Killing Animals to Save Them

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There is no Persian cat shortage. The world is in no danger of running out of chickens. Yet the world has fewer and fewer elephants. lions, tigers, giraffes and so forth. Why? In part it is because no one owns wild animals and consequently they are nuisances rather than resources. Many species in the U.S. also declined when they were unowned. For example, by 1900 in the U.S. the number of bison had dropped from millions to just 200. Today, there are 500,000, and 95 percent are privately owned.

In the New Scientist conservationist Mike Norton-Giriffiths asks the right question: Whose wildlife is it anyway? (subscription required). He notes:

Since 1977, the country [Kenya] as lost between 60 and 70 per cent of its large wild animals.

Why?

The two immediate reasons for the dramatic decline in animal numbers are destruction of habitat and uncontrolled poaching. The economic driving force behind both these is the fact that for most landowners the returns available from agriculture greatly exceed those from livestock, so it pays them to plough up the rangelands. Everything is loaded against landowners making money from wildlife…

If Kenya wishes to maintain significant wildlife populations outside its protected areas, then it has to ensure that landowners can gain an income from wildlife that is competitive with what they can earn from agriculture and livestock.

What should be done? Norton-Griffiths argues:

First, user rights, and perhaps even ownership rights, need to be devolved from the state to landowners so that they can treat wildlife as a marketable commodity. Second, restrictions on income-generating opportunities need to be relaxed to permit activities such as ranching, the sale of live wild animals, the culling of locally abundant populations, the marketing of trophies, and the most valuable of all-sport hunting.

Norton-Griffiths notes that recent legislative moves in this direction have been blocked by lobbying from big Western non-government organizations including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Humane Society. He concludes:

If they succeed in derailing the wildlife policy review, the decline in the country's wildlife will carry inexorably on. That would hardly be a victory for conservation.

But it would be a victory for blind pig-headed anti-market ideology. And that may be what's more important than saving wildlife to the NGOs.

Disclosure: I don't hunt. I'm a terrible shot and skinning and gutting game is way too labor intensive for me. However, I certainly do eat game that someone else has killed and cleaned. For example, I've enjoyed squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, opposums, elk (road kill), venison, bison, alligator, caribou (tastes nastily of liver to me) and springbok (the tastiest meat ever).

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83 responses to “Killing Animals to Save Them

  1. subscription required

    Whose goddam article is it, anyway?

  2. It may be a semantic quibble, but animals owned by landowners and managed for income aren’t really “wildlife”, are they?

    Aren’t those “domestic animals”?

  3. Fluff: Interesting point. One definition of domesticated is: “A plant or animal that has been altered by human beings through selective breeding. Some plants and animals have been so altered in this way, they can no longer survive without human intervention.”

    That would not be the case here.

  4. I wouldn’t call a water buffalo a domestic animal under any circumstance. At least, not to its face…

  5. Ron –

    That would mean that cats, dogs, pigs, and horses aren’t domesticated.

    All of them can survive in a feral or wild state.

  6. Oops, sorry. You limited it by “some”.

  7. It strikes me that many of these animals aren’t particularly valuable to would be owners. Yes, the theme-park/sport-hunting model may work to a limited degree, but what is the return per acre for this sort of thing? Given that many of these animals require huge ranges to maintain their populations, it seems unlikely that plains land wouldn’t be more valuable for farming than trophy hunting. Remember that most domestic animals have been bred for tens of thousands of years to serve human needs — we can’t really compare zebras to a horses, or lions to domesticated cats, etc.

  8. Fluff: The definition says “some”.

  9. What’s an example of animal that can’t go feral? I know that cows can go feral.

    Chris S.,

    Most animals and plants are probably not good candidates for domestication in the first place.

  10. And of course pigs can go feral, which is why New World explorers dropped them off at various locales they visited. They’d dropped them off and within a few years other explorers would have lots of tasty pork to eat.

  11. Although Fluffer has a point, I’d like to see someone finally domesticate the Cape Buffalo. Without getting trampled and gored to death.

  12. Chris S. it doesn’t seem unlikely to me at all. I know two guys who spent over $12,000 each to hunt for two weeks in South Africa and they were hunting non-exotics. I’ve been told that it costs around $50,000 to shoot a rhino with a dart gun. A big cat hunting trip can take you easily into 6 figures.

