Well, Ted, We’re Waiting…

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Paul Ryan proved he was true to his word (unfortunately) and made good on his promise to see that his 10 year old daughter kills her first deer this year.

Now it’s time for his fellow die-hard bowhunting fanatic, Ted Nugent, to live up to (so to speak) a promise he made back in April. According to the website Right Wing Watch, Nugent swore that: “If Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

It seems to me, if Nugent’s a man of his word, he has only five months to either die or go to jail. Well, Ted, we’re waiting…

Right Wing Watch reports that at the NRA’s national convention, Nugent called Obama a criminal and denounced his “vile, evil, America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” And he concluded a video stumping for Mitt Romney with, “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?” Meanwhile, Romney stated on a radio show, “It’s been fun getting to know Ted Nugent.”

With friends like Ted, who needs enemies?


Call Today! The “Sportsmen’s” Act of 2012 Must Fail

URGENT!  Before you read another line, pick up your phone, call your Senators and tell them to OPPOSE S 3525 (the so-called, “Sportsmen’s” Act of 2012)! You can find the contact numbers for your senators at the following web page: http://www.senate.gov/

Though the threat of having to watch bowhunter Paul Ryan by crowned Vice President has passed, the specter of sport hunting still haunts the halls of Congress. Under the cunning guise of “conservation,” the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, S 3525, is a Senate version of the House’s ridiculous “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” (what will they think of next, a Serial Murderer’s Heritage Act?).

No animal should be reduced to the level of mere object only to be “harvested” at the casual whim of jaded trophy seekers out for a diversion from their meaningless lives.

For the sake of wildlife, public lands and unspoiled wilderness nationwide, we must stop this absurd act from becoming law.

Of course, the animal’s enemies are lining up behind it. According to a new post in Outdoor Life (a popular “sportsmen’s” magazine that actually promotes outdoor death) entitled, “Must-Pass Legislation: Sportsmen’s Act of 2012,”

“The fight for the Sportsmen’s Act isn’t over. The NRA, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Boone and Crocket Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and a host of other national, regional and local groups are calling all hands to lobby their Senators for passage.”

Make no mistake, those of us who truly care about wildlife wouldn’t want to see this pass even if it were a painfully annoying kidney stone. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 is a must-fail piece of legislation.


Thanks to the Animal Welfare Institute for the following action alert:

On November 13, their first day back in session following the recent election, the U.S. Senate will resume consideration of The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525). Please call and urge your Senators to oppose S. 3525.

If enacted, S. 3525 will have substantial and direct adverse impacts on wildlife, public health and existing conservation efforts. This bill would weaken protections offered by laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and Endangered Species Act. Included in the bill’s language are provisions that would:

•Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate hazardous substances—including lead, a dangerous neurotoxin—released by ammunition and sport fishing waste.

•Encourage federally-funded construction and expansion of public shooting ranges on state and federal land, including land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

•Amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to permit importation of polar bear carcasses taken before the species was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2008—including those taken despite multiple warnings of an imminent ban on imports.

This legislation, if enacted, will interfere with important statutory protections affecting animal welfare, human health, and the environment.

The Senate is moving quickly on this bill, so your help is urgently needed TODAY.  Please contact your Senators by phone, email, or fax and tell them to oppose S. 3525!

You can identify your Senators and their contact information here.

Sample Message:

As one of your constituents, I urge you to help protect human health, wildlife and public lands by voting against S. 3525. This legislation, if passed, will undermine provisions of existing conservation statutes including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. It will also interfere with the exercise of authority by federal agencies responsible for managing federal lands and protecting public health. Please oppose S. 3525, and help to protect wildlife, habitat and the public.

Thank you,

Memos to the President

Now that the post-election reverie is dying down, it’s time to remind the president why he got our votes and what we expect from him in return.  Several environmental groups have spelled out some of the issues and concerns we all have. The following reports are from three whose newsletters I’m subscribed to, and whose websites are worth visiting…

…First, from Defenders of Wildlife:  http://www.defenders.org/

“We congratulate President Obama on his victory and look forward to working with him and his administration in the coming months and years. With the el  ection now behind us, President Obama and the new Congress must find a balanced way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. This budgetary gridlock is threatening to unleash a series of devastating budget cuts that will slash funding for wildlife conservation to the bone.

