors did or did not do.
Only by disassembling the system did slavery end.
The fight to end the Animal Holocaust will require as much to succeed.
Animal activists must become radicalized and organized. We must act in as close to unison as possible. We must vote as a bloc. We must agitate as a solid wall of opposition to whatever horrors we confront. We must pursue strategies that will succeed, or have a reasonable chance of success. We must recruit. We must educate. And we must educate ourselves.
We must be revolutionaries, ready and willing to topple the fascist state when the opportunity arises.
Until then we must be a united, vehement, consistent and effective political force.
Our primary objective should be to defeat conservatives.
Any conservatives. For any office. Anywhere. And everywhere.
Conservatives are the mouthpieces for capitalism, the enablers of cruelty by Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Oil, the chemical industry, the US military, puppy mills, zoos, and circuses.
Conservatives (all Republicans and many Democrats) are bribed by lobbyists working for their corporate bosses with cash they call “campaign contributions.” But which are nothing but legalized bribery, allowed by laws passed by those very same scumbag conservative politicians.
In vegan outreach, our goal should be to recruit comrades and radicals, not vegans. Being vegan is a wonderful statement, but it is not action. Being vegan will not change the world. Becoming a revolutionary might help change the world.
History will demonstrate that vegans did no more to end slaughter than the Abolitionist boycotters did to end slavery.
Hopefully, history will show that vegan revolutionaries sparked the political revolution that ended the Animal Holocaust. Just as the Abolitionists brought about the end of slavery.
Institutionalized horrors falling before institutionalized justice.
The recent rushed passage of the National Defense Authorization Act with numerous anti-environmental riders exposes the sham of representative democracy. The Public Lands Council correctly describes the overwhelming vote for NDAA as clear case of Congress siding with ranchers. The act overturned grazing regulations which have been in effect over 30 years. Valles Caldera in northern New Mexico became a livestock operation funded by the National Park Service. As Congress would not dare to question, let alone defeat, a military appropriation, passage of this bill was a forgone conclusion. While a few liberal senators such as independent Bernie Sanders voted against the bill, the overwhelming majority of Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, supported the military funding. Anti-environmental riders were of no concern to them.
Does the Democratic Party’s loss of the U.S. Senate mean anything for wildlife? Democratic Party support for the Keystone XL pipeline was the key to a failed attempt to keep control this year. It was a Democrat, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who pioneered the practice of using riders to “must-pass” legislation to reverse decades of endangered species protection. With no significant opposition, Tester removed protection for wolves in the Northern Rockies, encouraging the Federal government to follow suit for other wolf populations. A recent court decision has temporarily reinstated protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region, but it remains to be seen if this decision will withstand appeal.
The legislative process is a competition of special interest groups, primarily funded by the wealthiest 1%. Lobbyists write legislation in closed-door committee meetings, which Congress rubber stamps with no meaningful discussion. Without a background in radical critiques of society, wildlife supporters know only liberal politics. Environmental and animal protection organizations, once based on grass-roots activism, are now merely insignificant lobbying organizations, whose primary purpose is raising funds for their own professional staff. Liberals challenge the National Rifle Association on gun control issues, but don’t seem to be aware that the NRA’s positions reflect its nature as a hunting organization. By working with so-called “hunter-conservationists,” environmental lobbyists legitimize the NRA agenda.
If there is anything more threatening to life on this planet than climate change it is nuclear war. Of course, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, who has campaigned to increase hunting on Federal Lands, as well as supporting the Los Alamos nuclear lab, enthusiastically supported the military funding bill. It is particularly symbolic that the bill also included a national historic park commemorating the Manhattan Project, which launched the nuclear age. Perhaps we will someday see a national prehistoric park commemorating the discovery at Clovis of the weapons which launched the first anthropogenic mass extinction when humans arrived in the Americas during the Pleistocene.
The second anthropogenic mass extinction is now underway. In the latest Living Planet Index the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that over half of the population of wild vertebrates has disappeared in the last 40 years. Among the report’s conclusions: “The loss of habitat to make way for human land use – particularly for agriculture, urban development and energy production – continues to be a major threat to the terrestrial environment. When habitat loss and degradation is compounded by the added pressure of wildlife hunting, the impact on species can be devastating.”
International climate conferences are a sham, as debates focus only on how to raise money to help people adapt to inevitable climate change. There is no way to reverse climate change without drastically reducing the human population, an issue which liberal humanists ignore. The so-called radical left advocates “environmental justice” to help poor people adapt to climate change, while ignoring the destruction of wildlife habitat. Environmental justice for wildlife requires a movement to establish corridors to help wildlife adapt, as they once did when climate change occurred. Without a political left for wildlife there will be nothing at all left for wildlife.
