By Vanessa Schulz, December 14, 2011
© Vanessa Schulz 2011 – All rights protected
Case in point: The trapping of wolves in Idaho, which began on November 15, 2011. Reporters on KXLY (serving Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and the Inland Northwest) opened their story on November 10, 2011 by saying the State of Idaho is launching it’s “new offensive in its battle against a growing gray wolf population… in an effort to bring their numbers under control.” I have been blissfully without a television for long enough to recognize the war lingo for what it is – an implication that the war against wolves is strategic self-defense. Along with this comes the unquestioned assumption that wolf numbers need to be controlled and that it is the human supremacist’s rightful duty to do so.
In the news report, Shane Richards shows a photograph of the hunting dog he lost to wolves. The viewers’ hearts are meant to go out to the dog who had his guts removed while trying to bring down a wolf. “Eaten alive” were the words used by Richards who is out there persecuting wolves who act in self-defense and this gets on mainstream television to make a case for self-defense against wolves. KXLY further stresses the point of self-defense with Rene Anderson who says, “It was coming down pretty fast towards me. It was kind of nerve racking. I laid my bow on the ground and I thought this thing seriously wants to eat me. So it popped up over there, like ten feet from where I was and I shot it and I hit it in the head.”
The fear in Anderson’s head, programmed into her by her parents, media propaganda and the hunters with whom she surrounds herself does not come close to justifying it. Human fear does not make wolves into killers of people, after all, had Anderson been attacked – as she thought she would be before shooting the wolf in the head with an arrow – she would have been the first human attacked by a wild wolf in recorded U.S. history. And that, after Americans slaughtered more than a million wolves in just one hundred years. Who is the real killer?
To these people, a wolf walking slowly towards them might as well be a wolf at their throat. But there is a different reality – you can stand your ground and watch the animal. I’ve done this with some of the most dangerous animals in the world and every time I see the same response – they just want to be left alone.
KXLY continues: “The wolf Anderson shot is one of more than approximately 1,000 wolves roaming rural Idaho. Once hunted to near extinction, wolves have enjoyed years of federal protection as an endangered species and are making a strong comeback.”
Unquestioned assumption 1: That 1,000 wolves constitute a strong comeback. Unquestioned assumption 2: That government-backed biologists, scientists and agents have sufficient lack of conflict of interest and the right to determine arbitrary thresholds of wildlife population numbers. Unquestioned assumption 3: That wildlife should be managed at all, especially by arrogant white men whose track record is one of savagery, fumbling error and irreversible diminishment.
The gray wolf was reintroduced as a symbol of America’s vanishing wild heritage. 66 wolves were reintroduced in 1995 with roughly one dead for every one captured. During the making of “Cost of Freedom,” a documentary about this heinous reintroduction, I became intimately acquainted with how much there was for wolves to “enjoy” under the guise of federal protection. Private landowners and ranchers may not have been able to hunt them legally, but government agents and their private contractors were sure eager to do it for them. Wolves were consistently harassed, trapped in steel leghold traps, repeatedly captured, drugged, collared and relocated. Packs were disbanded and families torn apart either through relocation or killing of some or all of it’s members. This of course is a self-perpetuating industry of wolf control, since unstable packs and lone wolves must kill the easiest prey available (cows and sheep) in order to survive.
The tremendous benefits of having wolves – a keystone species – return to the environment are well documented out of Yellowstone. The people who study them understand the difficulties wolves face – collisions with cars, disease, injury sustained while attempting to take down prey, territorial fights with other wolves and other carnivores, lack of habitat, starvation, poaching, hunting and so on. Yet these same indoctrinated biologists talk mostly in numbers and they mention “compromise” often. Of course it’s easy to compromise when you’re not the one paying the price – with your life. What is seldom if ever mentioned are the ethics of killing an animal so closely knit as a family – mother, father, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins caring for children and grandchildren. Wolves live and learn from their parents until four years of age, but their average lifespan in this world we give them is just a year longer than that. These macho biologists who are in the best position to defend wolves choose to bar all emotion from the discussion. Emotion belongs here.
