Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals
Man has occupied Mother Earth for thousands of years and yet he has never been interested in learning how to live in harmony with nature, the animals, or his fellow man. On the contrary, his only interest in the earth and its inhabitants has been to exploit and to exterminate them as quickly as possible. Every incremental increase in his strength and cleverness has been matched by a corresponding augmentation in his wickedness and the debasement of his soul. As Lord Acton succinctly put it, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." It is therefore primarily man's weakness that makes him even halfway sociable.
The oceans are dying, the air is filthy, and once arable farmland has been made sterile by development. Trees, plants, and other flora are obliterated with impunity. The food system has been contaminated by pollution, pesticides, synthetic additives, antibiotics, growth hormones, and drugs. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pushed by Monsanto and other capitalists, threaten to turn the once fertile earth into a barren wasteland where a few corporate giants determine who eats and who starves.
It is the animals, however, who have so far borne the brunt of man's greed and barbarism. At least a dozen species have been cloned and more than four-hundred-thirty-five hybrids have been created. Xenotransplantation has created a market where their body parts are worth more than they are and vivisectors around the world torture and exterminate millions of them each year. Although the perpetrators of these and other hideous crimes like to hide behind the mantle of the advancement of science, their worthless experiments serve only to enrich themselves and to fuel their insatiable cravings for animal blood.
Factory farmers genetically manipulate, abuse, and slaughter billions of animals each year in order to get rich while animal shelters exterminate tens of millions of cats and dogs because they are too cheap to house and feed them and too lazy to find homes for them. They, too, love the taste of blood on their tongues. Hunters kill billions more for sport, trophies, and money. Bullfighting, cockfighting, dogfighting, horse racing, and dog racing (the Iditarod included) also claim the lives of thousands of innocent animals.
Pariah states such as South Africa, Israel, Greece, Japan, Norway, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada target and exterminate entire species en masse and are still somehow accepted as legitimate members of the family of nations! To the north, the CBC's As It Happens has lost whatever credibility it once had by its zealous defense of Canada's barbaric yearly seal pup slaughter. (See Cat Defender post of March 27, 2006 entitled "Six Protesters Arrested as Baby Seal Slaughter Gets Under Way in Canada.")
In particular, on March 28th, co-host Barbara Budd excoriated Paul McCartney for his defense of the seals and then played his "Get Back" as a way of telling him to mind his own business. Compounding matters further, on April 14th guest host Christopher Thomas gave airtime to Labrador MP Todd Russell so that he could tell lies in defense of the hunt. The CBC either pretends that the slaughter does not occur or goes to great lengths to defend it; never does it give defenders of the seals access to its microphones.
The worldwide systematic corruption of economics, politics, and the mass media has made possible the emergence of certain powerful groups who now claim the right not only to decide which animals and people are going to be allowed to continue to exist, but under what circumstances. It is even in considerable doubt how much longer they are going to allow Mother Earth to continue to exist.
In addition to the age-old tactics of public vilification, genocide, and starvation, these would-be conquerors of both humanity and nature now have a powerful new weapon at their disposal: high-tech surveillance. It is present almost everywhere and comes in many guises.
At one end of the spectrum there are surveillance techniques that are only minimally invasive. Among these are mutilation, such as physically marking or scarring an animal, collars equipped with GPS, and remote sensing from outer space. There is also a more elaborate form of tagging known as bio-logging which requires that wild animals be hunted down like convicted felons on the lam, tranquilized, and then fitted with various surveillance equipment such as cameras, mobile phones, GPS, etc. The most prevalent surveillance technique, however, is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which involves the implantation of microchips not only in merchandise, mass transit smart cards, airline baggage tags, and ski resort passes, but also in livestock, pets, and humans.
The murder of Hal the Central Park coyote by wildlife officials in New York (See Cat Defender post of April 18, 2006 entitled "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him.") has focused attention on this new and deadly game that the so-called protectors of animals are now playing. Those individuals and groups dedicated to annihilating and controlling all of nature just about have man, the animals, and Mother Nature where they want them. That which was only a pipe dream for Bacon and Descartes is rapidly becoming a reality.
