Yet another wildlife-torturer

Some of the best places in the world to see the giant Pacific octopus in its natural habitat are the coves and parks on Puget Sound (also, my natural habitat). There are lots of popular dive sites, and my idea of internet porn is watching videos taken by amateurs, like this one:

Isn’t that gorgeous?

So you can imagine local divers’ reactions when a diver was spotted rising from a West Seattle dive site holding a magnificent 80 lb. octopus and beating it to death. They were not happy. These are informally regarded as safe habitats, where everyone can view the lovely giant invertebrates, and trust that others will respect and protect the environment.

The brute, Dylan Mayer, claims that killing the octopus was an “art project” at Green River Community College, and seems to think it justifies the killing by saying he cut it up for meat…meat which he apparently gave away to other people. I think maybe his art class ought to reconsider what represents a valid contribution, if this was an official project in any way. Also, to add to Mayer’s charm, people rummaged around on his facebook page and discovered photos of him kicking animals. Another art project, perhaps?

Unfortunately, Mayer is in the clear and what he did was perfectly legal: the Washington Department of Fish and Game issues “one-day hunting licenses” — if you’re feeling a little sadistic, or “artistic”, you can apply for one of these and then visit some of the local octopus habitat and batter a cephalopod to death, no problem.

There is a petition to get Fish and Game to stop aiding and abetting the destruction of Washington’s natural resources. It would be nice of you to sign it, but don’t expect much change. I’m beginning to get the impression that many people opt for careers in wildlife biology not because they love and want to protect nature, but because they want a front-row seat for killing it.

(Wildlife biologists with integrity are welcome to disagree — I expect you’ll sign the petition first, of course.)

Update on the wildlife-torturer

You remember the guy I told you about a couple weeks ago, on the payroll of the USDA’s “Wildlife Services” division, who trapped coyotes, set his dogs on the immobilized coyotes to tear them to shreds, and then posted boastful pictures about it on Facebook and Twitter?

There’s a petition at asking Congress to investigate the sadistic jerk, whose name is Jamie P. Olson, and they’re a few thousand signatures from their goal. Update: Some commenters have noted that the petition requires a Facebook account to sign. At there’s a similar petition you can sign without a Facebook account.

Since I wrote the above-linked post here Olson has gotten some press attention. (No, I’m not claiming credit. A bunch of people have been flogging this.) Perhaps most notably, Olson got a thorough going-over by veteran environmental journalist Tom Knudsen at the Sacramento Bee, who added this observation by one of Olson’s putative colleagues:

Gary Strader, a former Wildlife Services trapper in Nevada, was not surprised to learn about the controversial photos. “That is very common,” Strader wrote in an email. “It always was and always will be controversial. It has never been addressed by the higher-ups. They know it happens on a regular basis.”

Read my old post if you missed it, check out Knudsen’s piece, and then — if you’re so inclined — sign the petition. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t go well past the number of signatures the organizers are hoping for.

That awkward moment when your favorite campsite makes Fox News, again

it looks better without the cross

Sunrise Rock with no cross, as God intended

You know what I hate? I hate when Fox News notices my favorite slightly secluded campsite in the Mojave Desert.  They attract pest organisms. There you’ll be sitting quietly among the Joshua trees, enjoying the company of Mojave green rattlesnakes and tarantulas and kissing bugs and other such perfectly honorable animals, and then suddenly a chill wind will blow up the back or your shirt as the television news trucks arrive and some putrescent individual like Sean Hannity steps out into the sunlight, pasty and blinking and malignant. You can actually feel the cacti wither in revulsion.

It happened again this weekend.

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Learn your neuroanatomy lingo

Go study this and master the vocabulary. Everyone is so familiar with our brains with their parietal lobes and sulci and ganglia, but do people ever stop to contemplate the cephalopod brain? Nooooo. And it’s pretty cool.

Possibly the most obvious difference is that the nervous system of most invertebrates develops ventrally, rather than dorsally, like ours. Imagine that your nervous system formed on the other side of your throat, so that as the brain expanded, it had to wrap itself around your esophagus.

Anti-Caturday Post

Sometimes I despair. I know I can’t win; the ailurophiles have taken over the internet. And sometimes I just want to give up.

But I won’t. The battle must go on! And sometimes, I will fight back with a frenzy. Take this, cats: four creatures that are niftier than you! Hy-yaaaaah!





I push back the feline horde just a little bit today. Today is a good day, except for the head-full-of-snot thing.

Wolves: please visit Canada this weekend

Since Chris wrote about “wildlife services” being one of those oxymoronic names for a department dedicated to exterminating wildlife, I am compelled to mention Minnesota’s shame.

Minnesota has the largest population of wolves in the lower 48 states: a whole 3000, most in the North (none live near me). That’s something that should make us proud, that we can actually bring populations in balance naturally. Deer are experiencing a population explosion right now, and are also expanding their ranges farther north, where they’re also causing problems for moose.

The response of our legislature, though, has been to gleefully pass a law allowing thuggish motherfuckers to slaughter them. The first wolf hunt is scheduled for this weekend.

It’s always dismaying to hear “hunters” talk openly and proudly about their tactics.

Deer come for the food, and Smith said wolves come for the deer. He said where the tracks are, and which cameras the wolves show up on, help him determine where to hunt for the night.

Smith said he’s been a deer hunter for decades, and does it for the challenge. But he said he is hunting wolves because they’re killing the deer on his land. “Seventy-five percent of our does are without fawns this year,” he said.

The day before we spoke with Smith, we met Rep. Dave Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, on his hunting property just south of International Falls. Smith’s still hoping to take a wolf, but Dill told us he’s done it three times.

“Theres a thrill that you were able to conquer this,” Dill said.

Dill said he shot all three of his wolves in Canada over the course of many, many years. He authored the bill creating a wolf hunt in Minnesota, for recreation, and population management. He called them the most elusive animal in the state. “It’s a survivor because it’s the top of the food chain, and it knows exactly what to do when to do it.”

So this guy has hunting property where he maintains a population of deer that he kills “for the challenge”. He’s angry that wolves are killing his deer for food and survival. And he’s killing wolves (under a law he authored!) for recreation and “population management”, that universal euphemism for killing. He’s tracking them with hi-tech camera gear and shooting them with high-powered rifles, and calling it a “thrill”.

What an asshole. What a great big flaming asshole.

There are rational people opposing this hunt, but bigwigs of both parties (DFL, you win no brownie points with me on this one) are endorsing it, so it’s going to go on, and probably expand in later years as more happy sadists report their joy. But right now, the Humane Society, the Fund for Animals, the Center for Biodiversity, and Howling for Wolves all oppose the hunt. Unsurprisingly, the Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service all support it…but of course they would, because they might as well retitle themselves the Department of Blowing Miners and Cattlemen.

Some good news: the White Earth Nation has declared their entire reservation a wolf sanctuary, with no hunting allowed. The Red Lake tribe has done likewise.

I have a suggestion: let’s give the whole state back to the Indians. They seem to be the only ones with a sensible appreciation of what “wildlife” actually means.