Guest Blogger – Joseph Brown
Over the last three years I have amassed approximately 300 hours of video footage while following eco-activist Rod Coronado on his campaign to end wolf hunting in the United States. I’ve used some of that footage to create a few short documentaries– including, “Operation Wolf Patrol: Wisconsin Wildlife Issues,” which will be screening at the Show Me Justice Film Festival in April of 2017, and I am also working on a larger film about Rod Coronado’s life. That film is tentatively titled, “A Strong Heart: The Rod Coronado Story.”
Rod Coronado has a long history in environmental activism. Some have called him a hero; some have called him an “eco-terrorist.” Either way, I have learned a lot about wildlife policy in the United States while traveling with Rod. Indeed, I have learned that the hunting lobby is extremely strong, and that in some states– particularly those states that are somewhat “out of the way,” like Wisconsin, and perhaps Michigan, there is much hatred for wildlife that we might call predators.
I’ll spare readers the details of the YouTube videos I have watched that showcase the wholesale torture of predators at the hands of hunters in places like northern Wisconsin (but believe me, there are many such videos on YouTube). What I will say, or ask, is this: when will humans, as a species, consider the “civil” rights of other species?
Perhaps the question isn’t so much about civil rights as it is about the right to exist.
It’s easy to get depressed about the state human kind’s own inability to recognize the civil rights of other humans, but what about the final frontier? What about the rights of other species?
It is said that 150 – 200 non-human species go extinct every day. Some of this is due to development; some of this is due to global warming, and other environmental factors.
What is more concerning is that– despite this, we still hunt and kill animals we do not eat. In fact, we kill close to 4,500 black bears annually in Wisconsin. And– in addition, hunters regularly poach wolves while claiming that they mistakenly thought them to be, “big coyotes.”
Are we, as a species, still so depraved that we must kill, torture, and traffic other species? Are we so ignorant that we’re still afraid of the, “big bad wolf”?
I’m pulling no punches here, but this is a blog post, not a newspaper article, and my main goal isn’t necessarily the promotion of my film.
I respect the, “Show Me Justice Film Festival,” for taking on issues of social justice, and especially issues of environmental justice. It’s time we start thinking about the non-human world when we talk about justice.
Currently, I am living in the state of Wisconsin and the words of a famous Wisconsin conservationist– Aldo Leopold, seem to frequently be on my mind:
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
It’s time we open our eyes to the plight of other species. It’s time we realize that we– and the natural world around us, are not well.
It’s time we begin to realize the environment needs to be considered when we think about issues of justice.
— Joe Brown is a documentary filmmaker and professor based at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Find out more about Joe’s current work at: www.wolfpatrolfilm.com