Consider the impact of “management.” What must a wolf feel when she hears a helicopter approaching; when cracker shells explode in the grove of trees where she and her family are attempting to hide; when she is chased mile after mile by this roaring aircraft as the gunman waits for his shot, then takes aim? What must this wolf feel waking up with the stench of man on her body, a massive weight around her neck, holes in her ears, anally penetrated, drugged, alone, and coming to the realization that her partner, her children and siblings are all gone? What must an adolescent wolf feel waking up alone in a strange place with his parents and family gone? Do the perpetrators of this abuse ever stop to consider such things? I think not, because science and this culture have turned their hearts to stone.
Before western civilization’s influence, millions of years of evolution culminated in biodiversity and symbiosis that allowed for more than a million wolves to live side-by-side with millions upon millions of prey animals. We continue to be robbed of such biodiversity by the same bloodlust these modern-day killers inherited from their forefathers who took it upon themselves to murder everything in their path in the name of Manifest Destiny; their God-given orders to control and subdue nature. This gets to the heart of why these supremacists hate wolves so much – they are wild and uncontrollable.
Under the pretense of responsible journalism, the KXLY story has one voice (amongst seven) to defend wolves. Gary Macfarlane from Friends of the Clearwater says, “They [wolves] are in fact what we call a keystone predator, they’re necessary for the health of ecological systems.” The reporters quickly add, “Environmentalists say a recovering wolf population is bringing back a balance between grazing game animals and their natural enemies.” Enemies? This is the propaganda that over the past few years has so subtly implanted into people’s psyches the idea that animals, like humans, are at war. Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, CBC, BBC etc. all use the drama of war to sustain ratings, regardless of how unethical and destructive the lies. “Kill or be killed” is the message they want us to absorb. Actually, observation and experience show nature is based on symbiosis and incredibly complex and beneficial predator/prey relationships (that humans are destroying even before fully understanding them). On the fallacy of wildlife conservation, Jonathan Livingston declares that evolution is based on cooperation and not competition. But that serves neither ratings nor bloodlust.
When KXLY’s bogus objective reporting alludes to why wolves are important, it’s not stated as fact – “A recovering wolf population is bringing back a balance…” but as opinion – “Environmentalists say…”. These subtle distinctions go unnoticed by most while embedding a belief system already rooted in fear, self-entitlement and violence. Mainstream media by design has become the enemy of truth. The report goes on to show a moose mother and calf. Based on the fact that a wolf was seen in the same area, the report concludes without a shred of evidence that the moose calf was killed. These are lies to defend and promote the relentless war on wildlife as deplorable as America’s wars abroad. Rest assured, Americans are winning the race in unbridled omnicide.
KXLY brings in the third anti-wolfer, Terri Summerfield, who suffers from the same fear inside her head as the program’s earlier caricature. Terri has convinced herself that she must pack a gun every time she goes for a ride wondering, “What’s behind that bush, what’s going to happen if the wolf jumps out at my horse?” Actually, wolves would rather leave us alone, anything to be left in peace. That doesn’t mean they might not look.
When I lived in Africa, being lower on the totem pole and part of the food chain was the most thrilling experience of my life. A reason to live, you could say, to feel alive. If these narrow-minded individuals could only open up to a sense of wonder at being in world that still has such strong and intelligent others around, they might actually learn something. If only this culture could encourage awe, respect, and the wisdom to communicate with these others. Summerfield and others, instead of sending out fear and aggression – which wolves can smell – try sending out a message of non-aggression. Gosh, maybe you could even find it in your shriveled hearts to wish them well! But this is difficult for people whose primary reason for venturing out into nature in the first place is to kill.
KXLY reports on Summerfield’s husband taking their 15-year old son out on a hunting spree to get “his first elk.” Using betrayal as part of their clever hunting arsenal, the husband made the sounds of a cow elk and wondered why wolves responded. An extraordinary scene shot on video shows the wolves coming in to investigate; fear and suspicion in the voice of the father as he and his son crouch in the grass. While all Summerfield had to do to chase the wolves away was stand up, he instead recorded them coming closer to build his case for being stalked, or as he put it, “flanked.” Not once did this man take accountability for drawing the wolves in through their natural instinct and curiosity. As for the son, he has been robbed of so much in his molding as another fearful hunter at war with the natural world. He has been robbed of feeling at one with the world.