The harsh reality is this: If Congress doesn’t get its act together and pass a budget before December 31, a cascade of crippling budget cuts will automatically sweep through all federal programs. The effect on wildlife will be devastating.

•The listing and recovery of endangered species will be severely curtailed.

•Urgent research on threats to endangered animals — like the white-nose syndrome that is wiping out entire colonies of bats — could be abandoned.

•Wildlife law enforcement reductions will leave wildlife refuges vulnerable to criminal activity and will decimate anti-wildlife poaching and smuggling enforcement operations.

•Many national wildlife refuges, forests and parks will be closed entirely — harming local economies that benefit from millions of visitors each year.

•Many public lands’ visitor centers will close, resulting in loss of education and recreation programs that benefit outdoor enthusiasts and children.

•Important protections for migratory birds will go unenforced.

Tell your representatives in Congress to do their job, and maintain needed protections for wildlife and their habitats. When Congress returns next week, they must act to stop this budget disaster. Tell them they must come to an agreement that will not harm crucial wildlife conservation programs.”

Wildlife lovers like you and me have a busy and challenging year ahead.

… Meanwhile, from the executive director at  WildEarth Guardians: http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/PageServer asks of the president…

“While you savor your victory and contemplate your vision for the next four years, I’d like to share my vision of how to create a brighter future for our environment and our people.

•Create a new, clean energy economy . We need a carbon tax whose basis is both moral and economic; fossil fuels are killing the planet and Sandy’s wrath is just the latest example that the climate crisis is upon us. While it’s true that Americans want energy independence, it’s also true that the continued use of fossil fuels is endangering other core freedoms like a clean, safe environment. That’s unacceptable.

•Safeguard America’s endangered species. Whether gray wolves, sperm whales or tiger beetles—all species have a right to exist. It’s our moral and ethical imperative to protect imperiled species, as is beautifully articulated in the Endangered Species Act. We must defend and strengthen the Act to ensure that future generations inherit an earth as beautiful and diverse as the one we enjoy today.

•Protect our wetlands and rivers. Aquatic ecosystems are vital, now more than ever, and the Clean Water Act is a cornerstone of protecting these vital arteries of life. In a warming, overpopulated world it is critical that we do more to ensure that rivers have secure flows and that wetlands are protected as filters to pollution and buffers to intense weather events.

•Defend our last wild public lands. One of the most enduring and unique aspects of America’s natural heritage is simply that we still have wild country left. That’s because we have public lands that keep these places wild. Places like the Greater Gila in New Mexico and Arizona, the Roan Plateau in Colorado and the Red Rock canyon country of Utah. We want you to not only defend the ideal of public lands, but also use your authority under the Antiquities Act to protect these last wild places.”

…and from the NRDC: http://www.nrdc.org/

“American voters not only re-elected a president who made green jobs a cornerstone of his first term and his campaign, they also rejected some of the shrillest champions of Big Oil and Big Coal in key Senate races from Massachusetts to Ohio, from Virginia to New Mexico.We should be heartened that the fossil fuel lobby could throw $270 million at so many candidates hawking “drill, baby, drill” and climate denial — and get so little back on their investment.

Apparently, democracy lives … as does common sense. Voters roundly rejected an extremist agenda that says protecting polluter profits is job one, while the rest of us pay the price in illness, poisoned ecosystems and apocalyptic weather. That last point was hardly academic this Election Day, as millions in the Northeast are still struggling to recover some shred of normalcy after Hurricane Sandy.

Today, we are calling on President Obama to confront the urgent threat of global warming by reining in carbon polluters and dramatically boosting the role of renewable energy in American life. That is our very best hope for breaking Big Oil’s stranglehold on both our economy and our climate.

Toward that end, we’ll work closely with the second Obama Administration to build on great progress already made in so many sectors — like the new clean car standards we championed that will double the fuel economy of the average vehicle on the road. But we’ll also be watchdogging the administration to ensure it does the right thing: that the EPA proposes carbon limits for existing power plants … that the State Department delivers on its promise of a complete and independent review of the climate-wrecking Keystone XL tar sands pipeline … that the BLM cracks down on dangerous fracking.

