Magazine article Geographical

To Kill or Not to Kill?

Magazine article Geographical

To Kill or Not to Kill?

Article excerpt

I think it's fair to say that we're rather conflicted when it comes to the killing of animals. It's fine if they've been reared en masse for our consumption, but we become more squeamish if they're running around in the wild (page 32).

The problem is that we've done so much to alter natural ecosystems that many of them can no longer function without some sort of human intervention. And that often means culling populations that are growing too large--an activity that a lot of people seem to find repugnant, even though the alternative is often large numbers of animals dying slowly of starvation.

Australia offers numerous case studies for this phenomenon. One of the most pertinent is the culling of kangaroos. When British settlers started to establish themselves in Australia, they did what came naturally to them--bringing over cattle and sheep to farm. This meant clearing huge tracts of forest and, as this land ran out, moving into the country's dry heart. There, the livestock's sharp hooves did enormous damage to vegetation more used to the soft pads of kangaroos and other native mammals. …

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