The most prevalent example of mutilation as a form of tagging involves the cruel and inhumane practice of cutting up the right ears of feral cats who have been sterilized. If the sterilization mobs who roam the country looking for cats to divest of their ovaries and testicles are unable to remember which cats they have desexed they should at least be creative enough to find a less invasive way of tagging. Mutilated ears are subject to infection and other problems, especially for cats living in the wild.
Although beeping and tracking collars, some even equipped with GPS, are available, microchips are the most common method of tagging felines and canines and so far more than six million of them have been sold. They, however, have their limitations. First of all, they must be surgically implanted under the skin and all invasive procedures are just as problematic for animals as they are for humans. Secondly, since these chips are not visible to the naked eye, a scanner is required in order to read them and very few members of the general public own these devices. More importantly, a lot of shelters and veterinarians do not scan rescued and injured pets for implanted microchips. Even those who do often wait until after they have anesthetized the animal for extermination. Although shelter workers and veterinarians claim that they can revive a death row animal if one is found, this is not only unlikely to occur but a crazy way of proceeding as well.
Thirdly, researchers at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam have determined that microchips implanted in pets and other items are vulnerable to computer viruses. For instance, one piece of checked airline luggage bearing an infected RFID tag is capable of disrupting baggage service at hundreds of airports around the world. (See Medical News Today, March 16, 2006, "Your Pet - Digital Virus Poses a Real Threat to RFID Tags.")
Finally, microchips in no way protect pets from either thieves or people intent upon doing them harm. Occasionally, they do work miracles, however, as was the case with Cheyenne (See photo at the top of the page of her with San Francisco shelter worker Mara Lamboy) who was reunited with her owner after a seven-year, 3,000-mile separation. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2005 entitled "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship.")
Cats, in particular, have long been victimized by even far more sinister plots cooked up by the scientific community working in conjunction with the political establishment. In 1966, the diabolical CIA attempted to create an "Acoustic Kitty" by surgically implanting a recording device and batteries inside a cat and stringing an antenna along its tail. Since the Kremlin had a habit of taking in stray cats as mousers, certain twisted minds in Washington thought that this would be a novel way to spy on the Russians. It is not known how many cats the CIA mutilated and killed until it got the procedure down pat but when it released the cat it was run over by a taxi while crossing the street to the Kremlin. As far as it is known, that was the end of that fiendish plan but the ghouls at Langley no doubt have plenty more mischief up their sleeves.
Although marine mammals, such as bottlenose dolphins and orcas, have been used since the Vietnam War as sentries and mine detectors, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is currently implanting electrodes in the brains of blue sharks (See photo above) so that they can be manipulated to spy on enemy vessels. (See New Scientist, March 1, 2006, "Stealth Sharks to Patrol the High Seas," Salon, March 10, 2006 "Shark and Awe," and London's Independent, March 2, 2006, "Pentagon Develops Brain Implants to Turn Sharks into Military Spies.") This is part of an emerging discipline called biomimetics which attempts to turn animals and insects into cyborgs which can be exploited and manipulated by man. Similar experimentation is currently under way involving dogfish, tuna, monkeys, and a slew of other animals.
Not all tagging is motivated by military concerns, however. Satellite tracking devices have been attached to a great white shark named Nicole as well as to salmon sharks allegedly in order to monitor their movements and health. (See Associated Press, October 7, 2005, "Shark Nicole Clocks More Than 12,000 Miles Crisscrossing Indian Ocean.") Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts have used ocean gliders, a type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that resembles an airplane, to spy on right, sei, and humpback whales off of Cape Cod. (See Woods Hole press release of February 22 2006, "Monitoring Baleen Whales with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles.") Other gliders have been employed to study physical and biological changes beneath the waves as well as pollution. (See Associated Press, March 7, 2006, "Gliders Tracking Whale Calls, Ocean Waves.")
In September of last year more than fifteen-hundred endangered sturgeons who, with the exception of one-hundred-fifty, were raised in captivity were fitted with microchips before being released into the Yangtze River. Although the monitoring is designed as a conservation measure, dams, such as the 1.4-mile-wide Three Gorges, overfishing, and the development of islands at the river's mouth pretty much cancel out the positive effects of this undertaking. (See Associated Press, September 20, 2005, "China Releases Endangered Sturgeons Implanted with Microchips in Migration Study.")