  13. Mr. Bailey, you’ve eaten (o)possum? Ever seen the teeth on those things? It’s like a mammalized pirhana. Crossed with a leper.

  14. I realize most PITA types and city folks will swoon to here this, but the vast numbers of deer and ducks in this country is in no small measure the result of efforts by responsible hunters and wildlife programs supported by hunters to conserve these creatures

  15. Bailey,

    Liver is quite tasty actually. As are a number of other internal organs.

  16. Grotius: That no longer be pork, but boar, nicht?

  17. Most animals and plants are probably not good candidates for domestication in the first place.

    I agree, which is why I doubt ownership will save them in any significant way.

  18. Crossed with a leper

    Not quite. Lepers are antisocial involuntarily. Vive la difference.

  19. Pigs Gone Wild,

    Yeah, sure. I’m just curious what animal(s) fit the above definition. I personally can think of none.

  20. Chris S.,

    Well, one would have to preserve them as part of a total package, such as in a large wildlife park.

  21. But it would be a victory for blind pig-headed anti-market ideology. And that may be what’s more important than saving wildlife to the NGOs.

    Truer word were never spoken. You can expand that to pretty much the entire “green” movement too.

    But I thought this was already a done deal. Didn’t I see something on television years ago, about how big-game hunting was turning the tide on Africa wild life. The money from white hunters was the only effective counter to poaching. Keeping the beast population up, put money in everyone’s pocket. What happened?

  22. Mike,

    Yeah, I know that people are willing to shell out a pretty penny for this sort of thing, but how big are these hunting reserves — pretty massive, right? To the extent this land is arable, 20,000 or so acres is likely to be more valuable for agriculture than hunting. If the land isn’t arable, so be it — hunt away.

  23. Well, one would have to preserve them as part of a total package, such as in a large wildlife park.

    Whew! I first read that as pork.

  24. Somehow the idea of a feral cow is hilarious to me.

  25. I realize most PITA types and city folks will swoon to here this, but the vast numbers of deer and ducks in this country is in no small measure the result of efforts by responsible hunters and wildlife programs supported by hunters to conserve these creatures

    So i guess we could say that hunters have assumed ownership over the deer herd and see an incentive–enough deer for all to hunt and enjoy–to keep it sustainable?

    In PA we almost ran out of deer early in teh century, but seasons and establishment of a game commission has turned them into 1.3 million hooved locusts (although tell that to your average deer hunter and he’ll scoff, since they moved from public lands to unhuntable suburbs).

  26. Ah, laddie, I like a good lion haggis now and again.

  27. JasonL,

    Actually, if I recall correctly, there are a lot of feral cows in Australia.

  28. he vast numbers of deer and ducks in this country is in no small measure the result of efforts by responsible hunters and wildlife programs supported by hunters to conserve these creatures

    I don’t think you can compare privatizing Africa’s wildlife to how the US handles it’s game. US private hunting ranches are relatively new, and certainly aren’t responsible for the preservation of game populations. That all came about through state intervention. You might be better off analogizing to the way american indian tribes are beginning to managing their fisheries.

  29. No mention of the ivory market? I wish it were legal and I owned a herd of elephants. I guarantee you that, if I did, that herd would increase. And any poacher who dared even approach my pachyderms would soon be dead. I might even develop a way to harvest tusks without killing my beloved meal tickets….call me a greedy nature-hater.

  30. Greedy nature-hater.

  31. Also, the deer population benefitted greatly from human eradication of the wolf population in the eastern United States.

    I’m sure some African prey populations would show gains if we exterminated all the lions, hyenas, etc. That wouldn’t really be “management”, though, unless the power to manage is the power to destroy.

  32. Springbok, ok. But please, stay away from the clipspringer

  33. Fluffy,

    Getting rid of top predators of course led to all sorts of other problems, particularly deer overpopulation. I know lots of folks love bambi, but bambi can be a very real and destructive pest.

  34. Stupid wildlife.

  35. “…by 1900 in the U.S. the number of bison had dropped from millions to just 200. Today, there are 500,000, and 95 percent are privately owned.”

