The difference between Environmentalism/Animal Rights and Conservation/Stewardship is that one is espoused by Progressive Politicians, Neo-Hippies, and members of the Glitterati and the other is lived day by day by people with Jobs and Families and Taxes and Bills to pay.
Al Gore wakes up in the morning in his palatial estate, no doubt filled with all the opulence and decadence that being the worlds first Green Billionaire can provide, He is driven in his gas guzzling Limousine to his private Jet and flown to his destination where another Limo invariably picks him up for his speech about our Carbon Footprints (whatever that really means). Meanwhile, Joe Blow gets up in the morning in his 1200 sq. foot house that was built in the fifties and walks to the bus station to get to his job collecting trash on the back of a truck or works in a recycling business for aluminum cans, or works for a business that converts used oil into a useful product. Who is actually doing more for the environment?
Environmentalists chain themselves to trees and lie down in front of logging equipment. Conservationists know that unless the deadfall and diseased trees are harvested they pose a serious risk of spreading fires when a lightning strike happens and choke out new growth. Environmentalists stage protests and wield megaphones; Conservationists plant saplings after logging an area. Environmentalists scream save the bison, save the wolves, save the polar bears, save the seals. Conservationists know that when humans start living in an area that animals are going to have to be controlled, that is part of our responsibility as humans. In order to control the Bison herds we have to help their population. Bison do not know that they are supposed to stay in the parks. They spread, this brings them and the domestic cattle into contact which is not healthy for either side (bison carry diseases that we vaccinate for in cattle, and yet cattle can give bison diseases that are not normally in a bison herd)
Everyone loves wolves, but wolves want to eat things.We control the herd animals that wolves like to eat, so wolves want to eat domestic cattle, so we control the wolf population because if we didn’t they would a) starve and b) get into trouble in towns and cities.
Look at the Mountain Lion situation in California, California in its’ vast wisdom prohibits hunting mountain lions and yet opens up bicycle and hiking paths in prime Mountain Lion real estate. The result, Mountain Lions have killed several bikers, hikers, and kids in the last decade. We don’t want the mountain lion to go extinct, but clearly we do not want them eating our citizenry. We also like for people to have recreation in the outdoors. It is called Risk Management: you have to weigh the situation out and make appropriate decisions. If the available habitat can easily support X mountain lions and we have 2X mountain lions in the habitat alongside people, guess what, Kitties are going to eat Folks. So the solution is remove the people or remove an appropriate number of cats. California needs revenue and hunters would pay money to take care of their cat problem. It would be a Capitalist solution. Or, they can continue to do what they are doing which is to have the fish and game folks to live trap the cat and put it somewhere else or kill it themselves at an expense. Control the population and make money doing it, or control the population and spend money doing it. Hard Choices. Of course, if we let hunters do it, there will be people in the California woods and trails with GUNS, and apparently that is scarier than getting eaten by a big cat. The more looney of the environmentalist herd believe that the Human population is the one that needs controlled. Clearly we do have choices to make: We can limit our population, or limit and manage wildlife populations. I am not willing to kill humans so there can safely be more deer. That is the difference between conservation/stewardship and animal rights/environmentalism.
Same deal with Polar Bears and Seals and every other critter. Common sense management goes a long way. This is why we have deer seasons, left unchecked deer would become a pestilence and their genetics would seriously suffer. Hunting is part and parcel of good wildlife management.
Part II- Food Production:
I watched a program on animal production recently and the whole thing made me so irritated that I have not even been able to process it until now. Let me talk a minute about animal production, specifically Hog and Poultry. In the old days of Hog farming a farmer turned all the hogs loose out on the open range. You marked your hog’s ears with a knife so you could sort out yours and everyone else’s later and let them fend for themselves. The result was that the meat quality was different than we are now used to, and it was a willy nilly business with the genetics being decided by the hogs. Now hogs are raised in houses and due to improvements in their diet and genetics grow rapidly and can be turned into delicious bacon in a short period of time. Likewise, poultry farming is now a big business instead of something that the Farmer’s wife does. All of this means that we can feed more people and do it cheaper than ever before. It also means that since the animals are in close proximity they are a little more susceptible to disease so many times they are given antibiotics in their food as a preventative measure. This has the Neo-Hippies in a major uproar.
They see the antibiotics as the reason little Billy and little Sally are fatso’s (like me)…and believe it has nothing to do with the preparation of the food or the lack of exercise in Billy and Sally’s lives. So if you follow the (il)logic: antibitoics are bad, only necessary because the animals are too close, cramming animals together is bad for their mental well being. So they propose to make laws requiring a certain space for every animal and to prohibit feeding animals antibiotics. The Danish have discovered that they can get a hog just a big without antibiotics if they don’t put them too close together and give them more food. Wel…DUH! of course they can. The goal is not to get the hog bigger than they would normally get. The goal is the get them that way Faster, and Cheaper. People don’t like pictures of hogs and chickens in houses, and yet, they don’t like 8 dollar value meals and 6 dollar a pound bacon either. Europeans don’t know the difference, their bacon has always been 12 dollars a pound (don’t quote me on exact numbers I know meat is exorbitant in Europe and that is my only point.)
Which brings me to my last point on the Hog and Poultry rant portion of this post. If you regulate that every hog has to have X amount of living space or Lebensraum (a nice Nazi German word there) that will also translate into transportation space. Now instead of 100 hogs going to the slaughterhouse in a truck, we will have 25. Meaning we will need 4 times as many trucks and 4 times as much oil being used. But that won’t raise prices at all will it? Remember…we are going to EAT them anyway.
I am NOT saying it is ok to mistreat animals. I love animals, and when I hunt, I understand that I am killing something, and there is a responsibility when I remove something from the circle of life to do it in a beneficial and humane way. I also do not want to see an animal made needlessly uncomfortable or injured even right before I shoot it in the head, cut its’ throat, and cut it up into pork chops and nuggets…but for Pete's sakes it is FOOD. While researching pictures for this post I found a graph by some Neo-Hippie group that claimed in all seriousness that Vultures kill more Cattle than Wolves and Bears. Vultures…! Vultures DO NOT predate on cattle, they are SCAVENGERS…ridiculous. But other folks will see that crap and take it at face value because they do not know better.
Farmers, Ranchers, Outdoorsmen, and Arborists have been and continue to do more to further Wildlife’s wellbeing and Animal Science/Food Production than the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, PETA, or Pam Anderson’s big boobies ever will. Why do we listen to people who don’t raise animals, and do not live near the wild when it comes to raising animals and managing wildlife?
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs says it very very well and I think has his finger right on the issue:
“Like my friends who espouse all things Green, I want to live on a healthy planet. I really do. But I’m tired of the guilt; I’m suspicious of the manipulation. And I’m weary of being lectured by people who seem to care more about the planet than the people on it. Hollywood and Washington have shaped the issue, and now, all things Eco-friendly are up for sale. Well, that’s fine. But when it comes to jobs, the people who make a difference aren’t covered in green. They’re covered in Brown – dirt, mud, grime, grease, or maybe something worse. I’m no expert, but if we’re going to save the Earth, the color of Dirt makes a heck of a lot more sense than the color of Envy. The way I see it, if we really want to get clean and green, we’re gonna have to get down with brown. In other words, we’re going to have to get our hands dirty.”
Well said Mike, well said.