Of course, NRDC always stands for the environment, not for any party or elected official. So if the Obama Administration strays from its avowed commitment to the environment, then we will hold their feet to the fire — in court — just as we’ve done with every other president over the past forty years. As you read this, we are suing the administration to save the Polar Bear Seas from Shell’s reckless plans for drilling in the Arctic … and to safeguard the very last 284 beluga whales in Alaska’s Cook Inlet from oil exploration.

Simply put, we will do everything in our power to help President Obama deliver on his goals of clean energy and environmental protection. But NRDC will hold him accountable — for our planet’s sake — if and when he falls short. As for Congress, it is time for the House Republican leadership and Tea Party members to face reality: the American people are in no mood for more ideological intransigence. By rejecting Big Oil’s candidates, voters sent a message loud and clear that they want more clean energy, less climate denial and an end to the $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels. Those are the priorities NRDC will be putting front and center when the lame duck session of Congress begins next week.”

…No doubt we’ll have to continue to repeatedly remind our politicians that though the animals don’t vote, we can and will continue to vote for them and for the natural habitats they call home.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved

The People Have Spoken: Global Warming, Real—Magic Underpants, Not

Well, the votes are in and counted; a decision has been made. The people have spoken: global warming is real—magic underpants are not. And bowhunters are not fit to hold higher office, much to the disappointment of Paul Ryan and his role model, Ted Nugent. By shunning the diehard deer hunter, the voters have made it clear that the animals of the Earth are not mere playthings for the rich and famous, the powerful and perverse.

Perhaps now that the election is over we can forget about magic underpants and begin to focus our attention on the real issue that affects all our lives—namely, how human actions are changing the planet’s climate.

According to Kevin Knobloch, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, “President Obama has won another four years in office. In the wake of destruction left by Hurricane Sandy, the country may have experienced its first election disrupted by global warming. What makes this even more troubling is that the urgent crisis of climate change was never meaningfully discussed in the debates or on the campaign trail. After a year of punishing droughts in our nation’s breadbasket, extreme heat across most of the country, and wildfires that devastated our forests and property, it is now time to turn up the heat on our political leaders. Even with the continued polarization in Washington D.C., there is much President Obama can do to adopt science-based solutions that permanently drive down our carbon emissions and more effectively prepare for the climate-related disasters that will continue to threaten our lives and livelihoods.”

The trick will be making sure our lives and livelihoods don’t compound the problems of global warming. For example, shipping freighter-loads of coal across the ocean to be burned in Chinese power plants might provide a few jobs here for some, but is it worth the trade-off of carbon emissions produced?  Is the hedonism of the Western diet worth the continued suffering of billions of animals and the methane they produce? “Real change” will take real commitment and real innovation, rather than business as usual.

Cartoon © Rob Tornoe, 2012. All Rights Reserved

On to Other Important Issues

It’s Election Day and you’re probably on pins and needles waiting to find out which lucky candidate will be the next President of the United States. But I want to talk about something more important.

I don’t have anything in particular in mind. It could be the weather (or more specifically, how the weather is changing because of global warming). Or, it could be the rhino poaching problem in Africa, the dolphin slaughter going on right now in Japan or the perilously low numbers of big cats left on the planet. Or how, for some people, attitudes towards wolves haven’t changed since the barbarically backwards days of dark ages past.

The point is, no matter how this hyped-up human election turns out, there are other important issues going on at the same time that aren’t getting the media attention they deserve.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Still Undecided? Vote against the Bow Hunter

If you’re one of those hold-out voters we keep hearing about who hasn’t yet decided who to elect for President, here’s an idea for you: cast your vote against the guy that boasts a bow hunter as his Vice-presidential partner in crime—the Robin to his Batman. (That would be the Republican, Mitt Romney—in case you’ve been lucky enough to miss his outspoken VP sidekick and hunting addict, Paul Ryan, yammer on and on about his favorite hobby of launching aluminum shafts tipped with razor-sharp arrowheads into the bodies of innocuous, peace-loving deer.)