    Those five per cent live down the road from me, on a little spread called Yellowstone National Park. I have had people tell me, and I have no reason to dispute it, that hunting bison is a lot like hunting parked cars. However, the Montana bison hunt attracts a lot of interest (pro and con); the hunting licenses are awarded in a lottery, with resident and out-of-state prices set at much lower than the “equilibrium” rate. Most people, when I suggest the use of an auction to award the licenses, and the use of some part of the proceeds to bribe the locally affected ranchers to stop their whining about bison depradation, look at me as if I have two heads.

  36. It looks like the collective wisdom of me, Grotius, and Homer Simpson has united into one supreme super-commenter. All hail, sma-Gro-mer!

  37. Another issue is farm subsidies, without which the Great Plains would be a good deal less attractive for the agribusinesses which are taking place on the land (and incidentally impoverishing the Native American population, polluting the Mississippi and poisoning the Louisiana coast fishing industry).

    North Dakota, for a start, needs to have its statehood revoked.

  38. The bison are encroaching on the public owned land where I graze my privately owned cows . I demand you kill the bison. How dare they bother my cows.

  39. I had a neighbor in Idaho complaining about “the damned Indians getting govt handouts.”
    I pointed out to him that he was getting subsidized to grow wheat on reservation land.
    He seemed kinda angry with me.

  40. Brotherben, an inner city mother getting $300 a month in welfare is tearing the country apart, a corn farmer getting a $150,000 disaster relief check is the backbone of this country….can’t you see the clear difference.

  41. some plants that would have difficulty surviving without human intervention:

    bananas
    seedless grapes
    some apple varieties
    ginger
    (All are triploid, and can’t reproduce sexually. Obviously, they could grow for a while, but there would be no second generation, no variation, no evolution, and eventually some environmental pressure would take them down. See Cavendish and Gros Michel banana varieties.)

    Truly dependent animals are fewer, if any exist at all.

  42. Truly dependent animals are fewer, if any exist at all.

    I have read that dairy cows have been bred to produce so much milk that if they are not mechanically milked they will damage themselves.

  43. It’s always amusing to see economists try to fit biology into their supply-and-demand curves.

    Yes, you can cull private elephant herds and sell the ivory legally. The biggest tusks belong to the oldest individuals–the guiding members of the herd. Killing them can make the younger elephants, particularly the young bulls, go nuts. Without the proper herd hierarchy keeping them in line they become aggressive and attack other animals, smaller elephants, villages, etc. Sure you still want to be their legally culpable owner then?

    What if you want to privatize things like rhinos or giant pandas, which breed slowly and erratically and are hard to manage in captivity (if you can get them there in the first place)? What about the stockpilers of wildlife parts who want the species to go extinct, so that their own cache will become more valuable?

    Perverse incentives run into uncooperative and unpredictable biological behaviors and the end result is extinction. Armed guards around a national park can keep the wildlife safe without having to rely on magical thinking.

  44. Brotherben, an inner city mother getting $300 a month in welfare is tearing the country apart, a corn farmer getting a $150,000 disaster relief check is the backbone of this country

    at least the corn farmer is producing something other than surly, slanty-cap-wearing offspring for his welfare check

  45. Regarding…

    “blind pig-headed anti-market ideology”

    “The challenge is to design procedures that enable the use of policy space for socially desirable purposes while limiting it for beggar-thy-neighbour purposes.”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3d7e8ece-dc00-11db-9233-000b5df10621.html

  46. TTT –

    Although I’m critical of the mass privatization idea too, we have every reason to believe that the “armed guard” scenario also relies on magical thinking, in the long run.

    And “the long run” is very brief in evolutionary terms – 200 years? 300 years?

    It all comes down to human population pressures and although there are some promising signs on that front, it seems like “magical thinking” to me to believe that governments will continue to leave land and resources behind fences and not allow them to be used. Every national park in the United States and everywhere else is three meals away from being converted to human use. They loved elephants in Paris in 1870, too, but when there wasn’t enough food they ate them tout suite.

  47. What about the stockpilers of wildlife parts who want the species to go extinct, so that their own cache will become more valuable?

    Off the top I can think of a dozen markets with similar supply limitations, not one of which has the problem of shareholders trying to kill production. Where did you pull that one from; and you talk about magical thinking?

