I know some bird nerds outside of my hometown of Ottawa, and one of them tells me he’s pulling his hair out trying to convince his fellow conservationists they are going down the wrong road. “You can’t tell farmers what to do even when you’re right,” he told me over the phone, “and in this case, we’re wrong.” His take was that his fellow volunteers are simply out of touch with the nature they adore. He said many of them are cat lovers who have no idea of the devastation their pet wreaks on the bird population. I was reminded of the Michael Pollan article “An Animal’s Place”:
The grain that the vegan eats is harvested with a combine that shreds field mice, while the farmer’s tractor crushes woodchucks in their burrows, and his pesticides drop songbirds from the sky.
If you really want to save an animal, stop trying to save it. While elephants are facing extinction all over Africa, Zimbabwe allowed elephants to be bought and sold in the free market. The result was a population boom drastically different from that in any other African country. I don’t think Mugabe is a libertarian. I believe that like Pinochet, he simply let the invisible hand solve the problem because his hands were busy strangling people. But whether dictators stumble into economic liberty or it happens democratically, the point is that meddling makes problems worse. Nature is no exception.
When cane toads were introduced into Australia to curb the cane beetle population, they took over the entire continent. After a Shakespeare fan thought it would be cute to bring British starlings to Central Park, this ruthless species is now bullying other birds out of their nests across North America.
Environmentalists squirm when they imagine hunters shooting an arrow into a deer’s tits, but hunters do a hell of a lot more to preserve nature than tree-huggers do. Trying to help out Mother Nature often does more harm than good. Leave her alone. Oh, and while you’re at it, leave the rest of us alone, too.
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