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Saturday, June 4, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Whole Earth catalog

Exploring rivers: How $6 billion can churn the economy

Editor, The Times:

As "Salmon recovery, a dam-site better" [Times editorial, May 29] notes, U.S. District Judge James Redden's ruling that the federal government's $6 billion salmon plan for the Columbia-Snake rivers is illegal opens the door to a much-needed regional dialogue [see also "Judge throws back plan on salmon," page one, May 27].

The pathway to a productive discussion is to explore how the government can spend that $6 billion more effectively. Imagine an investment package where some of that money (probably well under half of it) is spent to remove the four outdated lower Snake River dams and protect and even enhance existing economies. Surely, with the right investments we can recover salmon, keep farmers farming, and improve our freight transportation and energy systems — and help ensure a healthy river and a strong economy for years to come.

Nobody is talking about removing any dams on the main-stem Columbia River, but removing the outdated Snake River dams merits real consideration. The modest benefits of the lower Snake dams are replaceable and, as the American Fisheries Society recently stated, salmon "survival and recovery would be assured with the removal of the lower four (Snake River) dams."

We have a responsibility to our families, our communities and ourselves to protect the things that make the Northwest special, including healthy, fishable salmon runs and healthy rivers. Our elected leaders can help us meet this responsibility by encouraging an honest dialogue about what it will take to restore salmon in a way that protects existing farms and businesses, opens up new economic opportunities and leaves a better future for our children.

— Michael Garrity, associate director, Columbia Basin Programs, American Rivers, Seattle

Man reverses nature

I could only shake my head in sadness and disgust as I read "We should not be denied our right to harvest whales" [guest commentary, June 2]. So, the word that gets the Makah Tribal Council off the hook is "harvest," huh?

Ya know, tradition isn't always a good thing. There's a reason why people no longer make animal sacrifices to the gods, too. I've always marveled at how people can say they "respect" and "honor" the noble beasts they kill. This is just one more example of a society refusing to understand the fact that whales are intelligent mammals.

And pardon me for being politically incorrect, but a fully developed whale deserves at least as much compassion as a microscopic human embryo. Those who disagree have only a confused religious position to back them up.

Makah do not need to hunt intelligent mammals in order to survive.

— David McKenzie, Federal Way

Wild off the streets

The chilling account of the California couple attacked by two chimpanzees highlights the dangers such animals pose and calls out for restricting them as pets ["Chimpanzees: cute, cuddly and sometimes deadly ... " News, May 28[. In addition to the risk of serious injury, primates can carry life-threatening diseases including Herpes B, monkey pox, tuberculosis, yellow fever and the Ebola virus.

While some states ban primates and other wild animals as pets, Washington allows them. A few weeks ago, a cougar was found wandering in a Kennewick auto-repair shop. News reports speculated that the animal was a former pet. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but incidents like this should serve as a wake-up call for action by lawmakers.

For two years in a row, state legislators have come close to passing a bill prohibiting wild and dangerous animals as pets. The Humane Society of the United States urges swift passage of this bill in the next session.

We also applaud U.S. Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Rob Simmons, R-Conn., for introducing federal legislation — the Captive Primate Safety Act — to prohibit interstate commerce in primates as pets. This bipartisan bill will protect people and animals. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in our backyards and basements.

— Robert Reder, regional director, Humane Society of the United States, Pacific Northwest Regional Office, Seattle

Beast of Eden

Kudos to authorities for going undercover to bag black-bear hunters in Alaska ["Men accused of hunting Alaska black bear illegally," Local News, May 31]. Hopefully, these trophy hunters, including our fellow Washingtonians, will fall prey to prosecutors who will punish them to the fullest extent of the law.

Stalking and shooting animals is not manly or challenging, but rather a cowardly, violent form of recreation. In earlier years, boys may have been indoctrinated into hunting by the men in their family who had been taught by their forefathers that hunting was the manly thing to do, but today, hunting has developed a social stigma as society recognizes hunters as men seeking to shore up their shaky masculinity by plugging animals full of holes.

There is no "sport" to such animal suffering. Surely, in this day and age, we should recognize that killing animals for kicks is a cruel anachronism.

As renowned humanitarian Albert Schweitzer asked, "When will we reach the point that hunting, the pleasure of killing animals for sport, will be regarded as a mental aberration?"

— Nancy Pennington, Seattle

Jungle cookbook

I read with amusement "New species reportedly found" [News, May 13], about the animal that was recently "discovered" in central Laos. To quote the article, "The kha-nyou, as local people call it, was discovered by a team of scientists in a hunter's market in central Laos."

My dictionary defines "discovery" as: [to] be first to find or learn; to be the first person to find or learn something previously unknown.

Arrogance! How can these scientists claim to have "discovered" something that already has a name, and has apparently been a staple in the food chain of the indigenous people of central Laos for some time? The scientist actually says he discovered it as an item for sale on a table next to some vegetables! How can they have discovered something for which there are probably already several well-known dinner recipes?

I think it's clear that what actually happened was that a previously undocumented species has now simply been documented.

Let's give the people of Laos some credit for being aware of their surroundings and what lives in it, even if they're not interested in having their names in some scientific journal.

— Lynn Simpson, Renton

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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