Monday, June 1, 2015

Private Property: The Real Endangered Species?

In 1973, Congress passed and President Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with the intent of protecting threatened species such as the bald eagle. Since then, close to 2,000 species and subspecies (1,400 of which are in the United States), have been added to the listing under the Endangered Species Act.
While the original Act was well intended, the Endangered Species Act has become the Trojan horse that sneaks in property-thieving regulations and a “sue and settle” lawsuit scheme while pretending to be beneficial to conservation. This threat to animal owners, animal based businesses, and private property has expanded significantly in recent years with animal rights groups hijacking the conservation aspect of the ESA to advance their radical agenda.
These groups make up a $400 Billion global coalition of organizations that raise money under the guise of promoting the welfare of animals, while using that money to buy lawyers and lobbyists to fund misleading, emotionally driven campaigns to pit the public against animal owners and breeders.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is one such radical animal rights group based in San Francisco that files lawsuits against privately owned animal businesses with no intent of winning in court. Rather, the lawsuits are used to propagate a false narrative against their targets (typically animal based small business owners) in order to force them out of business. Instead of doing the work of raising, breeding, and caring for animals, the victims of these lawsuits must spend scarce resources on lawyers and public relations experts to clear their good name, and defend their livelihoods and their animals. Many cannot afford this burden and simply close up shop.
Recent reports from the House Committee on Natural Resources have uncovered that an entire cottage industry exists around filing lawsuits based on the ESA. As a result, funds that were once intended to be used to protect species in danger of extinction are now being diverted to fund frivolous lawsuits against animal owners who are the targets of extremist animal rights groups.
In addition, government bureaucrats often act unlawfully through a tactic called “sue and settle.” They settle litigation with their allies in environmental and animal rights groups behind closed doors in a way that advances the activist’s radical agenda, and in the process block out citizens, states, and local governments affected by their decisions and their subsequent rules and regulations.
This “sue and settle” tactic funnels millions of settlement dollars from the Federal Government to the animal rights and environmental activists to fund their continuing efforts to game the system and wrongfully attack animal enterprise ultimately.   The result is the destruction private property, businesses and lives.
One such victim of these attacks is Pam and Tom Sellner, owners of Cricket Hollow Zoo in Iowa, are one of many faces of victims of these attacks. Pam and Tom have been bringing joy to families for years with their privately owned collection of tigers, lions, pumas, and other exotic animals. Their zoo provides learning opportunities for students in rural Iowa who may otherwise not have access or contact with these animals. However, that will never satisfy the animal rights extremists who believe that these animals don’t belong in captivity.
Tom and Pam are now faced with mounting legal fees to fight this frivolous lawsuit from an animal rights activists group (ALDF) radically out of step with American values, but funded and well staffed with attorneys to do the dirty work. The Sellers are just one of the many faces of the victims of ESA-based lawsuits that have sprung up across the country.
While well intentioned when written over forty years go, the ESA has become a weapon for lawyers to beat small animal businesses over the head, all at the taxpayer expense.
Ultimately, the abuse of power under the ESA puts at risk the very animals it was intended to protect, as private property rights are trampled under the hooves of this Trojan Horse, and the system attacks the animals it was intended to protect.
Animal rights groups are using the ESA and our court system as a weapon to destroy those who aren’t in line with their ideology.  If this works on animal enterprise, what is next?
Mindy Patterson is the President of The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally and legislatively nationwide.

Follow on Twitter: @TheCavalryGroup  @cowgirlathart

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Skagit County Sentences Animals to Death

All over America, localities are outlawing and killing exotic animals.   Brown shirted bureaucrats claim they are doing it for public safety but the public is in no danger.   By removing animals from our lives, that creates an unreasonable fear of the unknown.    When you get to know these animals, it’s easy to see that there is no danger to the public.   Every animal is different.   Some only eat if they are hungry, others such as wolves, kill for the thrill of killing.   But a captive raised animal has never hunted for their food.   They don’t know how.   Should one of them escape from their home, you are in no danger.   They don’t want to leave their enclosures.   They are used to the routines they live in and have bonded to their caregivers.   In other words, a captive raised wild animal is more afraid of you than you are of them. 

When localities outlaw and ban previously legal animals, there is no other end for the animals but death.  There is nowhere else for these animals to go.   Activists demand that they be returned to the wild, but these animals have never known life in the wild.    Most privately owned animals in America today were born in captivity.  They don’t know any other life.   They are no more “wild” animals, than we are still cave men.  

The new flash point today is Skagit County, Washington.   Local bureaucrats passed a new ordinance last year outlawing the ownership of exotic animals such as wolves, cougars, foxes and some snakes.   Also located in Skagit County is a thirty year old business called Predators of the Heart owned by Dave Coburn.   Predators of the Heart (POTH) is the largest traveling exotic animal business in America with an impeccable safety record and licensed with the USDA.   For 30 years, Dave Coburn has visited schools, churches, libraries, and other events to educate people on his animals.  Overnight, dozens of his animals became illegal to own.  Illegal to keep alive.    No grandfather clause for Dave Coburn.   His choice is, pay a fine of $50,000 a day or kill two dozen animals.     These kinds of bureaucrat actions are happening all across America.   These animals have nowhere else to go.   Zoos and sanctuaries are already full of animals that have been outlawed in other states.   There is no more room at the inn.  

Coburn has already jumped through endless hoops that the Skagit County enforcers have made him perform.  He has filed applications, paid fees.   He has made modifications to his property that un-elected bureaucrats have demanded that he make.  Bureaucrats who have never cared for an exotic animal in their lives are writing regulations and enforcing them at the point of a gun.  The government just pockets the fees, no refunds, and denies his permits.    What is happening to Coburn is no different than what Ohio is doing to Kenny Hetrick and Tiger Ridge.    They arbitrarily make new standards of care to keep the owner jumping through hoops to meet a bar that can never be met.   Today an eight foot fence is legal.  Tomorrow the ordinance is changed to ten feet.   Next month it’s twelve feet.   Bureaucrats love to keep their targets broke and constantly under stress.   When challenged they will simply turn on the owner and proclaim to the media that “Joe American is out of compliance with our laws and has a long history of this.”   Or like just like propagandist Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said, “[P]ulling at heart strings isn’t fair play.  She calls the issue a matter of public safety.”   This is nothing more than a systemic and methodical destruction of the private property owner under the false flag of safety. 

Predators of the Heart is a private business with a long and successful history.   Legislators and bureaucrats do not have the right to outlaw a business just because they disagree with it.   Agendas do not belong in the government of “We the People.”  Supporters of POTH have set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money to fight back.  You can support them here. 

Katharine Dokken is a Public Affairs Specialist at The Cavalry Group and the  author of a new book, The Art of Terror:  Inside the Animal Rights Movement, available on Amazon. 
Follow Katharine and The Cavalry Group on Twitter:   @KatharineDokken  @TheCavalryGroup

You can also read this article on Joe4America: click here