The Montana anti-trapping organization, Footloose, held a protest this weekend in Missoula and Great Falls as Montana began its first wolf trapping season. Wolf trapping season begins; protest held in Missoula. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian. Great Falls. Wolf trapping in Montana draws opposition. KBZK.com. By Beth Beechie.

The onset of a large winter storm in the Pacific Northwest probably held down numbers of protesters and will likely also retard the setting of traps for a brief period.

Montana’s wolf trapping season runs through Feb. 28. All of Montana is open to wolf trapping except national parks and a small area along the northern Yellowstone Park boundary outside the Park. This was recently closed by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission because of the high take of Yellowstone Park wolves who had ventured outside the Park during the rifle season, which continues.

Idaho is in its second trapping season. Only about half of the wolf hunting areas are also open to trapping in Idaho. Figures from wolf trapping last year in Idaho surprised many because it proved to be a highly successful way to kill wolves, relatively speaking. Idahos wolf trapping season extends all the way to March 31.

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Update. So far, 4 days into the trapping season, no wolves have been reported trapped in Montana. Story in the Missoulian. 

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

204 Responses to Montana’s first wolf trapping season begins amidst protest (update)

  1. Greetings Ralph,

    As always, kudos to you for your priceless, steady reportage and analyses over all these years.

    Question: How exactly are trapped wolves and coyotes finally “dispatched” (a/k/a slaughtered, butchered)once the trapper finds the victim in its trap (assuming of course the sociopath has arrived prior to the animal ending his or her death throes)?

    Warmest regards,

    Valerie

    (Conservation advocate, researcher, writer)

  2. avatar alf says:

    Usually clubbed, I believe, especially in the winter, when the pelt is in its prime and will bring in more money.

    But sometimes shot; and if the trapper is especially assholish and the pelt isn’t worth anything he might sick his dogs on it and let them tear it up. Nice, huh ?

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Every trapper I have know in my life, use a .22 pistol shot to the head, in order to preserve the pelt. You guys….

      • avatar Elk275 says:

        Two wolves were reported trapped and 2 shot in Montana today. I know of a ranch that set out 20 traps and only caught a fox.

        • avatar Kristi says:

          Unintentional trapping…nice

        • avatar Mike says:

          ++Two wolves were reported trapped and 2 shot in Montana today. I know of a ranch that set out 20 traps and only caught a fox.++

          Only caught a fox….

          Just a piece of corn or a pumpkin I guess. *shrugs*.

      • avatar Kristi says:

        You must not know Josh Bransford from Elk City, Idaho then. Or those idiots that were taking pot shots at “his” trapped wolf before he had his photo taken with the bleeding, trapped wolf.

  3. Thanks Alf, Save Bears, Elk 75 for the info. I would appreciate any more feedback on this question anyone can provide.

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      Valerie
      The trappers I know prefer the head shot but I have heard talk that do to the value of wolf skulls use a heart shot. Most use the 22 but the 17 rifle is becoming popular. You’ll have to let us know how to tell which are sociopaths.

  4. Followup question for Save Bears and all fellow trappers:

    Right before you unload your .22 into the wolf’s head, do you look the wolf in the eye and tell it that you’re sorry that he or she is about to die in earnest? Do you laugh? Or do you altogether avoid communication?

    Because, it is certain that a species that is as intelligent, sentient, and expressive as the wolf would be trying in any way to communicate that it wants its life spared (e.g. like the doomed German Shepherd that furiously licked the hand of its controller before it was skinned alive — shown on NBC Dateline in 1998 which still haunts my dreams and caused Congress to make the importation of “Mongolian Dog Fur” (any dog fur coming from China) illegal for trim on clothing, etc.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Valerie,

      I don’t hunt or trap wolves, I do hunt Deer and Elk and I, being a bowhunter am always close to the animal that I take the life from, I say my thanks, show my respect and understand what it has given for me to live.

      I also spent many years in the Military, I took quite a few lives while in the Military, and still said a prayer every single time I took a life, despite the fact they were also trying to kill me. One was almost successful, but I am still here kicking.

    • avatar Kristi says:

      I have seen videos of trappers making jokes and laughing at “his” wolf caught in a trap barking furiously wanting nothing more than to get away. Or remarking about how big the wolf is. Or how scared it is. Or how nice the coat is. Or how many elk, deer, whatever they just saved by killing the wolf. What honor is there is being able to walk right up to an animal caught in a trap that was probably baited and shooting or clubbing it (or having dogs rip it apart as seen in the photos of an employee of Wildlife Services)? Where is fair chase? In MT traps can be left unchecked for 48 hours…in pain, shock, subject to dehydration, the elements and possibly other predators. There is no honor in trapping. There is no respect. Those who say this are only justifying their actions. Or kidding themselves.

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Kristi,

        You did see, I said, I don’t hunt or trap wolves didn’t you?

      • avatar alf says:

        Very well said, Kristi. Very eloquent, and obviously heartfelt.

        I’ve never trapped, but the thoughts you expressed are among the main reasons I quit hunting over 20 years ago.

        I don’t at all miss hunting or regret my decision.

  5. Rancher Bob,

    Follow-up answer to your question: How to ascertain the identity of sociopaths?

    As a paradigm example for me it would be the fur skinner who took that German Shepherd’s life in 1998 while the animal looked into the man’s eye with a fading hope of the expectation of goodness from the very man who had after all kept it alive until its execution by skinning.

    As a general rule anyone is a sociopath who kills another intelligent, sentient, expressive living being if not for true self-defense or survival (nourishment because one will otherwise starve) reasons/

    The corollary being, of course, that ANYONE who traps for profit, pleasure, or expedience, is unequivocally devoid of healthy empathy and compassion and is thereby a sociopath as the word is commonly understood.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Valerie,

      I think one of the biggest problems we run into with these discussions, is both side try to make it a black and white issue.

      When you are taking a life, it is never a black and white, there are just to many things that come into it…

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      I for one agree with you Valerie. You may find this interesting Valerie.

      http://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/hunting-humans/

      I’m glad I did not see the segment about the German Shepherd, I’ll think of it now and thats enough. The culture of dog killing in some of the Asian countries as well as the manner in which they kill them is so horrific its hard to believe.

    • avatar Rancher Bob says:

      Thanks Valerie I figured your response would be along those lines. Please continue your ?

    • avatar WM says:

      Valerie,

      ++As a general rule anyone is a sociopath who kills another intelligent, sentient, expressive living being if not for true self-defense or survival (nourishment because one will otherwise starve) reasons…++

      I looked up the definition of sociopath in several different sources, and couldn’t find anything that meets the one from you quoted above. Without defending the behavior of anyone who commits the egregious and disgusting acts alleged in some of these trapping or commercial atrocities to some animals either in the US, or more predominantly places like China, let me offer some insight to “your definition.”

      As most here know, I hunt elk a couple weeks a year. I and my hunting partners are very grateful when we are successful in getting an elk, or the occasional grouse taken incidentally (clearly our efforts are not ones of survivial).

      It would be a real stretch to conclude any of us have “sociopathic tendencies.” We have all had real jobs, with substantial responsibilities, are engaged in our communities, and have families, including kids that seem to be growing up normally,mostly. Last week, my wife, who works for a larger company in the Puget Sound area, the name of which you would recognize, attended a work Christmas party. It was a potluck, and she took elk summer sausage and cheeses. It was a big hit, and numerous people commented about it, knowing it was made with elk. Someone came up to her afterward, said they really liked the sausage, and asked if he could speak with me about elk hunting, because he was just getting started in the activity. Another of her friends (a gourmet cook and caterer) hinted that she would appreciate some elk meat for one of her dishes (she always reciprocates by making something absolutely delicious in return, usually an awesome dessert and a thank you note). Do you suppose any of these folks in my wife’s or my circle of friends is thinking, “Oh my God, she’s married to a “sociopath?”

      On the other hand, thinking more broadly about those who eat meat from “sentient” animals (and I guess I would consider a cow, sheep, pig [smarter than a cat}), do you suppose you meat eaters who create the demand for it, are “enablers,” as that term is used in psychology, complicit in these activities?

      Where some of you come up with this shit is nothing short of amazing!

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        WM advocating to end trapping, snaring and cruelty to animals is not stupid shit. Your defense of the staus quo using personal anecdotal stories about elk sausage does not address the issue that was being discussed, whether or not killing animals for fun (not for food) is sociopathic.

        • avatar WM says:

          Louise,

          Obviously you missed this paragraph.

          ++Without defending the behavior of anyone who commits the egregious and disgusting acts alleged in some of these trapping or commercial atrocities to some animals either in the US, or more predominantly places like China, let me offer some insight to “your definition.” ++

          Actually it does apply to the “issue being discussed.” My comment was exclusively about the impromptu “sociopath,” and as it turns out inaccurate definition by Valerie, and a broad group to whom she would have such a definition apply. I think you get wound around the axle sometimes in your emotions and advocacy (with which I did not disagree regarding Valerie’s comment), rather than looking at substance.

        • avatar josh says:

          Louise ,

          Read Valerie’s comment, killing ANY animal for food, unless you are going to starve to death, makes that individual a sociopath.

          Do you agree with her, if I kill an elk because I enjoy elk meat I am a sociopath in her eyes. Do you feel the same? I hope you answer the question.

  6. Save Bears,

    As much as I deplore all killing of wildlife, I do very much appreciate the fact that you do not trap or shoot wolves — the priceless resistance fighters for the nation’s “geography of hope.”

    By the way re: bow-hunting, I sure hope that you are very good at this skill as I’ve been told that many animals suffer horrifically because the bow hunter doesn’t know what they’re doing in terms of a “clean” through and through/

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Valerie,

      I have never had an animal go more than 50 feet that I have shot, I don’t use a modern bow, I use a long bow, wood arrows and very sharp steel broadheads, I don’t take questionable shots, I need to know, that I have a clean kill shot in order to take it. As a survivor of a gun shot wound, I know what it is like, I want not animal to ever suffer because of a bad shot on my part.

  7. Save Bears,

    You are decidedly correct: taking a life is not a black and white issue. So let’s keep the discussion centered on the ethics of and reasons underlying the desire to trap and kill extraordinarily expressive, intelligent, and sentient beings.

  8. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I don’t believe this AK story – the dead giveaway is the list of alleged wolf attacks on humans at the end of the story. More PR to promote a justification for hunting and killing them.

  9. Louise and Save Bears,

    Thank you for your follow-ups. Both of you are obviously deeply thoughtful.

    Rancher Bob,

    The second most cogent paradigm of sociopathic treatment of canines for me is Josh Bransford’s Brand of Barbarism (taken of course from Idaho Statesman’s cover storylast March) where we saw his video of his taking obvious pleasure in the suffering of his trapped wolf about to die.

    Everybody:

    Why anyone would be inclined to trap after the expression of public outrage following this coverage is inexplicable to me — except for a scientific study I came across last Spring reported on Nova Science (I believe)that reveals that roughly ten percent of the population has an under-developed or altogether missing area of the brain which concerns empathy.

    I remember being astonished that the percentage is so high. It seems plausible that trappers and slob hunters fall into this category. In this regard, does anyone happen to know what percentage of the hunting population trap?