KXLY fear mongering continues: “However wolves are now setting their sights on more than just hunters.” As if the wolves were actively hunting people – people making the sounds of elk. Enter the fourth anti-wolfer: Mark Walton, who was sleeping in a tent with his children when he heard wolves. His fear (as opposed to joy and awe) naturally transferred to his children which made them cry. The wolves – bless them – howled in response to their cries. The demons in Walton’s head went crazy. “The pack got even more aggressive,” he says. How does Walton define aggression? At no point did they maul his tent, him or his children. They howled. This is what wolves do. Walton could have had a conversation with a wolf pack and made this the most exciting and unforgettable experience of his children’s lives – much like my early experiences of hearing lions roar while sleeping in a tree house they could easily access, but didn’t, time and time again. At no point did these experiences make me want to kill lions, or have them killed on my behalf. And unlike wolves, lions are dangerous to humans.
What’s missing from all these fearful people’s experience is humility; a willingness to open to the possibility of entering into mutual, non-deadly relationships with other beings. When there was no all-out war on wolves, before the invasion of illegal immigrants when Native American Indians still lived on the land, the accounts tell of wolves saving those who were lost and facing death (surprise! at the hands of white men). The wolves brought them food, sheltered them from cold and lead them back to their people. In exchange, the wolves were given food. Wolves equals dogs aka “Man’s best friend,” get it? The willingness on their part to help us has persisted even into the modern era of annihilation with wolves rescuing Patagonia-clad hikers lost in the wilderness. How much we have lost.
KXLY’s reporters continue – “In fact there are no documented cases of wolf attacks on humans in the lower 48 states, but Idaho wildlife officials are certain wolves are killing big game.” A moment of truth, albeit not even a sentence, followed hastily by another indictment. How these pseudo-journalists justify their fear mongering in the face of the above statement of fact is a testament to the media’s role as a corporate/government mouthpiece to intensify irrational fear. Not only does the media stifle dissent but it brainwashes its audience into supporting genocide and indeed, actively participating in it. We see this in the low IQ canon fodder sent abroad to kill and be killed. We see this in the fear instilled in humans of our nonhuman friends on the other side (on the other side of what?). We see this time and time again in Holocausts so horrific we vow never to repeat them. Yet here we are.
Exploiting wolves is a way to publicly and victoriously pit gun-toting human supremacists against environmentalists and animal rights activists. This has far greater implications than merely wolves. Scapegoating helps to facilitate the all-out war on land-based wildlife; on the 8% of fish left in the dying oceans; on the 2% of remaining forests; on the 1% of remaining grasslands, on humanity and ultimately, on the entire planet. Scapegoating is fear mongering and it paves the way for murder.
KXLY’s fifth anti-wolfer is Dave Cadwallader from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He claims, “There is no doubt the majority of the mortality that’s occurring on our elk particularly elk calves and moose calves are due directly to wolves.” The reporters add: “That’s why when Congress took the gray wolf off the endangered species list earlier this year, Idaho legalized wolf hunting.”
Firstly, Idaho didn’t legalize wolf hunting because wolves eat prey animals but because the ranchers, hunters, trappers and politicians are part of the same violent cult of domination. Exploiting wolves is a means of directing millions of tax dollars – certain jobs would become obsolete without the perceived imperative to control and destroy. Secondly, if these people were truly concerned about the numbers of elk and moose, there would be a moratorium on hunting (in 2010 hunters killed more than 25,600 elk), on clear-cuts and above all, development.
Thirdly, the self-claimed right of possession on living communities is up for dispute. “Our” elk, “our” moose, “our” deer, “our” bighorn sheep. What about the right of the non-consumptive majority to observe these animals, without killing? Who gave these people the right to claim any wild being as their own – philosophically or through murder – and simultaneously deny existence to carnivores and the vital ecological balance they provide? Have Americans given away that much power to the consumptive minority – for the birthright of a living natural heritage – or can a nation founded on theft and murder ever claim to have been just?
