Hunting or Survival

Hunting or Survival


What wildlife authority in Africa recently issued this edict:

“Many wild animals in (?) have become displaced as the result of urban growth and habitat loss. [They] are becoming more common in urban areas and are frequently seen by people. These animals can cause problems. A resident landowner or tenant can legally capture some species of wild animals without a permit if the animal is discovered damaging property.”

Kenya, South Africa?

Actually, it’s Indiana.

Human/wildlife conflict is worldwide and let’s face it, humans come first. That simplistic counter-edict must carry the understanding that taking one chain out of the fence weakens the entire barrier. Even so, due diligence on the grand ecology will not resolve what a father should do about his 10-year old son walking to school on a road that elephants have confiscated.

The reality is that animals will suffer most. Even if that suffering is man’s expediency with little concern for the consequences down the line, the fact is there will be no down-the-line for ten-year olds whose fathers don’t reclaim their paths to school.

What particularly bothers me is our egocentric view that this human/wildlife conflict is new, or more precisely, that it’s significant impacts are new.

That day when the Scottish islander realized he was well off enough not to need a stag for the winter pantry, but when he decided to take his bird dog into the moorlands to bag a stag, anyway, the relationship between man and nature was forever altered. Not for food did he kill the beast, but for a rush, a high, an affirmation of power. Man over Nature. That’s when the war began.

The conflict was never initiated by animals. It was initiated by man long ago.

When the homesteader in Wisconsin decided to shoot a deer for sport as much as for the winter larder, when the herder in Texas decided to hunt quail just for fun rather than to top up the stew, nature was forever and irrevocably challenged.

It’s a bit different in most of Africa. Sports hunting in any significant way didn’t precede the need to address widespread human/wildlife conflict, unlike in Scotland, Wisconsin or Texas. In fact I could point out dozens of places in Africa where human/wildlife conflict preceded any sports hunting.

It’s by examining this dynamic that you realize that sports hunting was wrong. Man was unable to curb his basest instincts, even when they were no longer needed. As a tool for wildlife management in Africa it’s laughable. Hunters often miss. Instead, many places in Africa cull.

Culling is controversial, of course, but is a more scientific and certain way to instantly eliminate wild life. Sports hunting doesn’t do that and never did.

So when I listened to Fran Hutchins, director of Bat Conservation International’s Bracken Cave Preserve on Science Friday yesterday, my blood boiled.

She stated almost with glee that quail hunting in Texas was an essential brick in the conservation of Texas’ natural ecosystem.

This short-sighted presumption of what Texas ecology is goes back about a hundred years. Texas nature goes back millions.

We need to understand that humans made an awful mistake when they began to treat nature as something to shoot for fun. We’re learning from hurricanes to melting ice caps that nature prevails. Man’s not got a hope.

We started the fight, and nature’s fighting back. I’m not sure where the mitigation in the future comes from. It’s certainly a pitiful counter-punch to emasculate the Endangered Species Act.

Lao Tzu warned us, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” That may just include the end of a being that destroyed itself with the myth of its invincibility.