The Wilding of America

The Daily Mail quotes Prince William: “…this is a turning point in saving elephants from extinction,” as he salutes China's decision to shut down its ivory trade by the end of this year.

Bravo.

Best Wishes.

Bull Flop.

China has been carving Ivory for thousands of years, and guess what?  Yes, the odds are that next year it’s still going to be buying selling and carving elephant ivory.  Passing it off as the allowable museum antique perhaps, or maybe ivory purchased from Arab walrus hunters (that’s a joke) or even unicorn horn.  But they’re still going to be buying, selling, and carving elephant ivory.  The money is too good, the tradition to well established, the local officials too corrupt.

Heck, in a vast complex nation where Christians routinely build illegal cathedrals, any activity is possible.

Meanwhile let’s dispense with feel-good nonsense about the wild world, which the British have raised to an art form, and visit a society where large wild animals flourish.

Of course I refer to the hunting culture of the United States.  This remains a puzzle for environmentalists, who view hunting as the most destructive towards wild life of all outdoor human pursuits, borderline criminal and immoral.  Because with millions of active licenses buttressed by its sixty million gun owners, we should have long ago exterminated every wild beast bigger than a bacterium between the Artic Circle and the Rio Grande.  Especially since it’s estimated that our gun owners and hunters fire off some fifty to one hundred billion bullets and shotgun shells every year.

At something.

But instead of large wild animals being wiped out their numbers have exploded.

Indeed America has gotten not only a lot richer in terms of wild animals but gotten scary wilder.  Scary, scary wilder.

Here is the famous photo of black bear taken by a Rutgers University student shortly before it killed him only forty some miles from Manhattan’s Times Square recently:

Alas, this fate was not an anomaly.  Black bears kill and eat people. And there are reports of jaguars in the U.S. and thirty foot Burmese pythons in the Everglades. Grizzlies are recolonizing valleys in Montana and Wyoming.  Mountain lions are spreading into all the lower 48, which the coyotes have already done --  and in the process bred up to the size of wolves. Elk are now found in more states and there's close to 2000 moose in the Adirondack Mountains, when twenty years ago there weren’t any.

Take a gander at this photo of a giant wild boar. 

There are dozens of these images on the Internet and guess what?   These animals are on the move into every one of the lower forty-eight states. There are so many in Texas already that ranchers are baiting their bands with heaps of corn, and then blowing them up with explosives detonated by a rifle shot.  They’re even spearing them from trees for sport

Meanwhile the aforementioned black bear has tripled in number in the northeast and turkeys are in all the lower 48 now, when fifty years ago they were the stuff of legend.   And let's not forget the huge wintering populations of Canada geese, which never existed before, nor the immense increase in alligator numbers and size.

Then there’s the fact that whitetail deer are at pest numbers in many areas of the U.S., and for the first time in a hundred fifty years you can book a buffalo hunt.  On horseback and living out of a teepee on the Great Plains.

How is this possible given the fact that Americans are running through more ammunition every week than was fired on all of D-Day by both sides?  Well it’s because of a human social dynamic that environmentalists and preservationists are clueless about.  That is: encourage hunting and you create a constituency for wildlife.  A bear hunter needs bears, and so he will support legislation to increase their numbers, support regulations to restrict his own behavior, voraciously support the arrest and punishment of poachers, in short do everything short of crawling into their dens in the middle of the winter and suckling their young in order to propagate the species.  Even more importantly, he’s out in the woods constantly scouting and observing so his eyes becomes the eyes of society in the woods, just like police are the eyes of society on the roads.  Multiply that effect by millions of hunters and guess what?  Yes, you get more bears.  A lot more.

The same is true of every species the American hunts or plans to hunt in the future.

Indeed it’s been suggested that the only way to preserve the African elephant is to introduce them into the United States and Canada (which has a similar culture) and establish a hunting season on them.  And in truth elephants (or rather their near relatives) did live in this hemisphere as recently as the Pleistocene.

In sum sport hunting by average people is the only human intervention shown to consistently benefit and increase the population of large wild animals.  And young Americans taking up the adventure are showing the world the results like in this recent photo of two boys from Arizona Elite Outfitters.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD See it Here.  He lives and writes (and still hunts) in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs here and can also be reached at miniterhome@gmail.com

The Daily Mail quotes Prince William: “…this is a turning point in saving elephants from extinction,” as he salutes China's decision to shut down its ivory trade by the end of this year.

