Here is spin to the ultimate degree. The Wildlife Conservation Examiner just received an email/press release today, April 29, 2016 from Emily Zaideman (On behalf of Wonders of Wildlife) about a new museum opening some time in 2016 which ‘immerses’ visitors in the natural world while glorifying (manufacturing) the role hunters and anglers play in conservation.
Their press release begins: “Springfield, Mo. – More than 25 of the country’s leading conservation organizations are contributing to the creation of one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world. Scheduled to open in Springfield, Missouri in 2016, Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will celebrate the critical role responsible hunting and fishing play in conserving the great outdoors.”
This list of the ‘leading conservation organizations’, though, reads like just what it is – a consortium of the most notorious sport-killing and hunting-advocacy groups on the planet: Here’s the roll-call:
- Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Ron Regan, Executive Director
- Boone and Crockett Club
Tony Schoonen, Chief of Staff
- Center for Coastal Conservation
Jeff Angers, President
- Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Gary Kania, Vice President
- Dallas Safari Club
Ben Carter, Executive Director
- Ducks Unlimited
Dale Hall, President
- International Game Fish Association
Rob Kramer, President
- James River Basin Partnership
Joe Pitts, Executive Director
- Missouri Department of Conservation
Bob Ziehmer, Director
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Sara Parker-Pauley, Director
- National Geographic
Crista Gibbons, Senior Director, Global Corporate Partnerships
- Native American Fish and Wildlife Society
Fred Matt, Executive Director
- National Audubon Society
- Glenn Olson, Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation through Advocacy & Public Policy
- Quality Deer Management Association
Brian Murphy, CEO
- National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President & CEO
- National Wild Turkey Federation
George Thornton, CEO
- Ozark Water Watch
David Casaletto, President & Executive Director
- Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission
Stuart Leon, Executive Director
- Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Whit Fosburgh, President & CEO
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Dan Ashe, Director
- Watershed Committee of the Ozarks
Mike Kromrey, Executive Director
- Wildlife Management Institute
Steve Williams, President & CEO
- Wild Sheep Foundation
Buddy DuVall, Executive VP Development
The appearance of the National Geographic Society is most disappointing but not unexpected since the recent takeover by dark-money, in the form of Rupert Murdoch of 21st Century Fox. Per Google, “When the news of the merger broke, many were, shall we say, concerned about 21st Century Fox founder Rupert Murdoch’s influence over a revered scientific publication. Rupert Murdoch owning National Geographic is like putting Dr. Kevorkian in charge of a hospice.’
Of course, the fact that the museum is the brainchild of the owner of one of the biggest sport-hunting retail chains in the world isn’t going to influence the message, right? “A vision of leading conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris, the 315,000-square-foot experience is intended to inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. To help shape the attraction’s educational message and story, Morris convened a “who’s who” of conservation leaders in America. With expertise ranging from wetlands and waterfowl to coastal waters and international wildlife efforts, leading national conservation groups are collaborating to help tell the untold stories of the conservation movement in the United States and showcasing their worldwide impact.” Johnny Morris, avid ‘sportsman’, worth $4.4 million according to Forbes.
Maybe this entire museum is just one great, big, thinly-veiled ad for BassPro?
And look, here among the ‘who’s who’ is the infamous Dan Ashe of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, betrayer of wolves and other wildlife icons, notorious sell-out to big money, promoting the project personally. Remember, he’s the federal agency director who’s repeatedly betrayed wolves and other imperiled predators , and facilitates ‘lethal take’ orders which send helicopters into wilderness areas to gun down innocent wildlife. Yeah, he’s a good spokesman for this museum.
One of the major ‘attractions’ of this new museum will be the loudly touted National Archery Hall of Fame. Bow-hunting is one of the cruelest and most prolonged ways to kill an animal. (Caution, video is graphic and disturbing, showing the truth of bow hunting from a veterinarian’s perspective.) New research also proves that thought and emotion in non-humans is much less ‘rudimentary’ and more sophisticated than was known when the video was produced. Wounded animals can linger for days, bleeding internally and succumbing to stress, fever and infection after wandering in misery for days. Many arrow-shot animals run and hide far away, never being recovered (or even sought) by hunters – So they are wounded, left in agony and die by themselves, in a pointless, unconscionable waste of life. Sure, this is something to celebrate.
You can also gawk at sad, ugly stuffed heads and other dusty dead taxidermy to your heart’s delight at this new ‘museum’. What a way to teach young children that these distorted lifeless shells are somehow more desirable than the vibrant, interactive and dynamic living wildlife that existed before the trigger was pulled.
Remember the press release describing the origin of this ‘historic collaboration’? “A vision of leading conservationist . . . is intended to inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.” In reality, though, it looks like a recruiting mechanism to bring more big-paying ‘sportsmen’ into the ranks of thrill killers. Their frantic attempts to recover public support, which has been steadily declining and plummeted after Cecil the lion was murdered, points to deep fear in the hunting industry that their future is looking bleak. Here a spokesman at Outdoor Life worries about the tarnished ‘image’ and public perception of hunters and what they do, offering recourse as if couching their actions in different language will change the underlying truth that, in reality, most hunting is killing for pleasure, not need, and actively interferes with meaningful ethical conservation efforts.
This expose in The Dodo effectively refutes claims that hunting saves species. Then there is also the ethical and moral consideration that all life, all animals, have thought, feeling, emotion and a desire to live – And, like us (we are animals, too), most desire love and relationship, as well. Even famously solitary wild species can bond passionately to a human caretaker. Wild solitude is often a result of a challenging environment where one has a better chance of surviving than several in a given space – but even notoriously fierce loners like mink have shown themselves to be tender and committed friends to the humans they bond with. So, we do wildlife a grave disservice not just ecologically but ethically when we treat them like prizes or commodities.
So what about the argument that hunting brings value to wildlife? Maybe when life itself is viewed only through the lens of fiscal worth. But this is a human construct. An ethical and compassionate human society can not condone enacting violence and death for personal pleasure.
The press release concludes, “Consisting of leaders from both nonprofit and government entities, the nationwide collaboration hopes to establish a new conservation capital that highlights past successes and shares important conservation messages with a national audience.” Right. So far, no ‘Grand Opening’ date is provided. Oh well.
In closing, we hear from our ‘friend’ at the USFWS again. “This will be one of the foremost conservation attractions in the world,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There is a significant opportunity to reach millions of visitors about the importance of conserving, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats.” Right. Conservation. Through killing wildlife and turning wilderness areas into feedlots and game farms raked, at whim, by wolf-sniping aerial-gunners .
Let’s hope this proclamation by Dan Ashe, federal betrayer of wildlife, does not come true.
*Edited for clarity of date of contact letter (containing press release)