Wildlife group urges Discovery to drop Sarah Palin's docu-series
Despite the fact that Sarah Palin didn't become vice president in 2008 and isn't even Alaska's governor anymore, she's still irking conservationists. This time around, advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is taking aim at Palin's forthcoming documentary series from the TLC network.
The group -- technically a separate entity from the related group called simply Defenders of Wildlife -- staunchly opposed Palin's policies regarding wild animals during her tenure as Alaska governor. In response to Palin's support of a program in which wolves are hunted from airplanes, the group launched a website, EyeOnPalin.org, in 2009.
The most visible moment in its anti-Palin campaign came in early February 2009, when the group released a graphic video about the wolf hunt narrated by actress Ashley Judd. In a statement, Judd decried the hunt as a "cruel, unscientific and senseless practice which has no place in modern America."
Palin responded with outrage, posting a statement on her website that referred to the Defenders as an "extreme fringe group" and accusing the group of "twisting the truth in an effort to raise funds from innocent and hard-pressed Americans struggling with these rough economic times."
The Defenders shot back, with President Rodger Schlickeisen releasing a statement that read in part, "what you often get in response from Governor Palin when she is challenged is not a rational defense of what she's doing, but rather name calling and a very transparent attempt at spin control. But then again, since there is no defense for her aerial wolf slaughter program, it may be that she feels there really isn't much else she can do."
The group's objection to Palin's views on wildlife and environmental issues didn't stop when she left office. "Her efforts were, and still are, a threat to the natural integrity of America's last frontier, a state that boasts many national wildlife refuges, forests, parks and other federal lands... And if this isn't enough, Palin's persistent denial of global warming is sure to fast make her a political relic," Schlickeisen said in response to her resignation.
Through its EyeOnPalin website, the group is urging its supporters to take action against Palin's series, which the chief executive of TLC's parent company, Discovery Communications, says will "reveal Alaska's powerful beauty as it has never been filmed, and as told by one of the state's proudest daughters."
The Defenders is urging those who oppose Palin's stances on wildlife to sign a petition urging Discovery to drop "Sarah Palin's Alaska."
It says it's received more than 170,000 signatures on the petition, which reads in part: "As parent company of Animal Planet, The Discovery Channel and TLC, and known for your wildlife-focused productions, I hope that you will reconsider your decision to partner with such a terribly anti-wildlife and politically divisive persona as Sarah Palin."
Palin hasn't publicly responded to the group's latest tactic, but the pro-hunting organization U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance has, rather unsurprisingly, rushed to defend her from the Defenders.
"The Defender's [sic] campaign largely rests on a gross mischaracterization of then Alaska Gov. Palin's wolf management plan" and "recycled outrage" over Palin's contention in 2008 that there was not enough evidence to list polar bears as a threatened species requiring federal protection, according to a press release from the hunters' rights group.
In an effort to counter the Defenders' petition, the Sportsmen's Alliance is asking its supporters to write to Discovery to explain "that Gov. Palin is regarded as a conservationist by those inside and outside the wildlife management community and the rhetoric coming from Defender's [sic] reflects an unscientific, emotional appeal. It fails to take into account the science supporting the wolf management program in Alaska as well as the lack of science used to place the polar bear on the endangered species list."
-- Lindsay Barnett
Top photo: Palin winks as she speaks during the vice presidential debate against Joe Biden on Oct. 2, 2008. Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press
Bottom photo: Palin interacts with the audience at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on April 9. Photo credit: Cheryl Gerber / Getty Images