Big cats and human complexity


Well said!

Originally posted on The Trailhead:

This weekend I spent time at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center near Brazil, Indiana. Most of the cats at the Center are tigers, due in part to the popularity of tiger ownership as a status symbol, as well as the obsession with breeding white tigers. Such breeding inevitably produces many non-white tigers, which then require sanctuary.

White tiger. White tiger.

There really are very few places that one can get so close to big cats; in the wild it’s unwise, and in zoos there always seem to be greater physical barriers, whether through glass or moats or just sheer distance. The EFRC keeps the cats in wooded, fenced habitats. Some of the cats are quite affectionate, and would come up and rub their faces against the fence when our guide called them, just like ordinary kitties.

010Others, though, behaved very much like one would expect wild tigers and lions to behave. I stood…

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ARRS committee meeting on expanding bear hunting-7/14/15

bearThe ARRS committee of the KY state legislature met today to discuss, among other things, Kentucky Division of Fish & Wildlife Resources’ proposal to increase bear hunting tags and seasons in the state. Committee member Tommy Turner welcomed General Counsel David Wicker, biologist Steven Dobey and others who appeared on behalf of Fish & Wildlife. Dobey stated that the bear population has increased since the first bear season in 2009 to 500-700. He said the proposal would increase the cap on bagged bears to 35. Wicker said the season would end if/when that total was hunted.

Kathryn Callahan, new HSUS state director, read a statement on behalf of HSUS. She stated that Dobey had previously given much smaller numbers as estimates for bear populations in the state. The main populations fall into two groups: those in the southern Big South Fork area and those in the eastern part of the state. She said the bears do not need to be hunter earlier, in a bigger area or with hounds, and she asked the committee to find the proposed regulation deficient. Doug Morgan, Kentucky Houndsmen, Ed Morris, League of Kentucky Sportsmen, Chet Hayes, Fifth Federation and Robin Webb, a legislator, all gave support to Fish & Wildlife’s plan. Hayes took the opportunity to criticize HSUS, but Co-chair Marzian politely returned the discussion to the issue at hand.

The proposal passed the committee, but, as it must still go before the Natural Resource Committee, no final decision was made on the regulation today.

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Wake Up, Murica!


terroristisisThe last week has been a whirlwind in the U.S. Between talks of taking down the Confederate flag from state capitols and gay marriage becoming the law of the land, Americans have had to digest unbelievable changes in a very short time. Although the fights for such measures have gone on for decades, their fruition still seems fairly shocking.

It’s shocking in a good way for liberals, gays and many blacks. Let’s face it: we’re still celebrating! And it’s hard not to gloat a little bit, after all the hateful rhetoric that has played on.

It’s even more shocking (not in such a good way) for many older people, conservatives and evangelical Christians. Some continue to rail against changes that have already occurred. Bless their hearts, it will take them some time to accept reality.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump couldn’t make it a week into his campaign before losing his TV show, after pissing off a third of the US population with racist remarks about Mexicans.

One thing is true for all Americans though. These issues, great as they may be, have distracted the nation from even more important concerns. A real danger continues for America in the form of terrorism, both domestic and foreign. Roof, the Charleston shooter, whose full name I won’t give him the satisfaction of typing, is as much an enemy of the entire US as he is of blacks (as illustrated by the above pic). ISIS continues its rampage of terror throughout the globe without any concern for life. One thing Trump is right about, despite the fact that he expressed the view in a disgusting manner, is that terrorists can enter our country through lax borders.

At this point, I believe we need to show no mercy for any terrorists, American or not. We may have to accept a certain amount of loss of personal privacy to allow effective phone and internet surveillance. We have to secure the borders, in a way that is humane to undocumented workers and/or children already here. We also have to beef up airline security in a commonsense way that doesn’t just make little old grannies take off their shoes and jewelry.

Personally, on the eve of our Independence Day,  it’s terrorism, human and ecological, that scares the shit out of me. I don’t know about you, but I ‘ve never felt threatened by throngs of Mexican migrant workers or gay rights activists…

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mfaWow is all I can think to say at this point. This has been a really bad week for bigots and racists, and I couldn’t be happier.