    • avatar Elk275 says:

      ++In this regard, does anyone happen to know what percentage of the hunting population trap?++

      That would be simple to figure out. Find out the number of hunting license sold in that state and then find out the number of trappers licenses sold. All trapper will have a hunting license. Divide the number of trapping licenses by the number of hunting licenses. Simple.

      ++I came across last Spring reported on Nova Science (I believe)that reveals that roughly ten percent of the population has an under-developed or altogether missing area of the brain which concerns empathy.++

      Everyone has there pluses and minuses. You might have a high level of empathy but then somewhere, somehow you are part of the a 10% group what ever that might be.

  10. avatar Connie says:

    A week ago today I found a dog that had been caught in a snare. She was in horrible pain and starving. Took her to the vet. The leg was amputated and the wound is healing nicely. However, she has developed an internal infection from the bad leg. Surgery scheduled for Thursday if she’s strong enough. IMO: all trapping is inhumane and needs to be outlawed. You would not believe how this young dog has suffered, just as all trapped animals do. I agree – only a sociopath traps.

  11. Louise, Connie:

    Thanks for the information and insight. It’s just so painful to think about the countless trapped animals all over the country as I write — alone, in great pain (I mean just think how much your own dog yelps if you accidentally step on its toes)starving, and cold (because of course they can’t move) and hoping, hoping for relief, but doomed to face his or her executioner.

    Trappers in this country live in a poisonous soup of a culture no different than that of the Chinese fur skinner who blithely ignored the fear and agony of that beautiful German Shepherd — so closely related to the wolf.

    By the way, ignorance was defined as the essential basis of evil by Elie Wiesel. Simply put — one chooses to turn a blind eye to what is so patently obvious.

  12. Connie,

    Also, of course, THANK YOU for taking the time and expending your resources to help relieve the suffering of your foundling. Your example of humanity inputs hope that the compassionate among us will eventually be able to abate somehow the actions of the morally bankrupt.

  13. avatar josh says:

    So Valerie and Louise, let me get this right. I hunt and kill animals because I like the meat. I dont “need” the meat to survive. So according to both of you I am a “sociopath”? Is that correct? Just curious is all.

    • avatar Mark L says:

      Well, do you trap and eat wolf on a regular basis, or not?

      • avatar josh says:

        She said nothing about trapping wolves, just killing animals. Which I do every year. I want her to answer the question though!

        • avatar Connie says:

          Is there a difference?

        • avatar Adriana says:

          Josh, the question here is whether you enjoy killing the animal and see it as mere target and object of entertainment or if you feel compassion and respect for the animal. It’s the mindset that is questioned here. I can respect a hunter who kills for food and respects the animal. Afterall it’s better to kill a wild animal for food than driving to a supermarket and buying meat produced by these awful concentration camps called factory farms. Perhaps it will help you understand our issue with sportshunters and trappers, if I tell you that I own couple of slaves. A moment ago you probably thought that I was just another wacky PETA person, but now that you know I own slaves…now perhaps you find me morally corrupt or you question my sanity. Do you think that all slave owners who lived 200 years ago were morally corrupt? The truth is that most of slave owners were perfectly normal people like you and I. We live in society where owning people to do some work for free is wrong. Our mindset changed because our economic and social status has changed and we can afford to frown upon slavery. Perhaps in 200 years when people will hear your story about elk sausages, they will puke and feel disgusted. Afterall it wasn’t long ago when the most honorable men in society were those who protected the good god abiding people by burning those whose faith was questionable.

          • avatar Harley says:

            What about hunters who hunt simply for the challenge, keep a trophy for their accomplishment and then donate the meat to someone else who has a need for such a thing?

          • avatar josh says:

            I enjoy hunting greatly, I enjoy the challenge and the mountains. Of course I respect the animal, if I did not then I would not hunt. Just cracks me up when hunters are painted as sociopaths and everyone jumps on board!

  14. avatar STG says:

    Trapping is a barbaric, primitive and cruel method of “harvesing” wolves or other wildlife. Other users (humans and dogs) of the public land are put at risk. If trappers posted at trailheads (GPS latitude/longitude trap data) that would be really helpful, but the FWP don’t require this. I guess they don’t want to be proactive or anticipate user conflict or risk of injury? The legal distances from trails/trailheads/roads for placing traps still puts other users of of public lands at risk especially if one goes off trail (backcountry skiers, people on snowshoes, hunters with dogs etc.)When trapping season is over, what guarantee does the public have that the traps have been removed? So during this trapping season the public lands are sort of like a minefield. I think (?) there are 2500 trapping permits in Montana–perhaps more? That’s a lot of traps that can do plenty of damage to people and wildlife. Trappers are getting preferential treatment at the expense of other public land users.

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      This is something that is going to have to be addressed soon. We’re living in a different world now, and with our much larger populations F&W are going to have to accommodate hikers and wildlife watchers, and hunters’ interests by being more careful of traps and snares, flying bullets and giving proper notice. We need large, open areas of wilderness preserved. But not only are we headed backwards, but to the Dark Ages it looks like.

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        Or not just F&W, but lawmakers and politicians.

      • avatar Cris Waller says:

        On this note, I found it appalling that the article mentioned that only about 1000 Montanans plan to trap wolves (the number that took the mandatory trapping class) yet all of the state except a few areas is open to trapping- and those who wish to avoid traps are told by FWP “We just want recreationists and trappers to know that there are some easy choices available to them, and that there is a lot of room for users to get along.”

      • avatar Savebears says:

        Ida,

        While I agree, our populations are growing, but the population growth in the state of Montana is actually quite small. That is not to say I am endorsing trapping, just making an observation based on your statement.

        The majority of areas that trapping will actually take place in, are small population areas.

        I heard a story the other day, which I will qualify as more of a rumor than anything else, that stated that a few anti trapping advocates are going to animal shelters and getting dogs, with the express purpose of visiting those areas that are known trapping areas. It is said, they have one specific purpose in mind.

        As I said, it is pure speculation and rumor, but I find it just as disturbing as some of the rumors about trappers that I have heard by the anti trapping people.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          Ugh. I’m sure there are extremists on both sides.

          Well, it the there are large wilderness areas then there’s not as much of a concern about hikers, walkers and pets accidentally encountering traps, I guess. Closer to more populated areas, maybe there needs to be more done.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          Ugh. I’m sure there are extremists on both sides.

          Well, it the there are large wilderness areas then there’s not as much of a concern about hikers, walkers and pets accidentally encountering traps, I guess. Closer to more populated areas, maybe there needs to be more done.

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          I don’t know an animal lover that would ever subject an animal to torture, that should be left as speculation please. Conversely, the damage, pain, misery and torture that traps and snares inflict on all animals pets or, wildlife is not speculation. Time to stop excusing this “pasttime”.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Louise,

            Not all on the anti side are actual animal lovers, they are activists with an agenda, we have seen this in the past from various individuals in national groups.

            It is well known that some in the PETA organization have perpetuated illegal as well as immoral actions to achieve their goals. ALF and ELF have also perpetuated crimes to achieve their goals.

            Just because someone is against something to do with animals, does not mean they are actual animal lovers.

            I prefaced my post with what it was in my opinion, but after living here for so many years and working in the industry, I would not be surprised if there is some truth to what I heard.

            • avatar Ida Lupine says:

              I hope it is just a rumor.

              It’s always a long, hard slog to make positive change. Sometimes it seems like one step forward, ten steps backwards. A lot of the time, actually. But there are no shortcuts. That’s the way it is – resorting to terror tactics or crime does noone any good, and it goes against a do no harm philosphy which is what those who repect life believe.

            • avatar Mike says:

              Here goes Save Bears, turning a thread about wolf-trapping into something else.

              So do you support wolf trapping or not, Save Bears?

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          savebears I know you don’t condone trapping and I appreciate that. What rumors are anit trappers spreading about trappers? That they set hundreds of traps of snares (Josh Bransford in an area with the expressed purpose to take out all the biggest animals) or Jamie Olsen who traps on off time or on the clock and lets his dogs loose on the animals, of the fact that some traps don’t have to be checked for 72 hours, or the look on the animals’ faces while they wait to be clubbed, stomped or shot to death…..its a terrible practice that needs to be outlawed. Sadistic, cruel, inhumane and a minority interest causing terrible damage to wildlife and pets that many many people do not support. Many people have a hard time beleiving its legal.

          • avatar Savebears says:

            Louise,

            You seem to have a bit of a blind side in you, anytime something is brought up that alludes to the possibility that some people on the anti side are perhaps doing unethical or even illegal acts, you turn a blind eye to those statements.

            The extreme radicals reside on both sides of these issues, and they are very good at pushing buttons to achieve the warped goals.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              Savebears what are the anti trophy, anti trapping “extremists” doing to threaten others or harm wildlife?

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Threatening boycotts, not to eat meat, to sign petitions, call their legislators, express distress about the anti predator policies….which actions are problematic. Not wanting more of the same….forever

        • avatar Connie says:

          No way an animal lover would put a dog in harm’s way.

    • avatar Mike says:

      I called MFWP about this and was told Montana has “thousands” of wolves that need to be “harvested”, lol.

  15. Josh and WM,

    As a general rule anyone is a sociopath who kills another intelligent, sentient, expressive living being if not for true self-defense or survival (nourishment because one will otherwise starve)reasons.

    Josh, yes in my opinion, as a general rule, anyone is a sociopath who … (see above)for the PLEASURE of eating meat they do not need for sustenance.

    With so many incredibly tasty soy and mushroom-based faux meat substitutes there is simply no excuse for taking the one and only life a sentient, intelligent, and expressive being has on this planet. Quote, “animals who are killed for pleasure die in earnest”, unquote.

    WM wrote:

    “Where some of you come up with this shit is nothing short of amazing”!

    WM, are you losing your manners because you feel threatened by your consciousness of guilt?

    • avatar WM says:

      Not in the least, counselor (even if you intended it as an evidentiary concept from criminal law). My comment was an exclamation of indignation -outrage really- over your gross generalizations that are not factually consistent with the clincial or common usage definition of “sociopath” and how that term is applied in conventional English lexicon.

      Hence, I resort to poor manners and use of the expletive to which you refer, accompanied by a justified (in my mind, anyway) exclamation punctuation.

      It is not that I do not respect a differing opinion, it is that I find disdain for how you reach it using over-empathic and “just” concepts, to ultimately express it as some main stream social norm. When significantly greater than 1 percent of the US population is vegetarian, or considers hunting to truly be “sociopathic” as defined by conventional norms, I will refrain from such expletive/exclamatory sentences. Until then, I will just go with the polls, and the states that set up regulatory frameworks to engage in it, to conclude hunting is an ok activity.

    • avatar JB says:

      These anti-hunting rants really have become tiresome. What purpose do they serve?

    • avatar TC says:

      I find this sort of extremist animal rights judgmentalism to be polarizing, destructive, and harmful to meaningful collaborations and progress on wildlife conservation. I view this attitude/value set with the same despair as the polar opposites on the animal welfare spectrum – the slobs we hear about every day on this site. I understand the desire to make people respectful of animal life (it would be nice if we could start with human life though), and this awakening is something you may accomplish with rational conversations held with people you develop relationships with over time. I sincerely doubt it will ever happen via bluntly judgmental internet posts positing that all hunters (Meat-eaters? Subsistence pastoralists with “faux meat” options? Consumers that purchase products made with animal byproducts? etc.) are “sociopaths”.

