Commentary on the Animal Kingdom

river ottersI’m having a very hard time dealing with our community response to the animal kingdom here in Indianapolis, and it is no longer possible to simply remain quiet. Killing wild deer at a public park at Eagle Creek is bad enough, but the status of our Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Center is an abomination by any standard.

Look, I’m not a vegetarian, but I believe that pigs, cattle and chickens have to be raised in a manner that does not completely destroy any semblance of a quality of life. That many large companies raise these animals where they are prevented from moving their entire life is unforgivable, and there is no excuse that is remotely acceptable. The fact that Indiana Farm Bureau does the bidding of these large farming operations before our State Legislature while promoting itself as the defender of all farmers only exacerbates the problem.

I admit that I feed birds and squirrels at my home and office, and I make no apologies. At my home, I attract a large number of blue jays with peanuts left in a container that squirrels can’t reach, and it is amazing to watch pileated woodpeckers descend on my suet feeders placed in various areas.

There are a large number of other birds that visit, and it is always a pleasure watching them eat niger seed, suet and an assortment of other birdseed. On top of that, you quickly learn the mental genius of the lowly squirrel when they always figure out a way to attack bird feeders. If they are supposed to have a very small brain, how is that they can conquer damn near anything that we put in front of them?

What’s difficult to accept is the speed that many people use through neighborhood communities where squirrels live. It may sound foolish, but it always pains me to see a dead squirrel on the street, and I always associate it with some idiot choosing to go 50 in a 30 mile an hour zone where they achieve little or nothing other than the death of many of these little animals.

And let’s not forget that the great State of Indiana is now proposing that trapping once again be permitted to kill and skin river otters. For what purpose? This same operation almost led to the complete extinction of these aquatic animals several decades ago, and shouldn’t we let the creatures live in peace? Good grief, if you really want to kill them for their fur, go buy a fake otter cape at Macy’s or Penney’s!

And let’s return to what is going on at Eagle Creek. To begin with, there is absolutely no proof of any kind that the deer population is threatening anyone, and allowing hunters to kill them by spreading feed out on the ground defies the meaning of all public parks. It is always a pleasure walking through these parks and seeing deer roam through the trees, and you might as well have kids watch Disney’s Bambi (1941) and cheer when the young deer’s mother is shot and killed if you accept our brutal hunting policy.

Finally, if you have any doubt about the way we Americans treat many wild animals, take a look at last year’s tremendous documentary Blackfish. It contained a heartbreaking first hand look at the way killer whales are treated in facilities like Sea World, and it is heartbreaking to see how these large whales are forced to live in extraordinarily small facilities.

On top of that, my wife and I have had the pleasure of traveling to both Vancouver and various islands off the Northwest coast of the State of Washington, and we rode small, powered rafts to watch these same whales travel in pods. They are as smart and family oriented as elephants, and their treatment at entertainment facilities like Sea World amount to nothing more than a form of animal slavery.

If we remotely care about our standing as human beings in this world, we have to care for the animals that exist on this Earth with us. History shows that we drove the passenger pigeon to extinction in North America despite the fact that millions lived peacefully before our arrival in the 17th century. We almost did the same thing to the buffalo, and they literally survived as a species because of a few caring people.

Like it or not, if we eliminate these animals we diminish our own existence.