From trophy hunting to trapping and wolf hunts, wildlife is under siege.
PUBLISHED: THE HILL: Changing America by Cyril Christo, Opinion Contributor | Originally published on March 8, 2021
“Trophy hunting is often seen as an aberration by a handful of individuals. However this investigation shows it is a large, powerful industry with a well-oiled and generously-funded lobbying machine.” —Eduardo Goncalves
I had the good fortune to ask Patrick Hemingway about elephants just at the beginning of the worst conservation tragedy of the last decade — the slaughter of 130,000 elephants. “Enormous silly beasts,” as his father Ernest described them in “True at First Light.” He told me from his home in Montana, “For my money the elephant will soon be gone.” He of course recognized the royal “sport” for what it was, a colonial fabrication that belongs to the old days. Humanity lost a third of the world’s elephants due to poaching, often in areas that encouraged trophy hunting. One magnetized the other. It was an apocalypse we should never forget. He should also know about Montana. He once witnessed a grizzly hunt when he was eight. He admitted it was exciting. But he didn’t like the meat. That was the old days. And he doesn’t hunt bear.
Montana, the home of Patrick Hemingway, is going through quite a transformation these days as iconic species such as grizzlies, wolves, wolverines and lynx still stand proudly like in no other state outside of Alaska. So what is going on with the 900 wolves that are to be slaughtered? What is it with all the snares and bear baiting? What is it with all the hate? Giving license to kids as young as 11 to shoot wolf, classified as vermin, in the same show of prowess and pride that a 12 year old girl displayed near her newly killed giraffe.
What is it about indiscriminate trapping that incites such braggadocio among the politicians there? What is it about the elite and the lawmakers, the realtors, carpenters, taxidermists, ranchers who vote on matters of life and death but who always vote on the side of killing, and bigotry and never biology?
We’ve been sold a bill of goods. And one of the biggest lies in the history of language. Killing is conservation. Some like the present governor of Montana who are aching to destroy this small army of wolves believe that humans and dinosaurs walked together 6,000 years ago. It is astounding and it is killing one of our greatest states. What is it that makes trapping innocent beings, who face agonizing pain for hours and days, a constitutional right? Why does the NRA, Safari Club International, Sportmen’s Alliance and others pay $600,000 to defeat an initiative to ban trapping in the great state of Montana?
All of which would have made Patrick Hemingway shudder. He is from the old school. He liked hunting but as he told me, he ate everything he shot. “The Maasai used to kill lion to make them fear attacking cattle.” But of course they never imperiled the lion population. The British did. He lived in a different time. Today, he acknowledges that “the uncontrolled growth of human beings is making everything else difficult.” He admits its “very difficult to reconcile wolves and agriculture because humans are “so highly organized with farm animals. Some environmentalists say cows produce so much methane. We ought to eat artificial meat or meat that doesn’t involve keeping animals. I do think the heavy burden of feeding an ever increasing amount of human beings has made us do very inhumane things to domestic animals.”