At a workshop at last month’s Animal Rights 2014 Conference, In Defense of Animals (IDA) described their efforts to reduce the deer population. Joining in this effort is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Statistics on wildlife regarded as “game species” generally come from data state game departments collect from hunters. They have a vested interest in pushing up the numbers to increase hunting opportunities. But even if we take their dubious figures as fact, HSUS cites the estimate of 30 million deer as “nearly the number when Europeans first arrived in North America.” An organization that has high regard for wildlife should welcome a wild species return to the numbers existing in preindustrial times. IDA and HSUS have focused instead on spaying and neutering wildlife populations. HSUS describes itself as “a leader in the emerging field of immunocontraception,” which it supports as a way “to control deer and wild horse populations across the United States and elephant populations in South Africa.”
The IDA-HSUS wildlife control plan is based on the work of Allen Rutberg, who has served as a senior scientist with HSUS. Along with IDA and HSUS, Rutberg supports contraception as an alternative to hunting, but he he also criticizes the whole idea that humans need to reduce wildlife populations. In his article Birth Control is Not for Everyone (a response), he wrote: “even using the crude first generation of immunocontraceptive vaccines, we have managed modest reductions in populations of suburban deer and barrier island horses. So you don’t necessarily need to kill animals to reduce wildlife populations (and their impacts). On a deeper level, though, focusing our frustration and enmity on ‘nuisance wildlife’ evades our own responsibility for creating these messes to begin with.”
Destruction of habitat is a threat to all wild animals, not just officially endangered species. Exotic domesticated species, including humans, cats, dogs, and cattle, have been overpopulating North America for centuries. To save the planet for wild species, we need to stop breeding domesticates.
As the long-term drought continues, there will be more potential for confrontation between public lands ranchers and government officials charged with protecting forests, grasslands and wildlife. The failure of the federal government to enforce the law in Nevada sets a dangerous precedent for New Mexico. Catron County ranchers have long ignored wildlife laws. Now Otero County ranchers seem to be on the verge of actively resisting enforcement of grazing regulations.
The Otero County Cattle Growers Association and their parent organization New Mexico Cattle Growers Association are organizing a rally May 31 in the name of Like Cliven Bundy in Nevada, they claim a right to use public land without the need to follow government regulations.
As a member of the American Lands Council, Otero County claims to speak for “ranchers, loggers, miners, hunters, trappers, fishermen, and energy producers across the West.” Their new sagebrush rebellion aims to return to the states rights guaranteed by the Constitution as it existed before the Civil War, when, according to their hero Cliven Bundy, slaves lived a good life.
The December 18, 2013, Santa Fe Reporter, featured a profile of James Lane recently fired as director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. While no public reason was given for Lane’s firing, it seems likely that it was due, at least in part, to his public derision of the nonhunters as “tree-huggin’ hippies.” The department, sometimes known as “Maim and Squish,” manages wildlife on behalf of hunters and ranchers. Even after Lane’s ignominious departure, Scott Bidegain, a board member of NM Cattlegrowers Association, continues as chairman of the Game Commission, which supervises the department’s so-called professional wildlife managers.
What has been the reaction of New Mexico’s environmental and animal protection lobbyists? The supposed protectors of wildlife sheepishly sent a letter to the hunter-rancher-in-chief, begging Bidegain to replace Lane with a professional wildlife manager dedicated to the principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
This model is aptly summed up by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Man has hunted since he walked the Earth. Every early culture relied on hunting for survival. Through hunting, man forged a connection with the land and learned quickly that stewardship of the land went hand-in-hand with maintaining wildlife – and their own way of life.
In the first half of the 20th century, leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold shaped a set of ideals that came to be known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. They articulated the philosophy that all wildlife belong to all of us. . . .
The Pittman-Robertson act was passed in 1937, through which hunters voluntarily imposed a tax on themselves, ensuring that a portion of the sale of all firearms and ammunition would be expressly dedicated to managing the wildlife entrusted to the public. The Pittman-Robertson Act generates $700 million annually, which is distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to state fish and game agencies across America.
The federal tax on firearms and ammunition is collected by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). As its name suggests, TTB also administers federal taxes on alcohol and tobacco. No one expects these tax revenues to be used to promote smoking and drinking, yet hunters expect firearms taxes to be used to promote hunting.
RMEF is, however, correct to point out that hominids have been killing wildlife since they first learned to walk upright. In North America, hunting dates back to mass extinctions of the Pleistocene, which corresponded with the arrival of humans on this continent. Well before the establishment of “Native” American cultures species such as saber-toothed cats disappeared from the North American landscape. Species which were able to survive centuries of hunting with spears, bows and arrows, proved little match for European firearms technology.