Bravo.

Best Wishes.

Bull Flop.

China has been carving Ivory for thousands of years, and guess what?  Yes, the odds are that next year it’s still going to be buying selling and carving elephant ivory.  Passing it off as the allowable museum antique perhaps, or maybe ivory purchased from Arab walrus hunters (that’s a joke) or even unicorn horn.  But they’re still going to be buying, selling, and carving elephant ivory.  The money is too good, the tradition to well established, the local officials too corrupt.

Heck, in a vast complex nation where Christians routinely build illegal cathedrals, any activity is possible.

Meanwhile let’s dispense with feel-good nonsense about the wild world, which the British have raised to an art form, and visit a society where large wild animals flourish.

Of course I refer to the hunting culture of the United States.  This remains a puzzle for environmentalists, who view hunting as the most destructive towards wild life of all outdoor human pursuits, borderline criminal and immoral.  Because with millions of active licenses buttressed by its sixty million gun owners, we should have long ago exterminated every wild beast bigger than a bacterium between the Artic Circle and the Rio Grande.  Especially since it’s estimated that our gun owners and hunters fire off some fifty to one hundred billion bullets and shotgun shells every year.

At something.

But instead of large wild animals being wiped out their numbers have exploded.

Indeed America has gotten not only a lot richer in terms of wild animals but gotten scary wilder.  Scary, scary wilder.

Here is the famous photo of black bear taken by a Rutgers University student shortly before it killed him only forty some miles from Manhattan’s Times Square recently:

Alas, this fate was not an anomaly.  Black bears kill and eat people. And there are reports of jaguars in the U.S. and thirty foot Burmese pythons in the Everglades. Grizzlies are recolonizing valleys in Montana and Wyoming.  Mountain lions are spreading into all the lower 48, which the coyotes have already done --  and in the process bred up to the size of wolves. Elk are now found in more states and there's close to 2000 moose in the Adirondack Mountains, when twenty years ago there weren’t any.

Take a gander at this photo of a giant wild boar. 

There are dozens of these images on the Internet and guess what?   These animals are on the move into every one of the lower forty-eight states. There are so many in Texas already that ranchers are baiting their bands with heaps of corn, and then blowing them up with explosives detonated by a rifle shot.  They’re even spearing them from trees for sport

Meanwhile the aforementioned black bear has tripled in number in the northeast and turkeys are in all the lower 48 now, when fifty years ago they were the stuff of legend.   And let's not forget the huge wintering populations of Canada geese, which never existed before, nor the immense increase in alligator numbers and size.

Then there’s the fact that whitetail deer are at pest numbers in many areas of the U.S., and for the first time in a hundred fifty years you can book a buffalo hunt.  On horseback and living out of a teepee on the Great Plains.

How is this possible given the fact that Americans are running through more ammunition every week than was fired on all of D-Day by both sides?  Well it’s because of a human social dynamic that environmentalists and preservationists are clueless about.  That is: encourage hunting and you create a constituency for wildlife.  A bear hunter needs bears, and so he will support legislation to increase their numbers, support regulations to restrict his own behavior, voraciously support the arrest and punishment of poachers, in short do everything short of crawling into their dens in the middle of the winter and suckling their young in order to propagate the species.  Even more importantly, he’s out in the woods constantly scouting and observing so his eyes becomes the eyes of society in the woods, just like police are the eyes of society on the roads.  Multiply that effect by millions of hunters and guess what?  Yes, you get more bears.  A lot more.

The same is true of every species the American hunts or plans to hunt in the future.

Indeed it’s been suggested that the only way to preserve the African elephant is to introduce them into the United States and Canada (which has a similar culture) and establish a hunting season on them.  And in truth elephants (or rather their near relatives) did live in this hemisphere as recently as the Pleistocene.

In sum sport hunting by average people is the only human intervention shown to consistently benefit and increase the population of large wild animals.  And young Americans taking up the adventure are showing the world the results like in this recent photo of two boys from Arizona Elite Outfitters.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD See it Here.  He lives and writes (and still hunts) in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs here and can also be reached at miniterhome@gmail.com