Rewilding Europe – Making Europe a Wilder Place

Source: Rewilding Europe – Making Europe a Wilder Place

Mixed feelings about this, to be honest. I am, as a rule, in favour of restoring habitats and ecosystems; however, I am less sanguine about European folk leaving the land and congregating in cities.

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In defence of blood sports – Epigram

Blood sports. An unethical, unsustainable stain on the landscape. Blasting defenceless animals out of the sky. Sounds harsh right…?

Source: In defence of blood sports -Epigram

More on field or so-called “blood”-sports, from a British perspective:

It is not a question of human rule and dominion but a case of stewardship. I am deeply concerned about the environment – I wouldn’t splash out on free range eggs or endure the seven hour train journey instead of a flight home if I didn’t – but providing species as a whole are conserved I won’t lose sleep over the death of an individual animal.

And if anything, shooting offers a more honest relationship between man and beast than the average consumer could ever hope to have with their beef lasagne (or was it horse?)… When you eat game meat you know where the animal has come from, how it was killed and that it enjoyed a free and wild life – something that cannot be said for much of the meat coming through our industrial abattoirs and supermarkets.

Indeed!

I am reminded of one of the great Aldo Leopold’s essays in his seminal A Sand County Almanac, “Wildlife in American Culture,” where he notes the value of hunting, as inculcating both knowledge and respect for the food chain – much diminished if the only thing we are “hunting” for is the best price on styrofoam-and-plastic-wrapped supermarket meats – and what he calls “split-rail value,” or anything that reminds of of our national (or more broadly, cultural) origins and evolution.

Hunting, and related disciplines like fishing, trapping, etc., are not the only ways to inculcate these values, of course, but they are particularly poignant and visceral means of doing so. They allow the practitioner to be a participant in what is sometimes called “the circle of life,” rather than a mere observer of it, in a way which no other activity save agriculture can do. And of course, farming (or gardening) and hunting are two activities which have always been very closely linked, in human history.

The whole question of field sports is made out to be a class issue. It isn’t. It is a city vs countryside issue.

I am sure the majority of those 80% who condoned the fox hunting ban were city dwellers with little appreciation of the tradition hunting carried for hundreds of years. ‘Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t mean it’s right’ I hear you say, so let’s look at it another way.

To people in the city, who have never come close to anything wilder than a cat, the concept of an aggressive fox seems alien, but in the countryside, foxes are vermin. Straight up. They terrorise lambs causing real damage to farmers. Growing up in the countryside, foxes were not some fluffy creature. They were the stuff of nightmares, crawling into the chicken run and butchering the lot for fun.

Unfortunately many people, both here and abroad, have grown up with a more-than-a-little “Disney-fied” version of how the natural world works. I have spent years working and teaching in environmental, outdoor, and conservation education, and I can assert with 100% confidence that predator (including foxes, coyotes, and even those adorable “masked bandits,” raccoons – ever seen one ticked off? they’re not adorable then!) numbers need to be controlled, to limit the spread of disease and protect domestic animal populations.

And prey animals (“game animals,” to us) need to have their numbers controlled, also – especially in the absence of “top predators” like wolves, bear, and mountain lions – to avoid overpopulation, resulting in starvation, disease, etc. In a totally natural environment, absent the influence of human beings, of course, that would not be necessary; nature would maintain the balance – but the means it would use, namely the aforementioned tools of predation, starvation, and disease, are hardly cute and cuddly. Again, this is not “Bambi,” this is the real world.

Again, those who are opposed to field sports like hunting (“shooting” and “stalking,” in British parlance), trapping (more of an economic activity than a sport, per se), and mounted foxhunting tend to have an excessively romanticized, fictionalized view of the world. It is particularly ironic when those opposed to field sports are willing to eat packaged meat! Such animals frequently live much worse lives, and suffer less humane deaths, than those hunted ethically (poaching, of course, cannot be defended under any circumstances).

Finally, from a philosophical viewpoint, the reality is that we are not separate from Nature, either above or below it; we are part of Nature. We may have abilities of self-reflection, cognition, and communication that are greater than our fellow-creatures, but we are still what Leopold called “plain members and citizens of the land community.” And we are, biologically and evolutionarily, predatory omnivores, like raccoons, opossums, and bears. Pretending otherwise is dishonest, and does both us and our fellow-citizens of the land community a disservice.

Unless we evolve the capacity to photosynthesize, we will be dependent upon killing something – whether animal or plant – to survive. And what many people do not realize is that vegetable production, even organic vegetable production, is not benign. Many animals are displaced or killed to plant, cultivate, harvest, and protect those fields of greens, roots, and other veggies. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, please be clear-eyed enough to realize that this choices does not remove or immunize you from the deaths of animals, it merely makes those deaths less visible.

(Just as “Leave No Trace” camping relies heavily on extractive industries to produce the synthetic materials, stove fuels, etc., that replace more traditional camping techniques… but I digress.)

We cannot escape from our mutual interdependence on the rest of the natural world, and we cannot escape from the fact that a portion of that interdependence requires us to kill in order to survive. We may as well – in my view – do so in a way which is ethical, and which teaches us other lessons about the proper way to interact with the rest of the rest of the natural world, and with each other.

This state school in England teaches kids how to shoot, and to gut and cook pigeons.

Source: Channel 4 News | Facebook

Amazing state school in the UK teaches children from “a varied demographic,” most of whose families are on various forms of social assistance, how to shoot, hunt, dress and cook the game they take, and otherwise function effectively in the outdoors.

The video shows them gutting squirrels, plucking pigeons, splitting wood for the fire with a mallet and fro, and cooking and eating the proceeds.

The most dangerous thing you can do to a child is to not expose them to an element of risk and danger.” – Mike Fairclough, Headteacher, West Rise Junior School, who adds that “If children are excited about coming to school, if they’re being inspired and enthused by being outside, then that has an impact back in the classroom.”

The school gets the best exam results in the area, and won the 2015 T.E.S. Best School of the Year award, according to the video. “Teaching the children to shoot is controversial,” the video notes. “But the school argues it teaches discipline and responsibility.”

“The cotton-wool culture of Britain has got a little bit out of control,” Fairclough comments, referring to the modern desire on the part of many – schools, parents, media, etc. – to wrap children up and insulate them from many of the realities of life. “It’s only really peoples own sort of limiting beliefs, and a few media myths that people have invested in, which have stopped children from having these sorts of activities.”

Kudos to Mike Fairclough and West Rise Junior! You’re doing it right.


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Wendell Berry on children and Nature

More excellence from Artaman: The Hyperborean Garden… and this time, author Wendell Berry, one of my favorite writers!

“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”

– Thomas Berry


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Prince Charles’ letters reveal a quirky, old-fashioned brand of conservatism

The ‘black spider’ letters show that Charles is a good sort of prince

Chaz

Source: Prince Charles’ letters reveal a quirky, old-fashioned brand of conservatism

Okay, I am starting to feel better about the prospect of Charles becoming King when — may the day be long delayed! — Her Majesty enters into her eternal reward.

“Prince Charles is his own kind of conservative: an ecological preservationist, an arch-traditionalist, and a tiller and keeper of the soil, rather than a devotee of capitalistic creative destruction… Prince Charles’ conservatism is characterized by “trusteeship,” rather than the more modern concept of ownership. The latter assumes that the possessor of a property is entitled to extract all its market value, even if it destroys the use of that property and its goods for all posterity. Charles, ever a royal, allies himself to posterity’s interests…”

“‘On a moral and spiritual level, Charles believes that civilization isn’t sustainable unless humanity finds a way to live in balance with nature. For him, climate change is the ultimate judgment on a civilization that has rejected limits and fetishized economic growth and material prosperity over spiritual values.’ [The American Conservative]”

Proof positive, as if any were needed, that traditional / conservative values and sensibilities are by no means incompatible with — still less opposed to — a robust concern for this good earth on which we live, and on which we are utterly dependent for our continued survival and well-being.

A few more quotes from the article cited:

“The monarchy’s sympathizers might say that it is precisely because Charles’ position is partly insulated from corporate interests and moral fads that he is able to take a longer view of issues related to England’s countryside, its architectural patrimony, its historical sites, and the environment.

“Far from revealing an overweening royal authority or a disconnected left-wing scion, Charles’ letters show a gentle, far-seeing, if unfashionable monarch. In a sense, Charles quietly exercises the highest role a monarch can play in the modern administrative state. He is an insistent voice for tradition’s value to posterity, and an advocate for the men (and fish) that the market, or the bureaucratic state, would overlook and destroy.”

God save Prince Charles!