I have a friend at work who largely shares my political and social views, with one exception. He’s much less cynical than I am. When push comes to shove, I tend to believe that people will choose the path of least resistance or the path that gives them the biggest personal gain, no matter the negative consequences. My friend is quite a bit rosier regarding the human race. Every time I start to move in that direction, every time I start to feel my cynicism wearing off a bit, I read a story like this one, forwarded by another friend at work.
The story is about the Wildlife Services program at the U.S. Department of agriculture. If you’re an animal lover, be prepared to be disgusted. I’m already disgusted with how people treat wildlife. After all I live in South Dakota, where the State Bird is an introduced species whose ONLY purpose for people here is as something you can shoot at. But it’s one thing for red-necked South Dakotans to be out popping off wildlife. It’s another for the Federal Government to be doing it, especially when so much collateral damage is being done, as shown in this article.
I’m amazed at the political clout a few large land owners in the West have regarding wildlife issues. In South Dakota, the prairie dog has seemingly been labeled as public enemy #1…largely due to the efforts of a VERY few ranchers who claim prairie dogs cause immense damage to grazing lands. A VERY few private citizens have somehow twisted the system to their advantage, so much so that prairie dogs are being poisoned on a lot of PUBLIC land in the state, if an adjacent land owner requests “control” of the species. “Public” land in general is managed in South Dakota for seemingly one purpose…for the COMPLETE exploitation of whatever “resources” may be found on that land. Parks? National Grasslands? Conservation and wildlife are DEFINITELY a secondary consideration in South Dakota. Grazing trumps wildlife in every case. In state and other parks, it’s the use of the area for camping, hunting, cross-country skiing, or any other human activity that is far and away more important than the actual habitat or wildlife in that park.
This story about the Wildlife Services part of USDA is simply an example of the same mindset, but at a Federal level. Endangered species? Completely harmless species? People’s PETS, for god’s sake? It’s a pretty disgusting picture of what Wildlife Services does, all supposedly for the sake of “protecting” people from that nasty harmful wildlife.
$$$$$ trumps wildlife…it’s a message that sadly continues to gain traction in the U.S. And again…my cynacism and complete lack of faith in humanity is restored.
And despite my status as a Federal employee and as someone who has strongly DEFENDED government in the past…with recent experiences I’ve personally had, and with many of the recent news stories, I’m having a hard time maintaining that support of government.