Every day I receive several alarms about the plight of wildlife: nearly a hundred species are in real danger of vanishing from earth by 2050.
What with climate change, wars and the election of people like Trump to high office, the danger only worsens. The state of Colorado, for example, emboldened by the new regime’s selection of an environmental criminal to head the EPA, has just authorized massive trapping and snaring of cougars and black bears. The reason given is to enlarge the mule deer population for the benefit of hunters. This is backward thinking and false game management. Oil rigs, fracking facilities and trophy homes that diminish deer habitat kill far more of the animals than cougars or bears.
In the words of Immanuel Kant, “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
Colorado’s neighbor, Wyoming, is renewing the slaughter of wolves. In 2012 the state withdrew endangered species protection for its wolves, declaring a “free fire zone” over 85 per cent of the state. A federal court halted the slaughter. Now an appeals court has reinstated the free-fire zones.
All over the world, hunters, poachers, habitat despoilers and land-grabbers are decimating wildlife populations.
In my state of New Mexico, cynical ranchers are slaughtering Mexican gray wolves faster than they can be bred and reintroduced to the wild. More than once I have gone into the surrounding desert to romp with my dog and found mounds of coyote carcasses. ATV-mounted gunners hold contests to see how many of the animals they can kill and award prizes to the best killers. Coyotes, of course, are not endangered, but the ugly slaughter typifies the depraved attitude that allows poachers and other illegal killers to prosper.
Official tallies now list 45 “critically endangered” or “endangered” species, including leopards, hippos, dolphins, rhinos, great apes, turtles, sharks, porpoises, monkeys and elephants. Desperate to halt the slaughter of its elephants, Namibia has established fines of up to two million dollars and sentences of up to 25 years in jail for poaching. The penalties will be difficult to enforce because poachers outgun and outnumber the wildlife rangers, who work in fear of their own lives. One conservation organization claims an elephant is slain every 15 minutes.
Why should we care?
Five centuries before Christ, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras told us why.