Last June, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), assisted by the Costa Rican NGO Tortugas Marinas and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and Sea Turtle Survival League out of Gainesville, Florida, captured and fitted eleven endangered leatherback turtles with satellite transmitters. (See Reuters, September 13, 2005, "Tagged Atlantic Sea Turtles Trace Journeys Online.") While ostensibly aimed at tracking their yearly migration from South America to Africa, these transmitters are of absolutely no benefit to the more than fifty-thousand leatherbacks who die each year in fishing nets.
Nonetheless, just as microchips occasionally save the lives of pets, they sometimes save wildlife also. A good case in point was a rare Bantagur baska, or Asian river terrapin (See photo above of turtle with Wildlife Conservation Society veterinarian Martin Gilbert), who was rescued from the soup pot last year in Vietnam because of a microchip implanted underneath his skin. (See Associated Press, July 20, 2005, "Microchip Saves Turtle from Soup Pot.") Of course, high-volume taggers like the WWF no doubt inadvertently kill a lot more animals than they save through their rough and inhumane trapping and tranquilizing methods.
Man's tracking, control, and domination of the animals has become so complete that Rory Wilson, a marine ornithologist at the University of Wales in Swansea, bragged to Der Spiegel on May 14, 2005, "No matter what the animal does, we keep track of it." (See "Turning Penguins into Rocket Scientists.")
For instance, northern sea elephants have been fitted with pressure sensors in order to study their diving habits. Mini-cameras have been attached to, inter alia, humpback, killer, and blue whales, Waddell seals, sea cows, pointer sharks, and Chinstrap and Adelie penguins (See photo above) in order to study their hunting practices. Albatrosses with miniature thermometers attached to their legs have been employed to measure the water temperature of the Indian Ocean and white whales have been used to collect data on the temperature and salinity of water beneath the Arctic Circle.
As technology continues to advance, the scientific community's manipulation of nature becomes more and more cruel and bizarre. For example, Beatriz da Costa of Cal-Irvine is planning to release twenty pigeons fitted with high-tech backpacks over San Jose on August 5th. Inside of each backpack will be a GPS satellite tracking receiver, air pollution sensors, and a rudimentary mobile phone. Text messages relating to air quality will be beamed back and posted on the web. (See Reuters, February 2, 2006, "Pigeons Get Backpacks for Air Pollution Monitoring.") It is highly unlikely, however, that these pigeons will be able to tell researchers much more than meteorologists and EPA officials already know but da Costa and her cronies will undoubtedly receive a big chunk of welfare money for this superfluous research plus get the pleasure of killing some pigeons.
In the small Deutsche town of Magdeburg in Sachsen-Anhalt, ornithologists Christoph and Michael Kaatz have been tracking the annual migration of a seventeen-year-old black and white stork named Prinzesschen (See photo below) for more than ten years. A transmitter attached to her has allowed the scientists to monitor her annual ten-thousand-kilometer trips to Africa and now, through the use of automobiles and airplanes, they have been able to videotape her journeys and have produced a documentary entitled, "Die Reise der Storche." (See Stern, April 25, 2006, "Prinzesschen der Lufte.") This is all very interesting but so far it has not contributed anything toward stemming the decline in the stork population of Deutschland. For instance, in 2004 there were 4,500 pairs of them as compared to 3,670 last year.
In the forests of Borneo, the WWF is on the prowl for pygmy elephants (See photo below). Trackers stalk the elephants, tranquilize them, and then strap brick-sized gray transmitters around their necks. The transmitters then relay the elephants' whereabouts to a satellite three times a day. Unfortunately, batteries do wear out and once that happens the WWF hunts down the elephants again, darts them, and straps new "bricks" around their necks. This experiment is expected to continue for at least five years which means that the elephants will be subjected to multiple taggings. (See Associated Press, July 3, 2005, "Electronic Tagging of Pygmy Elephants Aims to Solve an Ancient Mystery.") Although the WWF argues that this exercise is designed to protect the pygmies from encroachments on their habitat by palm oil plantation owners, in reality it is just another excuse for the WWF to continue to abuse animals and to extend its conquest of nature.
