People who run events or train volunteers for animal protection are in danger of losing their jobs, says the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
In the past year alone, hundreds of animal crossing operations have been shut down, most of which are in states that are considered to be “hot spots” for the practice.HHSUS Director of Communications Rachel Martin says these closures are being made all the more urgent by the threat posed by climate change.
“The number of people who would lose their jobs is growing, and they’re getting older, so it’s a lot more likely to happen now,” she says.
“You’re putting people in harm’s way, which is why this is the first time I’ve seen a shutdown in so many years.”
The most recent major closure was at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, where volunteers and park rangers were put at risk.
“These operations are operating at an all-time low in terms of capacity, so there are a lot of people out there who have had to do it for the last couple of years,” says Martin.
“But it’s an area that has a high prevalence of animal abuse, which includes animal trafficking, so we’re talking about a high-risk population, and we’re not going to let them operate without adequate resources.”HHSS also warned about the impact of the pandemic on animal welfare.
“We’re seeing more cases of neglect, of people getting sick and suffering, and of people dying, which in turn, increases the risk for future incidents,” Martin says.
As the world struggles to adapt to the effects of climate change, some animal welfare organizations are pushing for more public awareness and greater collaboration between governments and animal protection groups.
In New Zealand, a coalition of advocacy groups including the New Zealand Humane Society (NZHS) is calling for a ban on animal cruelty in tourism, citing the dangers of a pandemic.
In the US, the National Humane Federation is pushing for a moratorium on animal trafficking and animal slaughter in the tourism industry.
“We need to start to talk about these issues and be able to find solutions together,” says Dr Mark Haines, the president of the NHF.
“And if we don’t, we’re just going to be losing people to these practices.”
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, HainES said the NHFs proposed ban would not make any difference to the way tourists go about visiting animals in New Zealand.
“I think we’re doing all the right things but we need to take this thing in a more balanced way,” he said.
“People need to understand that animal trafficking is not a new phenomenon and people need to stop doing these things.”
HainES says that while the ban would help prevent the spread of animal cruelty, it would also make it easier for tourists to see animals they may have otherwise missed.
“If it’s something you’ve never heard of, and you’re just looking for something to do in New England, there’s really no reason why you should have to come to New Zealand,” he says.
“And it’s not like New Zealand is the only place in the world where animals are used in a cruel and unnatural way.”
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