Apr 11

Thinking Beyond the Animal Factories to Save This Planet

Those out there who are concerned about this planet, the wildlife, the wild places, really need to understand how very destructive the Livestock Industry is, and not just for the factory farming aspects (as horrendous as they are).
Even many Vegans, who rightly abhor  what goes on in animal factories,  ignore, (or are unaware of), the plight of billions of native wild species in the U.S. and around the world. Wild species’ populations are in severe decline , some near extinction, due to livestock grazing on the last open, wild places.
Since the 1880’s the western livestock industry in the U.S., has been responsible for the slaughter of Billions (not millions) of coyotes, bears, wolves, prairie dogs, birds of prey, mountain lions, bobcats, beavers, ferrets, and other wild fauna and flora. This industry is also killing our rivers, streams,  forests, not to mention increasing the volatile gas, methane, that is a by-product of grazing, &  increasing global climate change.
So, while most people are now at least aware of the evil animal factories,  the horror of what goes on “out there” on the range– the vast expanses of our public lands– is hardly mentioned or thought about. It is crucial to also understand that western public lands–wilderness areas, BLM, National Forests, National Grasslands,  National Wildlife Refuges, and state lands–are becoming Domesticated Feed Lots because of the ranching industry. These public lands are the last refuge for wildness, in this Climate Change world!
 No matter how livestock grazing is packaged, it is an industry which is  removing what is wild and replacing it with  Domestication. Every so-called “wildlife problem” west of the Mississippi is really about The Livestock Industry, whether it be actual  grazing, or the raising of crops used for grazing domestic sheep and cattle. The western livestock interests are powerful, vocal, and determined to keep wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, wild horses, & thousands of other species “controlled/managed” with emphasis on aerial shooting, roundups, poisoning, trapping, hunts,  subsidized by taxpayers.
Now, some misguided animal groups, like IDA, and HSUS are falling for the PZP “birth control” method for horses, deer and other wild ungulates–which means more “taming” of the wild west.
What does this trend mean for the future of The Wild, when even so-called “animal people” start Sleeping with The Enemy?
 The great naturalist, professor, author, John A. Livingston, wrote, in Rogue Primate that: “to domesticate…is to amputate its wildness, to tame it; to train or otherwise coerce it into living with, and being of use, to us; to make it a part of our (human) infrastructure.”

We who care, still have a chance to save what is left of wildness, but we don’t have much time. Worse yet, the other living beings–wild non-humans-are fast running out of time.
  • Great piece. Thank you.

  • Marcia Mueller

    Yes, great reminder of how wildlife are off the radar, unless they’re targets. Unfortunately, many animals being killed are considered “trash” animals which, for many, justifies their sad fate.

  • Raesikora

    Love your writing! I am not sure what you mean about many vegans ignoring the plight of native wild species. I don’t think it is helpful to say this about vegans who are already battling the negative myths and stereotypes. Most of us know that it is not just about factory farms…we appose all animal agriculture and any use and abuse of animals who are seen as property rather than individuals.

    • Scott M Smith

      In this age of fad and groupie-like individualism, too many people “go vegan” without a broader understanding of the context in which a plant-based diet should be followed or approached. Simply playing to the media with ostentatious strategies like flaunting celebrities and media stunts, and flexing their muscles declaring, “We’re vegan,” do nothing for wildlife shot & poisoned by public lands ranchers. This example seems trivial but the reality is that activists too easily become purist in their motivations, overlooking the multitude of relevant factors influencing lifestyle choice and, for that matter, political outlook. I read this blog entry as pointing out the tendency to join a movement like veganism or PETA thinking that appearing profusely mainstream in other facets of society somehow bolsters or legitimizes their unconventional stance on animal welfare, in effect furthering the status quo. But the negative myths and stereotypes of veganists are partly of their own making, and they’ve somewhat embraced a cause for its own sake, lending yet more social credence to the idea of, “to each his own,” when we need less of that.

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