What’s Wrong with the World

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Repeal the Endangered Species Act

This story is pretty outrageous.

The government re-introduced wolves in the 90's, telling ranchers they could not hunt them, even when the wolves are killing their cattle. The more recent "liberalization" of the law is merely that now the wolves don't have to be actually biting the livestock for the ranchers to be allowed to shoot them. How nice. You don't have to wait for your livestock to be torn by wolf teeth before shooting the wolf. Now, you get to shoot the wolf if he's in the act of attacking your livestock, before he bites them! But you still can't hunt the wolves, even if the animals that are your livelihood are being killed by them regularly.

To me the saddest part of this story is the requirement the rancher obviously feels to engage in PC-speak, to say that he "supports the ESA" and that he thinks it's just hard to understand, easy to make mistakes, and what-not. He has to be penitent for having hunted and killed a couple of wolves. And he knows it.

Ranching is and ought to be an iconic form of that rugged American independence we're in favor of. But now you have to kow-tow to the government to be allowed to do it.

Comments (32)

I suppose that I ought to be astonished, even stupefied, by my concurrence on the specific question of the rights of the ranchers in respect of the wolves.

I cannot express approbation of the title of the post, however. If man possesses any obligations toward the natural realm, then, by the very constitution of that realm as a common heritage, a massive commons of a sort, they must be expressible politically. The ESA, as one statutory embodiment of this principle, may be misguided in certain respects, and it may require revision where regulatory provisions fail to attain the requisite balancing of goods and harms; but if every property owner is permitted by positive law to exercise his rights in such a way that indigenous biodiversity may be obliterated, resulting in the destabilization of entire ecosystems, well, what you'll end up with is an environment like that of China - only through the instrumentality of private property, as opposed to socialist, corporatist capitalism. Collective goods can only be preserved through collective action.

I should be glad for what support I get. But I cannot concur that any obligation to "commons" calls for comprehensive endangered species protection for every species of bug, snail darter, or...wolf. Much less, for goodness' sake, for the reintroduction of wolves to some area when the water is under the bridge and the ranchers were able (before) not to have to worry about wolves. I'm a committed speciesist. On a case-by-case basis, perhaps some species should be protected by law if there is a strong reason to believe that prudence, human flourishing, etc., etc., requires it, but not just _because_ an animal species is endangered.

I am 110% with Maximos on this one. Lupine teleology is "wolf bites cow." That is how God designed these beautiful creatures. Cash cows, by contrast, have been designed by man through millennia of selective breeding. The waddling mutants that populate cattle ranches are anything but the result of Natural Law. Don't sacrifice the beauty of God's creation for a better return on the almighty dollar for McDonald's and Outback Steakhouse and the corporate cowboys. Stewardship mean caring for that which was given to us through God's providence, not for what we have designed ourselve to feed our gluttony.

Oh, how nice. So our job is to "care for" the wolves and the ranchers can go to ____. Maybe we should just kill the cows, deliver them to the wolves, send the ranchers off to work in a factory somewhere, and go back to eating our veggie burgers. (Never mind that little vitamin B12 deficiency issue.) After all, the cows are just "waddling mutants" bred for our "greed."

Well, the best I can say, Rodak, is that you're wrong that you are "110% with Maximos," who told me up front that he's with me on the justice of the cattle rancher's being allowed to shoot the wolves preying on his "waddling mutant" cattle.

And I say, who the dickens cares whether the cattle are the result of natural selection or not??? Where is it written--in the law written on our hearts or anywhere else--that creatures that are the result of natural selection are more valuable than those bred by man? I absolutely deny and reject any such implication, as strongly as I possibly can.

And I should point out here that if people are supposed to be more independent, own businesses and property of their own, and govern themselves, the regulatory burden has to be greatly lessened. The motivation to let someone else have the headaches and spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be compliant with all the environmental regulations, and then maybe still get in trouble like this guy, is very strong.

I'm sure that the ranchers are able to write off the wolf kills on their corporate taxes. They don't see cows; they see x-number of dollars on the hoof.
Moreover, I don't say that ranchers shouldn't be allowed to kill any wolves whatsoever. I only insist that they not be allowed to hunt them to the brink of extinction a second time.
Bottom line: I don't want EITHER wolves OR cows. I want BOTH wolves AND cows.

I've always wondered what wolf tastes like. And my freezer is getting low on moose. Plus it would be cool to wear one of those wolf pelts over my head when I mow the lawn, just to keep the neighbors on their toes.

Zippy :-) :-) (But I think a coonskin hat sounds too hot.)

Rodak, I say the government should not have reintroduced the wolves in the first place. But in case it matters to you, please note that on the current law the ranchers *may not* hunt wolves, even those whom they have reason to believe have been eating their cattle. They may only shoot them if they literally catch them in the act of attacking their cattle.

I consider that people who grow food which will be eaten by other people are doing something prima facie good. I have not the smallest bit of patience for the dripping disdain in which liberals hold food-growers when the food in question happens to be meat.

