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Australia Chooses Contracepting Over Killing

In "Scientists Hope for Kangaroo Contraceptive"  (AP, 08/23/06), Rod McGuirk reports that Australia is responding to the overpopulation of kangaroos by developing an oral contraceptive. The government "is reluctant to use shooters to thin the kangaroo population becaue of the risk posed to humans in built-up areas and the cruelty objections raised by animal welfare groups," writes McGuirk.

Field tests will begin in two-to-five years, so it’ll be a handful of years before the program is in full swing. Still, it demonstrates that Australia is receptive to alternatives that don’t involve hunting and killing the kangaroos.

Contraception has also been successful in combatting the overpopulation of elephants in areas of southern Africa since 2000. Furthermore, in Africa is the Living with Elephants
foundation, which "fosters harmonious relationships between people and
elephants," through outreach and education, and by developing
strategies that reduce conflict.

Here’s my question: Why can’t we do the same thing?

Let’s deconstruct:

  • I’m sure there are education programs here in South Florida, but they clearly aren’t reaching as many people as they could.
  • The government doesn’t have much incentive to broaden the reach of the programs. Outreach and education are line items on a budget: they COST money. Meanwhile, selling hunting permits and licenses are INCOME for the government, and don’t take nearly as much manpower.
  • Developing contraception would involve research that COSTS money. It’s another expense on the budget, AND it takes time. Killing the alligators doesn’t take an ounce of state-manpower because the public does it, and evidently has tons of fun in the process.

The conclusion I’m forced to reach, is that morality and ethics simply aren’t a concern in the way we here in the USA, as a culture, deal with wildlife. We treat wildlife just like any other commodity, to manipulate and use in the way that serves us best, and is least expensive.

It might seem like the easiest way to deal with the situation, but the easiest way often costs more in the end. And I’m not talking about money.

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