Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Columns

Good intentions could come back to bite us


Published:

Animal rights activists have a commanding presence in the media, and are formable lobbyists. Their efforts to promote the interests of predators, such as crocodiles, alligators, wolves, cougars and mountain lions have been enormously successful.

This writer had sworn off writing critter columns in Hernando Today twice over the years; first in 2006 and again in 2009. I'm at it again, because it is now clear that there is no voice of opposition from ordinary people opposing these activist mandarins.

What brings me back to this topic was the surprising discovery and capture of an 11-foot-long, 700-pound crocodile by an alligator trapper working the Lake Tarpon area north of Tampa.

This armor-plated, happy-go-lucky critter was then sent to a wildlife rehab center awaiting his transport back to south Florida where the temperature and environment are more to his liking. (He might catch a cold if he hung out in this lake during the winter months.)

It's amazing what taxpayers pay for. Instead of being euthanized, he will show up in another neighborhood to prey on unsuspecting adults, kids and pets. It took a crew of four state employees to haul him in, and then he got chauffeured to the bed and breakfast rehab center.

The Miami Herald reported that the homeowner who spotted this croc said afterward, "Man, after seeing that thing and how big it was, I'm just not afraid of gators anymore."

To give some context to the true nature of the animal rights activist, one western group called themselves The Predator Conservation Alliance until their PR people suggested the "Keystone Conservation," as a more civilized name. Their predators of interest include the Grizzly Bear, the wolf and the wolverine - all accomplished killers.

Not surprisingly, more activist reporting is devoted to animal mortalities due to human contact than human fatalities or injuries due to animal contact (so much for their concern over the value of human life).

And in the south we have crocs and alligators. The unforgettable story about a landscaper who was killed by a relocated alligator comes to mind. The local police chief observed, "If you have to choose between the life of an alligator or the life of a human being, you choose the side of a human being."

Has it come to this? A choice? That's a tough call for an activist. Many of these predators are referred to as "magnificent predators" or "magnificent creatures," whereas humans are characterized as meddling trespassers for being where they live.

This brings us to Miami-Dade, which is at the epicenter of exotic invasive and native species; and the Miami Herald, which runs endless numbers of stories about man and beast encounters, such as "Hunting a man-eating croc in South Florida," and "Monster Python caught."

South Floridians have a choice to make about the judgment of their elected officials.

The Miami Herald reported that despite pleas from residents for the removal of salt water crocs from their neighborhood, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission amazingly said, "Times are changing and this is one of those things we're going to have to change and bend to."

The paper went on the say, "Crocs are reclaiming their historical habitat and the carefree days of letting kids and pets swim in the canals. are over."

Ecologists are thrilled that croc eggs are found in Miami's Biscayne Bay where kids swim. I used to swim there. The number of American crocs, which were once an endangered species, have rebounded to more than 2,000 in Miami-Dade.

To get this in some context, these guys are also found in South and Central America, where local authorities have blamed them for fatal attacks.

The plague continues in Florida with the Nile croc. Natives of Africa, they have voracious appetites and kill hundreds of people annually.

Documented sightings in Florida have occurred in the past several years, and some have been captured. Cross-breeding with the American croc has not been ruled out. It's hard to believe but according to the Herald, Nile crocs "are technically protected under federal law."

Darwinism must give an animal rights activist pause. They are generally Darwinian evolutionists, but then through "natural selection" (survival of the fittest), as Darwin postulated, humans lost their tails and ultimately became the fittest. That being said, we are theoretically at the top of the food chain, not a part of it.

Would it be a great loss to humankind if crocs, alligators and any other predator were eliminated from our neighborhoods and consigned to their own turf?

Yet activists insist on reintroducing predators into what is now human habit - even going so far as to provide free housing and police protection for our toothy friends, as in the Key Largo crocodile Refuge - and at taxpayer expense.

With the committed, full-throated predator rights activist in mind, the wry observation of Robert Anton Wilson seems appropriate:

"I think I got off on the wrong planet. Beam me up Scottie, there's no rational life here."

John Reiniers is a retired attorney, a regular columnist and lives in Spring Hill.

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