At what point in the evolution of our vocabulary did the word ‘conserve’ come to mean ‘kill’? I did not get that memo. To me, the word conserve means protect, save. A January CNN Special Report carried the following headline:
Trophy hunting: ‘Killing animals to save them is not conservation’
I agree 100%.
In December 2016, Trump named Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior (DOI). On his first full day in office, Zinke rescinded the policy that banned the use of lead bullets and lead fishing tackle in national wildlife refuges. On June 2017, Zinke recommended that Bears Ears National Monument boundaries be scaled back. In August, Zinke 2017 added the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to the planned list of monuments to be shrunk as well. Last month, Trump, acting on Zinke’s advice, lifted the import ban on elephant and other big-game trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe to the United States. Zinke, himself a passionate trophy hunter, justified himself against critics by saying that he had his best childhood memories of hunting with his father and that he was anxious to promote hunting for American families. What the heck ever happened to family picnics and games of Monopoly???
Zinke recently established a new commission, the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC). The purpose of the commission? In a nutshell, to make it easier to kill wild animals. According to Zinke, it is about removing barriers to importing trophy hunting animals and relaxing legal restrictions on hunting and importing endangered species. I repeat … its purpose is to make it easier to kill wild animals, even those on the endangered species list! And in case you are not already mad enough, this commission will cost the taxpayers of the U.S. $250,000 per year … that’s a quarter of a million dollars!
Allow me, please, to introduce to you the members of this group:
- Paul Babaz, President of Safari Club International (SCI)
- Bill Brewster, U.S. hunter actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
- Ivan Carter, Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance
- Stephen Chancellor, Chancellor Foundation for International Wildlife Conservation
- Jennifer Chatfield, Wildlife and habitat conservation/management organizations
- Cameron Hanes, Archery and/or hunting sports industry
- Peter Horn, Tourism, outfitter, and/or guide industries related to international hunting
- Chris Hudson, Wildlife and habitat conservation/management organizations
- Mike Ingram, U.S. hunters actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
- John Jackson, President, Conservation Force
- Gary Kania, Vice President, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
- Terry Maple, Tourism, outfitter, and/or guide industries related to international hunting
- Keith Mark, Tourism, outfitter, and/or guide industries related to international hunting
- Olivia Opre, U.S. hunters actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
- Erica Rhoad, Director of Hunting Policy, National Rifle Association
- Denise Welker, U.S. hunters actively engaged in int’l and/or domestic hunting conservation
Information courtesy of FACA Database
Of the sixteen council members, at least ten are known to have ties to Safari Club International, an international organization composed of hunters dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt. One ‘esteemed’ member of SCI is Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion in 2015 in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Mike Ingram, the ninth on the list, set up an illegal non-profit in 2016 that was used solely to sell access to Donald Trump. Peter Horn, #7 on the list, is the vice-president of Beretta, a gun manufacturer. Ivan Carter, #3, is a television personality hosting such shows as Dallas Safari Club’s Tracks Across Africa, and his own Outdoor Channel show, Carter’s W.A.R. Denise Welker, #16, killed an elephant in Botswana on one of Carter’s safari hunts. She received an award last year from SCI underwritten by the NRA. Number 14, Olivia Opre, is a former Mrs. Nebraska who judges the televised Extreme Huntress competition for female trophy hunters. These are not nice people.
Despite the fact that polls show that between 80% – 90% of Americans are opposed to big game hunting, this committee has been established at our expense to make the killing of animals easier. Now, you all know I am an animal lover, but even so, just what gives humans the right to take the life of an animal for no good reason? Who deemed that lions and tigers and elephants were put on this earth so man could take some perverse joy in killing them? Frankly, the way I see it is that every creature on this earth has as much right to life as I do. If my house were on fire, I can guarantee you that I would not leave until I had gotten every last one of the Significant Seven to safety, for their lives are as valuable in the grand scheme of things as mine. Most of you probably wouldn’t go that far, and I understand that, but to viciously murder an animal just to hang its head over your fireplace and brag???
The United States is already the largest importer of hunting trophies by far, accounting for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nations on the list—Germany and Spain. What, I ask, is there to brag about? More often than not, it is not a fair contest, for the animals are actually enclosed, and safari guides lead the hunters (who have often paid upward of $250,000 for this ‘privilege’) directly to them. Sport? I don’t think so. The lion, tiger or bear stands zero chance against a man with a huge rifle. It would be rather like one football team beating another whose hands and feet were bound together with duct tape!
This International Wildlife Conservation Council has not one single member from the Sierra Club, from World Wildlife Fund (WWF), from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), or any of the other organizations that actually DO work toward protecting and preserving the animal kingdom. Not one.
I began this post with a musing about the word ‘conserve’. I think I have it figured out now … it is to conserve/preserve the right of wealthy, arrogant Americans to kill the innocent. That must be the definition Trump’s and Ryan’s slogan “Make America Great Again”.
Once again, I hang my head in shame for what my country has become.