I can understand and relate to the disillusionment anyone might feel about our current President. Some of the things he’s pulled—joking about eating dogs, removing their canine cousins, the wolves, from the federal Endangered Species list thereby casting their fates into the eager hands of hostile states, or relegating  horses and burros to the slaughterhouse—are unforgivable. We can’t let him get away with that sort of thing in the future.

But, there’s no doubt that the other candidate would commit equally atrocious crimes against animals, in addition to mocking global warming with his stated goals of approving the Keystone pipeline and opening up fragile federally protected lands to oil drilling. Adding insult to injury, Romney had to go and tap not just a hunter, but a goddamned bowhunter—the most sadistic strain of killer out there—for a running mate.

Unfortunately for dedicated animal advocates, we’re forced to have to choose between the lesser of two evils yet again. In this case, the bowhunter is clearly the greater evil on the ballot.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Waiting with Bated Breath

He waits in silence—his scent masked, face painted, dressed in camouflage head to toe—alert for any sign of the enemy. Keyed up for the kill, he texts quietly to pass the time—eager to learn how much his investments have grown in the past hour.

Suddenly the enemy steps out from behind heavy cover and into range. The assassin tenses, every muscle in his body taut and ready for battle. He’s hoping to make a “clean” kill. Somewhere in the back of his mind is the vague, indistinct notion that a sloppy shot might cause his quarry to suffer; but of far greater import to him are the bragging rights among his comrades if his shot hits the mark, and the fact that an injured enemy could get away.

As his intended victim moves in closer, unaware of his presence (perched in a tree stand just overhead), the killer draws back the string of his compound bow and lets fly an aluminum arrow with a razor-sharp steel point (available tax-free in any sporting goods shop in his state, thanks to him). The arrow hits the target broadside, but as luck would have it the shot misses the heart, and sure enough the wounded enemy escapes…

But fear not, the “enemy” isn’t a dangerous terrorist out to destroy the American way of life. He’s a gentle, doe-eyed deer, peacefully minding his own business.  And the killer is not Rambo or some other heroic mercenary type, here to rid the world of bad guys. It’s just Paul Ryan, who, despite his cruel streak and his habit of bullying defenseless deer and wild turkeys, could wake up a week from now and find himself second in charge—only a heartbeat away from Commander in Chief—of the nation with the most destructive weapons on Earth.

The world waits with bated breath…

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

To Wildlife, They’re All Assault Weapons

During last night’s debate, the president accused his opponent of pandering to the NRA by changing his stance on so-called “assault weapons.” The accusation is valid—former Governor Mitt Romney also pandered to the pro-gun lobby big-time by tapping die-hard “sportsman,” Paul Ryan, as his running mate. But at the same time he made the accusation, President Obama pandered to the NRA himself.

Though Barack Obama has never been a hunter (to his credit), he was quick to give oral tribute to hunters and “sportsmen” who use their weapons regularly and repeatedly (albeit “legally”) to assault the non-human citizens of this country. At the risk of showing his hand, I’d speculate that if it wasn’t for the power of the National Rifle Association to make or break an election, the president, deep down, would ultimately prefer to see all dangerous weapons banned.

Though they tiptoed gingerly around the subject, both candidates agreed that all guns are dangerous in the wrong hands. From the point of view of the wildlife, all weapons are assault weapons—and all hunters are the “wrong hands.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

It Ain’t Gonna be Pretty

Over the ages, humans have more than proved their point—they’re the dominant ones. Nowadays they’re just rubbing Nature’s face it in. But they won’t feel so dominant when Mother Nature decides to really put up a fight. Once she gets started, it ain’t gonna be pretty, and man, you’ll curse the day you were born. It’s not like she hasn’t given plenty of fair warning, but every time she summons up an epic hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, humans react like a ants at  an anthill, and scurry to raise their levees, dikes and sea walls a little higher and rebuild their off-shore oil platforms.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed over 100 off-shore oil rigs (one of which floated for 50 miles before coming to rest in the shallows), while this year’s Isaac put 44 of them out of commission. The financial pages were quick to share the news that the Gulf of Mexico oil production was reduced by 901,726 barrels per day as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the media barely covered the massive oil spills then, and we never heard much about the half million gallons of oil that sloshed into the Gulf after Hurricane Ike in Texas. Nor is there ever much talk of the persistent leaks and pollution that comes from the rigs; spills of more than 60,000 gallons scarcely make the news outside southern Louisiana.

