• Hunt Farms

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    Quick,
    why do you call left-wing environmentalists watermelons? Because
    while they are green on the outside, they are also red on the inside.

    No
    better illustration of this political mindset can be seen in the
    present controversy involving hunt farms in Canada. In these game
    ranches — now legal only in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, they
    have just been banned in neighboring Montana — fees are charged
    to customers who shoot deer, elk and sometimes other such trophy
    animals.

    But
    the watermelons are livid at the prospect. A spokesman for the International
    Fund for Animal Welfare is trying to ban these enterprises in Alberta,
    now, and Saskatchewan is his next target. The group People for the
    (so-called) Ethical Treatment of Animals considers these game farm
    practices cruel and immoral. Other left wing environmentalists characterize
    them as lacking any challenge, akin to shooting fish in a barrel.

    But
    what is it with this emphasis on sportsmanship, of all things? Cows,
    chickens, sheep and pigs are not given a "fair chance"
    to escape from the "hunt" for them in the stockyards of
    the nation. If hunters want a sure thing, why should this be of
    any concern to those claiming to be advocates for the environment?

    Are
    these watermelons in favor of playing games by the rules or preserving
    endangered species? If the former, then they should cease and desist
    all further fund raising activities, for these are intrinsically
    fraudulent. In any case, all hunting, whether on game farms
    or in the wild, is necessarily unfair, at least when done with guns.
    To make it a real sporting event, even bows and arrows give the
    humans too great an advantage. In athletic games, the goal is to
    achieve competition between at least rough equals, so that no one
    knows, beforehand, who will win. To attain this level of an even
    playing field, the homo sapiens should be allowed no more than short
    knives with wolves and bears, and animals of their ilk, and nothing
    more powerful than, say, a baseball bat or a spear with deer and
    elk. Then, as back in the cave man days, the animals would have
    a "sporting" chance.

    If
    the latter, then very much to the contrary of their practice, the
    interest of those presumptively concerned with the environment should
    be to protect animals. Thus, the question to be asked is
    not how big must the private game preserve be so as to allow
    adequate cover and protection for the animals, but rather whether
    this process will reduce, or enhance, the chances of survival for
    these at risk species.

    When
    put in this manner, there can be little doubt of the effect of these
    enterprises on the long-term survival probability of deer and elk.
    They will be positive, very much so. For the prices these farmers
    can charge the hunters will give them every incentive to make sure
    that their meal tickets never vanish. The going rate for a medium
    sized elk is $7,500; for a large one, up to $15,000; and for an
    exceptional bull, no less than $35,000. If there were any farmer
    foolish enough to allow his "seed corn" to vanish in an
    orgy of greed for present profits, he would soon enough be forced
    into bankruptcy. Survival in this industry means, above all, not
    allowing young female animals, particularly pregnant ones, to be
    harmed. As in the case of domestic animals, those most at risk are
    females past child rearing ages, and almost all males. This, in
    sharp contrast to the hunt for animals in the wild, where just about
    anything goes.

    The
    free market environmentalist (not an oxymoron) point is that if
    you want to preserve species, benevolence, even coupled with wise
    government regulations (when is the last time you saw one of those?)
    is not enough. If you want to get the job done, as Adam Smith saw
    over 200 years ago, you have to make in the financial self-interest
    of entrepreneurs that this be done.

    Nor
    should this insight on species survival be limited to deer and elk.
    Not even to bears, wolves and lions. More exotic animals can also
    be helped out through the magic of the market, including rhinoceroses
    and elephants. Yes, the barnyard in these cases might have to be
    a bit bigger, and the surrounding fences a lot stronger and probably
    electrified to boot, but game farms for them, too, are the only
    guarantee we shall continue to have them available to us.

    Whales
    and other fish present a bit of a greater intellectual challenge.
    But any species that can land one of the own on the moon can surely
    come up with electrified fences and other aqueous counterparts of
    barbed wire, to keep a bunch of fish in their places. Only then
    can private owners of the denizens of the deep have the financial
    incentive to protect them — at a profit.

    With
    this bit of economic analysis under our belt, what can we make of
    the efforts of so-called "environmentalists" to oppose
    hunt farms, a program so clearly in the interest of endangered species
    survival? In a word, it is hypocritical. It would appear that their
    hatred for capitalism is stronger than their desire to protect deer
    and elk. They ostentatiously attempt to hold high the green flag,
    but their actions belie this, and instead bespeak their internal
    true red colors.

    August
    3, 2001

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