Consider the ant by Ed Boks

Ancient wisdom tells us to “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)

Conventional wisdom tells us that two heads are better than one.  Yet, on an individual level two heads will often butt — and we are told that when resources are scarce, competition is better than collaboration.

In a recent study published by Nature, a biologist looked to the ant to help understand how cooperation may have played an important role in the development of civil societies. Continue reading “Consider the ant by Ed Boks”

Advocates for Snake Preservation by Ed Boks

Imagine a world where snakes are respected and appreciated instead of feared and hated.

I recently became aware of an organization that I am so excited about that I want to immediately share my find with you.  Advocates for Snake PreservationASP, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way people view and treat snakes

Continue reading “Advocates for Snake Preservation by Ed Boks”

When it comes to pit bulls, how stupid are we? by Ed Boks

Collage by Beth Clifton

Every year, ANIMALS 24-7 conducts a national dog-breed survey.  The results of the 2018 survey were just released.  As interesting as the data collected by the survey are, I was particularly struck by a rather provocative proposition posed by Merritt Clifton, the editor/reporter of ANIMALS 24-7 and this survey.

Before exploring the thought provoking proposal, let’s set the stage:

The survey found that as of mid-June 2018, nearly 15% of all the dogs available for sale or adoption in the U.S. were pit bulls.  With that kind of market presence, one might conclude pit bulls are pretty popular in the U.S.  However, Mr. Clifton has another explanation. Continue reading “When it comes to pit bulls, how stupid are we? by Ed Boks”

Why killing coyotes never works by Ed Boks

Allen “Big Al” Morris has a record four World titles. – Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi/NPR

NPR’s All Things Considered recently published an article, Coyotes In The Crosshairs describing how over the past century killing coyotes has become a competitive game that today is celebrated in the World Championship Coyote Calling Contest.

The article details how the blood-thirst for coyotes originated with “the arrival of European-American settlers in the early 1800s.  Coyotes and wolves took the opportunity to expand their diet to livestock. And for decades, the federal government actively encouraged the extermination of predators.  That policy pushed wolves to the brink of extinction, but the wily coyote managed to thrive and spread pretty much everywhere. To this day, the government hires hunters to manage coyote populations and protect livestock in many states. And around 70 years ago, ranchers started to host coyote-hunting competitions.”   Continue reading “Why killing coyotes never works by Ed Boks”

Traditional and Compassionate Conservation: a study in terror and mercy by Ed Boks

Predator/Prey – The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves

I’ve been devoting a considerable amount of time to understanding a rapidly growing international and cross-disciplinary movement called Compassionate Conservation.

This movement promotes the protection of wild animals as individuals within conservation practice and policy – using four guiding principles: 1) First, Do No Harm; 2) Individuals Matter; 3) Value All Wildlife (which I took the liberty of expanding to Value All Life; and 4) Peaceful Coexistence.

While watching the (recommended) documentary, “Predator/Prey – The Fight for Isle Royale Wolves” it occurred to me a fifth element might help better define Compassionate Conservation as a discipline, and not just a philosophy.  That element is “Stewardship”. Continue reading “Traditional and Compassionate Conservation: a study in terror and mercy by Ed Boks”

Can Compassion be our Compass? by Ed Boks

Do Conservation Strategies Need to Be More Compassionate?

In a recent blog I asked if traditional conservation science is a pathological disorder.  I provided some anecdotal evidence that seems to suggest this discipline is driven by an obsessive belief that the environment can be, indeed must be, restored to an idyllic, Eden-like state at any cost – including, and perhaps even preferring, the killing of anything that gets in its way.

The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies picked up on my question in an article in their YaleEnvironment360  titled, Do Conservation Strategies Need to Be More Compassionate? Continue reading “Can Compassion be our Compass? by Ed Boks”

Compassionate Conservation: a “woke” discipline by Ed Boks

We’ve come a long way since renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner (1974) opined that animals are “conscious in the sense of being under stimulus control”.

Skinner’s view was not much of an advance from Descartes’ (1650) philosophy which stated animals cannot reason, do not feel pain and although they are living organic creatures, they are simply automata, like mechanical robots. Continue reading “Compassionate Conservation: a “woke” discipline by Ed Boks”

Is traditional conservation science a pathological disorder? by Ed Boks

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Is traditional conservation science a pathological disorder driven by an obsessive, distorted belief that the environment can be, indeed must be, restored to some idyllic, imaginary state of being at any cost including, and perhaps preferring,  killing anything that gets in the way?

Sound over the top?

The question occurred to me while reading Marc Bekoff’s May 17th article in Psychology Today titled, “Killing Animals Is ‘Weirdly Addictive’ Says New Zealander: New Zealand’s brutal war on wildlife relies on kids and adults to meet its goals

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pathology as something abnormal, or the deviation from the normal, so as to give rise to social ills.  Using this definition, is it not fair to ask if traditional conservation is pathological?  Does traditional conservation give rise to social ills? Continue reading “Is traditional conservation science a pathological disorder? by Ed Boks”

Is compassion ever misplaced? by Ed Boks

Peter Fleming

A recent (May 23, 2018) Invasive Species Council blog takes aim at the “rapidly growing international and cross-disciplinary movement” called Compassionate Conservation” – a movement that promotes “the protection of wild animals as individuals within conservation practice and policy”.

The blog is titled “Compassionate conservation or misplaced compassion”.  The author is Peter Fleming, an ecologist who works on the biology, ecology and management of invasive predators and their prey.  He is also Adjunct Professor of Ecosystem Management, University of New England and Principal Research Scientist with New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Having spent “a career trying to undo the damage caused by invasive introduced animals to the Australasian environmental and agricultural values”, Fleming’s concerns deserve serious consideration. Continue reading “Is compassion ever misplaced? by Ed Boks”

Is the Theory of Everything Compassionate Conservation? by Ed Boks

Physicists search for a Theory of Everything

For decades, physicists have suggested a “Eureka” moment is just around the corner.  A moment when scientists will produce a Theory of Everything – a simple, unifying equation that explains all the mysteries of our universe.

It is with that same sense of “Eureka” awe that I believe I have stumbled upon an equally stupendous theory – an “environmental” Theory of Everything, if you will – a simple, unifying theory that makes sense of all the dynamic mysteries of our planet, from flora and fauna biology, ecosystems, native and invasive species, to feral cats – and even the role humans play in this drama. Continue reading “Is the Theory of Everything Compassionate Conservation? by Ed Boks”