Over the years, countless thousands of predators have been killed in America and elsewhere, usually to protect livestock or gamebird operations’ economic interests. Among the animals shot, poisoned, trapped, or subject to alteration of their reproductive capabilities are eagles, falcons, harriers, hawks, wolves, bears, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, and a number of others.
This is in spite of U.S. Department of Agriculture data that have demonstrated relatively small actual economic impacts of these depredations, particularly in relation to the financial cost of eradicating the predators.
These programs also seem to exaggerate depredation losses to livestock producers in comparison with natural mortalities, including deaths during birthing, deaths due to exposure, and similar non-predator caused mortalities. And the exterminations occur despite programs by predator conservation groups which are willing to compensate livestock producers for the value of livestock lost to predators.
Clearly, there is some sort of society disconnect, alienation, antipathy, or enmity with wild, natural predators of the sort described above. And yet, Aldo Leopold said that wolves (and by extension other predators) trim the herd to fit the range. So, we have seen huge ecological cost to healthy ecosystems by the killing of predators and thus allowing proliferation of other predators lower in the food chain, proliferation of damaging levels of herbivory by herbivores no longer culled by predators, etc.
Compare this to a different sort of predator, a different sort of depredation — this time within the human society. The predators actions of human corporations and businesses and even nations causes far more disruption and economic loss and deprivation than wild predators ever did or could. Big banks buy up little banks and throw workers out of their jobs, sometimes to face destitution and homelessness. Big agribusinesses buy up little farms and throw the owners off their land, to face uncertain futures in cities. In the process, the corporate agribusinesses often exacerbate harmful land management practices, which lead to loss of topsoil, harmful chemical runoff into watersheds, dependence on irreplaceable fossil water aquifers, etc.
We see computer software, hardware, and networking companies engaged in predatory business practices. We see companies swallowed whole and “excess” workers regurgitated out to fend for themselves in a climate of business fear and depredation. We see economic loss to communities when predatory retail stores move into rural communities, often being offered tax advantages by local governments, and thus harming the base communities where they enter the market.
These economic losses to predatory business practices, including massive loss of tax income to federal and state authorities, far exceed the damage done by eagles and grizzly bears and wolves.
Meanwhile, the predatory businesses tend to have inordinate influence with governments, and are able to avoid regulation or implementation of anti-trust legislation. They can afford lawyers to obfuscate issues, to hide facts, to alter perceptions, and to cover their tracks.
If only wild predators were so effective!
So, while predator of control of wild predators causes ecological problems, the lack of predator control of illegal, unethical, destructive business and corporate predation causes economic damage to society. One result is the massive, long-term, structurally-designed transfer of national wealth from the many to the hands and bank accounts and portfolios of the few. The average citizen works harder and harder to obtain less and less, because the wealthy predators skim the profits from the entire economy systematically and repeatedly.
As results, we see lengthening lists of endangered species, degraded ecosystems that never heal, and a national debt that now reaches well over 6 trillion dollars. No money available to pay for endangered species listing, much less recovery — yet plenty of money for billionaires to buy off politicians and even war with far-off nations for their natural resources.
We need predator control, but not the sort we have been getting, in my humble opinion.
The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.