Only when hunters began to fear an end to their gruesome blood sport did wildlife managers like Aldo Leopold begin to rethink the idea of hunting without limit. Along with the establishment of the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the Pittman-Robertson Act attempted to protect ranchers and hunters from destroying both their own livelihoods and their ability to indulge in sadistic blood sports. Thus was born the myth that ranchers and hunters, who had come close to totally destroying the land and the wildlife who live on it, were the “true conservationists,” codified by the North American Model of Conservation.
In spite of the best efforts of the “hunter-conservationists,” hunting continues to decline in the United States. According to the latest  National Hunting Survey, only 6% of the U.S. population hunts. When broken down by region, there has been a 45% drop over the last decade in the Mountain States from 11% to 6%. Correspondingly, the New Mexico report shows a 47% drop in expenditures by hunters.
The drop in hunting is a threat not only to hunters and ranchers, but also to conservation and animal protection lobbyists who have been collaborating with them. In their letter to the Game Deparment, Animal Protection of New Mexico, the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, the New Mexico chapter of the League of Conservation Voters and Wild Earth Guardians expressed their support for the hunters’ North American Model of Conservation.
Many of the organizations which signed this letter have had a long history of collaboration with hunters. Hunter Jon Schwedler headed APNM’s wildlife program before leaving to form the short-lived Sierra Sportsmen, the Sierra Club’s failed attempt to organize hunters in support of conservation.
Now it is the turn of Wild Earth Guardians to join the ranks of hunters masquerading as environmentalists, with the hiring of Erik Molvar. According to his WildEarth Guardians profile, Molvar has a degree in “wildlife management” and “enjoys antelope hunting.”
This profile reveals not only the sadistic pleasure Molvar takes in killing animals and watching them die, but also the difference between a wildlife manager and a biologist. State game departments and other wildlife managers use the cowboy term “antelope” to describe pronghorns. The last of their family to survive the Pleistocene extinctions in North America, pronghorns are not related to antelope, which are native to Africa. “Wildlife management” might be considered a “science” similar to economics and political science, but it is not a natural science like biology and geology.
In any case, contrary to the propaganda of the conservation lobbyists, there is no “pure science” which can guide the protection of wolves, prairie dogs, pronghorn, and other wild species, whether or not they are legally endangered. As the career of Jon Tester, Rancher-Democrat of Montana, demonstrates, the U.S. Congress retains the right to determine what animals can be legally killed without limit. Tester, after using funds from the League of Conservation Voters to defend his seat against the notorious “evil Koch brothers,” authored the law which removed endangered species protection for the grey wolf. A belated attempt by conservation lobbies to petition the Department of the Interior to restore wolf protection in violation of Tester’s law may succeed in raising funds, but it will not succeed in protecting wolves.
Rancher-Democrat Tester has now been joined in the Senate by New Mexico Hunter-Democrat Martin Heinrich. Heinrich & Tester’s Sportsmen’s and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions Act (SPORT) Act (S. 1660) would open all federal lands, including National Park Service land, to hunters.
Earlier this year, an agent of USDA Wildlife Services was caught in the act of killing a Mexican wolf. The agent, described by his employer as a “wildlife specialist,” claimed to have misidentified the wolf, presumably confusing it with one of the coyotes routinely slaughtered by the agency.
How is the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) responding to this incident? Buried in their proposed revision to the Mexican wolf program is the following: “We added language to the provisions for allowable take for authorized personnel to clarify that Wildlife Services personnel will not be in violation of the Act or this rule for take of a Mexican wolf that occurs while conducting official duties.”
The bureaucratic language suggests that USFWS does not consider this a major change. Perhaps this is because Wildlife Services was involved in the Mexican wolf program from its inception. In answering critics of the initial program, USFWS declared: “The Service believes leg-hold traps are an essential tool for wolf management.” They proceeded to include Wildlife Services as part of the Interagency Field Team to implement the Mexican wolf program.
Wildlife Services agents are familiar with economic concepts like depredation, not biological concepts like predation. Long known as Predator and Rodent Control, later renamed Animal Damage Control, the USDA agency now known as Wildlife Services has always been dedicated to killing wolves, coyotes and other predators, along with such dangerous creatures as prairie dogs, on behalf of the livestock industry. The livestock industry has been able to depend on Wildlife Services to kill predators, using leghold traps and M-44 cyanide-laced traps.
