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2008-10-08 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

"Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Because animals don't vote." Paul Harvey

But you do. There's one more thing you need to know about the self-proclaimed Pit Bull Soccer Mom: Governor Palin strongly supports the brutal and unethical aerial killing of wolves and other wildlife. In fact, she even proposed a plan to pay a $150 bounty to every pilot and gunner for the severed leg of each killed wolf. This hunting horror show exists only in one state—Alaska.

In 2007, Palin reinstated and extended the area of the blood sport. This summer reports circulated that her Department of Fish & Wildlife pulled 14 fiveweek old wolf cubs out of their den and illegally shot them in the head, claiming this was the humane thing to do since their parents had been killed in the aerial hunt.

The federal government outlawed aerial hunting in 1972, but Alaska, under certain governors, keeps skirting the issue claiming the awful practice is needed for wildlife management. Many scientists disagree. In September 2007, the National Academy of Sciences, other agencies, plus 172 biologists contacted Governor Palin, protesting the wolf plan as unethical and unjustified predator control.

According to Defenders of Wildlife, Palin instead approved a $400,000 state-funded campaign to sway votes on the controversial issue, even though Alaskans have twice voted previously to ban aerial hunting. She recently introduced legislation to add aerial killing of black bears, including sows with their cubs.

As a mere "pet" writer, I may be overstepping my bounds politically. Though not a member of any party, I feel I must expose the facts about aerial hunting, a callous practice that, futilely, I've opposed for years. Palin's advocacy of this cruelty is only part of her environmental stance many see as deadly and detrimental.

"It is horrifying we have to fight our own government to save the environment."

Ansel Adams

Getting back to the murdered wolves-if you care about dogs, perhaps you care about their closest relative. Aerial hunting is not sport. It's an inhumane tactic usually done in winter when the poor victims are easier to see. To track and spot a wolf from an airplane and then kill it, is not considered a fair chase method. Often the wolves are first run to the point of exhaustion, and then blown away from the air. Rarely is the shotgun blast a clean, merciful kill; many wolves die after prolonged, excruciating agony. Over 700 Alaskan wolves have been massacred this way since the practice began again.

"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition."

Carl Sagan

Alaska is the last place in our nation where people can see vast ecosystems intact. Preservation should be the priority. Tourists go there to admire the caribou, grizzly and moose, but the intelligent wolf, symbol of the American frontier, is the superstar. As an elementary teacher, I spent a lot of time "undoing" the undeserved reputation bestowed on the Big Bad Wolf in folklore. I even invited a wolf to visit the kids. Koani, our lupine guest, traveled from Montana, and stood on our stage with her German Shepherd pal. I might be the only LI educator who can say she rode in a VW van alongside a real live wolf. Whenever aerial hunting was "legal," my students would write persuasive letters asking Alaskan governors to halt the slaughter. We'd receive form letter responses. Honestly, I thought this nightmare was over, mistakenly assuming we had become more civilized.

Election Day is approaching. Sometimes disturbing, peripheral points haunt thinking citizens enough to tip the balance in carefully pondered voting decisions. Killing wolves may seem like "small potatoes" in a time when our nation is faced with so many crushing economic, social and wartime problems. That depends on your perspective. This needless torture is indicative of an utter disregard for our fragile environment… How can we forget the Exxon Valdez? Yes, my students used to write letters to Congress begging them not to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge too. It doesn't bother Palin to drill there or to sacrifice the polar bears and beluga whales that inhabit one of the most ecologically sensitive areas on earth. Palin

wants to remove polar bears from the endangered species list anyway. Watch the 1:02 minute You- Tube video about Palin's support of aerial wolf hunting. If you have the stomach, view the 3:25 minute version too. Then ask yourself the question posed by the Defenders of Wildlife: "Do we really want a Vice President who champions such savagery?" Upcoming Fundraisers: Rescue Ink, dedicated to stopping animal abuse and neglect, is hosting a Gala Dinner/Dance at Chateau La Mer in Lindenhurst on Fri. Oct. 17 from 7 to 12. Special guests include cast members from HBO's Sopranos and Elwood- world's ugliest dog. Rescue Ink is also refurbishing their PETT-Mobile, an animal ambulance/

emergency veterinary van. Tickets are $100. Call 631-225-0400.

•Meanwhile Last Hope Animal Rescue has their "Petober" Fest celebrating 27 years of helping LI pets at Chateau La Mer on Thurs. Oct. 23 from 6:30 to 10:30. Tickets are $65. Call 631-957-0023.

•For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: "Cheech & Chong" are an unlikely pup pair. "Cheech" a Chihuahua/Min Pin in the Puppy Room and "Chong" a Shepherd mix pup in Cage 36 became instant buddies. Caught in a humane trap last August, "Chong" (aka "Brownie") started out as a terrified, almost feral pup but is turning into a sweet, trusting youngster. He needs folks who will continue his socialization. "Sheena" a portly Collie mix in Cage 44 is waiting for a new forever owner who will help her diet.

Male: "Levon"- Shepherd pup Cage 7; "Spike" small Pinscher Cage 19; "Patches"-senior Border Collie mix Cage 7;"Memphis"- blonde kitten in the lobby. Female: "Cutey"- mature Doxie/Corgi Cage 25; "Sasha"- Rottie mix with blue eyes.

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