      Just a little constructive criticism for your futher posts: Sociopathy (sociopath) is an antiquated term. DSM-IV-TR (and the newly adopted DSM-V) have updated classifications and diagnostic criteria for personality disorders, and you’ll be surprised to learn said diagnostic criteria do not include all behaviors you personally find abhorrent, untasteful, or personally irritating. It would be nice to be king/queen of the universe – such is not your (or my) fate.

  16. Josh,

    Addendum: add the word “hunts” before “for the PLEASURE …”

    • avatar josh says:

      Valerie this is fun..

      “As a general rule anyone is a sociopath who kills another intelligent, sentient, expressive living being if not for true self-defense or survival (nourishment because one will otherwise starve)reasons.”

      I know you are BIG on science and documentation, can you please post your source for this “general rule”. Or are you stating your opinion as fact again? I think its latter.

      Valerie you are so far in left field that you are completely off the field! I will just accept the fact your crazy.

      But I do await your “credible source” for the sociopath definition.

      Thanks

      Josh

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “Valerie this is fun”

        That comment alone Josh, makes me wonder about just how “crazy” you might be in your pursuit for an answer :)

        • avatar josh says:

          Ha, Nancy I love arguing with the crazies! Sometimes they beat me with experience.. :)

          • avatar Nancy says:

            “I love arguing with the crazies!Sometimes they beat me with experience”

            Okay Josh, don’t want to “beat” you, so you will get no futher arguement from me “wink, wink”

            • avatar jon says:

              The ones that love killing things are calling others crazy. LOL

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                yes if you don’t agree with killing for fun, hate trapping and snaring, detest the way the states are ruthlessly killing wolves then you must be crazy, stupid and ill-informed or all.

              • avatar JEFF E says:

                my, I guess that was not “just mean” and was calculated to build lines of communication,

                ur just anther sycophant. posts calculated to create divides rather than bridges.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Jeff some of the nastiest posts attacking people come directly from you. I was not attacking you or anyon else. I was stating my opinion and you went directly into attack mode as you often do, and while you are at it check out the word sycophant.

              • avatar JEFF E says:

                I did not have too check it out, it fits u to a tee.

                “fawning parasite”

                There are only three here that really fit that definition . you are one.

                it is not even a surprise, but rather expected, that you resort to an infantile attempt to turn the tables whenever anyone calls u on your bullshit.
                any one that was paying attention had you pegged after your first day here.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                Yes Jeff E I can see how your post would be a model for cooperative gentle persuasive collaboration. Sycophant BS. I stick my neck out and take many a good “beatings” because I stand up for what I believe in. If you don’t like what I have to say, thats fine how about sticking to your own rule and try to not be so ugly and divisive. You think your post is an example of building bridges?

              • avatar JEFF E says:

                and there is number two of three

              • avatar JB says:

                “The ones that love killing things are calling others crazy. LOL”

                “yes if you don’t agree with killing for fun, hate trapping and snaring, detest the way the states are ruthlessly killing wolves then you must be crazy, stupid and ill-informed or all.”

                Jon, Louise: Nobody said that at all. Val (above) claimed that anyone who kills (and then later added “hunts”) for pleasure is a sociopath. That is, to be frank, utter nonsense. If you search for “sociopath” in the new DSM, the closest you’ll find you can come is what are considered “antisocial personality disorders” (see: http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/content.aspx?bookid=22&sectionid=1892638#3926). Of note, searching through this text you find that neither the word “hunt/ing” nor “kill/ing” appears anywhere in the background information.

                What is especially galling to me is that we have on numerous occasions discussed the difference between taking pleasure in hunting versus taking pleasure in killing. We all agree that the later mental state is abhorrent–but Val specifically modified her claim above to include “hunting”. That simply isn’t a defensible claim. To try and turn it into one by suggesting she is being attacked for people who “love killing things” or agree with “killing for fun” is extremely disingenuous.

                I understand that we all can’t get along all the time, but let’s at least try and be intellectually honest about our advocacy.

              • avatar jon says:

                JB, I don’t think any hunter that kills animals for pleasure/fun, not for food is what I would consider a normal person. Is he a sociopath? Who knows. JB, I would like to get your opinion on hunters who participate in contests where they win prizes for killing the most animals.

              • avatar JB says:

                Jon:

                Again, I don’t know a single hunter that derives pleasure from “killing”; rather, they derive pleasure from “hunting”. Note: while the process of hunting sometimes ends in a kill, hunting and killing are distinctly different. As we have discussed in the past, it is perfectly normal to derive pleasure from hunting (the process of finding wildlife), while at the same time being a bit saddened by the act of killing. When you say “killing for fun” or “taking pleasure in killing” you fail to recognize this important distinction.

                Hunting contests.

                Personally, I despise such contests, as I believe they devalue wildlife. Also, by their very design they encourage people to kill over and over again, which must desensitize individuals, and probably reduces they empathy they feel for animals. From my perspective, this isn’t the type of behavior we as a society should encourage. However, I also know (from studying people who participate in fishing tournaments) that people who participate are generally motivated by social recognition, challenge and competition; meaning, they are not simply killing for killing sake, but rather, to enhance their own sense of worth (or to gain what might be termed “psychological” utility). So while I personally think that allowing such events to take place is bad public policy, I do not believe that participants are morally corrupt.

                Fair?

              • avatar jon says:

                JB, I am talking about the process of some hunter getting pleasure from killing wildlife, not finding it. Now, I can understand someone killing a deer to eat it and getting pleasure because someone is going to eat that deer, but to kill something for pleasure and not eat it, I have a very big problem with that.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                JB to respond to your post…. when I wrote “yes if you don’t agree with killing for fun, hate trapping and snaring, detest the way the states are ruthlessly killing wolves then you must be crazy, stupid and ill-informed or all.” That statement was made in response to Jon’s post (“The ones that love killing things are calling others crazy. LOL” ” . It was an obvious facetious statement, but was derived partly from reading a whole lot of comments by people that hate wolves online (and argue that anyone who wants to see them managed responsibly is a bunny loving, tree hugging, urban crazy) and or because of the very personal nature of the attacks by some that post here. I don’t need to name manes but the insults range from needing to be institutionalized, to drinking too much to the most recent bizarre accusation of me being a sycophant. A bizarre stance, if directed at me, since I am hardly apt to kiss up to anyone. If you do read another post where I posted three definitions about sociopathy including one from the mayo clinic for antisocial personality disorders, you will see that was in response to what Valerie had written. As you correctly point out sociopathic and psychopathic behaviors are often lumped into antisocial personality disorders. Yet whether sociopathic, psychopathic, or the more recently termed antisocial personality disorder, all three disorders or subset of disorders share some distinguishing traits including lack of empathy for a harmed being, or for a being that they themselves have harmed. While I myself do not believe that every trophy hunter is a sociopath, I do think there are some interesting correlations that can be made and that have been written about. Below is something written by Jim Robertson who paraphrased another’s observations about trophy hunters and serial killers. I am sure this will not be popular here but if you are indeed being intellectually honest then I think you can at least acknowledge the author’s observations and the correlations between the actions that lead up to and occur post “hunt”. Anyhow, Robertson writes, “While researching for this blog post, I dug up an article by lion conservationist, Gareth Patterson, entitled “The Killing Fields.” In it, Patterson compares the uncanny similarities between trophy hunters and serial killers.

                Here are some excerpts…

                Certainly one could state that, like the serial killer, the trophy hunter plans his killing with considerable care and deliberation. Like the serial killer, he decides well in advance the type of victim–that is, which species he intends to target. Also like the serial killer, the trophy hunter plans with great care where and how the killing will take place–in what area, with what weapon. What the serial killer and trophy hunter also share is a compulsion to collect trophies or souvenirs of their killings. The serial killer retains certain body parts and/or other trophies for much the same reason as the big game hunter mounts the head and antlers taken from his prey…as trophies of the chase.

                Hunting magazines contain page after page of (a) pictures of hunters, weapon in hand, posing in dominating positions over their lifeless victims, (b) advertisements offering a huge range of trophy hunts, and (c) stories of hunters’ “exciting” experience of “near misses” and danger. These pages no doubt titillate the hunter, fueling his own fantasies and encouraging him to plan more and more trophy hunts.

                Trophy hunters often hire a camera person to film their entire hunts in the bush, including the actual moments when animals are shot and when they die. These films are made to be viewed later at will, presumably for self-gratification purposes and to show to other people–again the longing “to be important” factor?…
                http://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/hunting-humans/” I think that the argument that trophy hunting has a sociopathic element to it has some validity. Because there are many people who agree with this side of the argument or elements of it does not make us crazy, dishonest or divisive. I know I just want to see somethings change like incredibly destructive anti predator policies.

                Its difficult not to notice the amount of name calling that goes on here when other opinions about hunting are raised. I’ve heard many here say that non hunters need to meet in the middle. Non hunters are accused of being obstructionist of not wanting to find the middle ground. Is the middle ground always to be dominated by what has become the traditional paradigm of wildlife management? I think hunters have been running the show for so long that calling for a change elicits a strong and negative reaction.

                From the non hunters I think we need to expect that hunting will continue but I don’t think its unreasonable to ask that hunting for fun/trophies be reevaluated. Nor is it unreasonable to want to eliminate unneccessary suffering in killing methods like traps, snares and body griping devices. More impressive fines and sentences, anti cruelty statutes and protections for carnivores that are more in keeping with a top down biologically defensible approach.

                I’ve made my position very clear here many times, if you want/need to eat it then kill it quickly, with as little pain and suffering as possible. Any other hunting to me is indefensible as its done for fun or as a trophy and I value live wildlife and their right to coexist in this world much more than that of someone who wants to kill an live animal for a rug, a head or for a thrill. I abhor trapping, snaring, hunting with dogs, snowmobiles, etc.

                I am not anti hunter but pro wildlife. I am not crazy, intellectually dishonest or sycophantic, delusional or any of the other names that some have called me here

              • avatar Harley says:

                Louise,
                While there are some out there that might fit neatly into that comparison of serial killers and trophy hunters, overall the bottom line is that serial killers kill People. Trophy hunters kill Animals. In my book, there is a distinct difference between the two and I certainly know which I value more, even though I love animals and can’t stand to see any suffer in any way. (unless one is trying to make me lunch!) I know, as you stated, this will not be a popular stance/view/distinction here, but it is what it is. It’s something that many environmentalist are accused of, sometimes wrongly but also sometimes truthfully, that they value the animals life more than a humans.

              • avatar JB says:

                Louise:

                First, you haven’t established that hunters lack empathy. Second, even were you to establish a lack of empathy, this is merely one diagnositic (or symptom) of the alleged personality disorder (correlation [again, hasn't been established] is not causation). Third, you are again failing to recognize that a subsistence hunter can also be a trophy hunter–one motivation does not preclude the other (meaning you can’t sort hunters into neat, mutually-exclusive categories). Fourth, while I understand your logic, you’re still failing to acknowledge that HUNTING is different than KILLING. This gets to the very core of your argument that trophy hunting should be banned. That is, you’re justification is that these people are sick because they enjoy killing when in fact, they may be saddened by the act of killing (again, neither of us knows), but very much enjoy HUNTING. You might still argue that enjoyment of hunting isn’t a sufficient reason to allow people to trophy hunt, but that’s a different argument (and again, it ignores the fact that trophy hunters cannot be neatly separated from meat/subsistence hunters).