It wasn’t long ago that there were no oil platforms in that pristine body of water that’s been a spawning ground for blue fin tuna and home to sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and an astounding array of bird life. Now oil derricks in the Gulf are considered a fact of life—but the ecosystem has suffered dearly for it.

Are we going to see a repeat of this scenario in the Arctic, now that anthropogenic climate change has caused the polar icecap to retreat far enough that the President just approved Shell oil to start drilling up there?

Carbon is a waste product of life and the atmosphere needs a certain amount of it to keep temperatures comfortable enough for life to thrive here. Yet never before in the long history of the earth has one species tapped into the vast pools and veins of carbon, safely stored underground for millions of years, and lit a match to it.  Now the one species who prides itself in being smarter than the others is using up its limited brain capacity devising ways to commandeer the planet’s carrying capacity, while smothering the atmosphere with the carbon of the eons in just a few short centuries.

From fashioning the first tools out of stone (a feat that our vegan cousins the bonobos have accomplished as well) to learning to raise food crops, experimentation has brought our species to where it is today. But now we’ve turned the whole planet into our own personal petri dish. God only knows what sort of punishment Mother Nature has in store for us when she wearies of our infernal domination games.

Give Paul Ryan the Grand Slam

Are you tired of hearing about Paul Ryan yet? I know I am. After learning that he is a ‘diehard’ bowhunter, I didn’t think anything else about him would surprise me. But during a recent interview in Deer and Deer Hunting magazine he let slip just how much of a trophy hunter he really is.

Though he seems to actually enjoy getting his hands all bloody butchering his victims himself, the killing is clearly not about procuring cost-effective food for him—in Ryan’s own words, his fantasy dream hunt would be costly: “…one of my goals is to get a ‘grand slam’ of sheep with a bow,” Ryan told the deer-snuff magazine. “It would be very tough and very expensive.” For those lucky readers who don’t know what a ‘grand slam’ of sheep is, it’s the brutal murder of one each of the four different North American wild sheep, which include Alaska’s Dall sheep, Stone sheep (found only in northern Canada), Rocky Mountain bighorn and the Mexican desert bighorn. It’s like a golf tour for psychopathic animal killers.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Paul Ryan told Deer Hunting his idol is the first archer who shot and killed all 27 species of North American ‘big game’ during a despicable form of legal serial murder known as the ‘super slam.’ “I’m just pretty typical for a Wisconsin guy,” Ryan added, confessing: “I love hunting and fishing. Bowhunting is my passion…preparing food plots, the strategy of where a dominant buck is living or will be moving and then being in position to get a shot, that’s really exciting.” (Hmm, he and I have an altogether different idea on the definition of passion and excitement, although I suppose another one of his fellow serial killers could relate.)

There’s malevolence in the act of bowhunting and Ryan is admittedly obsessed with doing it. (The same issue of Deer and Deer Hunting that features his interview includes an article titled, “How to Recover a Bow-Shot Deer.” Obviously it’s pretty much impossible to make a ‘clean,’ instantaneous kill with an arrow.) He may never be inducted into the ‘Bowhunters Hall of Fame,’ but there’s a very real, very frightening possibility of him eventually becoming President of the United States.

The thought of a trophy bowhunter, among the most sadistic of ‘sportsmen,’ being just a heartbeat away from the presidency of the country with the most nuclear weaponry at its disposal is cause for concern, to say the least. Who’s to say he won’t get a wild hair and decide to take out a small country or two just for the sport of it? So much for compassionate leaders—half our registered voters are considering making a conscious-less animal killer our next commander-in-chief-in-waiting.

And we thought having Ronald Reagan in control of the red button was scary.