Friday, October 24, 2008

Organizations to which one can donate:

That's a great idea - to let you guys know what organizations I've found to be the best for owls/wildlife.

I donate to Defenders of Wildlife first and foremost because they actually watch what's going on in Washington and lobby for the defense and protection of wildlife, which is always under siege by big businesses and other groups wanting to wipe them out. The delisting of the wolves is a perfect example. The Bush administration delisted the wolves from the endangered list just in time to have them gotten rid of when/if anyoe decided to drill in any areas where there might be wolves. Now, I don't get into politics too much, myself, but I am aware that very soon (or was it last week?) is the time when the ban on drilling comes up for reconsideration. And one of the problems for the companies who want to drill is that they have to deal with environmental concerns, such as endangered species living in the ares. I know from all the magazines I get like Audubon, Scientific American, Smithsonian, all the Birding magazines, Defender's of Wildlife, National Wildlife Foundation, etc... that they can still drill in areas where there are endangered species, such as the sage grouse, but they have to make certain provisions. I don't know for sure if the delisting of the wolf packs had anything to do with the timing of this though.

What happened after the delisting was like some kind of nightmare. There was, and is, a mass slaughter of the wolf packs that were so carefully re-instated in places like Yellowstone. Using the very radio collars that biologists had put on the wolves to track them in order to monitor their health, hunters tracked them down by plane, then chased them from the air until they fell to the ground exhausted. Then they machine gunned them down. Not once. It's been going on for months. It's a bloodbath.

Being a behavioral biologist type, I've always been fascinated by the dynamics in wolf packs. It takes forever for a wolf pack to recover from the loss of one alpha wolf because only the alpha pair breeds in a given wolf pack! I think that's ASTOUNDING. Only the alpha pair breeds and the other all control themselves and help with the babies of the alpha pair. It's a kind of altruism that works for them if they're not being slaughtered, that is. But if they ARE being slaughtered, they just cannot recover quickly enough to continue to breed.

If an alpha wolf is killed, the whole pack has to reorganize their heirarchy through a very elaborate series of mock battles where the next in line for the throne is decided. Wolves do NOT fight to the death! They "fight" to figure out who is strongest but they do NOT inflict serious damage on each other, unlike humans. After all this elaborate stuff, the next alpha male or female is decided. Also, there is a mourning period! The wolves howl and grieve the one lost, alpha or not. If there are puppies, they feel the loss terribly even if it's just an "uncle" because all the other wolves are their caretakers too, like wolf nannies or extended family members. I think even, that the other females in the pack will lactate to share in the nursing of the babies, but I'd have to check my facts on that since I'm not a wolf expert.

Because of massive pressure from Defenders of Wildlife and some other groups, a federal judge finally stepped forward to stop the slaughter in the lower 48 states, but in Alaska it continues unabated. Anyone in a helicopter can chase down and slaughter as many wolves as they want - in FACT, the Alaskan government has been offering $150 per wolf paw for several months. I only hope they do kill the wolves before taking their paws. Why is Alaska doing this? The wolves are NOT causing serious, unsolveable problems. They are not decimating the cariboue as they live almost entirely on mice during the majority of the year and only go after caribou once or twice a year, when the caribou do their migration.

If you want to know more about how the wolves actually live, there is no better and no more entertaining a book than "Never Cry Wolf" by Farley Mowat. It's hilarious, believe it or not, as well as very informative. The guy went out to prove that the wolves were decimating the caribou herds, to justify hunting the wolves from the air, for trophy hunters, it turned out. This is in, what, the late 1930s? Ok. So he goes out there and lives among the wolves - literally pitches his tent on one of the paths the wolves had created right in the middle of their territory, and he pee's a circle around his tent, which the wolves honored, surprisingly!

Even more surprising was his discovery that the wolves were living almost entirely on mice! That was unprecedented at the time, so to prove that a large mammal could actually live solely on mice, he did the only thing he could do. You guessed it, he used himself as the guinea pig and lived on a diet of just mice for a year. He even publishes his recipes in the book! I never tried the recipes or mice in any other form, so I can't vouch for them, but he managed! There were hundreds of mice per square foot in the Alaskan tundra.

So, why are we back in the 1930s again? Could it be that the Alaskan government wants to wipe out the wolf packs completely before they go to drill. Then when they do go to drill they can say, "Wolf packs? What wolf packs? There are no wolves where we want to drill!", thereby avoiding any environmental considerations? The question must be asked, "WHY?"

