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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Prolific, Purposeful, Insightful, Profound, Instructive, logical and with utmost (Aldo)Leopoldian integrity, we are again graced with LANDSCAPE OF FEAR co-author, biologist John Laundre's insights on------- "Why besides being cruel and inhuman, there is no reason in the NAM(North American Wildlife CONSERVATION Model) for hunting native animals as varmints, just for "sport".............. "This is not hunting it is killing, it is carnage"............... "Such killing caters to our most base, ruthless instincts, killing just for the sake of killing"................ "Killing for the thrill of watching something die, explode!".............. "It really does violate all seven sisters of the hallowed NAM"...................... "And if wildlife agencies indeed are managing ALL wildlife for ALL citizens rather than for killing opportunities for a select few, they should remove the false legitimacy of this slaughter".................... "We as citizens should make our voices heard as to whether we allow this senseless killing to continue".................. "It is our responsibility!"

Varmint killing: the darkest side of hunting

by: biologist John Laundre

As you know, I have written extensively about the absurdity and cruelty of hunting predators. As recognized important members of ecological systems, it is unconscionable to think that we allow people to kill them just for the perverse thrill of killing. However, the number of predators killed by these supposed "hunters" pales in comparison to the literally millions of other native wildlife arbitrarily classified as "varmints" that die because a small percent of the people in this country need to kill something.

Prairie Dog Killing Contest shooters

What I have attached here is a video clip proudly put up on YouTube of a couple of these noble hunters spending an afternoon killing and killing prairie dogs, another recognized keystone species of prairie ecosystems.  I warn you that many of the scenes are graphic and depict senseless killing of these animals. However, it is obvious that the persons posting this video and the over 300,000 views it got indicate that they see nothing wrong with what they are doing, which in itself is sad. And it is only one of many showing the same thing…killing animals just to kill them, to watch them "explode".

Prairie Dog blown away by Killing Contest shooters

 It is not the thrill of the hunt, there is no "hunting" involved, it is the thrill of watching an animal be blown apart, the thrill of killing it. Is such killing justified? Below I will try to demonstrate how this killing of wildlife just to kill defies, defiles the 7 sacred sisters of the NAM (North American Wildlife CONSERVATION Model), the supposed model for conservation of ALL wildlife. Again, I use the wording from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) so as to be sure I am expressing the hunting industry's interpretation of this sacred document.

First Sister #1:  Wildlife is held in the Public Trust, to be managed to ensure current and future generations always have wildlife and wild places to enjoy. Is it management to allow unlimited and uncontrolled killing of millions of wildlife? Is it ensuring there will be wildlife to enjoy when the objective of varmint hunting is to kill as many as one can, to eliminate whole populations? If this is management, I will have no part of it nor does it represent wildlife being held in the "Public Trust". It is allowing a small percent of the public to kill millions of animals for no other reason than to kill them. This is not what I consider being held in the public trust!

Sister #2: Prohibition of Commerce of dead wildlife, As I have argued before, this Sister has been defiled continually by the COMMERCIAL fur trapping industry. How does it apply to varmints, who are normally just left to rot where they die or piled up for the PROUD hunting picture and then discarded? My argument is that with the modern hunting industry, all hunting is commercial. Just as when the animals were killed and money exchanged hands for their corpses or parts, today money exchanges hands for the opportunity to kill them. Licenses are bought, equipment purchased, all paid for by soon to be dead wildlife. 
That is commerce.  Hunters brag that their "sport" generates billions of dollars in sales of hunting paraphernalia from clothing to guns. The entire hunting industry depends upon hunters actually killing something…dead wildlife. States themselves are the biggest violators of this sister, selling tickets to the carnage which depend on hunters being able to slaughter animals. Is that not monetary gain? Are not these animals being commercially grown just to be killed? Is that not commerce of dead wildlife? It is the same for the varmint hunting industry.

