The June 25, 2007 issue of High Country News carried Hal Herring's piece on a group of Western "predator hunters for the environment," who claim they do a better job of defending wildlife that either "cattlemen . . . who did not want to see larger deer and elk herds" or, obviously, animal-rightists.
Anti-hunting groups cite studies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showing that “watchable wildlife” interests — non-hunting tourists drawn to parks and rural areas — spend more on their trips and are an increasing presence, while expenditures by hunters are declining. But this does not negate a simple reality: The majority of the wildlife being watched by non-hunters has been restored and sustained by hunter dollars, paid through the decades into a variety of revenue streams. (Emphasis added.)
Herring's article points out that such groups have pushed for habitat restoration that benefits all species, not just game species.
The issue here is whether Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife's focus on predator control is really biologically accurate or not. But that is not the real issue for some HCN readers, who are more interested in preening displays of moral superiority.
Mary Sojourner, an occasional HCN contributor herself, informs us that she does not trust herself to own a gun. (Fine, Mary, no one is forcing you.)
Bob Wood of Sedona tells us that "Ed Abbey was a gun nut," but evidently his heart is big enough include Cactus Ed anyway, nuttiness aside.
Will Nobauer of Aspen froths at the mouth about "lunatic hairless apes," "psychotic mutant retards," and "mad killers," while the noble-minded Crista Worthy of Pacific Palisades, California, suggests that the people interviewed should take their "probably illegally modified" (how does she know?) rifles and kill each other. She would smile at the slaughter, she says.
Fortunately, other letter-writers were more rational. For instance, Rod Mondt of Tucson asks "all hunting and angling groups to put aside their differences and work together to protect wildlife habitat on public lands. And that truly is what it's all about.
It has long been one of the environmental movement's weakness that it is larded with people who would rather be morally correct than politically effective.
I do not agree completely with Roger Scruton that all conservation issues are best handled locally, but he is right about one thing:
Environmentalism certainly has the character of a movement, something you join that offers membership. It also has a militant wing. Aggressive organizations like Greenpeace, corrupt and unaccountable though they are, nevertheless appeal to young people because of their image of purity. Their publicity says, “Join us, and we will offer you salvation from environmental sin.” The redemption that they offer resembles initiation promises throughout history, from the knightly orders of the Middle Ages through to the jihadists today. . . .
These movements also provide an enemy, and enemies are useful for defining your place in the world. While it is difficult to share friends, you can easily share enemies, since hatred is far less demanding than love and requires no shared judgment—only a common target.