  48. I feel that disclaimer was insufficient for a proper bailey post.

    What about mentioning how your PwittyKitty ran away when you were 4 and never returned, leaving you with an lifelong animal-animus? What about the birds that shit on your car? What about all your stock in that Frozen-Chinchilla-on-a-Stick venture?

  49. JasonL:Somehow the idea of a feral cow is hilarious to me.

    Grotius:Actually, if I recall correctly, there are a lot of feral cows in Australia.

    There are indeed. Just like feral pigs (or wild hogs or boar, if you prefer) they are considered a challenging game animal.

    They are also just as destructive of the environment since a lot of Australia’s grasslands are not suited to hooved animals.

  50. “First, user rights, and perhaps even ownership rights, need to be devolved from the state to landowners so that they can treat wildlife as a marketable commodity. Second, restrictions on income-generating opportunities need to be relaxed to permit activities such as ranching, the sale of live wild animals, the culling of locally abundant populations, the marketing of trophies, and the most valuable of all-sport hunting.”

    Fuck all of you. Turn sentient beings into “marketable commodities”? No. Why don’t we just slaughter the poachers and landowners who destroy habitat. No, I’m not kidding.

  51. “Armed guards around a national park can keep the wildlife safe without having to rely on magical thinking.”

    How’s that working out in Kenya? Last I heard, the park rangers there had been pretty much reconfigured as death squads, but the elephant herd still shows no sign of overrunning the country.

  52. John D | March 30, 2007, 9:21am | #

    I realize most PITA types and city folks will swoon to here this, but the vast numbers of deer and ducks in this country is in no small measure the result of efforts by responsible hunters and wildlife programs supported by hunters to conserve these creatures

    ducks yes, deer no. the explosion of the deer populations, as others have already pointed out, is the result of humans greatly reducing the populations of predators that regulate deer populations, not only wolves, but the various incarnations of mountain lions (Florida panther, Texas cougar, etc.)

    as for the substance of Ron’s post, private ownership is only going to save animals that are desirable for one reason or another. an Endangered Species Act, in one form or another, is going to be necessary.

  53. US private hunting ranches are relatively new, and certainly aren’t responsible for the preservation of game populations.

    They were responsible for the preservation of the American bison.

    Turn sentient beings into “marketable commodities”?

    It is already done – pigs, chickens, puppies, cows, horses.

    Why don’t we just slaughter the poachers and landowners who destroy habitat

    What does “destroy habitat” means in this case? Because each time you fumigate your house, you are “destroying habitat” . . . for millions of termites. Should you be a candidate for slaughter? Or are you a hypocrite who thinks “habitat” pertains to only cute, furry animals?

  54. Although I’m critical of the mass privatization idea too […]

    Who mentioned the idea of mass privatization? Also, you beg the question – your comment seems to indicate you assume that anything not owned by individuals necessarily belongs to something that can grant its privatization (like a state). It is not the case always, nor is it necessarily a GOOD thing for the habitat to be “owned” by a state.

  55. smacky,

    Yeah, we’re a bit like one of those cartoons where people piloting individual vehicles combine them to form a giant robot with a sword. 😉

  56. Pigwiggle:
    I can think of a dozen markets with similar supply limitations, not one of which has the problem of shareholders trying to kill production. Where did you pull that one from?

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-19065059.html

    “With Asian horn fetching up to $52,000 per kilo, Taiwan is said to use rhino horn as bullion to back its national currency. Banking on the extinction of all rhino species, Taiwan could expect to garner a huge return on its investment in poached rhino-horn stock.”

    Rhino horn will become even more valuable after extinction. In areas where the rhinos have been de-horned the poachers will kill the de-horned rhinos, bring back some proof they helped the extermination process (ears or tail will do), and they get paid all the same.

    Yes, I know. It’s economically irrational. But rhino trade is based on the notion that eating horns makes your penis bigger… as the movie said, stupid is as stupid does.

  57. Fuck all of you. Turn sentient beings into “marketable commodities”? No. Why don’t we just slaughter the poachers and landowners who destroy habitat. No, I’m not kidding.