Whole magazines are devoted to this killing of wildlife. Specialized guns and ammunition are sold (to make the animals "explode"), money is made on the bodies of the millions of animals killed yearly. As with the industry as a whole, the COMMERCE of the varmint killing industry rests upon the piles of corpses of animals hunters produce, and for what reason? For someone to make money! So, there is NO prohibition of commerce of dead wildlife and this sister too is…dead.

Sister #3: Democratic rule of law, Supposedly, hunting laws are created through the public process where EVERYONE has the opportunity and responsibility to develop systems of wildlife CONSERVATION (not hunting). As there are only 6 percent of the population that hunt and thus an even smaller percent that hunt "varmints", am I to assume the other 94% or more of us condone what you have just seen on the video? Condone the senseless killing of animals just because they are there? Killing of animals just so hunters have something to do between normal killing seasons for "game" species? Yes a real reason hunters give for the killing. If there is democratic rule of law, has it ever come up for a vote? I don't remember ever voting on whether or not a few people can go out and wantonly kill off a bunch of native wildlife, for conservation??? 

More likely this uncontrolled killing of varmint species, the designation of what is a varmint, is decided by game agencies and commissions representing less than 3% of the population. Agencies and commissions that do their best to thwart the "opportunity" for everyone to help develop systems of wildlife conservation. Or ignore or circumvent the public's wishes when mandated. Where is the democratic rule of law? For "varmints" there is no democratic rule of law but rather a dictatorship imposed by the few on the many. Kiss this sister goodbye.

Coyote slaughter

Sister #4: Hunting Opportunity for all, I have argued before that this is the non-sister of the model. It is put in by those who do hunt to justify the hunting of the few and really has nothing to do with conservation of wildlife. Few would deny that hunting has some legitimacy (see Sister #5) and anyone who would want to, could hunt.  But just because there is that opportunity, taken up again by only 6% of us, does not mean that ALL wildlife should be killed! Deferring to Sisters #3 AND #5, just as there is a hunting opportunity for all, there should be the opportunity, the responsibility for all to decide what should or should not be hunted! What classifies as frivolous or non-frivolous use of wildlife. And what the majority decides should be respected by the minority! Opportunity without responsibility leads to anarchy.  Or in this case the killing of millions of wildlife for no other reason than to give bored hunters "hunting opportunities".

Sister #5: Non-frivolous use of wildlife, Of all the sisters, this is the one that has become most abused, ignored by the hunting industry. As the RMEF so clearly points out, laws should restrict the casual killing of wildlife. Further the only allowable reasons to kill wildlife is for food and fur, self-defense and property protection. Again, I have argued that including killing mammals for their fur is no different than killing them merely for antlers, horns, or feathers, reasons deemed by RMEF as unallowable casual killing. Add this to the commercial aspect of killing for fur, many have argued that including fur as a legitimate reason for killing wildlife becomes tenuous at best and self-serving to the even smaller percent of people who kill animals for their fur. Besides, according to Sister #3, society as a whole should decide if it is a legitimate reason. As for food, since most varmints are killed and left to rot, they are not being killed for that reason. Need I say more?

 For self-defense? Again, view the video, are the two manly hunters being threatened by the prairie dogs? How many people have been attacked by woodchucks, another favorite victim of varmint killers? One man boasts of killing 10,000, yes that many, ground squirrels yearly. Was all that killing done in self-defense? For food?? Lastly, property protection. This is obviously the catch-all used by varmint killers, they are somehow protecting their or some hapless farmer or rancher's property from the hordes of wild animals. One state has written in its laws that crows (another popular varmint species) can be shot on sight if they are doing or about to do damage! I guess one has to look for the evil glint in their eye before you blow them away! Also, where is the land, the property, where all this protecting is going on? Since most rural property owners don't allow strangers to come on their land with guns, most of the varmint killing is done on public land! Yes, our land. Land where we should have a say (Sister #3) if these animals are killed. Land where these native animals are actually a part of the ecosystems and where THEY should be protected!

