Mason County News
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Almost Gone, but not Forgotten
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 • Posted March 30, 2011

You may recall that, after the famous Exxon Valdez oil spill, environmentalist groups went to a lot of trouble to rehabilitate some of the critters affected. This effort was undertaken with great expense and, in technical terms, hoopla. People who Really Cared got busy and Did Something to Help The Environment.

When two of the most expensively rehabilitated seals were returned to the wild, with a large, admiring crowd present, the television cameras rolled as the seals were unceremoniously gobbled up by a killer whale. The crowd made the same sound you could hear when Joe Theismann broke his leg in 1985. Sort of an anguished gasp. It added ambiance to the seal story, and made the whole thing a little more festive, was my thought.

Now, I’ve already been blasted pretty good for my blasé attitude about those seals, so if you’d like to add your comments to the list, please send them to Whoever sends the most scathing letter will receive, free of charge, an actual walrus tusk, suitably framed, with a letter of authenticity signed by the walrus.

The truth is, I don’t hate seals. I get along very well with seals, as a general rule. But seals are part of nature and, as the saying goes, nature abhors an idiot. And you have to be a total gooberhead to think a killer whale is not going to slurp up a seal when it’s plopped into the water in front of it. That’s what killer whales do.

You would also have to be several slices short of a loaf to think predatory birds are going to alter their normal diet to avoid eating certain creatures, just because some human paper shuffler somewhere has signed a document saying those creatures should be left alone. Predatory birds, overall, are a little more concerned with their own survival than with complying with stupid laws that should not have been passed in the first place. I’m beginning to think the animal rights groups have a point – animals are a lot smarter than some people, especially the people who go to a lot of trouble to protect animals.

No doubt you are going to think I made this up, but federal wildlife officials are even now working on an environmental impact statement that will most likely recommend shooting 1,200 to 1,500 barred owls, from Oregon to northern California, because these owls prey on other owls, namely the spotted owl. The spotted owl, you may recall, is the one the nuts have been trying to save from extinction ever since it was first placed on the Enchanted Species List in 1990.

They haven’t had much luck, despite lawsuits and trying to restore habitat and totally destroying the logging industry, along with lots of peoples’ livelihoods, by putting a clamp on federal timber sales. No matter what the dodos do, it seems the spotted owl is destined to go the way of the dodo.

The same thing is happening in Grand Canyon, more or less. In 2008 officials created an ‘artificial flood’ by releasing a bunch of water from Glen Canyon Dam. The purpose was to create sandbars in the Colorado River to, among other things, give the enchanted humpback chub some nice habitat. Unfortunately, the flood cleared the gravel floor of the river below the dam, which caused the rainbow trout to proliferate, and the trout like humpback chub. A lot. They’ve been eating all the little chub they can get their fins on.

So officials are thinking about killing a lot of rainbow trout by electroshock, which your local game warden would frown mightily on if you did yourself. This will cost a lot of money, and might not even really help, the same way it didn’t help when they did it in 2003 and 2006. So there you go.

What strikes me in all this is that these Bozos want to spend our money, mine and yours, that could be used for something worthwhile, to try to save specific species of animals that a)they might not be able to save, anyway, b)might do better if left alone, anyway, c)we can do just fine without, thank you very much, and d)have never yet donated any money to any other worthy non-profit organization or charitable cause, such as the Hemphill Needs A New Gun Fund. Unless they donated anonymously, in which case I stand corrected, although I have not yet received a check that was either wet or smelled like feathers.

And the money these jokers want to spend is not owl feed, either. We’re talking about a million bucks a year to shoot barred owls, which would have to be repeated annually for about a decade, and might still not work. Zapping trout would cost that much or more, and would also have to be kept up for a while, and also might not do any good.

The bottom line is that, in my opinion, we need to leave nature alone and let these creatures sink or swim without us. And if they die, they die, and the bunny huggers can find some other lost cause to cry about. Besides, when our ‘officials’ try to help, they usually end up doing more harm than good anyway.

And if anyone has a copy of that seal/killer whale video, please email it to me. I’ve had a computer crash and lost mine . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never met a seal he didn’t like. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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