    Thanks Andy, sometimes we a few good reminders that the “Green” far-left’s ultimate goal is ethnic cleansing and genocide.

  58. Fuck all of you. Turn sentient beings into “marketable commodities”? No. Why don’t we just slaughter the poachers and landowners who destroy habitat. No, I’m not kidding.

    Andy wins the “Troll of the Thread” award.

  59. ducks yes, deer no. the explosion of the deer populations, as others have already pointed out, is the result of humans greatly reducing the populations of predators that regulate deer populations, not only wolves, but the various incarnations of mountain lions (Florida panther, Texas cougar, etc.)

    Yes and no. It’s also a result of changes in habitat, coupled with the spread of unhuntable suburbs with large forested house lots. It’s much easier to be a deer in Connecticutt today than it was back in the 50’s, even though there were no wolves or cougars in the state back then.

    Utah’s experience with elk provides a much better example. Just 30 years ago, there were only about 6,000 elk in the entire state. Since then, the number has increased nearly 10-fold, largely due to an agressive transplanting program by the Division of Wildlife Resources coupled with a cooperative program where landowners receive a certain amount of elk permits to sell to high-paying hunters.

    The program sets up Cooperative Wildlife Managment Units (CWMUs). A rancher or landowner allows the DWR to release elk on his land and in turn he gets the permits to use as he pleases. It’s been wildly successful, and all Utah wildlife species have benefited because since most ranchers can make more money by allowing hunting they’re less likely to sell out to developers, thus preserving the habitat for all animals.

    It is also interesting to note that this expansion of the elk population has not been affected by the concomitant expansion of the local cougar population. In the early 70’s cougars were varmits with no protection; now they are game animals that are hunted for trophys. Their numbers have naturally increased.

  60. I believe that andy is the future president of the Soylent Corporation. Congratulations!

  61. caribou (tastes nastily of liver to me)

    Umm, are you sure it wasn’t gutshot? If the bile sack (gallbladder) ruptures and touches the meat it will taste absolutely nasty. I have had caribou both wild and domestic(reindeer) and don’t remember either tasting like liver(which I abhor).

  62. How you get so big eating food of this kind?

  63. Oops. Wrong thread.

  64. “Why don’t we just slaughter the poachers and landowners who destroy habitat. No, I’m not kidding.”

    Well you can lead by example.

    Go ahead and start slaughtering and see how long you last.

  65. as for the substance of Ron’s post, private ownership is only going to save animals that are desirable for one reason or another. an Endangered Species Act, in one form or another, is going to be necessary.

    Biologist, you beg the question – yet again. Would it not an Endangered Species Act imply that some animals would be desired by someone? Somebody must be interested enough on a certain species to lobby for its inclusion in a protection racket… I mean, protection act.

    The point is that there would be more than enough people interested enough in a certain species to protect them by private means. The thing with certain persons is that they want to externalize their costs (their interest in saving a particular species) towards the rest of us by way of a violent imposition by the State – something we freedom-lovers call “fascism”.

  66. The problem when saying “Well, people would not value a certain species, ergo, government must step in” is a classic exercise of question-begging, considering that the government is not this omniscient being that can simply “know” which species needs protecting – SOMEONE must value that particular species sufficiently to lobby for its protection. If that someone exists, then that someone can use his or her OWN resources to protect such species, without imposing their preferences upon the others via government violent, coercive (i.e. criminal) actions.

  67. You’re first, Gilbert.

    “Thanks Andy, sometimes we a few good reminders that the “Green” far-left’s ultimate goal is ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

    I never said anything about “ethnic cleansing.” All I’m saying is: Live in harmony with nature or die. I could care less about the ancestry of someone, I only care about how the treat their environment.

  68. SOMEONE must value that particular species sufficiently to lobby for its protection. If that someone exists, then that someone can use his or her OWN resources to protect such species, without imposing their preferences upon the others via government violent, coercive (i.e. criminal) actions.

    No one would lobby the government if each dollar of private lobbying only netted a single dollar of public spending, so don’t assume that private lobbying expenditures could replace public spending. Yes, someone must value a species to lobby for its protection, but it certainly doesn’t follow that they value it sufficiently to protect it with private funds. This isn’t classical question begging at all; it’s common sense.