At the Charles W. Green Memorial Conservation Area near Ashland, Missouri, the University of Missouri and the National Science Foundation have teamed up to tranquilize deer in order to mount battery-run cameras with transmitters on their antlers. (See Associated Press, October 31, 2005, "Missouri Team Mounts Tiny Cameras Atop Deer.") Although it is alleged that the photos will help officials in the "Show Me" state to better manage the state's deer population, the key question is qui bono? In Missouri as elsewhere, man's interest in deer is pretty much limited to trophy hunting and keeping them off of highways and out of backyards. In other words, all of the benefits of this study will accrue to man, not to the deer.
Out West, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has joined forces with the University of Arizona to spend $120,000 trapping and tagging twenty cougars in and around Tucson and Payson. The mountain lions will be fitted with GPS collars and the data will be beamed up to airplanes. (See Associated Press, October 6, 2005, "Arizona Officials to Track Mountain Lions.") Meanwhile, in Florida the WWF's sister agency, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), has been tranquilizing and tagging the much maligned Florida panther (See photo below) since 1981.
At last count, forty of the remaining eighty to ninety panthers have been fitted with radio collars which, as in Arizona, will allow the NWF to track their movements via airplanes. Once the batteries go dead, however, the big cats will be hunted down again and retagged like the pygmies in Borneo. (See www.wwf.org.) All animals subjected to the so-called conservation efforts of the WWF and NWF are repeatedly hunted down, tranquilized, tagged, and monitored. As far as these groups are concerned, the only good animal is one that is under their thumbs.
Also in southern Florida at the Everglades National Park, the United States National Park Service is trapping and fitting Burmese pythons with radio transmitters in order to ferret out other pythons for slaughter. (See Reuters, April 13, 2006, "U.S. Biologist Battles Killer Pythons in Florida Park.") As the use of these Judas snakes makes perfectly clear, high-tech surveillance can be used to exterminate animals even more proficiently than it can be used as a conservation tool.
Burmese pythons are not the only snakes to become ensnared in researchers' control schemes. For instance, investigators at Washington University's Tyson Research Center outside of St. Louis have surgically implanted pinkie-sized transmitters into the body cavities of twenty-eight rattlesnakes. The $300 transmitters are equipped with GPS which allows the professors to monitor the snakes' movements. (See Associated Press, June 14, 2005, "Snakes Have Interesting Habits, Researchers Say.")
As is the case with just about all tagging exercises, this experiment is motivated primarily by curiosity and a desire to secure governmental funding as opposed to any genuine desire to protect the rattlers' habitat. Although thirteen states list timber rattlers as either threatened or endangered, Missouri is not one of them.
Man's attempt not only to exploit but also to control all of nature is not limited to his manipulation of terrestrial, aquatic, and avian mammals but it also extends to insects, rodents, and even plants. DARPA has already fitted honeybees and wasps with radio transmitters in a so far unsuccessful attempt to use them to search for toxic substances. It is currently experimenting with using, inter alia, dragonflies and moths as military spies. It has also implanted remote-controlled electrodes in the brains of rats in order to use them to sift through piles of rubble. Even the ability of plants to bend and wave in the breeze is being studied for possible adaptation to aircraft. (See Toronto Star, April 3, 2006, "Uncle Sam's Scientists Busy Building Insect Army.")
America's long-suffering farm animals are also now being tagged. By 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to have in place either a governmentally or privately operated National Animal Identification System which will track the movement of all livestock from birth to abattoir. (See photo at the bottom of the page of a herd of black Angus cows.) Under this system, all ranches, sale barns, feed lots, packing plants, veterinarians' offices, and any other threshold through which livestock passes will also be required to have an identification number. All of these IDs will, of course, be entered into a national database. (See The Daily Oklahoman, July 8, 2005, "Agriculture Leaders Finalize Animal Tracking Plan," Tulsa World, September 2, 2005, "Private System for Animal ID Raises Concern," and Associated Press, April 7, 2006, "Animal ID System to be in Place by 2009.")