America is a little better place today that it was just a few days ago. The Confederate flag is coming down (eventually) in public places, and everyone now has the right to marry (or not) whomever they choose. We are seeing slow but steady progress (except in Ky) on animal welfare issues. The Pope has even decreed that we must improve our treatment of animals and the environment. These changes don’t right all of society’s wrongs, but they’re a hell of a step in the right direction.

We still have much work to do. Terrorism, both domestic and foreign, continues to fester. Just surviving paycheck-to-paycheck remains the norm for much of the middle class and working poor. Some Christians seem to have forgotten the example of Jesus, whom the religion was founded upon.

However, just for today, let’s celebrate equality and victory. A victory for all!

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f*ck the flag

And now to probably piss off everybody with my two cents about this flag thing: it’s apparent to me that we still have a long way to go with race relations in this country. As you can probably guess from the meme pictured here, I think Gov. Haley is on the right track calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol grounds. I have seen the social media comments saying that the flag is a sign of heritage and not racism, but frankly I have to call bullshit on that one. The Confederacy was founded on the principle of states’ rights. However, one of those state rights they wanted to preserve was the right to own slaves. Whatever “heritage” the flag symbolizes is far outweighed by its symbolism of racism, hatred and the KKK. As a particular reminder to the majority of Kentuckians who, according to an online poll, think the flag should be left up, Kentucky was not even part of the Confederacy, but a border state in the Civil War. By the way, removing the flag from SC’s capitol would not preclude its private use. If some redneck wanted to fly it in his yard or post it above the balls on the back of his pickup truck, nothing would stop him.

Beyond the issue of the flag, do I understand why black people are upset about fairly recent happenings like the shooting of Trayvon Martin? Yes, I do. George Zimmerman (who is not just white, but Latino btw) was acquitted for killing Martin for no reason. Since his acquittal, he has proven himself to be an idiot by getting into trouble with guns again, as well as fighting with his ex-wife and girlfriends.

Do I understand why some white people are upset about the level of attention given to the shooting of Michael Brown? Yes, I do. As much stupid shit as some cops do, including shooting pets and innocent people like the black guy in a random traffic stop in SC (again), I think the officer in the Brown shooting was over-vilified for shooting a robbery suspect who may have been rushing him.

But back to the flag, let’s remember why this whole debate began. Nine innocent people were killed in church during prayer service by a possibly mentally ill, definitely racist moron in Charleston, SC last week. According to reports, after the crazy-looking white boy with the bowl haircut joined the prayer group, some of the little church-going black ladies told him they enjoyed him. Can’t you just picture them saying that? Let’s honor their memory by letting some good come of this needless tragedy. Let’s remove the Confederate flag from society so the next fucked-up kid can’t use it as an excuse for mass murder. Come on, y’all!

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papal pontifications

popeLet me preface this post by saying I’m not Catholic (even though I did give up red meat during Lent once during an attempt to move toward vegetarianism and my mom converted to Catholicism for awhile). However, Pope Francis almost makes me wish I were.

“Laudato Si,” his encyclical, or letter, released last week, calls on all people to make restoring and preserving the environment a greater priority. In one section, he writes “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth…” His writings are in line with the opinions of most mainstream scientists.

Predictably many Republican politicians, including Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, have criticized the pope for inserting his religious opinion into a secular topic. Interestingly they apparently do not see their own hypocrisy for criticizing him while not hesitating to cite religion on other topics, including abortion and gay marriage.

I just hope Pope Francis stays strong and healthy for a long time so he can continue to fight the good fight.

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Deer me

imageLuckily I got some casework done at work this morning, because I spent much of the afternoon on a wild goose chase. Saturday I saw this picture of a fawn in the local paper. The caption stated that it had been left alone by the mother all day at the local water plant, and that a city employee had taken it home.

Considering that it is actually illegal to keep wildlife as a pet and that deer raised by hand are usually unable to survive in the wild, I set out to find out where the deer was. I called the water plant and was told the name of a city employee whose mother, an employee at a vet’s office, had been involved in the deer’s rescue. When I called the employee, she said she could not give me any information on the deer and hung up on me.

I then paid a visit to the city manager’s office. After having to resort to saying that I might have to contact the press and Fish & Wildlife (which I would be loath to do, considering their botched killing of a mountail lion in the area last year), he eventually gave me the name of the vet the employee’s mother works for. The vet confirmed that his employee has the deer and said he thought it was an appropriate placement.