    To be honest, I expect that most of these species will be reduced to zoo specimens with or without public funding. As far as I can tell, both sides suffer from unrealistic expectations regarding private ownership or animal rights laws.

  69. Don’t be fooled by andy. I seriously doubt he’s a real person. Many “trolls” are elaborite straw men designed to serve as examples of a certain stereotype in bogus arguments. Right, andy?

  70. elaborite = elaborate.

  71. “For example, by 1900 in the U.S. the number of bison had dropped from millions to just 200. Today, there are 500,000, and 95 percent are privately owned.”

    Was there some legal impediment to the private ownership of bison in 1900? I assume no. How did private ownership do such a bad job of preserving bison? What’s different now?

  72. What’s different now?

    My guess at the short answer is that people today are so much more wealthy than a hundred years ago that they can afford to care whether bison exist or not.

    Greater wealth yields more efficient land use. Greater wealth yields more resources that can be spent on non-necessities such as preserving species.

  73. So the argument that “ownership leads to conservation” depends on the context. Does the argument hold in Africa in 2007?

    I don’t mean to poo-poo Bailey’s point, I just don’t think the bison example is very solid.

  74. Gamito, your ignorance of a subject doesn’t make the conclusions of others regarding the subject begging the question (or even begging, nor begging the question). My comment is no more an instance of begging the question than is Ron’s post. If you don’t agree with the ethics and goals of conservation biology, fine, just say so. If you don’t know anything about the arguments for conservation, try reading a book. Don’t try to dress up your ignorance of a topic as the commission of a logical fallacy on my part.

    Would it not an Endangered Species Act imply that some animals would be desired by someone?

    No, but it implies that we as a society recognize the wisdom and ethics of practicing the precautionary principle with regard to environmental conservation.

    “…considering that the government is not this omniscient being that can simply “know” which species needs protecting – SOMEONE must value that particular species sufficiently to lobby for its protection…”

    well, there are these people, let’s call them “biologists” who work for a governmental agency called the “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service”, which is charged by Congress, in part, to identify and protect species that are in danger of going extinct. No lobbying is necessary, although it occurs.

    The point is that there would be more than enough people interested enough in a certain species to protect them by private means.

    Nice unsupported assertion. Here’s a counter-example: passenger pigeons were once so common that during migration, they were said to block the sunlight through the sheer numbers of them flying overhead. People cared about them, because they were an excellent, free food source. No one owned them. There was no governmental protection. They’re extinct now, even though people wanted them around.

    The thing with certain persons is that they want to externalize their costs (their interest in saving a particular species) towards the rest of us by way of a violent imposition by the State – something we freedom-lovers call “fascism”.

    Other people like to externalize their costs more subtly, by ruining the environment we all have to live in and derive the natural resources from that allow us to have an economy, then expect others to deal with the mess they make, from contaminated water and air, to eradicating species until ecosystems collapse, and the services ecosystems provide for free, just by being left alone, have to be provided at some expense.

    It seems to me that the downfall of the free market and the law of supply and demand is evident in environmental protection, since commodities don’t have much economic value until they’re rare. I’d rather not wait until oxygen is rare to make sure we have enough to breathe. How many are willing to risk their access to clean drinking water on “just in time” inventory systems?

  75. …I’ve enjoyed squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, opposums, elk (road kill), venison, bison, alligator, caribou (tastes nastily of liver to me) and springbok (the tastiest meat ever).

    All of which Hot Doug will serve you in sausage form.

  76. No one would lobby the government if each dollar of private lobbying only netted a single dollar of public spending, so don’t assume that private lobbying expenditures could replace public spending.

    It is not a question of replacing or not replacing. FIrst, my objection against public funding of anything stems from an ethics of non-aggression.

    Yes, someone must value a species to lobby for its protection, but it certainly doesn’t follow that they value it sufficiently to protect it with private funds.

    It does not matter how much they value it. The problem is with the ethics behind passing the bill to everyone else for the desires of a few.

    This isn’t classical question begging at all; it’s common sense.

