Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Animal Rights Lunatics are Starving for Logic

Amazingly, people who know almost nothing about wildlife and wild places, are often quite sure they are capable of being good stewards of wild lands and wildlife.

"What's to know and what's to do?" they ask. "You just buy the land and keep the hunters out, and everything works out great."

Well, maybe not.

Proof can be seen at the wildlife "sanctuary" managed by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) at Baronsdown in Somerset, U.K. The romantics at the League got a big bequest some time back, and put it into acquiring 225 acres which they decided to use as a "deer sanctuary."

The first thing they did, of course, was put up signs to keep hunters out.

Guess what happened then? Well, for starters, the deer population skyrocketed and the deer started stripping all the vegetation from the forests and fields.

So what did the folks at LACS do then? That's right -- they began feeding the deer in winter.

Of coure even more deer showed up, and soon an area of just 225 acres had more than 300 deer on it.

The animals, still hungry and now even more overcrowded, began eating each others foeces, thereby spreading flukes and worms across the entire herd.

Reports that the deer were sick were summarily dismissed by the League Against Cruel Sport's know-nothing spokesperson who said "We really don't accept there's a problem."

What happened next was as predictable as the tides: Animals already crowded and stressed got weaker, setting the stage for a more serious kind of pathology to ride in and take the herd. This time it was tuberculosis.

The end result: about one-third of the Baronsdown deer herd died in a single year, and more deer deaths followed in subsequent years.

Now down to about 150 deer, the Baronsdown herd is still overcrowded and emaciated as the vegetation has never had a chance to recover.

In fact, the deer herd at Baronsdown is so overcrowded and sick that regular citizens are now stopping by the road to get out of their cars in order to engage in mercy killings of weak and stunned animals staggering near the fence line.

Don't believe it? Well, you can watch the video taken on LACs land right here -- just click below, or go to the link.

None of this is entirely new, of course. Management of the Baronsdown deer has been called into question for many years, and studies have show that the herd is in very poor shape.

The British Deer Society, which is not a hunting group, tried to work with LACS on the quiet and keep herd management issues separate from the hunting debate, but LACS has continued to ignore reality and at last Veterinary Advisor Peter Green decided he had to speak out. He has described what is going on at Baronsdown in plain and simple language:

"During a two hour period some fifty red deer were carefully observed; none were in good condition. Many were judged to be poor and several were classed as emaciated. Many were showing signs of enteritis [diarrhoea] and loose foeces were widespread on the ground. One yearling staggie in poor condition was too weak to jump a sheep fence."

Is there a message in all this? There certainly is. That message is that wildlife management issues should be left to folks who actually have degrees in wildlife management, and not to philosophers, unemployed anarchists, and suburban matrons.

If there is good news, it is this: The League Against Cruel Sports does not own or control very much land, and most deer herds in the U.K. are under professional management and subject to regulated hunting. As a result, the Countryside Alliance reports, "There are more deer in the U.K. now that at any time since the Norman conquest."

Less we think stupid-on-a-stick deer management is confined to the other side of the Atlantic, however, it's worth remembering that we have our share of know-nothing Animal Rights lunatics.

In a cover piece for Audubon magazine entitled "Wanted: More Hunters," Ted Williams describes what the Crane Estate, 30 miles north of Boston, looked like in the early 1980s when roughly 400 white-tailed deer -- 340 more than carrying capacity -- had denuded 2,000 acres fragile acres along the coast following a hunting ban:

"There wasn't a scrap of green to the height of a saddle horn. One of the last undeveloped barrier-beach complexes in the East had been shorn of native plants. Dunes were blowing away. The property, owned by the Trustees of Reservations, was supposed to be a wildlife refuge, yet the deer had eliminated wildlife that rear young and/or find cover in midlevel vegetation. Each winter most of the fawns died because they couldn't reach the browse line. In their weakened condition adults were being eaten from the outside in by dogs, and from the inside out by parasites. Their skin stretched across their ribs like cloth on Conestoga wagons."

So what are the options? Returning to an ancient balance between large ungulates and top-end predators is not in the offering. Marauding wolf packs are not going to be introduced into the sheep country that is Somerset, anymore than they are going to be introduced into the landscape of suburban Boston.