                Consider that some may lash out at you (and others) because the comments you’re making suggest that they are deranged, immoral or have some personality disorder. Actually, I believe that is exactly what happened with Josh and Val (above).

            • avatar JEFF E says:

              no Louise,
              my post is the result of a very considered evaluation of yourself. I do the same process for upwards of a hundred individuals yearly in my profession, not to mention very in- depth training in such evaluations at an earlier time in my life.
              you are what you are.

              • avatar Mike says:

                What a bitter post by Jeff E.

                His exchange with Louise is really uncalled for.

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                JB – You said “even were you to establish a lack of empathy, this is merely one diagnositic (or symptom) of the alleged personality disorder (correlation [again, hasn't been established] is not causation).” I posted another link http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2815/whats-the-difference-between-sociopaths-psychopaths-serial-killers-etc that acknowledges that lack of causation but points to a number of qualities that may predispose if you will.

                I dont’t actually fail to recognize that a subsistence hunter can also be a trophy hunter–one. I noted in my objections to certain types of hunting that if you kill it eat it and do it as painlessly as possible. This characterization would distinguish between hunting solely for trophy which I think we can agree on would not include eating the animal. Then you wrote, “Fourth, while I understand your logic, you’re still failing to acknowledge that HUNTING is different than KILLING. This gets to the very core of your argument that trophy hunting should be banned. That is, you’re justification is that these people are sick because they enjoy killing when in fact, they may be saddened by the act of killing (again, neither of us knows), but very much enjoy HUNTING.” I did not argue that trophy hunting should be banned because these people are sick, I said I valued living wildlife and the rights of those wildlife to coexist more then the right of others to kill for a rug, trophy or head on a wall. So please do stick to the argument.

                You then wrote” Consider that some may lash out at you (and others) because the comments you’re making suggest that they are deranged, immoral or have some personality disorder.” I don’t believe I have ever made extremely personal derogatory remarks to anyone posting here, yet some do so with regularity. There is a great distinction in offering a position in general as opposed to directed personal attacks. Some people are extremely hostile when it comes to maintaining the status quo position for hunting and killing, as some have said here I’d kill to prevent a change in hunting rights- Craig I believe. Thats about as radical as it gets

              • avatar josh says:

                Louise,

                I am a trophy hunter, I spent countless hours in the early fall looking for a big bull or big buck. I then hunt that specific animal till I either kill him or the hunt ends. I killed a very very big buck this year, I had some of the jerky from him this weekend hunting chukars. I had a roast 2 weeks ago, gave some steaks to a buddy for his bbq. I will eat the entire deer this winter. I like to hunt mature animals, if I kill one all the greater, if not I enjoy my time in the mtns!

              • avatar JB says:

                “I did not argue that trophy hunting should be banned because these people are sick, I said I valued living wildlife and the rights of those wildlife to coexist more then the right of others to kill for a rug, trophy or head on a wall. So please do stick to the argument.”

                Louise: Come on, you’re being extremely disingenuous! You JUST posted a long excerpt that compares trophy hunters to serial killers.

                “I don’t believe I have ever made extremely personal derogatory remarks to anyone posting here…”

                Again, you just posted text that compares trophy hunters to serial killers. Tell me, how is that not a “personal derogatory remark”?

              • avatar Louise Kane says:

                JB you wrote,
                “Again, you just posted text that compares trophy hunters to serial killers. Tell me, how is that not a “personal derogatory remark”?

                JB I posted remarks, written by another, that compare what he/she considered to be commonalities in the psychological make up of a serial animal and serial human killer. (Using serial as recidivist or in multiple). The article correctly points out that people that kill animals for trophies often acknowledge great enjoyment in planning for and killing the animal. They often pose with the dead animal and have others record the kill, just as serial killers of people have been known to do. They treat the animal as a thing with no intrinsic value of its own. They show a lack of empathy. For someone like me who has a lot of empathy for animals and people,the posts of trophy hunters holding up dead animals, especially carnivores that they won’t eat, freaks me out, and really makes me angry… to be blunt. I posted the quote because I found it to be interesting and because I thought the author made some credible thought provoking comparisons. Just because that thread of thinking runs contrary to the status quo does not discredit it. As I also said I don’t think all trophy hunters are sociopaths or serial killers. I do think though that a love of killing animals for trophies, aside from perhaps being an outdated learned cultural tradition, may also indicate some arrested moral or ethical development. Similar to an individual who never progresses through all stages of self actualization like in an Erikson psychosocial model. Many people do reflect later they wish they had not killed with such disregard for their animal victims, like Leopold coming into a place of retrospection and analysis after killing the famous wolf. or fishermen not being able to fish, or hunters or trappers not wanting to kill any longer. Anyhow, you asked how is this comparison not a personal attack? I did not attack any particular person. Its perfectly within the ability of many people here to debate the ideas contained within the post.

              • avatar JB says:

                Fair enough, Louise. Though I will point out that my skepticism regarding the comments you posted have nothing to do with their conflict with the status quo, and everything to do with the fact that they are based on stereotypic views of “trophy” hunters (again, can’t be separated neatly from any other kind of hunters) and a boatload of claims without empirical evidence to back them up.

                On a related topic (and since you brought it up)…Your previous post suggests that hunters don’t believe that wildlife possess intrinsic value…on what do you base that assertion?

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          Louise Kane.

          Here are some thoughts of mine.

          Number 3 is a personality different than a sociopath, but lack of empathy in general can make for a dangerous person.

          What they actually do also depends on the social environment in which they are embedded.

          As far as animals go, lack of empathy can sometimes be the mark of a very dangerous person. It can also simply reflect their social environment. Those who raise livestock have to temper their empathy, but there are those who care how they are kept and those that don’t.

          I notice the degree of empathy people have, especially if I am going to have to interact with them.

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            Ralph I posted #3 exactly because whether describing sociopathy, psychopathy, or anti social personality disorders – which seem to be the way psychiatrists lean now in describing either disorder lack of empathy is a common trait, and lack of empathy for the being that the sociopath has done something to.

            • avatar JB says:

              Louise:

              There are two logical errors here. First, is the assumption that hunters lack empathy; second is the assumption that empathy for humans is the same as empathy for other organisms. I do not empathize with the mosquito I swat, but I don’t think that makes me a sociopath. You might argue that a deer is very different from a mosquito, to which I would counter, a person is very different from a deer–meaning empathy for people and empathy for other organisms are not necessarily equivalent.

              • avatar Adriana says:

                JB I don’t know if you own a pet but if you do, do you feel less empathy for your pet than you feel for a human who could be a thief or worse? You hinted that you can feel empathy only for your own species – there is actually a term for it – speciesism. If I misunderstood I apologize. Anyway, if you have time watch “earthlings” on youtube the documentary covers this issue in a poignant way.

              • avatar JB says:

                Adriana:

                The answer to both of your questions is “yes”–i.e., I do own pets (2 cats, 1 dog) and I do feel less empathy for them than I do for humans. I’m actually acutely aware of this at the moment, as over the last 12 months we have invested ~$1,200 in a sick cat (symptom-loss of control of bowel). Do I feel empathy for our cat? You bet? Is it the same as I would feel for my 4-year old child? Absolutely not. If that makes me a sociopath, I suspect I’m in good company. ;)

                I find “specisim” to be an utterly ridiculous concept. Very few organisms are capable of feeling empathy/compassion at all–even for individuals of the same species. What makes humans (and a few other high-functioning organisms) different is that we have this capacity–that is, it isn’t our focus on ourselves but our ability to focus on others that sets us apart from most animals.

              • avatar Jon Way says:

                JB,
                Interesting discussion and tying in wolves, many (including some scientists) might argue that wolves show empathy for each other. They cooperatively live together and raise pups as a family. There is documentation that they mourn the loss of a pack member. While some may argue that they don’t show empathy b.c they often kill each other, that is almost always a non-pack member. Heck, with the events of the past week – in some regards, humans might not be much different.

                While I do agree that few animals can show empathy like humans, I would argue that wolves are pretty close and maybe next in line to us. And this is no doubt why so many connect to this social, sentient, intelligent animal.

              • avatar Jon Way says:

                When I say next in line, I mean the grouping of organisms that would fall below humans. Similarly, sports analysts might make the argument that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (and maybe Aaron Rogers) are the best QBs in the game – and then there are maybe 3-5 below them. I would argue that we are the Tom Bradys of the world but that wolves are one of the species that are “elite” but not quite the same as us.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                Interesting parallel, Jon Way.
                In a similar vein, if anyone takes blood pressure medicine, they probably have venomous snakes to thank (lisinopril from the jararaca-Bothrops jararaca, etc.). We would probably still kill them if we saw one, but a lot of people owe their existance to them.

              • avatar JB says:

                Thanks, Jon. I agree that other organisms can feel some version of what we would call empathy. I know this is well documented for chimpanzees (at least) and gorillas as well, if memory serves. And I have myself seen dogs act in ways that suggest they are empathetic–though I’m sure that what goes on cognitively for a dog is quite different than what goes on for a human.

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2815/whats-the-difference-between-sociopaths-psychopaths-serial-killers-etc

          an interesting read distinguishing legal definition of serial killer while outlining psychiatric definitions of disorders -

  17. avatar Mike says:

    I’d like to thank Footloose for their awesome work. I’m sure my meager donation was put to good use.

  18. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I hear this a lot – it is never an “either or” argment. Yes, people and certainly your own children would take precedence, I should hope so! It doesn’t mean we can recognize terrible treatment of animals and try to make positive change, and if we do it must mean we don’t care about people. But saying humans in an all encompassing way have the ability to focus on others instead of themselves is wrong – they don’t, always. This quality means nothing if you don’t use it, it could mean you don’t have it to use. Check out the overflowing prisons population for the more serious crimes.

    Speciesism is not a ridiculous concept – it is the very answer to why someone would treat their own kind fairly and with compassion and empathy, and those they deep “lesser” beings differently and poorly – racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, speciesism – the mindset is still the same. We’re somehow better than the other and we do what we want because of that.

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      Sorry, that should be “it doesn’t mean we can’t recognize terrible treatment of animals….”

      Lack of empathy may be just one indicator, but it certainly is the biggest.

    • avatar JB says:

      “Speciesism is not a ridiculous concept – it is the very answer to why someone would treat their own kind fairly and with compassion and empathy, and those they deep “lesser” beings differently and poorly – racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, speciesism – the mindset is still the same.”

      Ida:

      I disagree. The best explanation for focusing on yourself and genetically related others is evolution by natural selection–those that take care of their own first should tend to leave more offspring. This also provides a parsimonious explanation for why humans seemingly have the ability to turn off empathy (after all, we have been at war with one another nearly continuously throughout our existence). It would be maladaptive to be overly empathetic to the competing tribesman you are about to destroy.

      The best explanation for being more empathetic to ones own kind (as opposed to other organisms) is simply that they are more similar to oneself, and so easier to empathize with. Tell me, can you empathize with the tree that falls down in your yard? How about the mosquito you squish? Perhaps, but it is certainly harder than empathizing with your colleague, neighbor or sibling.

