View all blog posts

Audubon disappoints: position reversal

In the digital world we live in today, gathering together for a cause we believe in is easier than ever before. Thousands can sign on immediately and say how they feel about a particular issue. That’s exactly what happened when we told you about a writer for the Audubon Magazine, Ted Williams.

Mr. Williams described an efficient way to poison cats. As you can imagine, we were pretty upset when we first saw it, and thought you might be too. So we put together an Action Alert that allowed all of you to send your thoughts to the leadership of the National Audubon Society. The response was incredible; thousands of you demanded that Williams and his extremism needed to go.

The National Audubon Society put their PR machine into overdrive. They agreed with all of you, ceremoniously announcing on their Facebook page that their contract with Williams had been canceled (pending further review). His words would not grace the pages of their magazine, they said.

Then, just 10 days later, the Audubon reversed the decision. Williams is now back as a paid writer. Audubon states that his “sincere” apology and lack of a “larger pattern of missteps” that would warrant further action justified the reinstatement.

I’m not sure how to characterize that reversal: Well played? Transparently cynical? Par for the course?

Audubon calculated that 10 days later we’d all have forgotten about the story and it would be a non-issue. Well, it is an issue and the reinstatement of Mr. Williams only goes to confirm what is now obvious – Ted Williams’ views are The Audubon’s views without the pretty wrapping.

The truth is, there is a larger pattern of missteps. Here’s a screen shot of the comment section from a blog Mr. Williams wrote in 2011. The comments from the post on “Fly, Rod + Reel Online” are authored by someone with the name Ted Williams. Two years ago, he was calling for the killing of cats by medication.

I don’t know what the Audubon considers “a larger pattern of missteps,” but it certainly seems like more than just a momentary lapse in judgment to me. (The comments have "mysteriously" disappeared from that site since the screenshots were taken.)

Ted Williams isn’t sorry about his suggestion to poison cats; he’s sorry he got caught. As we said before (this is the third post on this topic), this kind of extremist view is dangerous and unproductive. It takes the focus away from the need for serious discussion and any effort to find a workable solution to this issue.

In the days following the exposé of Audubon’s position via Williams’ impolitic opinion piece, we’ve been disappointed, but not really surprised, to see other wildlife advocates rush to Ted Williams’ defense and refer to us collectively as the “feral cat mafia,” or the “kat krazies.” This might be funny if it weren’t coming from people who advocate poisoning free-roaming cats, including family pets. We believe that holistic solutions that are humane for all animals involved — birds and other wildlife, as well as cats — are the only acceptable approach. If that makes us “crazy,” then we’re proud to wear that badge, and we bet most of our readers are as well.

Given that, we’ve designed this Facebook timeline picture for you to use. It’s the perfect way for you to proudly share your ideals. We believe all animals deserve to be treated humanely, not just the ones that look pretty through binoculars.

To use the photo:

1. Right click and choose “save image as.”
2. Go to Facebook.com and post this photo as a status update. If you need help on how to make that happen, click here for Facebook’s step-by-step instructions.

Make sure you also hit the "like" button above and share this blog with your networks. Thank you for everything you do each and every day for ALL animals.

 

Francis Battista, Co-founder, Best Friends Animal Society Francis Battista
Co-founder
Best Friends Animal Society