Wolf watching generates more than $35 million a year for motels, restaurants and other businesses in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. 100,000 people come to Yellowstone National Park each year specifically to see wolves. Yet when a couple near Joseph, Oregon applied for a building permit on their 16 acres of land, they were rejected because their neighbors believe they associate with environmentalists who would be using the bed & breakfast for the possibility of a wolf sighting. Tourism, one of the most lucrative non-violent industries in the world, is pushed aside for consumptive special interest groups. Public lands cattle grazing is the single largest land use in the western United States, yet it accounts for less than 3% of the beef produced and results in the continued federal, paramilitary assault on millions of native carnivores. A rancher pays $1.35 to graze a cow and calf on public lands for a month. You and I are required to pay $5 to go for a hike. Democracy my ass.
According to a Department of Agriculture report for 2010, less than one quarter of one percent, 0.23%, of the American cattle inventory was lost to native carnivores (coyotes, dogs, cougars, bobcats, lynx, “other,” vultures, wolves, bears – in that order). The real killers of cattle are in fact illness, extreme weather and bad husbandry practices. Welfare ranchers could really benefit in the long run from giving the predation myth a rest and yelling about climate change instead.
While part of this is about directing money within government and to special interest groups, more so it’s about power and control. It’s about expanding a paradigm that purports violence against others as a necessary evil in the bogus quest for personal security, when in fact the goal is to make the rich more powerful. Bewildered bystanders are turned into active perpetrators of the violence, helping to spread this culture’s insatiable, omnicidal disease.
Take Roger Lang, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who amassed a fortune in the software business. He bought himself an 18,000-acre ranch in southwest Montana beneath the peaks of the Madison Range. The Smithsonian’s pseudo-journalist who interviewed Lang romanticizes the scene of an “Old West tableau of rippling prairie, plunging streams, ghostly bands of elk, browsing cattle.” Browsing cattle? Not only do cattle not browse but there is nothing romantic about cattle. They pollute, cause devastating erosion, spread disease and are the reason millions upon millions of carnivores and non-target species are tortured and killed by the United States government. It’s time to put the cowboy myth to rest at last, alongside his cancerous lungs.
Wolves from Yellowstone were on Lang’s property by the time he bought it in 1998. After they supposedly killed five of his cows, he consulted with federal wildlife officials, who as Lang put it, “proposed taking out the whole pack and we acquiesced.” Nine wolves were trapped and shot or shot from helicopters. After the slaughter, Lang had his binoculars set on the two remnants of this pack when he stated, all-knowingly, “I knew they wouldn’t get them all.”
While Lang might feel a victory in seeing that two wolves survived, I feel the deepest despair and sorrow for what he has done. There are no words to describe the rage I feel at the idiocy of a self-entitled wannabe-cowboy without the backbone or comprehension to stand up to a corrupt system by protecting those he was in such a rare and fortunate situation to defend. There are no words to describe the loss I feel to the wolf community, to the species, to humanity and to the planet. There are no words to describe the empathy I feel for the two survivors who must endure the grief of losing their family; who must continue with the memory of the murders; and live amidst the murderers who will continue to persecute them.
Lang says, “Wolves were here before we were and deserve a place, but that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t going to die if they misbehave.” Misbehave? They’re WOLVES for crying out loud. With all his riches, Lang expects wolves to comprehend his arrogant notion of ownership of living property – the difference to him in his tiny mind between a cow and an elk. What a blind fool for admittedly recognizing how remarkable they are and killing them anyway. What an indictment of this murderous culture, that the innate wisdom in Lang’s heart was never accessed by anyone who could sway his decision to “acquiesce” to a death sentence; the wrongful taking of nine lives. It proves once again how widespread and contagious this culture’s death urge really is. And why wouldn’t the feds encourage slaughter as the most viable option to a gullible urbanite – it’s fun after all. What hunter wouldn’t want a taxpayer-funded hunting spree in a helicopter?
Lang fancies himself as a mediator between “transplanted urbanites… who would grant wolves unconditional amnesty” and “those who would exterminate them.” Um, Lang, two things: You’ve already chosen your side and the universe is bigger than your ego.
