Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Killing Things

Saskatchewan has put a bounty on coyotes.

Trevor Herriot comments on this.

Basically, people complain that coyotes (or gophers or wolves or buffalo or ...) are a nuisance so we should kill them. Of course, because our god, money, is involved it's regarded as much more serious. But every business accepts restrictions (that cost money) for the good of everyone.

The logical conclusion of this attitude of our culture is to kill everything except our beloved, precious human beings and the things they eat.

Don't other living things have a right to the planet as well? And even if you don't believe that, do you really want to live on a planet with just us and our food? (If that's even possible, since we rely on the ecosystem a lot more than we realize.)

And for some extra craziness, if we did succeed in wiping out most of the coyotes, we would then list them as endangered and spend large amounts of time and effort trying to "save" them.


  1. I leave the question of what is a "right" to consider the practical problems of keeping a balance of species in a populated country with towns and farms.

    The British landscape is largely manmade. The larger predators such as the wolf and the bear have long been exterminated allowing sheep and goats to destroy the forest cover. The bare green hills of Scotland used to be the Caledonian Forest. Th attractive small patches of woodland in England are mainly there to provide shelter for pheasants, a foreign species, to be raised to be shot for pleasure. They are eaten too.

    In Nature Reserves there is controversy as to whether hawks should be shot. They eat the small rare birds. The habitats of many bords have been destroyed by changes in agricultural practice which is now governed by subsidy and quotas from Brussels. Do badgers catch TB from cows are the other way round? Farmers hate badgers: suburban dwellers like them. Gardeners trap moles which dig up their lawns.

    My personal practice is to let things in the garden eat one another - biological control. My hedgehog cannot keep up with the snails and slugs though.

    Hunting in the English sense of riders chasing animals with dogs attracts much emotion. Encouraging dogs to tear apart other animals is hardly uplifting but to the dogs it is their inbred instinct to hunt in packs. In humans too there is an instinct for the chsse and the sight of the Hunt streaming across a field with the huntsman sounding his horn brings an atavistic thrill. To some of course it is the sight of privilege trampling over the crops of the poor or as Oscar Wilde said, "The unspeakable in chase of the inedible."

    When you see the butterfly in the web of the spider what do you do? The farmer tends the lamb which he will send to be slaughtered. Indeed country dwellers see animals as to be used. It is town dwellers who do not see the birds shot to protect the vegetables they eat or the grasshoppers killed to protect the grsin.

    Morals and expediency are as always entangled. Rights - it comes back to these - are only what can be enforced.

    It is just as well to be at the top of the food chain.

  2. And we would then be overrun with skunks and moles and badgers and rabbits and everything else the coyotes are here to keep under control.