Activists, Martinets, and a Forbidden Love

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Two news items
caught my eye last week, concerning “animal rights” activists and
nanny-state wildlife officials, and what they want to do to us and
to our animal friends.

One
told the tale of animal rights activists calling for the death of
a baby polar bear in the Berlin Zoo. Knut, the cub, was ignored
by his mother at birth, and zoo officials stepped in to save him,
feeding him formula from a bottle, petting him, and playing with
him. But the German animal rights activist Frank Albrecht disapproved
of this, and said "Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate
but a gross violation of animal protection laws. The zoo must kill
the bear. If a polar bear mother rejected the baby, then I believe
the zoo must follow the instincts of nature. In the wild, it would
have been left to die.”

The other
article related the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of a Texas
woman for “receiving and transporting federally protected animals
across state lines.” Amelia Rasmussen bought two ocelots in California
and took them to her wildlife conservation ranch in Nixon, Texas.
For this, she was fined $15,000 and given one year of probation.
Oh yes — she was also ordered to pay $25 to a court fund for crime
victims. (Hunh? What is that about?)

These stories
reminded me of an event that occurred about a year and a half ago,
less than an hour’s drive from my home. Two dirt-poor, noble mountain
men, after being ratted out by neighbors, were forced by our glorious
leaders to give up to captivity their beloved bear, “Windfall,”
whom they had raised from orphanhood. If you are willing to break
your own heart, read on, from an
AP story
printed in the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard on
October 31, 2005:

For nine
days, Rocky and Jonathan Perkett heard a lone black bear cub wail
from its hiding spot in a Coos County logging site.

They could
drop a tree on it or rescue it. They chose the latter and for
two years the bear was like family. But when the authorities got
wind of it, there was trouble a-bruin.

The father
and son named her Windfall and raised it for two years.

The men
shared pizza and Dr Pepper with the bear and gave her free reign
of their home in the woods outside Coos Bay.

The bear
slept in Jonathan Perkett’s bed, took showers and even had her
hair blow-dried, Rocky Perkett says.

“We’re not
lying about it,” says Rocky Perkett, 54, in his thick backwoods
drawl. “We lived with her. We loved her. We treated her like a
daughter.”

But that
kind of love is illegal in Oregon, and last week police raided
their home and took Windfall.

The men
face possible charges for holding the bear without permits and
in an unlicensed facility.

The incident
pits the heartstrings of some animal lovers against state statutes
meant to keep wild creatures in the wild.

“The law
says you can’t hold wild animals in any way,” says Wildlife Administrator
Ron Anglin of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s illegal
to transport a bear without a permit,” Anglin says. “Nobody’s
going to take you to task over that if you take it to town, call
the ODFW and report it. (But) you can’t take it home.”

[emphasis
mine]

A later story
printed in The World, Coos Bay, Oregon, November 30, 2005
told how Ron Anglin, Division Administrator for the Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife, wasn’t ruling out euthanasia for Windfall.
He said: “From my perspective, all options are open. No decisions
have been made to euthanize – but you never say never.” The article
went on to tell that the Perketts faced a possible $6,250 fine and
a year in jail for their offense against the state of Oregon.

Shortly thereafter,
The Medford Mail-Tribune spoke
of the Perketts’ plan to recover their bear. These impoverished
men had decided to try to build a state-approved facility on their
1.5-acre rural property to house Windfall and other orphaned bears.
Rocky Perkett, the father of Jonathan, said: “Me and my boy would
like to make a lifelong career out of taking care of bears. We love
bears, and bears seem to love us.” Of Windfall, he said: “We loved
her. We treated her like she was a member of our family. We'd like
the whole world to see her and share the love she gave to me and
Jonathan.”

Well, Windfall
was lucky enough to be given a cage in the Merced, California Zoo,
thus escaping being slain by the state, and her human family got
off with a small fine for “unlawful possession of wildlife.” Nonetheless,
the scars remain. The state and world press dropped the story at
that point, but my local paper did a follow-up late last summer.
It seems that those poor mountain men are still trying to get her
back. Here is an excerpt from the article “Bond remains for Windfall’s
former owner” by Drew Atkins, The World, Coos Bay, Oregon,
September 12, 2006:

Perkett
said that he had no plans to visit Windfall at the zoo. He said
he would not go until he had formed a nonprofit organization,
built a 1-acre enclosure, and received permission to take Windfall
back to Oregon under his care.

"We’re
trying to wait, because when we go down there, we want to bring
her home with us, back to where she’s from," said Perkett.
"If we go and have to leave, it’ll be upsetting for us and
for her. Bears never forget people, they say. It’d be a real sad
situation. My son would be crying all the way home, and she would
be screaming, crying when we left. I’m not sure we want to go
through that."

[Ron] Anglin
[Division Administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife] said that it was extremely unlikely Perkett would ever
regain custody of Windfall. Wild animals are not suited to be
raised in homes, he said, as they always retain their wild instinct.

In these stories
we see the hearts and the souls of our rulers — and our “activist”
would-be rulers.

I have known
a few people who cannot understand the love that members of one
species can have for members of another. I have always felt sorry
for them, for I think that they are crippled. Such feelings go back
to prehistory, and are a vital part of our human condition. The
ancient Egyptians mummified and entombed their deceased pets. About
2,700 years ago the poet Homer told (The
Odyssey
, ch. XVII) of the return of Odysseus, in disguise,
to his home after long years of war and travel, with the swineherd
Eumaios:

…While he spoke
an old hound, lying near, pricked up his ears
and lifted up his muzzle. This was Argos,
trained as a puppy by Odysseus,
but never taken on a hunt before
his master sailed for Troy. The young men, afterward,
hunted wild goats with him, and hare, and deer,
but he had grown old in his master’s absence.
Treated as rubbish now, he lay at last
upon a mass of dung before the gates –
manure of mules and cows, piled there until
fieldhands could spread it on the king’s estate.
Abandoned there, and half destroyed with flies,
old Argos lay. But when he knew he heard
Odysseus’ voice nearby, he did his best
to wag his tail, nose down, with flattened ears,
having no strength to move nearer his master.
And the man looked away,
wiping a salt tear from his cheek; but he
hid this from Eumaios…

~ (Fitzgerald translation)

And, from about
the same time, we have this from Nathan’s rebuke of king David for
the murder of Uriah and the seduction of his wife (II Samuel ch.12,
NIV):

The Lord
sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were
two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich
man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor
man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised
it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food,
drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms. It was like a
daughter to him.

“Now a traveler
came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one
of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler
who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged
to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

David burned
with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the
Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay
for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and
had no pity.”

Then Nathan
said to David, “You are the man!”

This last sounds
depressingly familiar.

When the wildlife
“experts” tell you “wild animals are not suited to be raised in
homes, as they always retain their wild instinct,” give them the
lie (as Sir Walter
Raleigh put it so well
). Had the stone age chiefs and witch-doctors
enforced such a policy, we would have no dogs, cats, horses, sheep,
cattle, or any other domesticated beasts. We ourselves are wild
animals. Look at Iraq. Do you not willingly live with wild humans?
How often do you read of an animal raised from the wild savaging
a human, as opposed to how often you read of a domesticated dog
savaging a human, or a human savaging a human? We are all animals.
We are all the same. I only wish that all humans had the love, mercy,
and pity I have seen in my animals. But that’s another story.

March
26, 2007

Christopher
M. Montalbano [send him mail]
is a retired programmer/analyst in rural Oregon.

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