The scientific evidence has invited scientists and ethicists to question and reject the inherent superiority of humans over other animals.”~ “Inappropriate consideration of animal interests in predator management – Towards a moral code” – by Francisco J. Santiago–Ávila, William S. Lynn, and Adrian Treves
The Madravenspeak column, archived on The Capital Times website, in over 200 columns the past eight years has laid out the need for bold reform of the Wisconsin Department of Natural “Resources” — to change it from a private killing club to providing democratic, humane stewardship of the web of life upon which we depend.
The agency will not reform from within.
Therefore we, as citizens, must gather the resources and the public will to force change and democratize the state agency. Human health is compromised by damaged, imbalanced wildlife ecosystems. Most importantly, sentient beings much like ourselves have suffered under the boot of random, persistent killing for centuries. Their friends, their young, their elders cannot organize against continuous violence. They are killed with no consideration of the need for cultural continuity, family bonds, survival skills of orphaned young, wisdom of elders. They are disappearing from the earth or farmed with agricultural models (like deer and pheasants) specifically for killing.
It is all compounded by the fast-changing climate disaster.
With two-thirds of wildlife across the planet destroyed in just 50 years, “Humanity is ‘cutting down the tree of life,’ warn scientists.” The article in The Guardian states: “Humanity’s ongoing annihilation of wildlife is cutting down the tree of life, including the branch we are sitting on, according to a stark new analysis.
“The new research calculates the total unique evolutionary history that has been lost as a result at a startling 2.5 (billion) years.
“Furthermore, even if the destruction of wild areas, poaching and pollution were ended within 50 years and extinction rates fell back to natural levels, it would still take 5-7 million years for the natural world to recover.
This is an emergency. We must start the recovery now.
This is an invitation for citizens to look over the resources in this column and contribute to drafting a Wildlife Manifesto plan for reform. We must acknowledge the moral rights of individual animals. Reform can be modeled on the draft of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and All Beings, Article 3, which reads:
“Every being has:
• the right to exist;
• the right to habitat or a place to be;
• the right to participate in accordance with its nature in the ever-renewing processes of Mother Earth;
• the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating being;
• the right to be free from pollution, genetic contamination and human modifications of its structure or functioning that threaten its integrity or healthy functioning.”
I asked for input from scientists at UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute’s Carnivore Co-existence Lab. The head of the lab, Adrian Treves, and Ph.D. candidate Francisco Santiago-Avila responded by sending four publications to draw from:
• “Inappropriate consideration of animal interests in predator management – Towards a moral code” by Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, William S. Lynn, and Adrian Treves
• “Killing Wolves to Protect Livestock May Protect One Farm but Harm Neighbors” by Francisco J. Santiago-Avila, Ari M. Cornman, Adrian Treves, published in PLOS (wolves as a model of irrational persecution and killing)
• “Hallmarks of Science Missing From North American Wildlife Management” by Kyle A. Artelle, John D. Reynolds, Adrian Treves, Jessica C. Walsh, Paul C. Paquet and Chris T. Darimon, published in Science Advances. “Our results provide limited support for the assumption that wildlife management in North America is guided by science.”
• “Intergenerational Equity Can Help to Prevent Climate Change and Extinction” by Adrian Treves, Kyle A. Artelle, Chris T. Darimont, William S. Lynn, Paul Paquet, Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, Rance Shaw & Mary C. Wood, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. “The public trust doctrine in the USA obligates the government to act as trustee for nature and other public resources, including wild organisms.”
The United Kingdom just issued the important “A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife” that states, “It’s horrifying. Depressing. Disastrous. And yet somehow we have grown to accept this as part of our lives – we’ve normalized the drastic destruction of our wildlife. … It’s time to wake up. We must rouse ourselves from this complacent stupor, because we are presiding over an ecological apocalypse and precipitating a mass extinction in our own backyard.”
The Rewilding Institute not only issued a prescription — Wildlife Governance Reform: Where to Begin — but stated: “This problem has become so acute that wildlife conservationists recently decided they must try to do something about it. The result was a first-of-its-kind conference held in Albuquerque in mid-August: ‘Wildlife for All: Re-envisioning State Wildlife Governance.'” Twenty-one states participated.
“In recent years it has become increasingly obvious that state wildlife governance needs significant reform – in all states, some more than others,” the document states.
“There are three pervasive problems. One is that state wildlife management agencies and their associated wildlife commissions are held captive by special interests, including primarily hunting and fishing, livestock, and energy interests. … Rather than embracing the ‘non-consumptive’ interests of the larger public, they have instead chosen retrenchment, as illustrated by creative attempts to recruit young people and women into the hunting culture and by inventing new hunts.”
The second problem described in Rewilding Earth’s document is the federal lack of enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, bowing to state killing interests.
The third item identified as a problem is not really a “problem” but an opening — the decline in hunting opens the political door to democratic funding and giving the 90 percent of citizens who are not hunters an opportunity for participation for the first time.
Please look over the above resources. Send ideas for reform to Madravenspeak@gmail.com.
• Humane DNR secretary appointment ideas — to shepherd a reform of the DNR to democratic representation, funding, and policies.
• The funding proposed by hunters is a tax on dirty fuels. What healthy funding sources could represent all citizens in governing our public lands, waterways, and wildlife for protection and reparation of the centuries of damage done to our wild brothers and sisters?
• What humane education strategies could be employed to teach children to know and treasure wild creatures, learn their needs and restore habitat, plant trees and prairies? Restore beavers and wetland habitat to stem drought and flooding?
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on October 28, 2018