Friday, April 14, 2006

The Red Flag of Lunacy

I received a few pieces of correspondence yesterday which reminded me of just how crazy people are. The first bit came from the UK -- a newsletter from The Countryside Alliance in which Simon Hart, the head of the Alliance, recounted that "This week four animal rights activists admitted their part in the notorious campaign against Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch which culminated in the theft of the body of the mother-in-law of one of the brothers who ran the farm."

Yes, that's right, the animal rights lunatics are now digging up the dead, desecrating their bodies, and even holding them hostage.

Simon Hart goes on to note that: "The campaign's leader, John Ablewhite, graduated from harassing hunts and was originally arrested with one of the individuals who was imprisoned for attempting to dig up the 10th Duke of Beaufort's grave." Yes, they have done it before.

Hart goes on to note that "there is little separating animal rights organisations like the League Against Cruel Sports from the most extreme of their supporters," and that just because people put on a suit does not make them respectable.

Hart notes that the leaders of the Animal Rights movement "share a common disrespect for humanity and a warped view of the relationship between man and animals. Those politicians who choose to do business with them should not be fooled -- their agenda is not the welfare of animals but a hatred of people."

I could not agree with Simon Hart more.

That said, we have problems on our side as well. There are lunatics in every pond -- where they come from, I do not know, but they hop in from one side or another and are quick to foul the water.

Here's an example: I received an email from someone near Richmond a few weeks ago inquiring about working dogs in his area. He wanted to get into working terriers, he said, but he did not want to travel far to get a dog.

Uhh ... OK . . . but he's sure not sounding too serious about it. I gave him a name or two to call, and invited him down to hunt any Sunday he liked. No worries - no problem.

The second email from this fellow asks me how to make fox nets -- what do they look like? Hmmm. A man without a dog who wants to make fox nets? And out of season? Alright, we were all young and enthusiastic once. Nothing wrong with that. I let him know where he could buy a fox net, and explained their basic mechanics.

My third email came over the transom today, and in it this fellow explains to me what terrier work is all about -- from a man without a dog who does not yet own a fox net (or a locator collar, no doubt).

Here is what my fine red-blooded lunatic writes:

"I think of 'earthhunting' as work, not play. It is not fun. The sole purpose for doing it is to eradicate the vermin.The snuffing of an entire generation is the specific goal. Thus the very best time to conduct these excursions is during the times when the offspring are in or around the den site and essentially helpless from a 'raid' by men with dogs and tools."

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Bet you are! An Animal Rights lunatic, right? My thinking exactly. The funny thing is that I have no fear of the Animal Rights people -- I do not engage in illegal or unethical activity, and if I can enslave an ignorant Animal Rights person to carry my tools for me, I guarantee he will leave the field with a sore back and great deal more knowledge about wildlife than he entered with.

Plus I will get a nice story.

Another possibility is that this is simply a fantasy hunter. The world of working terriers seems to attract quite a number of these people. I have written about them in the past, and will not do so again. All I can say is that some people have thrown more bunk with a keyboard than a ditch digger throws dirt with a shovel.

Fantasy Man, if that is what he is, wanted to impress on me that he was an expert trapper. OK .... except that it seems he does not trap any more. Nor did he seem to know much about the economics of trapping. Instead, he hammered away about the need to eradicate all fox-vermin and raccoon-vermin off of all farms. Not that he has ever trapped them all off a real farm. You see there are so many fox and raccoon on every farm, he simply cannot kill them all.

Hmmm. Anyone else smell a rat in this restaurant?

I inquired about what kind of economic impact fox and raccoon populations actually had on farms that raised beef cattle, milk cows, and horses, but he did not have an answer. He was similarly dumb-struck when asked how fox and raccoon impacted farms that raised hay, corn, soy, apples, wheat, barley and oats. He could not explain how silage and bailage were wrecked by vermin, or why maximizing the kill was in anyone's interest.

I am pretty sure this fellow was an Animal Rights lunatic who thought he was aping the rhetoric of terrierwork, or perhaps he was a young instant-expert who has simply got it all wrong from reading too many board postings from fellow fantasy chasers. Sadly, however, he may have be something far worse: a true sick sadist.

Such people exist, and they can be found in all professions from clergy to doctors, from policemen to factory workers. What is broken here is not related to income or education, but something much deeper in the brain.

Sadly, as elsewhere, these people occasionally turn up in the world of working terriers. Some of these people confuse terrier work with dog fighting, others seem to be working out their short comings as men. As a general rule these folks are very loud and dig very little (if at all). Almost all pass out of the world of working terriers after a year or two.

Sadly, of course, they leave behind them a wreckage of dogs and a near-permanent stain on our sport.

Genuine diggers are careful to protect both the health of their dogs and the reputation of the sport. They show genuine respect for the wildlife and the land. They know there are more efficient ways to kill animals than terrier work -- poison, traps, hooks, gas, snares, bulldozers, bullets -- but none that are more humane.

It is, in fact, the inefficiency and selective nature of terrierwork that is its long suite. The option of letting an animal go unharmed is preserved, while the inefficiencies of digging are such that while fox or raccoon can be easily extirpated from a farm with free-range chickens or ducks, it would be difficult to put up a large bag over a wide area, and so a pleasant balance between general animal welfare and localized animal control is achieved.

The notion of balance is alien to lunatics. In fact, the absence of balance is the very definition of lunacy.

That said, let it never be said I did not have a kind word for lunatics. I, for one, hope they stay warm in their straight jackets.
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