A Caretaker and a Killer: How Hunters Can Save the Wilderness

Reblogged from The Atlantic.

“Hunting is Conservation… No one takes the philosophy of responsible stewardship and species preservation more seriously than the American hunter.” ~Andrew Wyatt

Stereotypes of gun-toting brutes and tree-hugging hippies miss the basic facts about who is protecting nature—and why.
TOVAR CERULLI | MAR 14 2014, 10:12 AM ET



Excerpted from The Atlantic:

The ideological turf matters far less than the ground beneath our feet—the real places that, once lost, may never be restored.

Hunting and environmental organizations don’t always see eye to eye, of course. Intense controversy has arisen over wolves, for instance. Some environmental groups have argued for continued federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, often citing the ecological value of top-level predators. Some hunting-conservation groups have argued for state management and public hunting, often protesting wolves’ predation on cherished game species such as deer and elk. Other organizations have remained neutral. In some cases, the politicized debate has driven wedges between longtime allies, causing rifts that will not be easily healed.

When clashes occur, it is all too easy to fall back on reductive notions about liberal, elite environmentalists and conservative, redneck hunters—the “greens” versus “the hook-and-bullet crowd.” With partisans on both sides invoking stereotypes and the media portraying hunters and environmentalists as opponents, it is tempting to imagine stark lines between the two.

But such divisions are too simplistic. As it turns out, many predator-conservation advocates are hunters. My tracking instructor Sue Morse, for instance, became a hunter in her 40s as a direct result of studying four-footed hunters. Interested in procuring more of her own food, she was drawn to emulate the animals she appreciated so deeply. Michael Soulé, the father of conservation biology, is also a hunter, as were famed conservationists Aldo Leopold, Olaus Murie, and Sigurd Olson.

 Read more at The Atlantic…


4 thoughts on “A Caretaker and a Killer: How Hunters Can Save the Wilderness

  1. To cite the lifestyles of others as models to follow is to miss some vital points. First, they lived
    in different times.

    Second, there was more wilderness at that time.

    Third, if you are going to model yourself on their lifestyles, you need to do it in all aspects–marry
    their wives, father their children and raise them, retrace their career paths — this is the ethical
    theory that underlies. the ” it is okay to do this, because. some admired person did that too”—
    which is actually the same as the claim that “Susie did it, so I should be allowed to do it,too.”

    Aldo Leopold was a heavy smoker. Are you claiming that we should all be heavy smokers too?

    I have just used the reductio ad. absurdism argument on your claims — on purpose.

    Second, I do not think that you have actually read Aldo Leopold’s writings– and I have , since he
    is one of the ethicists I teach in Environmental Ethics.

    Leopold. advocates conservation . He actually does not advocate hunting, and he writes
    poignantly about his decision to stop killing wolves on the ground. that the ecosystem needs
    them. He also says that ” whatever contributes to the beauty and integrity of the. ecosystem
    is right , and whatever tends to diminish it is wrong”.

    But it is extremely common for large predators– and even small predators ,such as foxes and
    mink– to be killed by state wildlife officials, in order to,provide more prey for sport hunters–
    or for them to permit the near-extirpation of. predators for the benefit of. sport hunters.

    Leopold realized thst this was wrong. But not so, apparently, many of those who cite him in
    defence of their own personal benefit — because the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction has shown
    the necessity of large predators for ecosystem conservation.

    So it is pointless for hunters to claim. they are,following Leopold’s views, when what they are doing
    and benefitting from is completely opposed to Leopold’s philosophy.

    Additionally, I think that my donations to conservation organizations would probably equal or be
    larger than the financial contribution of hunters and trappers to wilderness conservation — without
    damaging the beauty and integrity of ecosystems, either.

    Ethics is an actual discipline, in which people take post-graduate degrees. There is a difference
    between an informed opinion, and one which is not informed. Ethics advises us that., as
    rational beings, we should prefer the former.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment Doris. I did not write this piece, I simply reblogged it. However, I am most certainly sympathetic to the themes invoked. I appreciate your reasoned arguments, but I think you fail to see the point of being open to tolerance of those that you don’t completely agree with for the greater good that is alluded to in the opening line, “The ideological turf matters far less than the ground beneath our feet—the real places that, once lost, may never be restored.”

      Hunting is also a discipline. It is not learned as a voyeur of nature, but through hands on interaction participating in the circle of life. Only through direct experience can one have a true empathy for and love of the life and death struggles that go on every day while most pursue their indoor existence far removed from the natural world– other than through books and TV. That is why hunters value beyond all else the ethic of balance, sustainability and preservation.

      I do not judge your perceptions or values in regards to conservation. I simply urge tolerance for others who are equally concerned.

  2. I am actually quite familiar with hunting. My father was a hunter, and was well-known in his time
    as a gun- dog trainer .

    I think you may have failed to see the difference between ethics and teaching. As a teacher,
    I am tolerant of. divergent opinions.

    Ethicists,however, are committed to pointing out logical flaws in. the reasoning process of
    viewpoints being advanced .

    As a teaching ethicist, it is part of my responsibility to model ethical argument.

    What you saw In both of my comments was just that– modelling correct ethical argument,
    and pointing out flaws in reasoning . That is my job, and part of my job description.

    But, as an ethicist, I do not have to confine myself solely to the arena in which I am teaching —
    and, in fact, I would be in dereliction of my responsibility as an ethicist if. I were to do. so.

    Now that you tell me that you reblogged it, I will not attribute this reasoning to you . But did
    you re-blog it because you agreed with it? Because, if so, then you must have agreed with
    the reasoning– and the reasoning is the problem.

    It is all too common for. persons advocating hunting in the US to commit these reasoning flaws without actually reading Aldo Leopold’s philosophy. This is the fifth time this month that I have seen this line of reasoning ( which really is based on the ” Susie did it, so,we should do it too” line
    of reasoning, which most mothers reply to with “If Susie jumps off a bridge , should you
    do it too?”).

    To write such an article, or to reblog it, invites comment– and there is the always the possibility
    that the comment might be better informed. You seem to me to be saying that those who
    are better informed should simply be tolerant of. opinions which are ill-founded.

    On the contrary, no ethicist would agree with tolerating ill-founded opinions. Ethics advocates
    critical thinking, which is a specific set of. thinking competencies, some of which I have just
    been illustrating.

    The moral of this is, the original author should actually have checked facts, and should have
    read Leopold’s views.

    Further, the original author is advocating a position in environmental ethics, and,as such, invites
    informed comments– which, in ethics, take the form of. rational argumentation based on
    accurate facts.

    To leave such a position out there without correction would be to do a real disservice to
    the views of Aldo Leopold– and also a disservice to rational thought, and to environmental
    ethics, which includes the field of conservation ethics.

    • Don’t get me wrong Doris, I appreciate what you are saying. I just think in this case the technical point distracts from the real message of putting differences aside and working together toward the common goal of species preservation.

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