      Finally, the best explanation for why people take prosocial actions is the concept of reciprocity, which is well studied both in behavioral ecology and psychology. Essentially, we’re “nice” to others because this behavior is valued and is likely to be reciprocated.

      With these three concepts you can explain everything that “specisim” attempts to explain. It is utter hogwash, in my view.

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        Well, it’s different. Empathizing with people is much more complex. The tree that falls down in my yard is going to benefit nature immensely in its new role. But we can certainly not deny an animal’s right to exist and acknowledge their similar qualities to us – feeling pain, hunger, attachment to each other, survival. I try not to do things to harm insects either because they do have their role in the world and nature, and they were put here for a reason that is beyond my being. Some are nice because it is right, and don’t do it to fit in or expect anything in return? Somehow our empathic qualities have survived our warlike side and carried on also. :)

        • avatar JB says:

          “Well, it’s different.”

          Exactly. It is easier to empathize with a similar organism, because those organisms tend to act similar to people, which allows us to make assumptions about what they are thinking and feeling–i.e., to be empathetic. It’s hard to empathize with a mosquito or a tree because we are more dissimilar than similar. This acknowledgement does not make us “specists” it is simply a recognition of fact. Likewise the fact that we are more likely to undertake actions that benefit other humans (before non-human animals) is well explained by reciprocity, and the fact that it is indeed easier to empathize with other humans.

          To me, specieism (spelling?) seems a convenient way to demonize an outgroup (i.e., people who don’t think animals should have rights similar to humans) by suggesting that they are somehow morally inadequate.

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            I have felt pain, love, joy, bereavement, embarassment, etc. in the range human experience, so I can empathize with another. Body language, facial expressions, a sense. So who knows how it’s done. But, I can “multi-task” if you will, not ignoring other animals besides myself, so that I can also cringe at the videos of wolves cowering in a trap until a cretin comes along to finish the job because I know what physical pain feels like, make sure my pet is healthy and comfortable, not excuse treat them badly because they are “only animals”, realize that not only do I need a tree in the backyard but that trees beneficial to all life, and make life better than a concrete high-rise. Valuing human life doesn’t mean de-valuing non-human life. As decent people we should be as humane as possible to all living things, because we were given, the majority of us anyway, the ability to comprehend another’s suffering and to help to alleviate it and certainly not cause it, and laugh about it. That is the ultimate in effed up, to me.

  19. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    SB, being saddened by the act of killing and yet doing it anyway makes no sense. Someone who takes a trophy as incidental to the primary purpose of his idea of hunting, i.e. for food, isn’t what we’re talking about – that would be admirable because it isn’t wasteful. Someone who is willing to kill another animal for antlers or horns for a trophy only is selfish at best.

    Harley, I would not turn a blind eye to someone who tortures animals just because his victims (and most times the perpetrator is male) are animals. Causing pain, prolonged suffering and death to another living creature, and doing it for fun, is the definition of a psychopath. These people should not be allowed anywhere near an animal who cannot speak for itself.

  20. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Louise, I notice that many here do not want to acknowledge the existence of the deranged type of animal killer – as if to do so would reflect on general hunting. It doesn’t. Don’t take it as a personal insult that these wackjobs do exist and do damage, and we legally give them an outlet with hunting laws, especially for wolves. Getting it out of their system. So sad.

  21. avatar Adriana says:

    JB: Perhaps my question wasn’t clear. I didn’t ask if you empathized with your child and your pet in equal measure. That’s ludicrous. Every animal is protective of its own healthy offspring. You would have to be mentally sick to care more about your cat than your child. I asked if you empathize more with some random criminal because of his human genome and less with your non-human pet. I am disappointed that many people today cannot feel for animals simply because they are not us. You are right “it is our ability to care for others that sets us apart” and it is exactly why I am disappointed that there are still people who care more about abortion than about our maltreatment of other species. Doesn’t this supremacist attitude (in a world that is overpopulated with humans) set us back rather than elevate us? Predators like wolves are obviously not wiping us out, they are not a threat to our species and yet they are vilified because they are threat to our profits. What is moral about this attitude? Perhaps if the tables were turned and there were 7 billion wolves in the world, I would have no problem with hunters who killed few wolves but I would still disapprove of people who rejoiced in the kill. I will state again, it is wrong when some cruel human, who puts another creature through torture and enjoys it, is expected to receive more empathy simply because of his human genome.

    • avatar topher says:

      Not much info on the subject heading.The comments have been a dissapointing read for me. Sometimes I can gain a little knowledge from the frequent posters but this was a waste of time.Mine and yours.

    • avatar JB says:

      Adriana:

      Let’s not confuse empathy with sympathy. I feel bad for my sick cat (sympathy), but I have trouble getting into it’s head and imagining what it is going through (empathy). I don’t generally feel bad for criminals (sympathy), but I do find it easier to empathize with people–even those that have committed a crime then non-human animals.

      I think most people have the capacity to “feel for animals”–even those of us that clearly separate humans from other animals, and yes, even hunters. I think what many here are actually upset about is that other people (who may or may not be as empathetic) don’t share their policy preferences (i.e., they don’t believe that animals should be protected from human hunting or trapping).

      By the way, I agree with you that it IS wrong (and socially abhorrent behavior) to enjoy the torture of a living creature. I am willing to bet that 10/10 hunters who post here would agree with us. However, that’s getting pretty far afield from the whole “specism” argument that kicked off this conversation. (See also, my response to Ida above).

  22. RE: JB’s insight:

    “Interesting discussion and tying in wolves, many (including some scientists) might argue that wolves show empathy for each other. They cooperatively live together and raise pups as a family.”

    You’re right on the mark according to the groundbreaking study (reference” Linda M. Thurston, “Homesite Attendance as a Measure of Alloparental and Parental Care by Gray Wolves in Northern YNP (May 2002) of wolves packs in YNP by Linda Thurston who sought to determine why individual wolves would care for off-spring not their own. Part of the answer derived from her cross-species examinations. She found that wolf pack dynamics is founded on a “cooperative breeding system” — which occur in only 3 percent of all species. This type of breeding consists of multi-generational group living in which adults provide significant care to young that not their own off-spring and that “the family structure [of wolves]MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLES OURS than do those of [other] primate societies.” (emphasis added).

    Remember everybody, humans ARE animals — primates to be exact. And primates, is you watch nature shows a lot, clearly reflect humanity’s range of negative behaviors and emotions: e.g. unprovoked aggression, manipulation, self-delusion, lying, reproductive excess, even envy-derived infant snatching and killing.

    Wolves on the other, for those who do not know, are not aggressive unless provoked (this would violate their highly disciplined hierarchy), do not kill for pleasure and sport, tighten their reproduction when resources are scarce (unlike us and Bonobos), respect their elders, and do not kill each other’s off-spring — in fact, just the opposite — they hunt and care for them as “aunts” and “uncles”. Summarily, wolves lead honest lives — they are true to their natures. Thereby, arguably, fundamentally superior to homo sapiens.

    • avatar josh says:

      Valerie sorry you lost all credibility with me! :) Since your comment of lumping every single human being who consumes ANY sort of meat product as a sociopath, kind of hard to take you serious! :)

    • avatar WM says:

      Valerie,

      ++{wolves}….are not aggressive unless provoked (this would violate their highly disciplined hierarchy),++

      True, but you forgot a huge part of wolf behavior. They are aggressive when….HUNGRY!

      I quickly did a couple of searches for Linda M. Thurston, and her work (including worldcat). I gather she is a MS level researcher who has done alot of volunteeer work for the Yellowstone Wolf Project (with alot of den monitoring time and perhaps analysis), but did not readily come up with any structured scientific work or writings solo or with others she might have done. I gather she is at present a wolf tourism guide, and this is how she makes her living.

      Perhaps you can assist in finding some of her peer reviewed work in a journal or two. Also, I would also like to read the paper you reference above, if you can find a link for it.

    • avatar WM says:

      (Oops, put my email in the identity block incorrectly and got sent to moderation)

      Valerie,

      ++{wolves}….are not aggressive unless provoked (this would violate their highly disciplined hierarchy),++

      True, but you forgot a huge part of wolf behavior. They are aggressive when….HUNGRY!

      I quickly did a couple of searches for Linda M. Thurston, and her work (including worldcat). I gather she is a MS level researcher who has done alot of volunteeer work for the Yellowstone Wolf Project (with alot of den monitoring time and perhaps analysis), but did not readily come up with any structured scientific work or writings solo or with others she might have done. I gather she is at present a wolf tourism guide, and this is how she makes her living.

      Perhaps you can assist in finding some of her peer reviewed work in a journal or two. Also, I would also like to read the paper you reference above, if you can find a link for it.

    • avatar TC says:

      This post is riddled with inaccuracies and a degree of optimistic and fanciful reverse anthropomorphism that would not withstand any peer review. Wolves absolutely can be aggressive without any recognizable source of provocation, an example would include dominant wolves attacking subordinates in what are called energy-displacement activities without any observable transgression or resource competition. Wolves have been documented to kill beyond their immediate substinence needs on many occasions. Wolves frequently alienate, punish, and drive off “their elders” and socially subordinate peers, especially when stressed by resource shortages – old alphas usually meet a grisly end. Wolves have been documented to “kill each other’s off-spring (sic)” frequently; most often in the form of infanticide (the alpha female eliminating pups of subordinate packmate females). Wolves are no better, and no worse than Homo sapiens sapiens.

      About the only thing I can agree with is that wolves are true to their natures. What else would they be? Enjoy them for the wild animals they are – this ceaseless effort to make them angels does them no service, and does credible discussion about wolf biology and conservation no service.

      There are a host of knowledgable wolf biologists in North America, and hundreds of peer-reviewed articles on wolf biology, ecology, and behavior. Seek them out.

    • avatar JB says:

      Valerie:

      Your statements about wolves are generally true, though there are always exceptions. I know a woman who runs a sanctuary for wolves and she would call BS on nearly all of these claims. For example, wolves can absolutely be aggressive without provocation, and they also don’t necessarily “respect” their elders. I arrived at her facility a few days after three daughters “dethroned” the pack matriarch (their mother)–they literally tore her face (partially) off and left her for dead. Fortunately, the owner found her the next morning and through a long process nursed her back to health. Such examples are not limited to captive packs, but have been documented in the wild as well. Thus, I disagree that wolves are “fundamentally superior to humo sapiens”. This view overly-glorifies a wild animal, and ultimately expects too much from it. They are wonderful, beautiful wild animals–no more, no less.

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “Wolves on the other, for those who do not know, are not aggressive unless provoked (this would violate their highly disciplined hierarchy), do not kill for pleasure and sport, tighten their reproduction when resources are scarce (unlike us and Bonobos), respect their elders, and do not kill each other’s off-spring…”

      Well, except when they kill their neighbors, including pups, over territory (even when resources are abundant). Or when they torment a subordinate packmate, not allowing it travel or sleep with the pack. Or when they happily kill coyotes, or encroach on backyards and kill pet dogs. And then there’s the time I saw a wolf pack dig a black bear and her three cubs out of a den and kill two of the cubs.

