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On “Scientific Wildlife Management”

A press release by the US Sportsmen’s Alliance dated yesterday regarding the Endangered Species Act (there’s an Oversight Hearing tomorrow) captures the purpose of "scientific wildlife management" in a way only a press release writer could. For those who think me obsessive about language, this communique is a flawless defense of my preoccupation.


Congressmen Again Turn to USSA
For Expert Testimony

(Columbus) – The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), the nation’s premier organization in defense of hunting, fishing, and scientific wildlife management, has again been asked by federal lawmakers to weigh in on problems with the Endangered Species Act.

United States Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, has scheduled a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee to investigate the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The hearing has been titled, “ESA, Science or Politics?” 

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the ranking minority member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Henry Brown, R-South Carolina, ranking minority member of the Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, have invited USSA Director of Federal Affairs William Horn to provide testimony.

Horn will provide the sportsmen’s perspective, and will draw from his experience as the former Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks during the 1980s. He will be one of two witnesses invited to the hearing by Republican leaders.   

Horn will explain that the ESA’s “sloppy language” allows decisions that are based on sound scientific data to be challenged in court.

For example, in February, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the abundant Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves from the endangered list. It determined that recovery efforts have been successful and the animals are no longer threatened. In late April, animal rights groups filed a federal lawsuit against the service, challenging the scientifically established delisting. The ESA’s vague language allows a judge to decide the agency’s authority to delist the wolves.

“Animal activists are not interested in species recovery,” said Rick Story, USSA senior vice president. “They want to use the ESA as a tool to force a hands-off approach for animals. The USSA is working to ensure that science will prevail over politics.”

Horn and the USSA are also taking the Interior Department to task for its proposal to list polar bears as threatened despite their growing numbers.

The department proposed the listing after several environmental groups threatened to sue the government. If the Fish and Wildlife Service does list the polar bear as threatened, polar bear research and conservation dollars will be eliminated because hunting programs that fund the efforts will be prohibited.  The Canadian government and the state of Alaska also oppose the listing. 

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organization that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs.  For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website,


The US Sportsmen’s site is a must-read for anyone interested in animal rights. I’ve never thought of my animal rights position as "politics," and I welcome anyone to explain why it is or isn’t. I think of it as my personal ethic. Perhaps calling it politics and then pitting it against science is a strategy to minimize its larger significance by the sportsmen. After all, who can argue with science (aside from creationists/intelligent design folks).

But those who claim that science is the basis of their argument, are merely using their manipulation of wildlife as the "science" to back up their own political argument. (They should be in charge of collecting fees for hunting, and those fees fund their "research," which informs the infamous list and tells them whether to decrease or increase the number of animals allowed to be killed). There is nothing scientific about it, unless you consider the mathematics of counting the animals, and the subsequent rationalization a science. It is a system for providing funds for itself and animals for hunters to kill. I would love to see the scientific formula that justifies human intervention and manipulation of the life cycles of wildlife.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cláudio Godoy #

    I have to disagree with you at one point. Animal rights is a political issue in the same way the abolition movement of human slavery was. Of course it has to do with morals, but it's not a matter of personal ethic or personal choice. After all, a slave owner could always say that owning slaves doesn't affect his personal ethic.

    May 8, 2007
  2. I don't disagree. And I like your slave owner analogy. I always thought my ethics were LARGER than politics and MORE IMPORTANT (politics has always been a derogatory term in my mind and experience). This stems from my status, since birth, as an outsider and a square peg. I've never considered myself part of "politics," (or any other mainstream construct) but the reality is that everything is politics and politicized and we cannot escape it. And when there is at least one Animal Rights Party (in the Netherlands), that clearly tells me that the rest of the world–including animal people–sees this as a political issue.

    May 8, 2007
  3. Cláudio Godoy #

    Thank you for answering. It must also be observed that morality is not a scientific issue in a sense of a law of physic. If you have the power to kill for pleasure, to rape and to enslave other people, you can go ahead, because you won’t be stopped by a lightening in your head (although I wouldn’t complain if it actually happened). And from a purely scientific point of view, it would be much more accurate to do biomedical research with human beings to discover the cure for human diseases. Morality is a social construction and all we animal people are trying to do is to achieve justice through its consistent and logical application.

    May 8, 2007
  4. I've addressed objective morality before, and it's an interesting topic. What do you think, Claudio: Is there such thing as right and wrong? Killing without necessity is morally unjustifiable, right? But is that a social construct? Isn't it a (intrapersonal) psychological one? Does/can morality come from the outside–from society–when there would be no society to reach consensus on anything without the individual? I've yet to feel comfortable with morality as objective (even if it is mine that's in question), yet it can be as dangerous as moral subjectivity (like if someone doesn't agree with me). Too many people have written me to say morality is fact-based and its origin is the Bible (I'm not kidding), and that scares me. Yet, I'm as certain about what I believe is right and wrong as they are, but my beliefs come from my reasoning, not from any outside dogma. I'm going to blog on this soon, and I always appreciate your input (Claudio and everyone else–even Anonymusher!)

    May 8, 2007
  5. Cláudio Godoy #

    Is there an absolute definition of right or wrong? If one being has subjectivity (so this being by definition must be sentient), this creature can have good and bad experiences. The concept of morality only can exist if you are able to recognize the fact that other creatures than you can also have good and bad experiences and if you care at least about one of them.

    Due to different cognitive abilities or cultural background, the other sentient beings that one sentient being can consider as moral patients may vary. But if you are able to reason in the same way functional human being can do, there is no way to be selective without being arbitrary, because ALL sentient beings have the ability to have good and bad experiences.

    So if you care at least about one sentient being other than you and logic means something for you, you must extend your moral horizons to all sentient beings, even if you really don’t care about them. That’s why morality should always be based on reason than emotion, even when emotion (caring about someone) is your primary motivation.

    But if you choose to not care about anyone other than you and to do whatever you want to the others to have good experiences, there would be absolutely nothing illogical about that. But I wouldn’t want you to be my neighbor.

    May 8, 2007

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