On my way home from work today, WILL's local newscast mentioned the recent story of the guy in Indianapolis who was illegally keeping a collection of poisonous snakes, and then essentially read a press release from the so-called Humane Society of the United States which was a propaganda piece saying that nobody should be allowed to have exotic animals. I was sufficiently honked off at this (I expect better of WILL than to just quote from a propaganda press release, because they have a good news organization and usually do a much better job of journalism) that I emailed a comment to WILL, which I'm posting here. Perhaps you will be interested.
Writing this was somewhat challenging; if I wrote a full-length exposition of my position, it would have been longer than they would have read, and if I'd expressed my real opinion of HSUS*, I would have come across as a radical partisan with an axe to grind (which I'll admit that I am, but I want to seem like a voice of reason).
I have never written to a radio station to comment on a story I heard on
the air, but a piece that I heard today on my way home from work during
the 5:30 local newscast is forcing me to change that.
Someone in Indianapolis was caught with an illegal collection of
poisonous snakes, and WILL news used this occasion to read a press
release from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) repeating
their party line that "no one should be allowed to have wild animals as
pets because they belong in the wild". This is actually a complex
issue, and HSUS is an extreme voice on one side of the issue. If there
were a news story on a better known political issue -- say abortion -- I
know WILL would not just read a press release from Operation Rescue on
the air. But unfortunately, the regulation of exotic animals is not
well known either to the general public or the news media, and I suspect
that you folks in the WILL newsroom aren't aware that HSUS is at best an
extremely biased source. The truth is that it is possible for private
citizens to keep wild animals -- even deadly ones like poisonous snakes
and tigers -- in humane conditions where they have a better existence
than they would face in the wild, and further, that the private citizens
who responsibly keep rare animals are an important part of our hope to
preserve their species on this earth in the face of ever greater threats
to wild populations. That does not mean that every person who tries to
keep an exotic animal is doing it responsibly, but Indiana already has a
good system of permits and inspections to protect both the welfare of
the animals and the safety of the public. The individual who had the
snakes was already in violation of the rules -- he did not have the
required permits -- and taking away the rights of the people who are
doing everything right would not help stop the bad actors. It would
just hurt the people and the animals who are following the rules, and
indirectly the wild populations of the animals who lose the support of
Americans when Americans no longer get to have any personal connection
with them, and future generations who won't get to experience them at
all when they go extinct because no one cares.
I hope that if WILL considers this issue important enough to cover on
the air in the future, it will also consider it important enough to
research more deeply.
*It occurs to me that my readers may not be aware of the fact that the "Humane Society of the United States" is not in any way connected with your local humane society or the ASPCA, the real Humane Society for the United States. They are actually a radical group, very closely allied with the equally inappropriately named "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals", whose real agenda is that we should all become vegans and there should be no human contact with animals at all. They're currently trying to take away exotic animals, because only a few people have them so there's less resistance, but they want to take away your pet domestic dogs and cats and the meat in your fridge too. And if they succeed in getting private ownership of exotic animals banned, it will hasten the extinction of those species in captivity (zoos can't maintain viable populations without private breeders) and in the wild (because the only hope of the animals in the wild is the highly motivated people willing to fight for them, and people only get motivated to that degree for things they have the chance to experience in person).