Recent organized kill parties of coyotes and wolves have circulated on social media like an epidemic virus. Large coyote hunts in New Mexico and Idaho, private and state-organized hunting events of wolves in several western states, and the recently publicized role of the federal government ‘Wildlife Services’ in blanket extermination of all large mammalian predators, demonstrates and increases awareness of our attitudes and behavior toward predators in our ecosystems. Many issues are layered at all levels: scientific, public attitudes, industry (ranching), and public policy.
Historical and recent approaches have demonstrated that simple education is insufficient and ineffective. Underneath current attitudes of predators and predation is an old and ingrained hate and fear of the ‘top of the food chain’, except for one species: Homo sapien. The roots are cultural, historical, social, psychological and religious (yes, it’s roots in part come from religious doctrine). Until we can rid the demon inside us, so to speak, reception to scientific evidence for the beneficial role of predators, and attempts at reasoning and rational discussion on how to live with other natural predators (which, in all biological sense, humans are the ultimate predator) will fail.
This Thursday, January 9th, Science Magazine online hosts a live chat with guest speakers: an ecologist and an environmental scholar, also a lecturer in environmental ethics. Participants can pose questions to the host and guests.
“What is it about large predators that makes them so important in ecosystems? How can we ensure their continued survival in a world with increasing human encroachment? And what would a world without predators look like if we fail?”
Join in on Thursday at 3 p.m. EST on the linked page for a live video chat. Leave questions for the guests in the comment section below the announcement. Readers here are invited to make comments here on this blog page for possible discussion, too.