And since Zippy likes me to say outright what I think about morals and justice, I think this regulatory set-up is a matter of grave injustice. I also think it something very morally askew with the world and our country that the rancher should speak ("I take responsibility") of the killing of a couple of wolves as though he were an officer whose men have committed a war crime. The relations and proportions of things are facts no less than the things themselves, and this degree of examination, investigation, and regulation regarding the deaths of two wolves is severely disproportionate.

But I think a coonskin hat sounds too hot.

Horrifying my suburban neighbors, though, is worth a small sacrifice in comfort. I can just picture it, the pelt with the wolf's head, teeth bared in a predatory grimace above my manic visage, riding around on my little John Deere. Wolfmower man. I have a dream.

Lydia, brave post but you're fighting some stalwart poseurs. After all, it's someone else's property and someone else's livestock and when else to display your trans-humanistic and intra-species bona fides. They only eat the stuff, the cows, not the wolves. It's alright for the wolves to butcher them, competition being the spirit of free enterprise and government being the guardian and adviser to our morals.

They may or may not feel differently about incursions by federal meat eaters or other government time servers into their private lives, inconsistency being the glory of the shallow and those free with the loss and cost to others. How else to achieve a cheap morality and what means private property?

Zippy, eat a wolf, preferably a dead one. Eat him before he eats you, I'll figure out the trade-off.

Zippy, and good night. BTW, what happened to "Catholic"?

BTW, what happened to "Catholic"?

Not a thing. You'll get my rosary from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

I suppose that if you were in India, you'd also be in favor of exterminating the last few Bengal tigers, because they occasionally kill a sacred cow, or even a person? In fact, let's kill off all the predators and give the vermin of the earth free reign. Then they can kill off the final predator--man. I like the way you think!

Rodak, especially a person. And people can hunt vermin, too, to keep down their number. So can domesticated cats and dogs, for that matter. But reintroducing tigers and making detailed rules about how you can only shoot them if they are in the act of attacking would be the height of insanity.

Thanks, John.

Zippy, I love this line: "You'll get my rosary from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."

"So can domesticated cats and dogs, for that matter."

If we're eliminating *all* predators, those will have to go, too. Packs of feral dogs kill farm animals, too. So do feral cats. No sympathy for the poultry industry? If we want to live in a perfectly safe environment, we will need to sterilize thoroughly, no?

Ah, Rodak. We need to think of a nickname for you. Mr. Strawman, perhaps? October ought to inspire me. Yes, I would certainly kill feral packs of dogs and cats. But not the hunting dogs belonging to the local farmer, nor his barnyard cats.

Rodak: pray tell, did Lydia anywhere call for an extermination of all predators? Sheesh.

I'm on the side of the property rights of ranchers.

So the property rights of ranchers, i.e., a saleable commodity, i.e., money, comes before the right of a beautiful species of animal to exist?
I don't quarrel with the idea that ranchers have a right to shoot wolves that are actually attacking their cattle, in order to protect the herd, and perhaps encourage the wolves to range elsewhere. But that is not all that was done in the past; there was a determined effort to eradicate the wolves completely. Hunt, bait and trap, poison; whatever it took. And this, not to protect cattle ranching as a whole, but only to protect profit margins. There don't need to be, and never would be, enough wolves out there to kill off whole herds of cattle. If that were the case, wolves would have killed off all the deer species, etc., long before the advent of cattle ranching. The wolves cull a few, as God designed them to do. The wolves are where God originally put them; the cattle are not. Call me all the names you want; this is a no-brainer to me.

I don't quarrel with the idea that ranchers have a right to shoot wolves that are actually attacking their cattle, in order to protect the herd, and perhaps encourage the wolves to range elsewhere.

Okay good, then I don't have a quarrel with you. Nor did I read Lydia as embracing the "determined effort to eradicate the wolves completely."

I don't think the ranchers have to put up with some sort of "natural culling" of their cattle as though their cattle were wild deer herds. And _you_, Rodak, can use the word "money" like a dirty word all you like, but this does not move me, either. The cattle are not wild animal herds, the ranchers are their owners, and it is morally legitimate for the ranchers to protect them. Nor is there any moral law that says that this responsibility *must only* be exercised by sitting up all night and catching the wolves in the act. Some preemptive hunting seems to me eminently justified.

My own preference would be for doing the thing in an ad lib fashion. If it looks after time has passed like this is going to result in the extinction of some particular large predator in the wild, the question then has to be asked whether this is a bad enough thing that it is legitimate to put a stop to the case-by-case decisions of ordinary people and instead set up detailed regulations limiting their hunting. Should ordinary people carrying out ordinary and, in my opinion, valuable, human behaviors and activities--farming, ranching, draining a mosquito-breeding bit of swamp--be forced to pay taxes on and maintain what are essentially free-range zoos/museums for rare creatures at their own expense? I rather doubt it. But if there were some strong argument regarding _human_ goods and flourishing, then some limitation on hunting could be legitimate.

Even in the case in question, it would be a great improvement if a rancher or farmer could go to a reasonable group of regulators and get a limited-time hunting license on his own property for the creature in question after showing that it is killing his animals. This would seem unlikely lead to the predator's extinction in any event.

