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Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Heartbeat Away from Disaster for Animals?

Last night in the Twin Cities, the GOP conventioneers were officially introduced to their vice presidential candidate who is, as Fred Thompson said, “the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose.”

Palin_2 But it’s not Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s personal love of hunting or appetite for moose venison that should strike fear in the heart of every animal advocate in the nation—it’s her retrograde policies on animal welfare and conservation that have led to an all-out war on the state’s wolves and other creatures.

Her record is so extreme that she has perhaps done more harm to animals than any other current governor in the United States—and that’s a difficult distinction to achieve among our 22 Republican and 28 Democratic chief executives. Voters of both political parties who care about the humane treatment of animals must unite to make sure that the nation’s worst governor doesn’t end up just a heartbeat away from the nation’s most important job.

Palin is not only a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, but is also a close ally of Safari Club International. These radical groups don’t represent rank-and-file hunters, but instead lobby on behalf of their elitist, wealthy members to defend despicable and unsporting practices such as captive trophy hunts, bear baiting, and steel-jawed leghold traps—practices that real hunters agree are inhumane and unacceptable.

And the Palin Administration, in lock-step with these extreme anti-conservationists, has waged an all-out war on Alaska’s predators to artificially boost the populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunters. Palin has tried to pass legislation making it easier for state officials to gun down wolves and bears from the sky, and even offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf as an economic incentive for pilots and aerial gunners to kill more of the animals.

Leading up to last week’s statewide vote on Measure 2 to stop the aerial shooting of wolves and bears, Palin’s Board of Game spent $400,000 of public money on brochures and radio ads to influence the election. She not only took an inhumane and unsporting position at odds with the principles of wildlife management and fair chase, but did it in an undemocratic and underhanded way. Palin may have criticized “the old politics as usual” and “the culture of self-dealing” in her speech last night, but that’s a pretty good description of her dealings with the NRA and Safari Club.

Palin2 Since Alaska is not protecting its wolves from aerial hunting, the U.S. Congress has stepped in and is now considering the Protect America’s Wildlife (PAW) Act, which would close a loophole in federal law that allows the shooting of animals from airplanes and helicopters. But Gov. Palin has attacked that effort, too, and used her office to criticize the federal legislation. She wrote in a press release that the bill’s author “doesn’t understand rural Alaska” and “doesn’t comprehend wildlife management in the North.”

This new video from our friends at the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund reveals shocking images from the brutal practice of aerial hunting, and shows the world just what Gov. Palin has championed at the state and federal levels. But that’s only one part of the story. It’s not just wolves, of course, who have been the targets of Palin's outdated policies, but also the Arctic region’s iconic polar bears, the 21st Century’s canaries in the mineshaft who are teetering on the brink of extinction.

Despite the effects of climate change on the bear’s vanishing habitat and shrinking ice floes, Gov. Palin penned an op-ed in The New York Times earlier this year arguing that it was the “wrong move” to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Later, when the Bush Administration announced its listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, she filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the decision. Environmentalists fired back over Palin’s lawsuit and said “her head-in-the-sand approach to global warming only helps oil companies, certainly not Alaska or the polar bear.”

For those who don’t believe that the number two spot on the ticket matters much at all, consider this: fourteen vice presidents in American history eventually climbed to the top job, eight of them because their predecessors died in office. If Sarah Palin were to be propelled into the presidency and given the opportunity to run the United States like she has run Alaska—controlling the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce, with wide-ranging authority over issues affecting pets, wildlife, farm animals, marine mammals, animals in research, and public lands—it would indeed be a terrible day for animals and for the country.

Paid for by Humane Society Legislative Fund and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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