"Although unpopular, euthanasia is a fact of life in the animal welfare community and should be employed to alleviate the suffering of stray and abandoned animals (cats) that cannot or should not be adopted."
-- Tim Steinbesier, Redbud Avian Rehabilitation Center
The moneygrubbing, cat-hating fascist hypocrites that comprise the ranks of the National Audubon Society (NAS) and its affiliates once again have been caught with their pants down and their dirty drawers exposed for all to see. This time around it is their disgraceful collusion with the natural-born animal annihilators within the mercenary United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that has been their undoing.
For years, the Audubons have co-opted the USFWS into serving as their very own publicly financed death squad in order to have feral cats exterminated on San Nicolas Island, Florida's Big Pine Key, and elsewhere. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008, July 10, 2008, and May 24, 2007 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island," "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat Killers on San Nicolas Island" and "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key.")
They also have successfully used it in order to have cats evicted (and most likely later killed) from the beaches of Cape May, Long Island, and elsewhere.
There is not any honor amongst killers, thieves, and liars, however, and today's comrades in arms often turn out to be tomorrow's mortal enemies. That is the bitter harvest that the thick-headed members of the California Audubon Society (CAS) are reaping now that their erstwhile buddies at USFWS have approved the killing of fifty of their lucrative Acorn Woodpeckers at the Rossmoor retirement community. (See photo above.)
Rossmoor is an affluent enclave comprised on ninety-two-hundred souls in Walnut Creek, California, thirty-four kilometers west of San Francisco. The average age of its denizens is seventy-six and two-thirds of them are women. (See photo below of the entrance.)
Although the residents may be made of money, Rossmoor's developer used cheap Styrofoam and a thin coating of stucco for window dressing and other decorative trim. That idiotic decision coupled with the petit fait
that the development sits smack-dab in the middle of an oak forest was an invitation for trouble from the outset.
Being anything but dummies, the woodpeckers quickly discovered that it was considerably easier to drill into Styrofoam than into wood and attacked the expensive townhouses with a vengeance. So far they have drilled in excess of three-thousand holes into more than a dozen of them. (See photos further down the page.)
In addition to doing considerable structural damage to the residences, the birds' incessant pecking is driving some of the tenants nuts. "It's (the birds) an attraction for most people, but it's a pain in the neck for some people," long-time resident Earl Orum told the Los Angeles Times
on February 16th. (See "Boring in on a Woodpecker Controversy.")
In an effort to find a humane solution to the dilemma, residents have shelled out in excess of $170,000. They have, inter alia
, painted their townhouses with chemical deterrents, erected screens and nets, hung out Mylar balloons, and played recordings of falcons and hawks.
They also have pressed into service battery-powered spiders with fake webs and purchased wooden owls. Not only have none of these ploys deterred the woodpeckers, but to add insult to injury the intrepid birds even have pecked holes in the owls.
Sick and tired of paying out the wazoo and at their wits' end, the residents last summer secured a permit from the USFWS to hire a sharpshooter to kill fifty of the birds. The record is not exactly clear but apparently twenty-two of the birds already have been mercilessly gunned down with another eighteen expected to be dispatched to the devil before the permit expires in May.
Under fire from the CAS, the USFWS is considering revoking the permit that it issued solely at the request of Rossmoor and without even looking into the matter beforehand. Nevertheless, the USFWS's Alexandra Pitts had the audacity to tell the Los Angeles Times,
"We don't issue depredation permits lightly."
The CAS, which had offered to build soft-wood posts with existing holes so that the birds would have somewhere to store their nuts, abandoned this plan back in January after Rossmoor refused to put an end to the killings. "We're incredibly disappointed that the boards of the Rossmoor homeowner's groups have elected to proceed with this utterly pointless exercise," the organization's Graham Chisholm told the San Francisco Chronicle
on January 28th. (See "Woodpeckers in a Peck of Trouble at Rossmoor.")
Both the CAS and the Mount Diablo Audubon Society of Walnut Creek vociferously maintain that Rossmoor has not exhausted all the non-lethal remedies available to it and that killing the birds will not solve the problem. Au contraire
, they argue that such precipitate action will only create a vacuum which in turn will be filled by other woodpeckers. (See CAS press release of January 27, 2009 entitled "Rossmoor Group Rejects Audubon Assistance on Woodpeckers, Opts to Go Ahead with Shooting.")