So am I calling for the systematic and deliberate elimination of all predators? No. Am I ready to agree right off the bat that it would be a major calamity if it happened to turn out that some large predator became extinct in the wild as a result of ad lib human attempts to protect human life and domestic livestock? No.

The reason, I believe, that wolves had to be reintroduced to the areas where they are now causing problems for ranchers is because they were hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction, for the same reasons, in the past.
If you have no problem with deliberate, man-made, species eradication and extinction for marginal economic reasons, fine; that's who you are. I do have a problem with it. And if I have a chance to oppose it with my vote, I will do so.

If you have no problem with deliberate, man-made, species eradication and extinction for marginal economic reasons, fine; that's who you are.

I do have a problem with that. But, as Zippy put it in the latest thread, it's not clear to me that deliberate extinction would be always and everywhere wrong.

It wouldn't follow in any event, Rodak, that if the wolves were eradicated for an ignoble or insufficient reason, they should be reintroduced. What if the areas in question were now suburbs? Would you still reintroduce the wolves on the grounds that their original extinction was wrong? Similarly, I can't see that what you've given is any sort of argument for their reintroduction. "They were hunted to the brink of extinction before because they were eating ranchers' livestock, therefore we should cause problems for the ranchers again by reintroducing them." ?? How is that an argument? What is this, punishing the ranchers for carrying out the same sort of cattle-raising activities as people who, in your opinion, over-hunted wolves in the past? If anything, it would seem to me that the obvious conflict that arose between the humans and the wolves in the past is an argument for preserving the wolves *somewhere else*.

But in any event, I think the whole "marginal economic reasons" phrasing is an invidious way of putting it. There is something very, very weird, not to say perverse, to me about setting some sort of number and saying, "This number is a 'natural cull.' If the wolves eat this many of your cows, you should just sit back and put up with it, unless you catch them in the very act of leaping. Only if the wolves really threaten the existence of your entire herd, which, heh, heh, we know they aren't going to do, will we allow you to hunt the wolves in any preemptive fashion to protect your livestock. Because, after all, protecting your livestock is nothing but [cue sneer] a matter of money, anyway."

"What if the areas in question were now suburbs?"

How are we going to have an intelligent debate on the issue--which is an important one--if you are going to pose questions like that?

As for money, it is Caesar's. As for wolves, they are God's.

It seems to me that there are ways to protect the ranchers agains economic hardship due to wolf kills. Wolves are not like human rustlers. Wolves are a force of nature. If you build your house on a fault-line, you risk losing it. If you can even get insurance, it will be very expensive. If you want to live there badly enough, you take that calculated risk. If you want to keep cattle where there are large predators, you will lose a few. Let the ranchers buy insurance to cover their losses. Make it available through the government, if necessary.

"...it's not clear to me that deliberate extinction would be always and everywhere wrong."

I tend to think that it would be always wrong, as in intrinsically evil, if done for purely economic reasons, involving no more than protection against a partial loss of profit. But, Paul, we aren't talking about "always and everywhere"--we are talking about a current set of circumstances and an easily definable area.

But if the wolf strapped a cow to its back, would you risk killing the cow, too, just to save a few cows?

But if the wolf strapped a cow to its back, would you risk killing the cow, too, just to save a few cows?

There is a dent in the floor from where I fell off the chair laughing.

To me the saddest part of this story is the requirement the rancher obviously feels to engage in PC-speak, to say that he "supports the ESA" and that he thinks it's just hard to understand, easy to make mistakes, and what-not. He has to be penitent for having hunted and killed a couple of wolves. And he knows it.

This is bullcrap. The rancher is under no compulsion to endorse the ESA; there was plenty of angry protest against the reintroduction of wolves into the area. I think you're confusing the status of wolves with the statuses of blacks, hispanics and homosexuals. The rancher is probably a genuine conservationist.

Sorry, I think that if he said in his interview with the media that he opposes the ESA, he'd be given an even harder time by the bureaucrats who have a certain amount of leeway in enforcement and in how much scrutiny and harassment they subject him to. And if all that stiff-upper-lip extremely somber stuff about how he's so sorry for having set too aggressive a tone and such, he "takes responsibility" for what his men did, is entirely genuine, then he has himself the wrong idea of the importance of the thing. This is all getting far too serious and heavy about the deaths of two wolves.

The whole damn ESA is wrong i mean in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA one county has to pay four million dollars to protect a bug now dont you think they have more important things to spend that money on their some worthless bug? And as for the wolves they should introduce them into the big cities where these igorant flatlanders think their just oversized doggies

All those ignorant flatlanders who want wolves reintroduced should have a whole pack of them running down their urban/saburban neigborhoods i mean they have been so brainwashed by the crap from DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE and those crappy disney films WHITE FANG,JOURNEY OF NATTY GAIN and NEVER CRY WOLF they had better get THE FACTS before they petition to have wolves reintroduced into rural america

Our worthless pukehead senators choose to protect a worthless two inch fish despite the facts calfornia farmers are suffering from a drougth I mean these worthless excuses should all get impeached along with that wortholess OBAMA jerk

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