      “Tightening reproduction when resources are scarce” is hardly unique to wolves – it’s an involuntary response when vulnerable prey biomass drops below a certain level.

      Wolves are remarkable animals with some fascinating social adaptations, but they’re capable of doing bad stuff – and there’s way too much anthromorphism on both sides of the aisle.

  23. avatar Kathleen says:

    Speciesism is simply the assumption of human superiority that leads to animal oppression and exploitation (the term was first used almost 40 years ago). Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in, a speciesist world. Other oppressions–racism, sexism, homophobia–have been hard enough to overcome (not that we have…not entirely) WITHIN our own species–the affiliations from which our power/entitlement derives is something to protect fiercely. Fighting speciesism is going to be a long haul, but it’s a worthy battle.

    I came across some interesting (and amazing) stuff recently while writing about empathy and killing animals: “Empathy override begins early with gigging, plinking.”
    http://www.othernationsjustice.org/?p=5936

    • avatar JB says:

      Kathleen:

      Every species takes care of its own first–and in every single case they do so by “exploiting” other species for food. So the concept of specieism doesn’t differentiate people from any other species. However, the fact that we protect and conserve species and ecosystems, sometimes at a cost to ourselves DOES differentiate us from other species.

      Specieism is nothing more than a convenient mechanism for animal rights activist to feel morally superior of people with whom they disagree politically.

      • avatar Kathleen says:

        “Specieism is nothing more than a convenient mechanism for animal rights activist to feel morally superior of people with whom they disagree politically.”

        That’s a strong condemnation from someone who only just learned the term, but then, talk of speciesism often makes people defensive. And of course, it has nothing to do with political agreement or disagreement and everything to do with systemic, institutionalized animal exploitation that’s accepted as the norm. Humans are the species with a choice–to exploit, or not to exploit. We choose to exploit animals and then get all indignant when someone brings up speciesism.

        • avatar JB says:

          “That’s a strong condemnation from someone who only just learned the term…”

          You’re making assumptions. Actually, I’ve been ruminating on the concept for several months.

          “And of course, it has nothing to do with political agreement or disagreement and everything to do with systemic, institutionalized animal exploitation that’s accepted as the norm.”

          You’re missing the point, and failing to address a flaw in your argument. ALL animals exploit their environment. That we exploit other organisms does not make us any different than any other organism; what makes us different is that we take steps to ensure that populations of other animals persist.

          “We choose to exploit animals and then get all indignant when someone brings up speciesism.”

          You’re confusing indigence with skepticism. The actions that we take to exploit our environment (that you call “specieism”) don’t differentiate us from any other animals and they can be explained by natural selection and a bit of behavioral ecology (or behavioral economics, if you’re a social scientist). All organisms exploit their environment to maximize their utility; specieism is therefore not needed to explain human behavior–it is readily and parsimoniously explained by a more basic principle. Thus, I ask, what is the purpose of this concept? The only purpose that I can discern is the desire of some to gain the moral high ground over their political opponents.

  24. To: Everybody concerned about scientific proof and lack of empathy and its hypothetical relationship to slob-hunting and trapping (and all other forms of animal torture horrors):

    I found a reference (Google) to the NOVA SCIENCE NOW report I watched last Spring re: mirror neurons. The following excerpt is from the DNA Learning Center:

    Description:
    Empathy, research indicates, is made possible by a special group of nerve cells called mirror neurons.

    Transcript:
    What enables us to feel empathy—to experience or share another person’s pain, fear, joy, or any other emotion? Empathy, research indicates, is made possible by a special group of nerve cells called mirror neurons, at various locations inside the brain. These special cells enable us to “mirror” emotions. However, the activity of these neurons can be modified by various factors, including the relationship of the people involved. A new study suggests that, at least in men, whether we empathize with another person’s pain depends on how that person had behaved in the past, and, perhaps more important, whether we like or dislike them. Mirror, Mirror in the Brain Mirror neurons were first discovered in the early 1990s by Italian scientists who, while looking at the activity of individual nerve cells inside the brains of macaque monkeys, noticed that neurons in the same area of the brain were activated whether the animals were performing a partic-ular movement (reaching for a peanut, for instance) or simply observing another monkey—or a researcher— perform the same action. It appeared as though the cells in the observer’s brain “mirrored” the activity in the performer’s brain. A similar phenomenon takes place when we watch someone experience an emotion and feel the same emotion in response, says Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    The same neural systems get activated in a part of the cortex called the insula, which is part of the mirror neuron system, and in the emotional brain areas associated with the observed emotion. However, the amount of activation is slightly smaller for the “mirrored experience” than when the same emotion is experienced directly, Iacoboni adds. A recent study by Iacoboni and colleagues highlights the impor-tance of mirror neurons and their role in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interactions.

    • avatar JB says:

      Val: This research links mirror neurons (and empathy) to autism and associated disorders. I don’t see any reference to hunters. (Nor do I see much of a correlation between autism and hunting).

  25. JB,

    My cursory scanning of the research suggests that this deficiency in mirror neurons is NOT limited to autism.

    In fact, the study that I saw on NOVA SCIENCE NOW, showed randomly selected, seemingly “normal” (in other words, not autistic) college students reacting to torture pictures under an MRI scan. My recollection is that reduced and lighter-colored brain activity in the area of the brain associated with mirror neurons was correlated with reduced or no empathy regarding what the students saw in the pictures.

    Will look into this further because it is the most plausible explanation for me to date which explains a relationship between pleasure-inducing trophy hunting (e.g. see Josh above), trapping expressive, intelligent, and sentient animals like the wolf and then videotaping it as though it were a celebration (e.g., Josh Bransford), and what I refer to as slob-hunting (you know, the overweight guys taking shots at Bambi from the road, while soused with buddies, making a party of it all; and/or wasting most of the kill, etc.)

    But, hey, would love to learn of other theories, explanations.

  26. Greetings Josh,

    I sure wouldn’t want to lose credibility with you. So, revisiting what you characterize as my ‘lumping every single human being who consumes any sort of meat product as a sociopath’ I corrected my assertion by associating any person who seeks pleasure in hunting their meat.

    Since I want to stay away from the ethics of what we eat as consumers in order to meet our basic protein requirements and keep the discussion on shooters and trappers who seek PLEASURE from taking out expressive, sentient, and intelligent non-human animals when the killing has much more to do with shoring up ego-vanity in insecure men(trophy hunting)and profit from pelts than meat supplementation.

    • avatar josh says:

      Of course I seek pleasure in hunting and the pursuit on my meat. I LOVE the mtns, the fresh air and time spent with friends and family and the chance to get away from work whenever I can. If I happen to be successful in my hunt all the better. Just spent all morning chasing chukars with my dog, found some but did get any shots. Snow makes it tough. Loved the experience. You rabid anti hunters have no clue what goes on. Not one of my friends that I hunt with talks of the pleasure and addiction of killing game, talks of the joy of killing an animal. We usually say the opposite! The work begins once you pull the trigger! My wife killed a bull elk this fall, I spent 9 hours quartering and hauling out meat. Not the funnest part of the job Valerie!

      And dont worry about your credibility, its obvious to all that you are WAY out in left field, completely off the playing surface. So those that give you credibility are probably WAY out there is left field also!

      Too bad my wonderful little girls, and loving wife and all my co workers and friends have no idea that they associate with a leaving breathing crazy physcopathic lunatic hunter! :)

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        “And dont worry about your credibility, its obvious to all that you are WAY out in left field, completely off the playing surface. So those that give you credibility are probably WAY out there is left field also!”

        get off your high horse and read the posts all the way through. And how about once considering the other side. I’ve come to see that many of you here seem to be responsible, ethical humans who hunt for food and value an animal’s life. But your anecdotal stories of
        your experiences hunting and your moral compass does not eliminate the fact that there is a problem in the way that carnivores are managed or that there may be as many unethical hunters out there as there are ethical. have you stopped ever to consider once that your position may be considered way out there to others, as well.

        • avatar josh says:

          Louise any predator management at all is too much for you! If one wolf is killed in a hunt you would still be up in arms. So you and are at completely different ends of the spectrum!

          And Valerie is WAY out there… An extremist. No high horse at all, she called every hunter in the USA a sociopath!:) Who’s on the high horse now??!!

  27. Addendum: It’s been a busy day. Please eliminate the word “since” before “I want to stay away from …”.

  28. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Some interesting articles on the subject:

    We know that elephants flirt with each other and gather to grieve over the loss of a loved one, that cows shed tears, and that monkeys have refused to pull a chain to access their only source of food if doing so caused another monkey, even a stranger, to experience a painful electric shock. In that famous study, one monkey starved and went without water for nearly two weeks to avoid hurting his fellow. When the experiment was repeated, other monkeys also chose to starve rather than giving shocks to another monkey. A similar study done with human subjects showed that 65 percent of people continued to give other people increasingly strong electric shocks if an experimenter simply told them to do so. It’s not the monkeys who need their heads examined!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ingrid-newkirk/one-of-many-animals_b_1836537.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-bekoff/the-empathic-civilization_b_492316.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-bekoff/humanlike-violence-animals_b_2330808.html

  29. Ida,

    Thanks for your links! Will definitely look up for my research project.

  30. WM,

    Linda M. Thurston, “Homesite Attendance as a Measure of Alloparental and Parental Care by Gray Wolves in Northern YNP(May 2002).

    This was Ms. Thurston’s MS thesis. She, a wolf biologist, spent an extraordinary amount of time, in all seasons, on her painstakingly detailed study. It has been much referenced. I referred to it extensively in my law review article entitled entitled “Wolves in the Crosshairs: A Scientific Case Against the Final Rule of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Removing Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves From the Endangered Species List (UC – Hastings College of Law, West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 2002)* and do have a copy. I think you can order it from the Resources division at YNP. If not, please let me know.

    * If you want a copy of my law review article, please visit my website http://www.omniadvocacy.net and give me your mailing address via my listed e-mail.

    • avatar TC says:

      A suggestion – you might be better served to find peer-reviewed work to support your arguments. This, as a thesis, is not peer-reviewed; it should have led to publication of findings in one or more peer-reviewed articles, but I cannot find any in Web of Knowledge or other relevant academic search engines. I suggest this because I would like better science to be presented in support of rational wolf management and conservation, and as a scientist I would not be convinced much by thesis (or dissertation) findings that had never made the requisite jump through the hoops of adequate peer-review and scientific editorial processes. They rank somewhere just above opinions while still in this format.

  31. avatar Savebears says:

    Boy I am glad I have been traveling today!

  32. avatar Nancy says:

    “In my book, there is a distinct difference between the two and I certainly know which I value more, even though I love animals and can’t stand to see any suffer in any way”

    Curious Harley, have you watched the documentary Earthlings?

  33. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    but I do find it easier to empathize with people–even those that have committed a crime then non-human animals.

    Not me. If someone has committed a monstrous crime, I may sympathize, depending on what their life experiences have been (childhood abuse, mental illness, etc.) but no way empathize, and they get no bonus points just because they are human. Sometimes people do monstrous things because that is how their brain is wired. Animals typically do not “deviate” in their behavior the way humans do, at least not to the extent to deserve the sanctimonious way we seperate ourselves from them. Some people behave worse than animals.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      i object strongly to equating bad behavior to animals…”Some people behave worse than animals.” sorry ida i agree with a lot of what you feel but this is one stereotype that i wish would die

      he behaves just like an animal, he is such an animal, they are no worse than animals

      you see my problem

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        I think I didn’t express it the way I meant – that people behave worse than what they attribute to animals? We hold ourselves in such high esteem that when we fail so miserably it is a huge disappointment and dishonest. For example, no animal has ever done to their own kind what we do in times of war, or greed.