I’m sure the woman was just trying to help the deer and means well. I just hope that, whe the deer matures, it does not escape its home and find itself unable to survive.

If there is a moral to this story, I guess it is to contact a wildlife specialist if you find wildlife in need. A good resource in the central Ky area is the Kentucky Wildlife Center, which can be reached at 859-280-3053.

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small minds

imageWhen I woke up this morning, I never dreamed I’d be blogging about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner before day’s end. I’ve never been a fan of the Kardashians’ TV show, and I was still trying to learn the alphabet during Jenner’s Olympics heyday.

However, as you know by now unless you’ve been cut off from all internet and TV media today, Jenner debuted her new female persona and name with photos in Vanity Fair. I had seen outtakes of Jenner’s recent interview with Diane Sawyer. Frankly, I was a little concerned about what his female version would look like. My first reaction: Damn, she looks good! If I ever win the lottery, maybe I should get some work done.

My next reaction was actually disgust in response to some others’ reactions. I have seen comments by other so-called Christians announcing that Jenner is an abomination and will surely burn in hell. While I don’t fully understand Jenner’s decision, it really doesn’t affect me in any way. It would seem to me that any number of issues, including damage to the environment, poverty or even child molestation, would draw more ire from people than someone making a personal decision. However, some of the people condemning Jenner are the same ones supporting Josh Duggar, an admitted child molester. Is it just me, or is something seriously amiss here?

Yes, Jenner will no doubt benefit financially from transitioning so publicly. However, hopefully she will also give some sexually confused teenagers hope and save some lives.

All I can say to her is, You go, girl!

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So it’s been awhile since I posted. I could blame work, home, etc., but honestly I just haven’t made the time to do it.

Not too much is new, which is probably another reason I haven’t blogged lately. Bersain is finishing up 6th grade. He is enjoying band and his friends. However, he is in danger of getting his first F on a report card in Family Living, whatever that is. We did a take-home assignment which should have raised his grade the point he needed for a D. According to infinite campus, he still has an F. Recent emails to the teacher have been unanswered. I’m not happy about it, but considering problems some are facing, I just can’t get as worked up about it as I ordinarily would.

This past weekend, the DOSE of my child’s school was taking her daughter to a volleyball game, when another car hit theirs, killing her daughter and injuring her. I can’t imagine the pain of such a sweet family. It certainly puts things in perspective. If you’re able, consider donating for the family’s expenses:

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Buh bye, Kid Rock

Dear Kid Rock (Bobby):

I hate to have to say this, but we’re going to have to break up. I’m sure this may come as a shock to you since you have no idea who I am, but let me explain:

I have loved you and your music since you hit the music scene big in the 90s. Seeing the video for “Bawitdaba” on MTV (back when MTV still showed videos) was reminiscent of seeing GnR’s video for “Welcome to the Jungle” over a decade earlier. I had never seen or heard anything like it.

I followed you from rap rock to country and back again. I thought the charity work you did for veterans was so cool. I bought your cds, went to your concerts and even considered going on your cruise.

Then a funny thing happened. Early this year I saw a picture circulating of you with psychotic Ted Nugent and a mountain lion you killed. Was this animal attacking someone’s livestock, or did you just think it would make a nice prize?


Now I have read your new Rolling Stone interview. It describes how you and your girlfriend Audrey shoot and eventually kill a group of penned feral pigs after you say “We’re about to do some murderous shit.”


Now I understand that feral pigs are considered a nuisance in parts of the South. However, to gleefully shoot defenseless, frightened caged animals doesn’t seem like much of a sport to me. Let’s just hope their meat was eaten and not wasted.

Hunting is of course legal, and you have the right to do it. I simply don’t understand how someone could derive such pleasure from inflicting pain and death. Are you doing it to punish your ex, Pam Anderson, a famous PETA spokesperson? If so, surely there are more mature ways to go about that. I know you have dogs and will soon have a grandchild. I hope you don’t treat them the way you do wild animals. I won’t even mention the derogatory way you describe your fan base in the article.

In closing, this was a very difficult letter for me to write. I loved you and your music, but, due to your recent treatment of animals, we must part ways for now. I won’t be buying your music or concert tickets (despite the fact that you do try to keep ticket prices down), as long as you continue your current behavior. I know you don’t care, but I did. Once.


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