During the KXLY report, the lone voice for wolves, Gary Macfarlane, said, “It’s sad to see but the Idaho Fish and Game agency is no longer a wildlife management agency but they are game farmers. That’s what they’ve become, especially because they want to kill so many wolves.” Maybe that was the plan all along: The Forest Service was established to facilitate deforestation, at a current 98% success rate. The Fish & Wildlife Service was established to facilitate the relentless exploitation of wildlife, with record extinction rates monitored not by the agency but by non-profit conservation groups and a handful of concerned citizens. Fish & Game was established to issue hunting, trapping and fishing licenses. Bureau of Land Management, established to facilitate mining, gas/oil extraction and cattle grazing (the grazing alone occurs on 90% of BLM land). Most egregious of all, the United States Department of Agriculture has it’s own branch – Wildlife “Services” – established just for the killing of more than four million animals year after year, including birds, at costs in excess of a million taxpayer dollars annually.
To better understand the extent of this war on wildlife, consider the following: In April 2011 Congress removed wolves in Montana and Idaho from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Hunting quotas were set to give an illusion of oversight. When the quotas are not reached, the season is simply extended. When the quotas are still not reached – because wolves do not in fact exist in the numbers claimed by the loud, anti-wolf faction that dominates the news – then direct killing is ordered by air and ground attacks using helicopter gunships and trappers.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has stated its goal of reducing 750 wolves to less than 150 – the 15-breeding-pair threshold where the federal government could consider restoring a moratorium under the Endangered Species Act. In Montana, hunters will be allowed to kill up to 40% (about 220 wolves) of the state’s roughly 550 wolves. Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg has made delisting wolves central to his 2012 Senate campaign against Democratic Senator Jon Tester. In Wyoming, Governor Matt Mead reached an agreement with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to save 100 to 150 wolves in lands near Yellowstone National Park. In the remaining 80% of the state, wolves are considered vermin and can be killed year-round. Roughly 60% of Wyoming’s 350 wolves will be targeted. With enough propaganda, those who have come to accept the fallacy of “wildlife management” are inculcated into believing in numbers to rationalize temporary moratoriums on slaughter versus all-out war.
In early November, Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat thrilled at the testing of a drone aircraft manufactured in Montana, made the following declaration: “Our troops rely on this type of technology every day, and there is an enormous future potential in border security, agriculture and wildlife and predator management.” Pilotless drone aircraft used by the CIA and the Air Force to target and kill alleged terrorists will now be used to kill “enemy” wolves.
As if the paramilitary persecution wasn’t horrific enough, it is now legal for citizens with an irrational hatred of wolves to terrorize them using traps. Traps are the most brutally inhumane devices ever invented. Dan Davis, a former government trapper and Idaho Trappers Association director, recommends Idaho trappers use snares baited with beaver carcass. Apparently the beavers are just as worthless. “In about five to seven minutes, they’ll be dead,” he claims. Even if this was the case, which it’s not, imagine the psychic trauma to the family members who witness the terror of strangulation with a wire noose.
To “appease animal-rights activists,” Pat Carney, Idaho Trappers Association president, lobbied for Idaho to require an eight-hour class for trappers, regardless of whether they are newcomers or whether they have 40 years of trapping experience. This doesn’t appease me one bit. Carney prides himself on being a merciless trapper for forty years. How dense and callous does a person have to be to trap for forty years and not once have an experience that allows the cries of the natural world to penetrate his cold heart?
I have met a trapper who condemned trapping after finding in his conibear trap a dead beaver, her kits clinging to her floating body and crying the sound of human babies. There was the man who found a fox in his trap with her frightened kits beside her. When the fox mother saw him she understood her fate and took each of her children in her mouth and broke their necks. This man never trapped again. How could anyone be so coldhearted not to be woken up by such knowledge, let alone by such experience?
The steel-jaw leghold trap has been declared inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the National Animal Control Association, and has been banned or severely restricted by more than 80 countries but only in eight U.S. states. The torture continues.
80% of the animals caught in traps are non-target species. If released, they often die from internal injuries or the inability to hunt or forage effectively. In addition to the panic, dehydration, starvation and exposure, trapped animals suffer joint dislocations from trying to pull free, compound fractures, damaged teeth and gums from biting at the trap, self-mutilation/amputation, and of course death. How many times have we listed these effects only to encounter the same old rhetoric that sadly some people actually buy, that traps can be anything but inhumane? I have seen frenzied animals dig with all their might as if to the center of the earth in futile attempts to escape.
