Millions of us stayed up until after 3:00AM this morning watching the election results and wondering not only what the outcome would be, but what the impact would be on our lives and our work. Will retirement and college funds lose value in an unstable market? Will civil society advancements be protected and enhanced, or undermined and gutted? And, for those of us in the animal protection field, what will our chances of success look like next year?
We've had Republican presidents before, of course, and that hasn't meant stagnation of progress on wildlife conservation and animal protection issues. After all, it was Richard Nixon who signed into law the Endangered Species Act and George H. W. Bush who signed into law the Wild Bird Conservation Act.
We've had Republican champions of pro-animal bills before. Bob Dole was the leader on the Animal Welfare Act, which passed; Mitch McConnell was the champion of the Bear Protection Act, which didn't. And, in this Congress, we've had Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers lead the charge on legislation to allow primates to be rescued and imported into American sanctuaries from overseas, and we've had Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick lead the fight to stop the trade in primates as pets.
Animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues are bi-partisan issues.
That said, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we must recognize that moving our issues through Congress and to the president's desk is a challenge under the best conditions. Come January, we will hardly have the best conditions.
Congress is poised to do a lot in partnership with a Trump Administration--and it is doubtful that stopping barbaric trapping, protecting animals and people alike from the cruel exotic pet industry, or ending poaching and commercialization of wild animals and their parts and products will be at the top of their agenda.
More importantly, what will a Trump cabinet look like, where animals are concerned? Who will control the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture? Will the Secretary of the Interior support wildlife conservation and a precautionary principle that gives animals the benefit of the doubt, or a free market approach to commercializing elephant ivory, rhino horn, and lion trophies? Will the Secretary of Agriculture support a regulatory end to dangerous breeding of captive tigers for photo opportunities, or consider this an intrusive regulatory burden on small businesses?
It's surely too early to put names to positions, but Politico reportedly has a few rumored possibilities: perhaps the founder of Lucas Oil or Trump's own big-game hunter son, Donald Jr., as Secretary of the Interior? The current Secretary of Agriculture in Texas or other corporate agribusiness insiders for Secretary of Agriculture?
Let's leave no doubt; we have to redouble our efforts and our commitments to protect wildlife, starting now. There can be no let-up. There can be no complacency. Starting now, we have, at least, a four-year war on our hands to stop the deplorable cruelty humans inflict on animals in the name of sport, greed, or entertainment. Starting right now.
Keep Wildlife in the Wild,