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A Billion Animals Crying Out Loud

by Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

I like a good bumper sticker and, “Fur Crying Out Loud,” is very effective. It is a statement against cruelty to animals and the message stays with you.

It especially stayed with me in 1981 after I wrote a feature story for our paper about the “Kirkwood Trapper.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals came up to my office, while I was at lunch, and plastered my desk with “Fur Crying Out Loud” bumper stickers.

What kind of adhesive was on those stickers? It took me months to scrape the suckers off my desk. In the meantime, I read the articles the PETA folks left behind about steel-jawed traps and the suffering of raccoons, beavers and rabbits – and a few family pets –  that all had their legs stuck in jagged traps.

The PETA articles were reasonable enough, but the group’s guerrilla tactics seemed a little extreme. I continued to think along those lines, and was no more sympathetic, even when nude female models paraded the streets proclaiming: “We’d rather go naked than  wear fur.”

Is this really necessary?

Is it really necessary to dress up like a sheep and tail the Australian prime minister to protest wool industry practices? Is it necessary to dress  like a seal and harass Canadian officials to protest the commercial seal slaughter in that country?

These campaigns may seem extreme and sensational, but I am starting to get the message. I am  becoming a believer. Scientists tell us that we are in the Sixth Mass Extinction. Because of human activity, species are disappearing at an alarming rate – many times faster than the normal background extinction rate.

At a recent Powder Valley Nature Center seminar for teachers, I started reading a piece on mass extinction from their text. The chapter described the loss of Carolina parakeets, which once brought their flashy greens, yellows and oranges to Missouri landscapes.

Lewis and Clark noted the many parakeets in the state in 1804 on their expedition, but by 1914 the last Carolina parakeet on Earth died at the Cincinnati Zoo. The extinction of one of North America’s most colorful birds happened, in part, because hunters shot huge numbers and then shipped the birds’ feathers east for use in decorating women’s hats.

The stupidity and selfishness of this early round in the march to a Sixth Mass Extinction made me sad. Perhaps I was still feeling that sadness when the next Saturday I followed news stories about the raging inferno in Australia caused by man-made climate change.

In between the protests in Sydney with signs, “Koalas Not Coal,” came the  video clips of suffering wallabies and kangaroos. Up to a billion animals have been burned alive in these wildfires.

It is hard these days for me to grieve for the tragedies of humanity. We have botched so much. We have brought so much of it upon ourselves. But for the innocent beings that have to share this Earth with us, I am Crying Out Loud.

3 responses to “A Billion Animals Crying Out Loud

  1. Thanks Dr. Corrigan for so eloquently stating “out loud” the horrific suffering of animals in Australia’s wildfires, and all animals everywhere for our perceived “stupid and selfish” needs. I’ve been waiting a long time to see such a piece in local media.

    Sadly, images of screaming marsupials burning alive have received less attention than the destruction of the human “stuff”—the homes, vehicles, infrastructure and unending flood tides of plastic that cause so much destruction. Any fleeting reflections on personal responsibility (“Which unnecessary car trip of mine struck the match that incinerated 10,000 koala bears?”) always seem to drain out in the next news cycle, to pool in comfortable inaction–and botching–until the next disaster’s images.

    In publishing pieces like this that so deftly reference historical abuse wrought by misnamed “homo sapiens” (wise men) on our flora and fauna, the Times helps keep citizens aware of our collective responsibility in this chapter of the Sixth Extinction we’re all writing. Again thanks for a great piece of writing.

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  2. So, many people reacted to this column when it appeared in the Times newspapers. They did not want to be in the Letters Section with their comments. I understand that. In this heated atmosphere, you can count on being blasted by other people who deny climate change, who will accuse you of valuing animals over their pro-life concerns, who will say you are just trying to ingratiate yourself wit the silly PETA people. I know this, because these are the attacks that I have received.
    Still, we live in such precarious times right now that we cannot worry about being attacked. Use your free speech (while we have it). I invited people to post their confidential comments to me on EE. I hope that they will do this. Thanks to LLGreene for running these comments as a Letter and posting them here on EE. Do not let the meanies silence you!

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  3. We need more leadership from the top on this issue of caring for God’s creatures. It does not help when the Trump boys are bragging about blasting away exotic animals, posing with elephant tails that they have cut from slaughtered pachyderms, and getting special permission to hunt grizzlies. Sheez. They should have more respect for pachyderms. Pachyderms should give them a piece of their mind!

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