    When I say that Biologist (and others) beg the question (circular thinking or petitio principii) is when they assert that protection acts are needed to protect species not one values – when in fact someone would HAVE to value the species in a protection list just to have them in a protection list. So they cannot say that such and such species need protection BECAUSE they are not valued by anyone. It is not like legislators, which enacts these protection acts, would suddendly wake up “knowing” there are X number of species to protect.

  77. “You’re first, Gilbert.”

    I doubt it, Andy.

    You couldn’t possibly have ever lived so much as a single day in your life when you were even remotely close to be tough enough to handle me.

  78. your ignorance of a subject doesn’t make the conclusions of others regarding the subject begging the question (or even begging, nor begging the question).

    No, you beg the question when you ASSUME your conclusion: That species protection acts are needed because people do not value the species contained in such acts. However, for this to be true, the species on such lists would have to appear as if by magic. That, or SOMEONE valued such species ENOUGH to lobby for their protection.

    Due to your own bias against people’s valuation of things, or your own collectivism, you assume people only value those things that will give them money. This is your mistake, so do not try to dress YOUR bias or chauvinism by claiming I ignore a subject.

    well, there are these people, let’s call them “biologists” who work for a governmental agency called the “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service”, which is charged by Congress, in part, to identify and protect species that are in danger of going extinct. No lobbying is necessary, although it occurs.

    And of course, biologists do NOT make subjective valuations when it comes to species, right? Nor do the legislators that vote on such measures, right?

    Here’s a counter-example: passenger pigeons were once so common that during migration, they were said to block the sunlight through the sheer numbers of them flying overhead. People cared about them, because they were an excellent, free food source.
    There was no governmental protection. They’re extinct now, even though people wanted them around.

    Indeed. Your knowledge of economics is wanting – as they became even more scarce, their price would have gone up, encouraging their domestication. Since this did not happen, the answer could be that they became exting more due to their flocking in big numbers, making them vulnerable to disease, like Lyme disease.

    It seems to me that the downfall of the free market and the law of supply and demand is evident in environmental protection, since commodities don’t have much economic value until they’re rare.

    Which explains why in places with no free markets, environments were pristine and clean… no, wait, it was NOT.

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3854/is_199807/ai_n8795240

  79. “How did private ownership do such a bad job of preserving bison? What’s different now?”

    The great slaughter of bison occurred when there was no private ownership of the herds. Take a drive out in the country and start shooting cows, just to watch them fall down, and see what happens.

    In Africa, if the wild animals are seen as expensive pests, or worse, there will be no incentive to preserve them; prior to our enlightenment, ranchers and farmers indiscriminately killed animals which competed with, or ate, their domestic livestock (or children).

  80. Gilbert,

    Thank you for making my day. That was the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks.

  81. Gamito, that’s crazy.

    Domesticating a wild animal to be raised as a food source is a very dicey proposition. You’d have a huge initial wasteage rate, and you’d also have no way to predict your probability of success before committing your resources.

    It would make much more sense, if you wanted to be in the domesticated bird meat business, to simply use one of the existing domesticated species, while killing and eating all the wild passenger pigeons you can get your hands on as a side venture. This would be especially true if the passenger pigeon was a quality substitution for the birds we’ve already domesticated.

    Similarly, if you want to have a business raising range animals for meat, it would be a foolish waste of your time to attempt to domesticate an African antelope from scratch. It makes much more sense to just kill all the antelopes, eat them, and then raise cattle or horses on the range you just cleared by doing so.

  82. Ron –
    That would mean that cats, dogs, pigs, and horses aren’t domesticated.
    All of them can survive in a feral or wild state.

    You are correct that they’re domesticated despite being able to survive in the wild. Ron picked a secondary definition of “domesticated,” and even that definition doesn’t depend on not being able to survive without humans.

    Interesting side note: according to the “Guns Germs, & Steel” screed, no, or very few, African animals are domesticable. Obviously it’s not true.

    It strikes me that many of these animals aren’t particularly valuable to would be owners.

    Their value to people might be considered esthetic and/or religious, a la: “Climatologists Secure Funding To Breed Glaciers In Captivity” (The Onion).

  83. “Gilbert,

    Thank you for making my day. That was the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks.”

    Indeed it is funny – especially because it’s absolutely true.

    After all, you’re nothing but an animal rights wacko.

    There’s never been any such thing as a tough one.

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