It is more than a little amusing that the Audubons would trot out those arguments in that they are precisely the same ones that they have categorically rejected time and time again whenever they have been put forward by cat advocates, such as Alley Cat Allies and others. In fact, it is not only cats that they are hellbent upon obliterating but all animals that they view as a threat to birds that they find financially attractive. (See Cat Defender post of March 15, 2007 entitled "Connecticut Audubon Society Shows Its True Colors by Calling for the Slaughter of Feral Cats, Mute Swans, Mallards, Canada Geese, and Deer.")
It is axiomatic that any individual or group that expects to be treated with compassion and respect should be willing to reciprocate. The fact that bird advocates are so totally unwilling to do that is just one more bit of evidence that they are, arguably, the biggest frauds and hypocrites that this world has ever produced.
In addition to the immense pleasure that they derive from defaming and killing cats, bird advocates are motivated far more by greed than by any genuine appreciation for the species that they allegedly are defending. Jim Edgar of Mount Diablo gave the game away when he told CAS in the press release cited supra
that "Acorn Woodpeckers are very popular among bird enthusiasts." By that he means that there are big bucks to made off of conducting bird-watching tours to see them and through the sale of overnight accommodations and binoculars.
Of course, greed is not limited to either Mount Diablo or the CAS. No one will ever forget how Ed Stiles of New Jersey Audubon salivated over all the moola that he and his comrades were going to make after they secured the right for Red Knots and other shorebirds to feast on horseshoe crabs.
"We applaud the successful effort of legislators to secure this treasure and ensure we don't cook the golden goose by destroying a multimillion-dollar wildlife watching tourism industry," he said last year. (See Cat Defender post of May 6, 2008 entitled "National Audubon Society Wins the Right for Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Unborn Horseshoe Crabs.")
Then there is serial cat killer James Munn Stevenson's outlandish bragging to take into account. "As far as my business is concerned, it (killing cats) was a godsend," he roared with impish delight last summer. (See Cat Defender post of August 7, 2008 entitled "Crime Pays! Having Made Fools Out of Galveston Prosecutors, Serial Cat Killer James Munn Stevenson Is Now a Hero and Laughing All the Way to the Bank.")
The environment as well as the animals also has suffered as a result of the various Audubons' relentless shekel
chasing. For instance, the NAS spent fifty years drilling for natural gas and oil in the Paul J. Rainey (Bird) Sanctuary in Louisiana. The organization pocketed $25 million from this misadventure all the while it was vociferously campaigning against similar exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and at other environmentally-sensitive locations.
The Audubons' disingenuousness goes far beyond greed and killing cats, however, and extends to its utter failure to protect the lives and habitats of unpopular avian species. For example, back in January, one of the USFWS's partners in crime, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), poisoned thousands of starlings in Griggstown, New Jersey without the Audubons uttering so much as a peep in protest. (See photo below of the carnage.)
This mass eradication was ordered after a farmer had complained that the birds were gobbling up feed that he had put out for his livestock. Perhaps even more illustrative, the birds were felled by the deadly avicide DRC-1339 which not only causes kidney and heart failure but was jointly developed by the Denver Wildlife Research Center and Ralston Purina.
Just because not too many individuals are willing to part with their precious shekels
to see starlings does not mean that these birds are unworthy of protection. They are in fact quite remarkable creatures that are capable of mimicking both speech and songs and are often kept as pets. Mozart, for instance, had a pet starling that he thought so highly of that he composed a poem for it when it died.
Due to the Audubons' dereliction of responsibility, the defense of the starlings fell by default to Janet Piszar of the Bear Education and Resource Group. "As always, the problem was created by man, as were the bear and deer issue (sic)
," she told The New York Times
on February 1st. (See "A Farmer's Loss Leads to a Shower of Dead Starlings.")
"Sportsmen and others have manipulated animal populations for their own special interests," she continued. (Also see Chris T. Darimont et al., "Human Predators Outpace Other Agents of Trait Change in the Wild," volume 106 of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pages 952-954, published online January 12, 2009 and National Parks Traveler, January 18, 2009, "Humans as 'Super Predators' -- New Study Offers Startling Information About Hunting and Fishing.")
"It's not that we don't like starlings," APHIS spokeswoman Carol A. Bannerman told The Times
. "Our interest was to assist a local farmer with a problem."
