Money, influence, and wildlife

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1998:

The Nation newspaper, of Bangkok,
Thailand, on December 18 reported that
Pavillon Massage Parlor manager Somchai
Rojjanaburapha contributed $111 of the
$222 price of a 14-month-old sun bear to save
him from sale to a Korean restaurant,
and––though the Thai economy is in freefall
collapse, the massage business with it––forty
masseuses chipped in the rest. The bear was
sent to the Khao Khieow Open Zoo, 50
miles southeast of Bangkok.

“Sources in the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources have informed us
that Collin Cain, owner of the Grassy Lake
Hunting Club in Jonesboro, Illinois, will
sponsor a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial
hopeful George Ryan,” Project
Gideon managing director Karen Cheesman
faxed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on Christmas
Day. “Cain recently sued the Illinois DNR,”
over his January 1997 arrest for allegedly
hunting over a baited field. “It has long been
our contention that attempts by Congressional
Republicans to weaken federal waterfowl baiting
regulations, via HR 741 and HR 2863,
and proposed rule changes scheduled to be
issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
in January, are designed to benefit developers
of waterfowl hunting areas. We now have the
smoking gun. Most states,” Cheesman added,
“including Illinois, already operate baited
fields for hunting purposes under the guise of
feeding and habitat programs. To facilitate the
use of baited fields, proponents of the regulatory
changes are trying to enable hunters to
escape prosecution by claiming they didn’t
know a field was baited. Ignorance of the law
would become an excuse.”
Hunters spend $22 billion a year
to kill animals, according to a new study by
Southwick Associates, commissioned by the
International Association of Fish and
Wildlife Agencies: about $1,500 apiece, purportedly
creating about one job per 21 hunters.
Trophy hunter Kenneth Behring
has given $20 million to the Smithsonian
Institution to update its Rotunda and Hall of
Mammals, and set up a permanent roadshow
featuring some of the stuffed mounts donated
over the years by hunters. Smithsonian efforts
to curry favor with wealthy trophy hunters
erupted as a national scandal in 1990, when
staffer Richard Mitchell, on loan from the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was caught
allegedly using his position to arrange trophy
hunts of endangered species abroad on the pretext
of collecting museum specimens.
Efforts to protect wildlife habitat
in national forests by cutting federal subsidies
for building logging roads lost 51-49 in
the Senate last year and 211-209 in the House,
suggests Common Cause in a report entitled
Carrying A Big Stick: How Big Timber
Triumphs in Washington, because timber
industry contributions to national political parties
rose from $345,120 in 1991-1992 to $1.5
million in 1995-1996, while the American
Forest & Paper Association and membership
political action committees gave $5.6 million
directly to political candidates from January 1,
1991 through June 1997. The three organized
opponents of the roadbuilding subsidies which
have political action committees, the Sierra
Club, Friends of the Earth, and the League of
Conservation Voters, together gave $2.8 million
to candidates over the same interval.

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