Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sacrificial RAM - A story of the success of Conservation


This is one of the best articles on hunting and conservation I have read in a long time!

Sacrificial Ram

Conservation groups think they‚ve found a way to save endangered animals--by selling off the right to kill a few.

by Daniel Duane

March/April 2005 Issue

WHAT DO YOU THINK you'd feel˜you, the lover of wilderness, the Sierra Club member, the admirer of great Western megafauna˜while watching a globe-trotting millionaire gringo hunter, owner of a business with the web address, level a custom 300 Winchester Magnum on a rare and elusive bighorn ram, steady his breathing, and pull the trigger? Do you think you'd feel revulsion? Do you think the rifle's boom would violate the exquisite mountain silence? Do you imagine yourself lamenting that one fewer of those magnificent animals would animate the Baja desert?
I'm asking because I wasn't certain of my own answer, even as I hid in the red rimrock of the Tres Virgines volcano, looking into Canyon 33˜so-called by the locals because another gringo hunter once took 33 shots to get his ram down there. Nine Mexican guides, all in ragtag outfits of cast-off camo˜a green Army surplus shirt here, a Desert Storm jacket there˜were likewise huddled low, and Ramon Arce, their 62-year-old leader, was whispering to the hunter, Brian Drettmann, about which ram Drettmann should kill.
I'd never watched an animal shot in the wild, much less a rare and threatened one, and I found myself transfixed. Given the austere mountain keeps they inhabit, the eyesight that lets them see humans a mile away, and the specialized hooves that allow them to rockclimb at breathtaking speeds, not many people get the privilege of seeing a bighorn, much less killing one. In California's Sierra Nevada, bighorn are also so close to extinction that it's a federal crime just to go backpacking in their prime habitat. And now, by the grace of Arce's skill, we were all peering into the fog at 28 lambs, rams, and ewes as if they were just your average backyard deer. More astounding still, they were eating precisely the yellow desert flowers that Arce had made us all smell earlier in the morning -- „los borregos,‰ he'd said with a smile, gesturing at his weathered nose. „The bighorn,‰ he said, meaning, „They smell like this plant. I love this smell.

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