Article posted by C.A.S.H. Committee To Abolish Sport Hunting
By Jim Robertson
Photo taken by an outraged employee of another government agency. Jim Robertson received permission to use this photograph by Brooks Fahey of Predator Defense. Please visit: www.predatordefense.org/USDA.htm
Never in human history has a more self-serving, damaging and persistent lie been perpetuated than the patently false notion that non-human animals lack consciousness. I mean, who came up with the idea, anyway? Some human, no doubt! Thankfully for the animals’ sake, we’ve come far beyond that kind of thinking these days.
Yet, the United States Department of Agriculture’s shadowy take-lethal-action-against-natural-predators-any-time-they-might-even-cast-a-sideways-glance-at-a-farm-animal division, the inaptly named “Wildlife Services,” a government agency that tries to claim science as its moral guide, conveniently ignores modern peer-reviewed studies such as the findings of 16 scientists in the 2014 Convention for Consciousness, which states:
“Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”
And the Delegation for Scientific Expertise takes it a step further, including fish, invertebrates—and those institutionally exploited species whose rights and well-being the agenda-driven humans would rather not have to acknowledge—to the thinking, feeling fold:
“Livestock species, such as poultry, pigs, and sheep, exhibit cognitive behaviors that seem to imply levels and contents of consciousness that until recently were considered exclusive to humans and to some primates. That is even more the case for fish and invertebrates that until recently were not even considered as sentient.”
But like Cartesian vivisectionists of dark ages past, USDA’s Wildlife Services must secretly wish that animals were unconscious so they could carry out their cruelties without protest from struggling victims (or their advocates).
When Wildlife “Services” speaks of animal suffering, it’s with the callous disassociation—indeed, the downright disregard and doublespeak—of the friendly neighborhood psychopath. And like a psychopath, the only reason they “care” about anything or anyone is when they think it affects them somehow. To the agency, wild animals are just resources and the “services” they perform are for the sake of industry—certainly not for the animals themselves:
“Pain and physical restraint can cause stress in animals and the inability of animals to effectively deal with those stressors can lead to distress. Suffering occurs when action is not taken to alleviate conditions that cause pain or distress in animals. Defining pain as a component in humaneness appears to be a greater challenge than that of suffering.”
In the words of Wildlife Watch’s own Anne Muller: “particularly galling is their analysis of ‘suffering’ and ‘pain,’ discussed as though they have a shred of concern for the individual animal or would know the meaning of the words ‘pain and suffering’ in animals at the most superficial level.”
Photo by Wildlife Services
One group devoted to ending the terrible reign of Wildlife Services is Predator Defense. The following overview and kill data is from their website: “Wildlife Services is a strategically misnamed federal program within the USDA that wastes millions of dollars each year killing wild animals with traps, snares, poisons, gas, and aerial gunning at the request of corporate agriculture and the hunting lobby. According to their official reports, they have slaughtered over 34 million animals in the last decade. Even worse, we’ve had whistleblowers tell us repeatedly that Wildlife Services’ real kill numbers are significantly higher, just not reported.
In 2016 alone they claim to have killed 2.7 million animals, including the following vital native predators:
332 mountain lions”
(For more on the savage escapades of Wildlife Services, watch the film, Exposed, by Predator Defense: www.predatordefense.org/exposed/index.htm)
The late ornithologist and evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, asked at the end of his book, What Evolution Is (one of 25 books on the subject to his name written over his 100 years of life), “How did human consciousness evolve? The answer is actually quite simple: from animal consciousness! There is no justification in the wide-spread assumption that consciousness is a unique human property… It is quite certain that human consciousness did not arise full-fledged with the human species, but as the most highly evolved end point of a long evolutionary history.”
And as Marc Bekoff, PhD, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, wrote in his column for Psychology Today:
“…sentient nonhuman beings care about what happens to themselves and to family members and friends, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect for who they are, not what we want them to be. …animals’ lives are valuable because they are alive — they have what is referred to as inherent value — not because of what they can do for us — what is called their instrumental value. It’s about time that we welcome them into our world and the arena of conscious beings.”
Of course, no one in the know and without a self-serving agenda would ever think of checking with the USDA “Wildlife Services” about anything having to do with animal awareness or intelligence—after all, they are in the business of depersonalizing animals so they can justify killing them. But for a government agency that is supposed to be utilizing science, they’re clearly behind the times. You could say their grasp of reality for animals is almost stone-aged.
Speaking of stone-aged thinkers, ironically, sport hunters, trappers and fishermen must “instinctively” know, almost as well as anyone, that animals are aware. Heck, what challenge would there be to their chosen sports if animals couldn’t think for themselves and make an effort to hide or escape? And just think what would happen to the camouflage clothing industry if animals somehow became unthinking, unfeeling robots that did not fear their pursuers.
Photo by Wildlife Services
To question whether or not animals are conscious is so absurd that one might wonder if it’s the animal-sentience deniers who lack awareness instead. In a satirical intro to the chapter, “Inside the Hunter’s Mind,” of my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, I turn the argument back on the exploiters themselves: “Hunters were once thought of as automatons: robots programmed to react to stimuli but lacking the ability to think and feel. But radical new studies have tentatively shown them to be capable of grasping simple grammar and the meanings of certain symbols (especially those lit up in neon in front of their favorite tavern or mini-mart).
If an attempt at humor seems out of place, consider this, the subject matter is so grim, gruesome or ghastly, that only a sport hunter and/or Wildlife Services agent would want to dwell there, mentally, for more than a fleeting moment or two. Now, not all hunters or trappers have jobs with the USDA Wildlife Services, but you can bet your bottom dollar that nearly all Wildlife Services agents are sport hunters and trappers in their spare time, in addition to being poisoners and aerial gunners when they’re on the clock.
Those in the Wildlife Services are clearly the worst of the worst. If you ever slip up and find yourself pitying some of these people whom you might hear about being lost in a plane crash or a rollover accident on a gravel back road, remember, they are the ones who aerial shoot, snare, trap, poison, etc. countless coyotes, bears, foxes, bobcats, wolves, cougars, etc., etc. Talk about unconscious, Wildlife Services must lack something else non-human animals have proven to posses: feelings like guilt, remorse or empathy for others—a conscience.
Jim Robertson is the President of C.A.S.H. and author of Exposing The Big Game.