Historical Attitudes and Images and the Implications on Carnivore Survival. (Opinions)

By Berg, Karlyn Atkinson | Endangered Species Update, July-August 2001 | Go to article overview

Historical Attitudes and Images and the Implications on Carnivore Survival. (Opinions)


Berg, Karlyn Atkinson, Endangered Species Update


Abstract

This paper examines how mythological images and historical attitudes emerge and influence our interactions with different predator species, such as the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), cougar (Puma concolor), lynx (Lynx canadensis), wolf (Canis lupus), coyote (Canis latrans), and raven (Corvus corax). The author will compare the relationship between humans and carnivores, and how attitudes and beliefs have impacted different predator species. Do people regard certain carnivores as more fierce, dangerous, or problematic ? Is there more animosity and disparate levels of hostility or tolerance toward the different carnivores? Have these attitudes influenced concepts and ethics applied to wildlife management? How is the value of predators measured, considered or applied? Can understanding the different perceptions help resolve complicated issues, such as reintroduction, critical habitat, depredation conflicts, animal damage control, and management? The author believes scientific knowledge is not enough to achieve acceptance of carnivores. The purpose of this inquiry will be to discover if knowledge and education can develop understanding and tolerance of all predators, and thus enhance the commitment to co-exist with carnivore species

Mythical images and historical attitudes may still influence human interactions with carnivores such as the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), cougar (Puma concolor), lynx (Lynx canadensis), wolf (Canis lupus), coyote (Canis latrans), and raven (Corvus corax). The earliest historic records, creation stories, and fables were examined. Notably, at the advent of agriculture, Akkadian literature delineates the split between humans and nature, and the god Ea predicts that from this time forward, nature will be hostile to man. He asserts that lion, wolf, famine and plague will not be removed from humankind's dilemmas, but provided "to rise up and cut the people low" (Gardner 1984). This division between wilderness and the tamed domestic lands that humans seek does seem to have taken place, and remains a current conflict among predators, wilderness advocates, and ranchers.

Historical attitudes and cultural beliefs have impacted many different predator species. From Viking bearskin wearers to the arrival of humans in the New World, most carnivores continued to meet the same fate. Most of the legends revolve around the fear of wilderness, the idea of good and bad animals, and the need to remove all that stands in the way of progress. Species with fang and claw that hunted the good prey (which humans wanted for themselves) are traditionally described as the bad animals. The predator is reduced to the status of marauder and thief, and hence subjected to extermination.

Do people regard certain carnivores as more fierce, dangerous, or problematic? Some species have been described with more vivid hostile imagery that did not reflect actual biological evidence of their threat to humans, but had more to do with deeply rooted bias and mythological symbolism.

The cougar is commonly described as the coward. Theodore Roosevelt described a cougar he had treed as "the big horse-killing cat, the destroyer of the deer, the lord of stealthy murder, facing his doom with a heart both craven and cruel" (Danz 1999; Worster 1977; Roosevelt 1913). The cougar is repeatedly described as a cunning, merciless, and sneaky cat. The portrayal is made with little concern that a trait like stealth is a necessary ability to survive as a cougar, and has little to do with intentions of mere cruelty for cruelty's sake. Predation is often perceived as murder, not as a pursuit of food.

The bear, however, is characterized more in terms of admiration, combining descriptions of its savageness with the animal's almost human dignity. Descriptions such as "unbelievable size of the brute" and "lordly intelligence" (Young 1980) serve as examples of the bear's more dignified status among the carnivores. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Historical Attitudes and Images and the Implications on Carnivore Survival. (Opinions)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.