Reader Comment--Can Conservationists Hunt?
One of my regular readers wanted to respond to the original post:
Sacred Cows--Can Conservationists Hunt?, but was stymied by the character limit. After the considerable thought put into his response, I think it only fair to go around the comment form limits and simply post his comment here.
Good post! There are some other aspects to this, though.
1) The true "value" of an African (or any other) animal is as part of an ecosystem - and only as that. Whether a captive population exists elsewhere is basically irrelevant - if it is no longer filling the niche to which it evolved over millions of years, its "value" is gone*. These hunting ranches do not seem to be sponsoring re-introduction of animals into their native environments, or using their profits to provide effective conservation - such as properly armed and equipped rangers - to protect them. I visited several of their websites, and found nothing to indicate that they were doing anything other than letting "hunters" shoot animals for trophies, and turn a profit. Breeding animals is not conservation, if you do it to use them as food, fur, trophies - or anything other than to keep them playing their part in their original ecosystem. Survival alone isn't the issue - it's where the species survives, and whether it can continue to play a viable role in the ecosystem.
2) Deer hunting is irrelevant to a discussion of whether or not Texans should be able to breed species extinct in their native environments as targets. White-tailed deer, or any other US species still active in the wild, have nothing to do with it. Hunting may very well be the best method of control for them - if done responsibly and scientifically regulated.
3) Whether Teddy Roosevelt, or anyone else of whom you approve (or disapprove) was or is a hunter has nothing to do with it. Friends of Animals aren't trying to stop hunting - they're trying to stop the shooting of animals that can't escape the "hunter," who takes no risks and makes little effort to bring about their demise. Whether you agree with them or not, at least separate the "Texas Style" ranch hunting from hunting generally, if it is the issue you want to address. This isn't hunting anyway - it's target shooting. Here's a quote from one of those Texan ranch sites: "You can choose to hunt with a rifle or a bow, and we’ll provide you with a guide of your very own. At _______ Ranch you'll never go hungry. Throughout the day while you hunt, we'll provide snacks and beverages to keep you going. After the hunt, the dream continues with Texas-sized meals in the Lodge's dining room." Gee. Tough, manly stuff, that! Out in the wilderness, with only your wits and skill to help you find that elusive prey..…. Oh, no, sorry - you get led to it in a controlled environment while filling you guts with food, then kill it. That's slaughter, not hunting. At that site, by the way, all the pictures of the mighty "hunters" showed they had, indeed, feasted.
4) The owner of one such ranch was quoted as saying, "Hunters are the greatest conservationists in America." That’s deliberately misleading (if not untrue). Whether responsible hunters or fishermen are environmentally beneficial, and help to maintain populations of species upon which they prey, is irrelevant. The Texas "hunting" isn't of the same ilk (that's "ilk", not "elk"). Nor is using radio-collared dogs and a pickup truck to kill bears. That has no beneficial aspect for the prey species or the environment. You can't make blanket statements like that about hunters - so much depends on the prey, the method, the environment in which it occurs, our scientific data, etc.
5) There are game ranches in Africa where animals that are endangered are kept, and protected (by armed guards), not for hunting, but for breeding. That's conservation. If the ranch allows/encourages "hunting" in a confined environment, that's business. Conservation may coincide with business, sometimes, but that does not seem to be the case in Texas.
Perhaps some Texas hunting ranch is sending money to protect remaining wild populations of African animals, or working with governments in developing countries to establish reserves. I’d like to think so. However, many of the hunters who have made it their business to track down and kill, illegally, one of every endangered species (yes, there are little clubs of rich people who do that) are based in Texas.
*Someone'll probably say, "Well, what's your value, LOL?"? The answer to that is, Same as yours - none, zero. All we do is damage the planet - all of us. It's just a question of degree.
Have more to add to the discussion? Post it!