With that pithy pronouncement, Bannerman summed up all that is so terribly wrong with APHIS, the USDA, USFWS, Wildlife Services, and other federal agencies that exist in order to kill animals. Instead of safeguarding the lives and habitats of animals, they instead are doing the dirty work of farmers, ranchers, developers, energy companies, sportsmen, the military, municipalities, loggers, airports, golf course operators, the owners of swimming pools and, above all, the Audubons.
On the average, the USDA's department of Wildlife Services spends between $100 and $120 million per annum
shooting, poisoning, and trapping between two and three million wild animals. Included in the agency's 2004 death toll of 2.7 million animals were: 31,286 beavers, 3,236 opossums, 2,210 prairie dogs, 10,518 raccoons, 1,673 rabbits and hares, 397 black bears, 359 cougars, 75,674 coyotes, 3,907 foxes, 191 wolves, and 1,918 bobcats.
Birds were not spared the gallows either. For instance, 22,204 crows, ravens and black birds, 76,874 pigeons and doves, 10,806 geese and swans, 72 turkeys, 15,508 sparrows, and 143 free-range chickens also were liquidated. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")
"Most of the public has no idea that a significant portion of the federal wildlife budget is actually devoted to extermination," Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said at that time. "Animals that inconvenience humans become expendable 'varmints' that are then dispatched with stunning efficiency."
Not content with merely slaughtering wildlife with impunity, Wildlife Services also kills its fair share of cats and dogs. Par exemple,
in 2004 it annihilated 1,099 cats. In 2005, the death toll rose to 1,147 while for 2006 it stood at 1,184. The extermination rate for dogs during the same period remained constant at between 512 and 519 deaths per year.
The lesson to be learned from the multiplicity of crimes committed by the feds is that they are the sworn enemies of both wild and domestic animals. In an ideal world, people would have enough bon sens
to respect and treasure all animal life but since that is not the case the second best alternative would be to refrain from colluding with those organizations that are dedicated to their extirpation.
Sadly, that petit fait
is beyond the intellectual grasp of the Audubons. Moreover, they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that it was precisely their prior dirty dealings with the USFWS that have paved the way for the killing of the Acorn Woodpeckers.
No one, however, should be deluded into believing that the tragic deaths in Rossmoor will prompt the Audubons to mend their evil ways. Far from it, they will emerge from this catastrophe even more committed to the eradication of cats and other species of animals.
Their true intentions are made abundantly clear on a daily basis by the hate-filled anti-cat screeds that they dash off to both newspapers and scientific journals. The sentiments recently expressed by Tim Steinbeiser of the Redbud Avian Rehabilitation Center in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, are representative of how these inveterate cat-haters think and behave.
After declaring no-kill shelters to be "only a dream," he proceeded to categorically declare that they "do not accept feral or stray cats." Anyone even remotely familiar with the work of Nathan Winograd and other no-kill advocates knows that both of Steinbeiser's statements are complete fabrications.
From that inauspicious beginning, he went on to show his true colors by saying in effect that the only good cat is a dead one. "Although unpopular, euthanasia is a fact of life in the animal welfare community and should be employed to alleviate the suffering of stray or abandoned animals (cats) that cannot or should not be adopted," he bellowed to The Times
of Trenton on February 24th. (See "When Kindness Kills.")
First of all, Steinbeiser needs to part with a few of his shekels
in favor of a dictionary of the English language. If he could be convinced to make the sacrifice, he quickly would discover that there is a huge difference between en masse
exterminations of perfectly healthy cats and euthanasia.
Secondly, whether he or his fellow bird advocates like it or not, stray and feral cats have just as much of a right to live as do birds. In fact, it could be argued that they have more of a right because they do considerably less damage to the environment than birds and are more valuable to mankind. That in no way alters the fact that the Acorn Woodpeckers in Rossmoor should not be killed under any circumstances.
Of course, demonizing and killing cats provides bird lovers with the perfect cover for their mindless greed and failure to protect unpopular avian species from the machinations of the USFWS and other economic interests. In the final analysis, they are little more than sleazy capitalists with an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with safeguarding animal life.Photos: Michael Maloney of the San Francisco Chronicle (Acorn Woodpecker and damaged townhouse), Coro of Wikipedia (Rossmoor), Wally Skalij of the Los Angeles Times (damaged window ledge), and John O.Boyle of The Star Ledger of Newark (dead starlings).