Please Mr. President, Spare the Elephants

I keep waiting for Donald Trump to grow up. My experience has been that there are times in one’s life when we are thrown totally unexpected challenges (in this case, the presidency) and discover an inner strength and wisdom we didn't know we had. I don’t see that happening here.

As a Democrat, I crossed over to vote for Trump because I wanted a new stance on immigration. However, I’m also a wildlife advocate and I was aware of the president’s general ignorance of animal issues.

Trump has also failed to recognize opportunities that would bring us closer.

  • He could have used the women’s march (during the inauguration) to briefly address the women of America, asking for help in spurring programs and legislation that matter to us.
  • He could have let Obama’s transgender bathroom protections stand instead of sending them back to the states – as if we haven’t bickered enough over who uses which bathroom or why.
  • He could use Twitter to brief us on things like tax cuts and health care, instead of the relentless banter and useless innuendo to which we’ve become accustomed. Frankly, I could care less what he thinks of the NFL

And now he has personally irked me by reversing an Obama administration policy banning the importation of elephant heads and other wildlife body parts.

To his credit, Trump is giving the elephants another look, considering a possible reversal of his reversal until further review with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zerke. (Usually, a frequent change of mind signals immaturity but in this case it works for the animals.)

At least two of the nation’s conservative radio talk show hosts have also come to the aid of the elephants.

Mark Levin, who served in the Reagan administration and has probably taught me more about the wonders of the Constitution than I ever learned in high school, expressed shock and disappointment at the news.

I had just tuned in a few days ago when he was saying he couldn't bear to watch videos showing baby elephants being torn from their mothers amid the ensuing suffering.

Then long-time animal activist Michael Savage, whose show follows Levin, also implored the president to reconsider.

"Not all Obama legislation was bad," said Savage. "Some of it (like this) was grand."

Savage also addressed the (biblical) aspects of killing an elephant, lion or giraffe, animals that we don’t normally hunt.

”Dominion over animals doesn’t mean destroying or terrorizing them,” he said.

Lifting the ban is the brainstorm of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which opines that hunting African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia will save the species.

Wildlife agencies say the same thing about resident Canada geese, whose behaviors I study.

I investigated one of these agencies == the USDA’s Wildlife Services -- under a journalism grant that allowed me two years to look into into the agency’s blatant mismanagement of the nation's resident geese population.

I used to wonder why the agency would go into city parks and ponds and euthanize the nation’s geese every summer when they are simply carrying out a God-given ritual: replacing worn flight feathers with new.

Why kill them when the geese will be gone in a month anyway? It made no sense.

Like geese roundups, big-game hunting is about money—and in the case of elephants, profits from safaris, ivory and other body parts. Animal cruelty is big business.

And it really has nothing to do with conservation. Elephants are known to be on the brink of extinction so how could killing them ensure their survival.

There also aren’t too many geese. The agency just made that up. It uses the annual molt to justify killing contracts — and at taxpayer expense — and in roundups that often tear communities apart.

Like geese, elephants also exist in large extended families that dote on their young. And like humans, there is great emotion when a family member dies. I’ve seen ganders so distraught over the loss of a beloved mate that there was no consoling them.

But we're not talking geese here. We're talking elephants and lions and crocs and giraffes, creatures that deserve better than we’re giving them.

Mr. President, listen to your friend, Michael Savage. He’s the expert here, not the secretary of the interior, who favors reinstating the elephant massacres.

“I know the president is a good man,” says Savage, who knows Trump personally (as does Mark Levin). “But you’re getting bad advice.”

As for me, I keep waiting for the president to grow up. Maybe the gentle giants with the wrinkled skin could spur that process, at the same time initiating for the president what could begin a remarkable journey of personal growth.

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