        • avatar JB says:

          “no animal has ever done to their own kind what we do in times of war, or greed”

          That’s simply wrong. Jane Goodall has documented warfare and infanticide in chimps; numerous researchers have documented infanticide in a variety of carnivores (e.g., African lions). I can’t think of a crime more horrific than killing an infant, and animals do it all the time.

          • avatar Ida Lupine says:

            I think Jane Goodall and others have said that it isn’t as prevalent in the animal world as it is in humans. They are not bombing cilvilian cities with nulear weapons, the scapegoating and mass killings of those who believe a different religion, leaving infants in dumpsters, beating children, etc. Especially since we place ourselves on a higher plane of awareness than animals. Catholic priests, the moral authority for some, abusing children. That one is pretty awful.

            • avatar JB says:

              Ida:

              (1) Chimps don’t have nuclear weapons; (2) I’m not sure about “scapegoats”–certainly the low animal on the totem pole takes an inordinate amount of grief from his superiors; (3) they don’t have religion (that we know of), nor (4) dumpsters.

              I don’t fault animals for committing what humans consider atrocities because they are not capable of moral reasoning. However, for this very same reason we should not hold them up as pillars of goodness or morality. They simply do what they do to survive.

      • avatar Mark L says:

        Louise,
        I get your meaning….the french use ‘bete’ (beast) as an insult. In America it’s a compliment to call a man a beast.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          Funny you should say that – I consider it a compliment as well, different qualities that I think we all share.

      • avatar JB says:

        “i object strongly to equating bad behavior to animals”

        Okay, I agree. How do you feel about equating good behavior to animals?

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          HMM JB a good note to end on for me
          good night all
          a very interesting observation as the conversation turned to dogs not one nasty comment was made! everyone seems to have a favorite dog story and a love of dogs that I wish would extend to their most beautiful ancestors.

    • avatar JB says:

      Who said anything about a “monstrous” crime? For that matter, what is a “monstrous” crime? If it requires one to act like a monster, then I suppose I can’t sympathize either.

      Empathy is simply the capacity recognize (or sometimes project) emotions that are being experience by another. I submit that it is nearly always easier to recognize the emotions of other humans than non-human organisms. In fact, I wonder if what we might term “empathy” for animals (recognizing emotion) isn’t simply anthropomorphism– (by projecting our own emotions on another organism)?

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        I define that as sympathy – the capacity to recognize what someone is going through. Empathy is the ability to experience it more deeply – to feel the pain of an animal caught in a trap, or the pain and bewilderment of a father who lost his child in a mass shooting, for example, to have a physical response, not just an intellectual one. A monstrous crime would be the mass shootings, or predatory crimes like Ponzi schemes, banking fraud, videoing animal cruelty, etc.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        well JB have you ever had a dog? Mine definitely has emotions. and I am not projecting my own emotions….

        I think if you are in tune to a particular animal you may more readily be able to read their emotions. With people its easier perhaps as we have the same facial features, grimaces, smiles, etc but when you come to know individual animals you can also distinguish their unique expressions and emotions. speaking from my own experince of course.

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          I have a very vocal and demonstrative Siamese cat, but I have noticed different things with other animals. Young fawns who come into my yard tentatively discovering their surroundings, only to run right back and hide close to their mother like an overwhelmed child, a Canada goose who followed us to the car because she or he was hungry, and then would continue to follow and wait, and call for us every day, even is she wasn’t looking for food, until she grew strong enough to fly south, things like that.

        • avatar JB says:

          How do you know, Louise? How do you know that what you believe is a particular emotion in your dog is perceived by the animal in the same way?

          My research is in social psychology, but I am very familiar with the research on emotions and I can tell you that psychologists and still argue about what emotions are. The best definition I have heard is the conscious recognition of an affective state (affect, in this context refers to one’s general mood or feeling state at any given moment). The researcher (Lisa Feldman Barrett) asserted that affect becomes emotion when we consciously recognize a particular feeling state (so when one goes beyond feeling grumpy and recognizes “hey, I’m mad!”).

          I understand that the biophysical responses across mammal species are quite similar (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, etc.), but emotion in humans is a blend of biophysical processes and cognition. And I think I’m on pretty safe ground when I assert that my dog does not think the same as I do.

          So yeah, I recognize when my dog exhibits behavior that I would categorize as “anxious” or “fearful”, but I don’t assume that she experiences anxiousness and fear the same way I do. That assumption is the essence of anthropomorphism (i.e., an attribution of human characteristics to a non-human animal).

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            well JB I wonder why you are so sure that animals do not experience emotions as we do? I guess neither of us knows for sure. What I do know is that I am very in tune to my dog and the way he reacts to particular situations, as well as to my own emotions. For example, if my husband and I raise our voices, Rue is anxious but his overriding concern/emotion is for my happiness. He will stick close to me to offer solace even though he does not like arguing. He is visibly happy when he sees his dog friends, and if I say that we are going to visit someone he knows his whole demeanor changes. And I know when he experiences boredom, not because he becomes destructive or anxious but its in his eyes. I think that all dogs are different as people are. I’ve had other dogs who just wanted to run, play or eat and those instincts or needs overrode all else. But with some dogs its different. When my Dad died, I also had my first attack of MS. Rue who was still puppyish stayed with me every moment keeping himself near me, often curled up close. Often he would study me. His whole personality changed when I was sick. He was about 1 and half at the time, and still needing a lot of exercise and attention. For most of the worst weeks after that first attack, no one could get him to go any further then the yard. He would go outside, pee, and refuse to budge any further. When he came in – he would come right to me, was calm, quiet and respectful of my very ill state. and he stuck to me like glue. I have no doubt this dog has emotions.

            • avatar Leslie says:

              another dog story: Last week I visited friends who had taken care of his parents for 2 years in their home. Six months ago his father died in their home after 2 months of intense care on their part. Of course, they’d cleaned the room up by then, even changed the carpets that had been soiled. No evidence of his parents were left there, as his mom had moved to a care facility.

              Enter me and my dog for a week. One morning I was speaking with my friend in his office when we both noticed my Golden quietly put his nose down on a wallet sitting on an adjacent table. The dog was not sniffing, but resting his head there. Something about the dogs demeanor caused both of us to quit talking and pay attention. I’d never seen anything like it for my dog spent 2 minutes with his nose rested on that wallet, then suddenly was done and went back to being a ‘dog’. Afterwards, my friend told me that was his fathers wallet.

              • avatar josh says:

                Dog story for ya, I was hunting chukars a few years back. My 3 year old English Pointer started acting weird, as if he was blind. I went and realized something was seriously wrong, so I picked him up and started the trek back to the truck. He had a seizure and died in my arms. I set him down, my other 2 dogs ran up, sniffed him and ran off without a care in the world! I buried him on the mtn and went home. Horrible experience for me, dogs never skipped a beat. Go figure.

              • avatar Ida Lupine says:

                Isn’t that something. They say our sense of smell is our oldest sense, and that it does bring back a flood of memories.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                “Proustian phenomenon”
                good stuff there.

          • avatar Barb Rupers says:

            JB
            Once I observed my samoyed bitch, Tush, and her 6 month old pup, Kiana, digging at either end of a 3-4 foot tunnel containing a ground squirrel between them. Tush, with head braced in the hole would bring up dirt and immediately drop on it and then check to see if the squirrel was under her. Kiana just dug vigorously and in a short time the squirrel ran out under her legs. Tush observed the escaping squirrel and immediately pounced on Kiana, snarling and dragging her about.

            A few days later I noticed that Kiana’s baby canine tooth was swollen at the base and not falling out as usual. I tried to work on it but the pup made it difficult. Tush came over, growled at Kiana, got her to the floor and with a leg over her neck started working on the infected tooth; any time Kiana tried to leave Tush growled; after several minutes she had removed the tooth. My problem solved.

            I have always wondered how animals think since they don’t have words. It is obvious that even though young children can’t talk they still express emotions, learn, feel pain, . . . Is their lack of language the reason they have few memories of their first couple of years?

            My border collie, Pic, has a keen knowledge of where objects outdoors “belong”. The first time I noticed this behavior was 9 months after we had moved into our current house and had placed a “for sale sign” on the opposite side of the county road, 50 yards from the old house. That day I returned to the old house with Pic for the first time since moving, she got out of the car, she looked around and immediately headed out the driveway, hackles up, barking at the sign which was edgewise to the drive. She was about three years old at the time.

            At 15, she sleeps a lot. She apparently dreams as there is a lot of motion and “emotion(?)” from gentle foot movement and tail wagging to violent movement of the legs and body. She has all feet going now!

            • avatar JB says:

              Louise, Immer:

              Perhaps I need to be more clear about my skepticism. A few of you have asserted that animals (dogs, at least) experience emotion. What does that mean? The implication appears to be: they experience emotion like people. In fact, all the stories above try to make that point.

              The problem: Scientists still don’t agree on what, exactly emotion is. Some define emotion as a biophysical response to a stimuli. So, for example, when I feel the emotion we label “fear” my heart rate jumps, blood pressure goes up, and I begin to sweat as endorphins are released into my body. Others define emotion as a conscious recognition of one’s affect(mood) state (as I described above). Importantly, under both of these common definitions, dogs cannot possibly experience emotion in exactly the same way as a human. Why? Under the first definition, emotion is defined by one’s biophysical response. Part of my biophysical response to fear is sweating; dogs do not produce sweat for thermoregulation. There are, of course, other physiological differences between humans and dogs as well.

              Likewise, using the other common definition of emotion requires a conscious recognition of that feeling. This conscious recognition is comprised (in part) on prior experience, recognition of danger (in the case of fear), expectations for what might occur, etc. This occurs in what neuroscientists and psychologists call “the new brain”, which is the part of the brain that has evolved to be uniquely human. To be clear, emotion originates in the “old brain” (amygdala, thalamus, hypothalamus, brain stem), and because the “old brain” is similar in humans and canines, it is likely that the first parts of the emotion that we experience are experienced similarly. But what goes on in the old brain may take a fraction of a second, and occurs largely beyond our awareness. What we (people) think of when we talk about emotion is our human interpretation of what we feel. This interpretation is necessarily and distinctly human.

              Bottom line: Dogs absolutely experience emotion; it is the extent to which we (dogs and humans) experience emotions similarly that I question.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            JB,

            I’ve spent quite a bit of time with dogs the past 40 years. I’ve got no “empirical” evidence. I think I have strived too hard to not anthropomorphize, and by doing so, missed quite a bit of communication from my dogs. Do they show emotion. Yep. Do they emote and communicate just like us. Nope.

            On simple levels their whining to go out when they are sick. Is it a way to communicate to us,” get me out before I paint the walls”, or are they just uncomfortable?

            Why the sheepish look from the one I’ve got now, when I espy him browsing on deer poop. Just eye contact.

            The multi hued fur of a shepherds face, not much different from a wolf is a font of expression.