What this means is that the only real choice for deer, either at Baronsdown or in Boston, is between a miserable life and slow death by starvation and disease, or a healthy life and sudden death that comes out of the blue. One method we would not wish on our enemies, while the other we pray for ourselves.

What will we choose for the deer? Let us choose carefully.



Anonymous said...

A very well done piece of writing, showing exactly what the "antis" are all about.
How sad it is to see animals in that condition, supposedly looked after by people in the know, like you said lets hope they suffer the same way as those ill fated deer.

Anonymous said...

"Thoughtful Animal Rights" activists cause more thoughtless animal cruelty than all other sources combined!

Anonymous said...

The next question is whether the culling will be done by common folk or hired guns (as is proposed for the Rocky Mtn NP Elk herd out here)

Hired shooters cost a lot of money but people in Boston and the UK aren't taxed too much now, are they?

PBurns said...

LINKS TO TWO PIECES you might find of interest are appended below:

** >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2005/02/high-cost-of-animal-rights-rhetoric.html

** >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2005/10/high-cost-of-animal-rights-rhetoric.html


Anonymous said...

YES, Ted Williams was a sportsman in the true sense of the word, but he would PUKE HIS GUTS OUT at todays Massachusetts Audubon.

They are are anti-hunting, anti-trapping, and alinged with the likes pf PETA.

Maybe Mass Audubon should do like its namesake, John Jacob, and EAT CROW! As an avid HUNTER he wrote it was quite tasty! After he shot it!

PBurns said...

Ted Willams the great American baseball player and occassional pitchman for Sears fishing gear (he was also a dedicated angler), is sadly dead, but happily he is not related to Ted Williams the great American hook-and-bullet conservation writer who is enthusiastically alive.

Ted Williams the writer, who lives in Massachusetts and is a former offical of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, has never hesitated one second from blasting Massachsuetts Audubon for being stupid and silly, but he is always careful to note something few others do: that Massachusetts Audubon is independent from and separate from the National Audubon Society; different organizations with different positions on many things.

For an excellent piece by Ted Williams (whose blog is a permanent link in the gutter of this blog), see "Management by Majority" which was an article in Audubon magazine and is reprinted (with permission) on the web site of a pro-fur group at >> http://www.furcommission.com/resource/perspect95.htm

A close reading of this article will reveal that while Massachusetts Audubon opposes trapping (and thus has helped endanger endangered species in their own state), the National Audubon Society sued the Humane Society in order to keep trapping red fox legal on federal land. And, for the record, National Audubon won.

As for Ted Williams' uneasy relationship with Massachusetts Audubon, it must be a little strange at times, as his wife is conservation advocacy coordinator for the group and is strongly opposed to the group's position on trapping and hunting. Ted writes about that -- and takes some nice "fair chase" shots at Massachusetts Audubon -- in a piece entitled "Guns and Greens" at >> http://www.audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite0501.html

Both of the magazine articles are highly recommended reading -- some of the very best of Ted Williams the writer, hunter, and angler.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking to the William's articles, especially the one on ballot issues.

I have a lot of bones to pick with Colorado DOW, but the political autonomy of game commissions is a key part of the North American wildlife management model and he amply demonstrates the dangers of overriding it.

But he also notes, with our spring bear season ban, that ballots may still have to be the last recourse.

The self-funding aspect does present a problem in that wildlife agencies are tempted to cram as many hunters into the field as possible to maximise revenue. The alternative, especially if the hunting community is aging and shrinking, is to accept money from the general fund - with all the strings that are attached.

Anna said...

Another solution that would also work well with hunting would be to re-introduce natural predators & employ guardian dogs to protect livestock.

We humans are an arrogant lot, to think we can improve on nature. Hunting is not cruel. All wild prey animals will be killed & eaten at some point.

Unknown said...

"Antis" come in all stripes. Many only ask for wildlife management to be humane and scientific. Most realize that scientific wildlife management often requires the taking of animals when their population numbers are too high or if they're causing other damage. Many will look for practical alternatives to lethal control. It's not at all fair to characterize them all in one negative way or another.

PBurns said...

Scott, what you just described is most HUNTERS. You either do not know what a hunter is, or you do not know what an Anti is. I suspect the last. Anti is short for anti-hunting.