International Wolf Symposium Cancels Population Activist

My fellow population activist from Minnesota, Karen Shragg, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting personally on several occasions, was slated to give a presentation at the International Wolf Symposium (IWS) in October, which is being held in her hometown of Minneapolis.

Now retired, Karen worked as director of a nature centre in the Twin Cities for 28 years. She has written several books about the population issue, including “Move Upstream: a Call to Solve Overpopulation” and most recently, “Change Our Stories, Change Our World.” She is also the co-author of children’s books intended to introduce children to nature, warts and all. Karen has given many invited presentations and participated in interviews about the population issue.

Karen’s talk on wolves, based on methodically presented research, addresses how US population growth is harming the prospects of these top predators. But, after having been accepted as a speaker at the symposium and paying her registration fee, Karen was informed that her talk had been cancelled.

The head of the IWS, who had to break the news to Karen, told her that there was no more room to release wolves in the “lower 48”, the contiguous states on the North American mainland. This is because a wolf pack territory averages 50 to 60 square miles, depending on prey density. With the USA’s rapidly growing population, finding unpopulated or sparsely populated areas that large is becoming increasingly difficult.

Forbidden topic

So why was Karen cancelled by the IWS? Clearly, the fact that there is no more room to release wolves in the US aligns with her observations about population growth. However, Karen was going to point out, in non-emotive language, that the reason for her country’s rapid population growth was the “outdated and unsustainable mass immigration policies” of the US government. Speaking about the negative impacts of immigration could potentially offend some people, and in the world of Woke, no one must be offended.

Although Karen offered to let the IWS put a disclaimer on the door to the room where she would be speaking and revised the title of her “new and improved” talk to “Sprawling Over America: Why the Endangered Species Act Isn’t Enough,” the verdict did not change. She was told that it was one irate board member, in particular, who made sure that her talk got the axe.

Karen refused to bow to the demand that she refrain from even using the word “immigration” in her presentation, and asked for her money back. She is generously donating the returned money to several American population organizations and to PIC. As Karen wrote to us in an email on September 3rd, “NGOs like you are doing more to save the wolf than this group. They say they love them, promote studying them and fill their website with great photos of them but stop at doing what would really help them, humanely keeping our increasing footprints from encroaching on their territory. I claim that there can be no diversity in a world which tramples on biodiversity.” Karen says that she knows that many in the IWS agree with her research, but “until they find their collective spine and allow the truth to be told about overpopulation and growth, I will continue to spread the word where I am allowed, which is getting more and more difficult to do.”

Wolves, as Karen notes, have suffered from negative mythology and the effects of climate change, but must now contend with political wokeness and cancel culture.

Censoring uncomfortable topics: the new normal

Fortunately, this saga has a happy ending, albeit not without obstacles. There is an organization in Ottawa called the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) whose mission is to promote analysis and discussion of matters related to the sustainability of humanity and the planet, in line with the purpose of the Club of Rome, which commissioned the 1972 book “Limits to Growth.” Another fellow activist friend, Rob Harding, who is the Sustainability Communications Manager at NumbersUSA, was scheduled to give a Zoom presentation to CACOR on September 28 but is unable to do so. He proposed to CACOR’s events organizers that Karen replace him as speaker on that day. They agreed, and as is the standard procedure at CACOR, provided her with a sponsor.

All seemed set to go. Until, that is, the sponsor found out that Karen’s proposed presentation addressed overpopulation and not just aspects of the Endangered Species Act. The sponsor expressed her “discomfort regarding overpopulation theories” which she averred had “no real scientific backing” and moreover “the movement has roots in and is closely aligned with a lot of white supremacy movements.” She expressed the opinion that “CACOR should not be platforming people like this.”

As it happens, and not in the least bit surprising to me, the now ex-sponsor is a Ph.D. candidate in political science. I consider her a victim of the “long march through the institutions” that began with universities (which have become epicentres of wokeness) and extended through other institutions as graduates brought their ideas to their workplaces. [Were I a member of CACOR, I would of course have sponsored Karen, but I’m limiting my membership in other organizations as a function of time management. The quoted information was shared with me.] Fortunately, another sponsor for Karen was found and she is still scheduled to speak at CACOR on September 28.

The wacky world of Woke

So, in a nutshell: A symposium devoted to the conservation of wolves rejects a presentation that discusses the major threat to them (and all of biodiversity), which is a growing human population, because the primary contributor to that growth is immigration, and rational discussion of immigration policies is taboo in the US (as it is in Canada). When an opportunity arises for the presentation to be given at an organization whose founding principle is “Limits to Growth,” the selected sponsor recoils at the idea that population growth is a problem, which she associates with white supremacy. Fortunately, reason prevails and another sponsor is found.

The International Wolf Symposium’s loss, missing out not only on an informative presentation but also a registration fee, is PIC’s (and other population organizations’) gain. Although it would have been far better had Karen been allowed to speak at the IWS, her redirected money will be put to very good use. Because PIC and its allies will keep on talking about population, regardless of what names we may be called!

Thank you, Karen, and we’re looking forward to your talk!

Madeline Weld, Ph.D.

President, Population Institute Canada
Tel: (613) 833-3668
Email: [email protected]

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