            Both of the last two shepherds I have had, when sprinting towards me in play had this grin, and would actually shake their heads in “glee” on approach.

            They emote, perhaps not like us, but in my book, they sure as hell emote.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              and Immer my Shepherd does this crazy happy sound when I first wake up. If I give him a hug it becomes a deep growly very happy sound. I love the descriptions of your dogs’ sheepish faces. Mine also tries very hard to be incognito as he gets near the table… like hey guys its just me, no big deal, I’m not really trying to mooch! All I have to do is really look at him and he lies down like shit, games over. But he tries real hard to pretend he is not really mooching by looking very regal and detached while every hair on his nose is quivering.

              • avatar Immer Treue says:

                Louise,

                Perhaps it is difficult to quantify/qualify Canid emotion in an empirical fashion, but any one who has truly allowed their dog to enter their life understands there is something besides conditioned response going on.

                The cognitive ability for dogs, and it’s just my opinion, is severely underrated.

                At the opposite end of the spectrum, is the opinion of many that animals can endure more pain than humans.

              • avatar Mark L says:

                Immer Treue says,
                “At the opposite end of the spectrum, is the opinion of many that animals can endure more pain than humans.”
                this was used for justification of human bigotry also.

            • avatar Louise Kane says:

              agreed on all fronts Immer. thinking any animals can endure more pain then we can, indicates that troubling lack of empathy aspect of human nature we have been discussing all last evening!

  34. TC,
    TC,

    First of, Thurston’s work is heavily supported by peer-reviewed publications.

    Secondly, I would be ABSOLUTELY certain about your facts before declaring the Thurston study scientifically unworthy.

    Just curious: what is so threatening to you about the “alloparental” findings that apply to wolves (I mean,it’s fairly common knowledge that the entire pack cooperates in raising the young) to which I referred or the fact that wolves fall within the exceeding rare group of mammalian cooperative breeders?

    • avatar TC says:

      I never declared it anything other than what it is – a thesis. Worthy, unworthy, excellent, meritorious, trash – it could be any of those, or some combination of them all. That her work is SUPPORTED by peer-review publications is fine and dandy – that’s called a literature review. That she didn’t publish HER findings in peer-reviewed journals is the rub. Or that I cannot find them, is the rub, more specifically. If you have them, cite them, over a thesis, and you are closer to winning the day (or closer to making a credible argument). Only when the chapters of her thesis are published in peer-reviewed reputable journals do we really get closer to finding out what the work is – worthy, unworthy, excellent, meritorious, trash, etc. – this is how science, including wildlife and conservation science, work. Finally – why do you assume anything in this thesis is threatening to me? Why do you assume my post to you was anything other than a good-willed suggestion? Because that’s what it was – as I stated, and clearly need to restate, I would like wolf management/conservation to be based on the best available science.

  35. JB wrote:

    “Empathy is simply the capacity recognize (or sometimes project) emotions that are being experience by another. I submit that it is nearly always easier to recognize the emotions of other humans than non-human organisms. In fact, I wonder if what we might term “EMPATHY FOR ANIMALS” (recognizing emotion) isn’t simply anthropomorphism– (by projecting our own emotions on another organism)?

    JB,

    Perhaps you have not been fortunate enough to be in your own pack with a mind-blowingly affectionate breed like the Malamute (which is an uncorrupted canine breed descended from several strains of wolf).

    A brief personal story: My five year old Malamute, Duke (whom I had rescued from a shelter and had had for just five months) is so attuned to my emotions that the morning I was facing a very scary medical diagnostic exam (and as such, was curled up in the fetal position tense with fear)jumped up on my bed and placed his chin over my head and just held it there, calming me, until I was able to respond. THAT’S EMPATHY!

    Also, there have been stories from time to time in the media about dogs staying protectively, for days, by the side of another injured dog (one time, in the middle of a highway!)

    • avatar JB says:

      Val: What you have described is a behavior that could be explained in a variety of ways. Even if your dog recognized your emotional state (empathy), it’s a stretch to assume s/he felt empathetic in the same way you or I would, and it is even a greater stretch to attribute a motivational state (i.e., wanting to help or comfort) to your dog.

      A scientist doesn’t come to a conclusion without ruling out other possible explanations.

  36. avatar Leslie says:

    JB wrote: That assumption is the essence of anthropomorphism (i.e., an attribution of human characteristics to a non-human animal).”

    I would submit that humans are a fairly recent species, an evolutionary accumulation of everything that has walked on this earth before for a lot longer than we have (elephants for example have been here in many forms for over 6 million years). So why would humans be so unique in their ability to have complex emotions? We evolved from what has come before us.

    • avatar JB says:

      Leslie:

      I’m not arguing that humans are unique in their ability to feel emotion; rather, I’m arguing that because of differences in physiology–especially brain physiology–we experience emotion differently from other organisms. You are correct in asserting that parts of our physiology (in particular, what some scientists call the “old brain” or “reptilian brain”) are shared with a variety of species–and it is here that the stimuli we interpret as “emotion” originate. But emotion isn’t just what comes out of the amygdala and hypothalamus–it is how we interpret those signals (cognitively) in combination with how we interpret the stimuli that are eliciting the emotional response (also cognition) that make OUR emotions uniquely human.

  37. avatar Leslie says:

    http://io9.com/5937356/prominent-scientists-sign-declaration-that-animals-have-conscious-awareness-just-like-us

    This link was submitted previously

    “The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals…”

    • avatar JB says:

      I don’t have a problem with the proposition that some non-human animals have “conscious awareness”. What I object to is the implication that their experience of consciousness (or emotion, for that matter) is what we experience.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        but Jb how do we actually know its not? We know animals communicate with each other – for wolves- howling for example, dolphins clicking and other noises, same with orcas, how do we know what they communicate and on what level?

        we can have ideas/theories about levels of communication, but no one has broken the “code” of language for a particular species and whatever we think we know is just a presumption based on our long held ideas that the human species is superior.

        • avatar jb says:

          Because at the species level our physiology , in particular our brains, are different. And at the individual level, our experience, cognitive capabilities and other traits vary. Heck, I wouldn’t assume that two people experience and interpret stimuli in the same way, let alone a person and a deer, dog, bird, or lizard.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        JB,

        ” What I object to is the implication that their experience of consciousness (or emotion, for that matter) is what we experience.”

        My apologies if I have missed this implication elsewhere, but has anybody made the claim of experience of consciousness or emotion the same as we experience? I think what we’re trying to say is canids in particular do have these attributes to at least a certain level. It’s not just instinctual behavior.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          Hey y’all -

          Read Inside Of A Dog by Alexandra Horowitz.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            I’ve read Bradshaw’s “Dog Sense”. Insightful yet Pretty dry and repetitive.

            • avatar ma'iingan says:

              “Inside Of A Dog” is anything but dry –

              “The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees?”

              • avatar WM says:

                ma,’

                I have read a few pages from this, while at a friend’s house, some time ago. With your recommendation, I now think I will have to borrow it. A few days earlier, and I could have asked Santa.

        • avatar JB says:

          Immer:

          In this thread we’ve covered animal empathy, emotion, cognition and the silly (in my opinion) notion of ‘specieism’. A number of folks unequivocally stated that animals feel emotions and empathy. I reacted by trying to get people to think about what, exactly, that means. Do dogs have a thought (concept) for emotion that we would recognize? Are they even aware that they are feeling emotion, or just responding behaviorally to these biochemical signals? Once the signals have left the “old brain” how are they interpreted consciously?

          The point, of course, is that it is a mistake to equate animal emotions, cognition or behavior with human behavior–this is anthropomorphism.

          • avatar Immer Treue says:

            JB,

            I came in late, and honestly did not read all the comments. I was apologetic in regard to that. I’m not in disagreement with you at all.

            I have seen anthropomorphism used on both sides of the wolf issue. For dogs, there is something else going on, that wolves don’t have. Part of the domestication process.

            You admitted as much that two people may not experience an “emotion” to the same degree. As far as I am willing to go is that our dogs are very expressive with both body language, and facial expression, and I feel it is much more than an instinctive thing.

            Analogy. Bats that use echolocation. Do they form mental images of the prey they pursue in the evening skies, that would compare to what one would actually see. Ergo, do they “see” clearly due to echolocation.

            An awful lot we don’t know about animals because we can’t communicate with them in our “talk”. So very little data to prove that they experience emotion as do we. Then again, who would have thought in the whaling days of yore that cetaceans communicated with one another with their complex of clicks, clunks, and assorted sounds. Is this language?

            Bottom line, there is still much we don’t know about our best friends, and the remainder of species with whom we “share” the planet.

  38. Leslie,

    Great insight!

    TC,

    The best available science is made even better by the dissemination of “cutting edge” science — as in the case of Thurston’s wolf cooperative-breeding study.

    That there is such speedy and vociferous push-back against Thurston’s scientifically rigorous (in terms of design and execution)study would be surprising if I, like many informed readers (many with science and agency backgrounds)of this site, had not already plowed through the plethora of echoing rhetoric from managers with IF&G (and Ed Bangs, et al. with USFWS)asserting that “wolves should be managed just like any other wildlife” — thereby marginalizing and/or dismissing altogether the wolf’s extremely rare characteristics and top role in biodiversity balance — thereby justifying the second war against an iconic species — thereby permitting those in charge of the massacre to sleep at night.

  39. TC (addendum)

    Re: utilizing the best available science, as reported on this site, all of YNP’s GPS collared wolves were shot by hunters operating legally. My understanding is that these wolves were central to a study in the same vein as Thurston’s.

    In your expert, scientific opinion, is their loss acceptable fall-out under state management?

    • avatar TC says:

      Valerie,

      I don’t know the answer to your question, and I’ll leave the ethical subtext for another day. From a scientific perspective I’ve never heard the study hypothesis/hypotheses put forward, I don’t know the objectives, and I don’t know the study design/methodology. It seems to me that 3 GPS collared wolves is not enough to make much of any kind of study (survival analysis/causes of mortality, demography, home range/habitat use, migration/dispersal, resource selection, etc.), but who knows? Further, to really analyze the value, merits, relevance, and significance of the study, it would help for me to be a seasoned, published, (presumably well-esteemed) and well-read wolf biologist, and that I am not. I don’t do wolves. I don’t read enough of the current wolf literature. I don’t know enough about the particular biological/ecological/conservation questions and issues revolving around specific wolf populations. Some issues (sample sizes and power calculations, field methods and techniques, statistical methods and analyses, etc.) translate across species, some do not, and the Devil is in those details and the years it took to learn them.

      My gut instinct is the loss of those wolves hurt one or more study objectives, but added information conceivably not even anticipated and hopefully useful for conservation decisions down the road. It may be emotionally disturbing to many that animals are killed (by humans or by other animals), but good studies are designed to learn from these events – I could write pages on the how and why, but suffice to say that the investigators should be gleaning useful information for future conservations efforts from the details of those wolf deaths.

  40. avatar jb says:

    This really tickled my funnybone in light of yesterdays conversation.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbycvPwr1Wg

  41. avatar Dora Herbert says:

    Oh it’s that time of the year again. I just wonder to what cause are they doing these hunting and trapping stuff. I know for sure that it is more for tradition rather than for the good of wildlife.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey