Monday, November 17, 2008

Two stories of overpopulation

Indiana has had a problem with the deer overpopulation in the state parks and forests. When the deer, which no longer have natural predators here, become too numerous, they destroy the vegetation. The solution has been to close the state parks for a few days and allow hunters to kill deer.

Meanwhile areas of the west have a problem with horse overpopulation on public lands. When the horses (and burros) become too numerous, they destroy the vegetation and habitat. The solution has been to round up the horse and let people adopt them. Some that cannot be adopted become wards of the state.

Some obvious questions: Why not have a horse hunt? Does it make sense to protect horses in the wild given that they are an invasive species, not native to the habitat? Does it good policy to spend $38 million a year managing a "wild" horse population of 30-35 thousand? Why should it be illegal to butcher horses for meat? Why do we seem to demand different treatment for animal species that we view as pets?

1 comment:

Michael J Oakes said...

Killing of deer, regardless of an arbitrarily defined "over" population problem, cannot result in anything but bad karma. A deer is life. It doesn't deserve death at our hands.

It can't be coincidence that we are killing increasing numbers of deer as a financial crisis has descended upon us.