As varmint hunting does not fit any of these criteria for non-frivolous uses (even the fur one), I can only conclude that all that killing is for frivolous reasons, making this sister indeed the most defied and defiled of them all.

Sister #6: International Resources, As this sister pertains to only those species that cross boundaries, it might not seem to apply to varmint hunting. However, the RMEF does mention state boundaries and although many of the species being killed as varmints do not cross those boundaries, the killers do. Many varmint killers take it upon themselves to rid the world of species they have declared as bad by traveling across the country, killing along the way. Some actually make a profession of it, going from one varmint killing contest to another. So, in a reverse sense, species being killed as varmints in a state are really an interstate resource. Add to that is the fact that much of the public land, especially in the west, where this killing is occurring is Federal land and these species do indeed become a national resource. As such, the consent as to whether or not they should be killed for no reason at all should not only be decided by citizens of a state but on a national level. The Rule of Democracy gives ALL of us the right and responsibility to say how wildlife are conserved on land we all own.  Do we as a nation condone such wanton killing?

Fox and Armadillo

Sister #7: Scientific Management, Here is another abused and ignored sister. Just where is the science that justifies the killing of millions of native wildlife, just for the fun of it? Many of these species, such as the prairie dog, have been shown by science to be valuable members of healthy ecosystems. ALL of these native species have evolved within the ecosystems they are found and as such are part of those systems, not to be tossed aside to rot just to keep a hunter's aim sharp for the coming game hunting season. There is no scientific justification for varmint hunting.

Setting aside the lack of a justification to kill them, where is the science that supports the uncontrolled and unlimited killing of any species of native wildlife? Where is the sustainability this Sister requires? Would we hunt more desirable species, at least for hunters, in this way? Like our ancestors did? We saw how that went! I thought we had left that primitive mentality back in the dark ages of wildlife killing! But the barbarity, the savagery, of those dark days in wildlife in the U.S. still live on in varmint hunting of today. Gun barrels still get to hot to touch as varmint hunters kill and kill and keep on killing, unable to satiate their lust for killing. Corpses of dead animals are still piled high with some sick twisted sense of pride in what has been done. These terrible old days live on in the slaughter of millions of native wildlife just because hunters feel they need to kill just to kill, feel they have the right to kill, to hell with science, to hell with the seven sisters.

In the 19th century, Passenger Pigeon sporting event

Besides being cruel and inhuman, 

Besides being cruel and inhuman, there is no reason in the NAM for hunting native animals as varmints, just for "sport".  This is not hunting it is killing, it is carnage. Such killing caters to our most base, ruthless instincts, killing just for the sake of killing. Killing for the thrill of watching something die, explode!  It really does violate all seven sisters of the hallowed NAM. And if wildlife agencies indeed are managing ALL wildlife for ALL citizens rather than for killing opportunities for a select few, they should remove the false legitimacy of this slaughter. We as citizens should make our voices heard as to whether we allow this senseless killing to continue. It is our responsibility!


The Landscape of Fear: Ecological Implications of Being Afraid

The Open Ecology Journal2010, 3: 1-7

John W. Laundre, Lucina Hernandez, William J. Ripple

Department of Biological Sciences, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126, USA.

Electronic publication date 3/2/2010
[DOI: 10.2174/1874213001003030001]

“Predation risk” and “fear” are concepts well established in animal behavior literature. We expand these concepts to develop the model of the “landscape of fear”. The landscape of fear represents relative levels of predation risk as peaks and valleys that reflect the level of fear of predation a prey experiences in different parts of its area of use. We provide observations in support of this model regarding changes in predation risk with respect to habitat types, and terrain characteristics. We postulate that animals have the ability to learn and can respond to differing levels of predation risk. We propose that the landscape of fear can be quantified with the use of well documented existing methods such as givingup densities, vigilance observations, and foraging surveys of plants. We conclude that the landscape of fear is a useful visual model and has the potential to become a unifying ecological concept.

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