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.