On “Exterminating” Animals
In the AP’s "Agents Killed 1.6 Million Animals in ’06," Matthew Brown reports that:
Federal wildlife agents killed more than 1.6 million animals last year – including a record number of endangered wolves and more than 1 million birds – because of threats to livestock, crops and air travel.
. . .
Environmental groups seized on the figures to renew their call for the elimination of Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that removes animals at the request of the livestock industry, government agencies and others.
"We don’t think the government should be in the extermination business," said Jeff Ruch with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
The extermination business.
Now, there’s already a discussion, composed mostly of ranchers talking about protecting their "interests." Here’s a comment that struck me, by Freedom of Speech:
Over 1-Million birds the federal government has killed in 2006 ……and the environmentalists complain about a few thousand birds killed by Wind Turbines each year around the nation. We need renewable energy, but we must consider the migration of birds when the government is killing over a million of them a year!!
That certainly is an interesting point.
Probably the only serious and as-thorough-as-possible-in-a-comment, is by MyGreenPlanet (and yes, I did catch the speciesist language–give the person a break):
Why is it that people never see people as the problem? We reintroduced wolves to the parks because we had exterminated them in the past–not because we thought it would be a cute idea. It is WE and always WE who upset the natural balance of the environment. The first problem is–and has been for a long time–that there are too many of US. WE encroached and overpopulated. WE have upset the balance by taking survival and making an industry out of it–That is to say we, like all the other living things on the planet–used to take what we needed from the existing "stock." When we created businesses out of agriculture and livestock, we threw everything out of whack. We took over vast spaces, created hyperpopulations of plants and animals that was all out of order with nature’s process. We are no longer participating in the cycle, that is trying to continue around us. Now, what are we to do? There is no way humans are going to go back to the land and live communally in small manageable bands. We would be wise, however, to recognize that nature has no concern with our economic system. That has been manufactured by us, and nature–in the end–will triumph. Long after humans have perished from the earth, nature will restore itself with a new hierarchy. In the meantime, we ought to think about how to live with and understand the balance of nature. A coyote isn’t a pest–he has been making his living on these lands long before we arrived. We’ve left him little room to operate, and he is adapting. That is all any living thing can do. With our big brains, we ought to be able to come up with workable adaptations too, that recognize we need to live in harmony with the natural world around us.
If you watched Anderson Cooper’s, "Planet in Peril" on CNN, there was a nicely done, basic explanation of the near extermination and subsequent reintroduction of gray wolves into Yellowstone and the important role they play (particularly as a predator) for the animals, insects, and bushes, shrubs, flowers and berries. The list of factors they affect is huge and in their absence those factors are negatively altered. You all probably know all of this, but on CNN’s site there are lots of resources and free materials you can point others to. (If you didn’t watch the two-parter, I recommend checking out the site as the bulk of it had to do with nonhuman animals, and because CNN is so mainstream, directing your friends and family there won’t be perceived as radical in any way. Know that the real questions, from an animal rights perspective, are never even raised, but other questions are.)
My original point was going to be why we don’t use "exterminating" when referring to what we do to cats and dogs that is otherwise known as "euthanasia." It is unclear from the dictionaries I referred to whether exterminate is supposed to mean the complete destruction of the individual or the complete destruction of a species or either, depending on the situation. It would seem that in terms of the way we phrase what we talk about, "exterminate" would be a powerful word, perhaps more powerful than "kill," which many of us currently use.
I’ve already defined euthanasia in my pamphlet, and I’m wondering whether I might want to work exterminate in there, as it gets the brain moving in a different direction and might have greater or a different impact.
What do you think?