Wildlife Services describes M-44s as follows:
“The M-44 device is triggered when a canid (i.e. coyote or wild dog) tugs on the baited capsule holder, releasing the plunger and ejecting sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. The sodium cyanide quickly reacts with moisture in the animal’s mouth, releasing hydrogen cyanide gas. Unconsciousness, followed by death, is very quick, normally within 1 to 5 minutes after the device is triggered. ”
Wolves, of course, are also canids, which explains why Wildlife Services agents cannot distinguish them from coyotes. How many wolves will die from a “quick” 5-minute gassing?
On his LinkedIn profile, Frederic “Rick” Winslow describes his position with the New Mexico Game and Fish as follows: “I administer the black bear, cougar and furbearer harvest for the state of New Mexico.” One of Winslow’s official duties at Game and Fish has been compiling bear “depredation statistics.” Not to be confused with the biological term predation, “depredation” is an economic term describing damage to livestock and crops. Harvest, of course, is also an agricultural term, which game agencies have adopted in place of the more accurate term killing. “Fur-bearer” is a term used by hunters and trappers, not by biologists.
So it is hardly surprising that Winslow and his fellow wildlife managers, sometimes misleadingly described as biologists, oppose any program such as diversionary feeding which would save bears. Typical of of his wildlife management colleagues is Dave Garshelis of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, described diversionary feeding as a project of “nonscientists with emotional attachments to bears.”
The objection to “emotional attachment” is that of a resource manager, not a biological scientist. A true wildlife biologist should care as much about wildlife as a medical doctor should care about patients. On the other hand, hunters and other serial killers care little about their victims.
According to the latest National Hunting Survey, only 6% of the U.S. population hunts. When broken down by region, there has been a 45% drop over the last decade in the Mountain States from 11% to 6%. Correspondingly, the New Mexico report shows a 47% drop in expenditures by hunters from $130,000 to $69,000.
Why, in an era of tight budgets, does New Mexico maintain a separate department for hunters? Is it the influence of the National Rifle Association, which began and remains an organization primarily for hunters, while notoriously opposing any form of gun control which could prevent mass shootings? Or, as the agricultural language suggests, is the primary purpose of the Game Department to serve the livestock industry? Rancher Scott Bidegain, chairman of the Game Commission, which supervises the so-called professionals of the Game Department, is a board member of NM Cattlegrowers Association.
New Mexico needs to abolish the Game and Fish Department. Poaching laws should be enforced by the State Police, not by wardens answerable to hunters and ranchers. The conservation programs now administered by hunters should be transferred to an agency whose mission is to protect wildlife, not to kill for fun and profit.
Negotiations over the last several days have apparently postponed, if not altogether eliminated, the threat of a U.S. military attack on Syria. While the U.S. Congress has not had the chance to take a final vote on the issue, New Mexico’s two U.S. Senators were quick to take a public position.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Tom Udall had the opportunity to take a public vote on this issue. We commend Senator Udall for breaking with the Democratic Party leadership to cast a vote against this war, and to continue to speak out against war in media interviews.
New Mexico’s other senator, Martin Heinrich, is another matter. He did not even have to take a public position, as the issue never came before the full Senate. Yet he felt the need to join the cry for war from the Democratic Party leadership, in particular Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee on which Heinrich serves.
Feinstein has used her committee to defend NSA surveillance, claiming, “This is called protecting America.” She has described the recently disclosed court order compelling Verizon to hand over call data relating to millions of Americans as a program in place since 2006.
Animal and environmental activists remember Feinstein for another of her activities in 2006, when she got Congress to pass the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. AETA established fines of up to $25,000 and imprisonment up to one year “for an offense involving exclusively a non-violent physical obstruction of an animal enterprise or a business having a connection to, or relationship with, an animal enterprise, that may result in loss of profits but does not result in bodily injury or death or property damage or loss.”
At the time of his election to the US. Senate, Martin Heinrich was best known for his strong advocacy of opening up all federal lands, including national parklands, to hunters and trappers. His experience in killing wildlife has earned him large campaign contributions from mainstream environmental groups such as the Leage of Conservation Voters. Perhaps now that the recent massive fire in Yellowstone National Park has shown to be caused by a hunter in the vicinity, Heinrich will have to hold off on his plans, and concentrate instead on supporting the national security establishment.
Even if military action against Syria has been postponed, the real target, as it was in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains Iran. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week, President Obama stated: “I think what the Iranians understand is that– the nuclear issue– is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that– the threat against Iran– against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests.”
Perhaps the Obama Adminstration is now working on a plan for Israel to attack Iran. The Guardian has recently revealed a long-standing program of cooperation between the NSA and Israeli intelligence.