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28.5.03

Hunting Helps Expand U.K. Wildlands, Study Says

In a study published this week in the science journal Nature, scientists from the University of Kent in southeast England say farmers who hunt and shoot can help restore Britain's lost wildlife.

Government agencies have already been trying to encourage environmentally sustainable farming practices through habitat improvement grants. So far, however, success has been limited, according to the University of Kent's professor of biodiversity management, Nigel Leader-Williams.

... "According to our research, it's people involved with country sports who take up these subsidy schemes," Leader-Williams explained. "They plant new woodland because they want foxes and pheasants to live in it."


Hunters are an interesting bit of the environmentalist picture. They do a lot for the environment, as the story quoted above is not the first time I've heard that type of result. But there's an uneasy relationship with the rest of the environmental movement. The conflict with the animal rights movement should be obvious. Hunters tend to favor private, local control, in contrast to the focus of much of the environmental discourse on global governmental actions like the Kyoto Protocol (though there's an interesting, and underexploited, parallel with indigenous sovereignty movements). Perhaps because hunting is a traditional masculine activity, hunters tend to be conservative, in contrast to the leftist leanings of the environmental movement's leadership. Most interestingly (to me. at least) is the way hunter-conservationists show the virtues of practical involvement with the environment as a way to foster stewardship. This contrasts with the "wilderness" ideology (which, I hasten to add, is hardly the consensus of non-hunter environmentalists, though it is a widely-held view) that sees human involvement with nature as inherently degrading.

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