While the stated goal of agricultural officials is to protect the nation's food supply from BSE and other deadly zoonotic diseases, the tagging and tracking of livestock ultimately reveals the total moral depravity of both meat producers and consumers alike. Farm animals are already genetically manipulated, pumped full of growth hormones and other poisons, tortured, and then slaughtered for consumption and tagging is just one more step in a downward spiral that treats them as cash-producing objects instead of sentient beings. The tagging of livestock may perhaps help to secure the food supply but the fact remains that factory farming is morally indefensible.
The tagging and monitoring of animals must sooner or later inevitably lead to man being subjected to the same constraints. For example, at least seventy people have already been tagged in the United States as well as an unknown number of people in foreign countries. Verisign, for example, manufactures a microchip with a copper antenna encased in a glass capsule that is about the size of a grain of rice and which is implanted underneath the skin on the back of the arm. The chip, which lasts indefinitely, transmits a sixteen-digit code that is read by a handheld scanner. The code is then used to access information stored in an online database.
In the United States, the implants have been pretty much limited so far to medical data but CityWatcher.com in Cincinnati uses them to identify employees. In Mexico, the government uses them like key cards in high-security offices. In Spain and Holland, bars are offering the implants to patrons who want quick entree and to run up electronic tabs. (See Washington Post, March 15, 2006, "Use of Implanted Patient-Data Chips Stirs Debate on Medicine vs. Privacy," and Financial Times, February 13, 2006, "US Group Implants Electronic Tags in Workers.")
Tant pis, this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Some convenience stores in America now allow patrons to pay for their merchandise by having a finger scanned. In England, tracking devices are mandatory on all motor vehicles and the police routinely seize the travel records of public transit riders who pay their fares using microchipped passes known as Oyster cards. (See International Herald Tribune, March 15, 2006, "Police Using Electronics to Trace Suspects' Travel.") The recently enacted Police and Justice Bill allows the police to electronically tag suspects without court orders. (See Independent, May 4, 2006, "Government Move Is the Latest in a Series of Assaults on Civil Liberties.") Parliament has also mandated biometric national identity cards and passports. In the United States, Congress last year passed a law requiring Americans to have biometric national identity cards within three years; biometric passports are already being issued. Man, who for so long has treated Mother Nature and the animals as inanimate objects, is rapidly becoming one himself.
The negatives associated with high-tech surveillance far outweigh the positives. Scientists kill untold numbers of animals each year by hounding them down and tagging them. The monitoring devices are often cumbersome and interfere with their daily activities. They are also subject to corrosion and other defects over time. Their batteries wear out and this necessitates that the animals must be captured and tagged repeatedly. As far as man is concerned, high-tech surveillance of his activities is certain to produce more evil than good.
In the final analysis, tagging is not only degrading to all animals and to man but it opens up new opportunities for abuse on the part of those individuals and groups who already consider themselves to be the lords of the universe and everyone and everything else as mere steppingstones on their march to world domination.
Researchers such as Rory Wilson are certainly aware of the deleterious effect their bio-logging is having on animals but they attempt to justify their barbarism by relying upon that old discredited bromide of all scientists: the end justifies the means. "Only if we know exactly how the animals live and what they need for survival, we can protect them effectively," he told Der Spiegel in the article cited supra.
That is simply ego and lies. Everyone know what the animals need. They need for man to leave them alone in legally protected habitats. What Wilson and his cronies are striving for is domination over the animals and man, not their survival. He gives the game away when he admits that his goal is to create a so-called map of the biosphere. "One day, all over the globe, masses of animals will be equipped with miniature transmitters and the data will be aggregated on the internet," he told Der Spiegel.
If the scientific community wanted to save the animals it would stop trying to subjugate them and instead join the fight against both capitalism and consumerism. Unfortunately, it has never had any respect for Mother Earth, the animals, or even man.
Photos: Michael Macor of the San Francisco Chronicle (Cheyenne and Mara Lamboy), Scubasworld.com (blue shark), Andy Eames of the Associated Press (turtle), Associated Press (penguin), Michael Kaatz/Deutsche Presseagentur (Prinzesschen), Vincent Thian of the Associated Press (pygmy elephants), Geocities (Florida panther), and Moo Amp (cows).