About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

6 Responses to 'Canned hunting' goes in garbage can [in Oregon]

  1. Barb Rupers says:

    It is hard to believe that American bison fall under rules of the Department of Agriculture and not fish and game. If they aren’t a unique example of native game I don’t know what is.

  2. The Buffalo Field campaign has repeatedly pointed this out, such as how ironic that the bison is on the seal of the Dept. of Interior.

    It’s a bit like having the grizzly bear on the California state flag.

  3. Howard says:

    I’ve said it before… I’m astonished how Americans tolerate the treatment of bison. I’m thrilled that the public has taken in interest in wolves and grizzlies, but baffled how we as the public tolerate treating North America’s most magnificent ungulate—and our national animal— as livestock.
    Of course… The Bureau of Indian Affairs is still part of the Department of the Interior, so I guess that if we “manage” human beings as wildlife, it’s not so shocking that wildlife gets managed like livestock.

  4. The South African writer Laurens van der Post, who was an advocate for the truly indigenous person of Africa, the Bushman, tells the story of why the Bushman had been hunted down and killed all over the African continent by both European and Bantu–the Bushman “refused to be tamed.” This is somewhat similar to former Alaska Goveror Wally Hickel’s famous statement in favor of wolf control–“you can’t let nature run wild.”

    The root of civilization is agriculture, and the goal of agriculture is to tame everything that is wild and bring it under human control for human benefit The history of civilization is mostly the history of the deliberate destruction of wild things and wild places to assuage the notion that we ourselves have become slaves. The resentment of the civilized human being for things wild is immense.

    For those of us who are hunters, we find ourselves faced with this problem day in and day out; hunting is a way to return to wild places and wild things, but most of all to what is still wild in ourselves. But everything about our so-called civilized culture makes it nearly impossible to recover that wildness without an extraordinary sense of discipline and purpose, not to mention imagination. So it is no surprise that canned hunting has become so popular; just as it’s no surprise that the most magnificent animal in North America is treated as just another cow. For the civilized mind, that’s all a hunted animal is–just another cow.

    When we consider the ancestor of the cow, the dangerous Paleolithic aurochs, which was so magnificently portrayed on the walls of caves in France, it’s obvious just how far we’ve fallen. Turning the North American bison into an agricultural product simply takes us lower in the scheme of things.

  5. Howard says:

    The need to tame all things wild and turn them into dutiful servants of humanity also explains why most of Western civilization has loved dogs but hated wolves for most of history. Wolves exhibit the characteristics humanity tends to love and admire in domestic dogs… complex behavior and social interaction, keen senses, and high intelligence (except far superior, as it is my understanding that wolves notably surpass their domestic cousins in this capacity)… except that wolves aren’t our slaves, and contradict our sense of order by existing without a “purpose” of serving humanity. This is really evident in the historical pathological hatred of wolves that went far beyond utilitarian concern for livestock.
    I too often think of the aurochs. The last aurochs died in Poland in 1627. Tragic, that the cows that are so easily “tipped” by bored teenagers are the echo of an animal once so admired for its agility and ferocity, that successfully hunting one was revered as an act of great courage and skill in ancient societies.

  6. Alan Gregory says:

    Older conservationists may remember when Reagan’s Interior secretary, James Watt, sought to change the department’s seal. The bison faces left. He wanted it to face right, as in right-winger.


November 2006


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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