The logic of some of these people is that if there is an environmental concern, get RID of it. THEN go in and drill. They've learned to do that so that there is no challenge to them poisoning an area or impacting it harmfully. Clever, eh? Also so sick that it's hard to believe we are in the 21st century. One likes to think that we've become more civilized, more circumspect in our decisionmaking. Not when there's a lot of money to be made!

No, we are still as capable of bloodthirsty behavior now as the buffalo hunters were in the 1800s. When it was not enough to kill, oh, let's say half of the buffalo. No, they had to try to kill every last friggin buffalo. I've read that they were killing off the buffalo, from trains, to starve out the Indians. Maybe that was the reason. I don't know, I wasn't there. But if it is, then that's greed for ya. That's humanity at its worst - we are capable of massive slaughter of animals and, at times even, people.

Organizations like Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Foundation are doing something about this kind of behavior, and they need all the help they can get, because it's an uphill battle. We do need resources for our country, but we can get them without destroying everything in our path. It might cost a little more to be thoughful and careful, but in the end it's better for us all if we do things the right way.

Defenders of Wildlife is an amazing organization and I donate to them. I am giving 5% of my royalties from the book to wildlife organizations, and 5% to human organizations like Compassion International and World Vision, both of which I've vetted very carefully in regard to how they use their money - where the money goes and what is done with it.

I also donate to local wildlife and raptor rehabilitation centers. You could, find out where your local raptor rehabilitation center is and donate to them. These places operate on a shoestring and most of the people who work there are volunteers, spending their own personal money on mice and other food and supplies for the birds of prey (owls included). They not only rehabilitate birds of prey that have been injured so that they can be released into the wild again, but they also take excellent care of birds who can never again be released. They give them a good life.

I also donate to the National Wildlife Foundation, Audubon, ASPCA, Jane Goodall Institute, Sierra Club.

The Jane Goodall Institute has a program for kids called "Roots and Shoots". Each Roots and Shoots club comes up with their own project to help the environment or to help wildlife. It's neat because it can be tailored to the local issues in any place. These clubs exist everywhere from Orange County and San Diego to Tanzania to almost anywhere in the world. It's a great idea for home schooled kids to get involved with this, or for school clubs or any other group - scouts... It proves that even little kids can make a difference and it's very empowering.

If you donate to National Wildlife Foundation, you can sponsor an owl family if you want to. I have sponsored a family of Snowy Owls.

There's a Barn Owl specific organization that I think is doing great work, and that is Hungry Owl in San Francisco. They are convincing people to stop using rodenticides to get rid of their rodent problem, and instead are putting up Owl Boxes, which are like HUGE Birdhouses for owls, in areas overrun with rodents. An owl family will move in and just clean the place right up. The rodents provide food for the owls, and the owls do a wonderful service by keeping the rodent population from getting out of hand. After all, a family of barn owls needs about 35 mice per night while raising the babies. That's a lot of mice!

I intend to link to them "real soon now", but in the meantime, they are at http://www.hungryowl.org/

Also, I really like http://www.skyhunters.com/
which is a rehab organization in San Diego. Near Los Angeles there is South Bay Raptor Rehab, which is also excellent.

There are a lot more, of course, and there is a rehab center near you, I can almost guarantee it.

Great subject! Great question! Thanks for the suggestion!

3 comments:

joan said...

thank you so much : ) it can be hard to know which ones are well organized and actually making a difference.
i... i don't know.. i just don't know how people can inflict so much pain and suffering on other beings.. honestly, i think it should be considered a form of sociopathy... : /

joan said...

(i think i know what to ask for christmas now- to sponsor an owl family!)

TheloniusMick said...

Thank you, Stacey.
I finished your book tonight. I blubbered like a baby.

How beautifully and painfully you captured the essence of love and loss. Of life and its inherent misery and fleeting, transcendent joy.

I have MS and two months ago my beloved African Grey, K'shama, died at only three years of age. I hadn't even realized he'd become my only real source of joy until I lost him.

Your book focused all of my diffuse grief like a laser. Thank you, I needed to bawl for him. Thank you, and may god bless you in every conceivable way.You will ever remain in my prayers and I will remember your favorite charities in my giving.