Regulations by the Idaho Fish & Game Department say, “State law requires trappers to check their lines every 72 hours, to avoid prolonging the suffering of injured animals.” Who enforces that? Who enforces this bogus law when the IDFG agents have the worst of the killer mentality and when traps are set all over the state, on public as well as private land? For every piece of rhetoric and propaganda I encountered during the making of Cull of the Wild: The Truth behind Trapping, I uncovered an alternate truth, the most horrific of which is the notion of a humane, “modified trap.”
Modified traps are a means by which to ensure a half-interested public that these devices can be humane. They are a complete farce; the tragedy compounded by decades of bogus experiments done on millions of animals (at taxpayer expense, of course). There is much to be said about the psychopathy of the scientists watching and recording this data. For example, to get around the fact that animals are so desperate to escape that they self-amputate, the modified trap allows for a steel rod to snap up and hold the victim’s head in place, thus preventing the animal from chewing off his or her limb. This of course also saves the trapper the disappointment of finding only a foot or leg in his trap. Or steel teeth jutting out from the jaws of a trap – promoted as “humane” because the animal cannot saw off his or her own leg. Let’s not forget that sometimes, because the animal is following a scent, it is the face that is trapped. A picture of a terrorized coyote with his head in a trap will stay with me until my dying day.
The leg snare is sold as a “restraining device” (although still a wire noose that cuts into flesh). The neck snare is a strangulation device. How does a researcher, trapper or government policy-maker determine when an animal’s head goes into a snare, versus a leg? We needn’t worry, because these liars are telling us it only takes five to ten minutes for strangulation to occur.
Trapped wolves will be tortured in the cruelest way imaginable. Hunting dogs will be sacrificed for the sick joy of watching the fight and then throwing the dead dogs on the table as evidence of a self-righteous war. Will the killer choose to club his victim? Suffocate or strangle the terrified animal to death? I’ve seen coyotes and foxes stomped on in ways that make me ashamed to be human. There are other methods, so atrocious I am afraid to mention them.
How can we bar emotion from such topics? How do these people get away with this? Where is the political will to end this atrocity? Why is anyone still cowering in the face of murderers, corrupt lawmakers, judges and pseudo-journalists for fear of appearing maudlin, ridiculed for defending sacred wolves over sacred cows (sacred cows bred to be slaughtered)? Why is politeness and compromise still the primary deference as if the focus should be on the defender’s behavior instead of on the perpetrator’s? When did we let them steal the term “animal rights activist” with their ludicrous label of “eco-terrorist” – people trying desperately to stop genocide as horrific as the decimation of the 1800s, only closer to the very end. The 6th mass extinction is what we should fear, if we could only break the silence and denial in order to speak about it. When will YOU fight back as if there is nothing left to lose, in the knowledge that you are losing everything?
Where is Barack Obama with all his hope-talk that inspired so many people when he said, “Federal policy toward animals should respect the dignity of animals and their rightful place as cohabitants of the environment. We should strive to protect animals and their habitats and prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect”? Oh I forgot, it was politics as usual.
This culture is absolute, psychopathic insanity. When you take politicians, government agents, hunters, trappers, ranchers, industrial farmers, all the extractive industrialists, developers, capitalists, economists, scientists, engineers, government biologists, lawyers, judges, stock brokers, bureaucrats and bankers and combine them with the disinterested populace addicted to denial, technology, consumption and political correctness, you have the ingredients for the most destructive culture this world has ever known. Quickly one begins to see how nature doesn’t stand a chance. And when nature goes, we all go. As Doug (Hayduke) Peacock said, “We’re not going to make it simply because that which evolves does not persist without the conditions of it’s creation.” It’s that simple.
© 21st Paradigm 2011
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Cull of the Wild: The Truth behind Trapping
Cost of Freedom (an exposé on the reintroduction of wolves to the lower 48)
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- If you enjoy wilderness recreation without killing, add to your list of power bars/flashlight/water bottles, cable cutter, long leather gloves, and cameras. Record what you see. Use your coat to protect yourself in case of a bite as you free the animal. Speak calmly, as many like Doug Peacock have experienced in these situations, instinct (and pain) is strong but so is the animal’s comprehension and intelligence.
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