Sunday 26 November 2017

How the brown bear became public enemy number one in rural Romania


A year ago the technocrat environmental minister, Cristiana Pașca Palmer, brought in a law to make hunting bears illegal in Romania. She said that under European law “hunting for money was already illegal”, which seems to me undemocratic - why should countries not decide for themselves? 
The idea that hunting was acting to protect citizens from bears was, she claimed, just a cover for money making. 

Foreign conservationists across the world applauded. Romanians who lived in the countryside did not. A lot of Romanians have been killed or maimed by bears.

As a result a movement have sprung up, centring on the Szecklerland, the ethnic Hungarian region in the Carpathians, to make killing bears legal again. This article in the Guardian has the story (seen from the NGO, not the peasant, point of view).

In the 12 months since the ban, a movement calling for the widespread culling of bears has grown and gathered momentum, tipping the bear question over
from political discussion into what the movement’s leader, Csaba Borboly, describes as “something like a war.” Borboly is president of Harghita county, a predominantly ethnic Hungarian region tucked into the foothills of Transylvania, an area of dense forest and precarious farmland in which people and carnivores have coexisted uneasily for centuries. It is here that the presence of bears is most keenly felt – almost everyone has a story to tell about the animals, from the woman who explains how in spring this year she woke up in the night to find a 200kg brown bear sniffing around her toilet, to the hundreds of farmers who approach the government each year for compensation over lost livestock and crops.

A British Green friend of mine and I were just discussing this and I said I'd happily kill a lot of bears to save one human life. 'I wouldn't.' It turns out he thinks a bear life and a human life are of equal value.  He worries about Nazis and emphatically does NOT worry about abortion.

I wonder how many British people agree with him and know several left-wing women who do.

A lot of left wing friends think they are being progressive when they say that animals are of as much value as humans. They have in mind bears and giraffes, not rats. I think this attitude is very wicked. It is found on the far right too. That fat old man Goering cried whenever one of his dogs died.

John Aspinall, the incredibly right-wing gambler and zoo owner, was one of many who worried about overpopulation while saying things like 

The extinction of animals and plant species and the depletion of non-renewable resources are irremediable crimes.

Sir David Attenborough and many other zoologists feel the same way.

The same people almost always worry about climate change and often urge Europeans to have fewer children. Before the Nazis made the idea unfashionable, they would have been eugenicists. 

In England people have become very opposed to hunting, especially hunting foxes which is now illegal, though in America they are not. Opposing cruelty to animals is a good thing, but it can go to far. Hunting requires many traditional virtues and was until fairly recently admired.  Read descriptions of hunts in Tolstoy, Turgenev, Trollope and Ernest Hemingway.

Sentimentality about animals is a bad thing when it means lack of respect for human beings (think African villagers who fear attacks by lions) and for hierarchy (the hierarchy in the universe that places man above brute) - and for reason (men have it, animals don't). 

This sort of sentimentality seems to me to be linked with the urbanisation, feminisation and, most of all, secularisation of Western societies. People care about animal lives who are in favour of abortion and euthanasia.

How many bears would I kill to save one human life? I think there is no upper limit. Do you agree? 

If I were to say 'to save one child's life' does that make a difference?


  1. "That fat old man Goebbels cried when one of his dogs died."

    I don't recall Goebbels being fat.

  2. Men and beasts struggling for life like in Jack London novels. I think is a false problem. It is not like bears are killing people and sieging villages. First at all the deforestation created problems for bears by limiting their possibilities to survive.That’s why bears were pushed to lowlands. It is not that are to many bears but to little forests.

    Generally bears avoid people, so this must be one good reason for “close encounters of the third kind”. Rezolving this issue means eliminating the premise of the “bear problem”

    Secondly, in mountain/forest areas there is a normal interpenetration between humans and animals. Very seldom are serious incidents. Exaggerating the matter almost certanly means a bad solution to it.

    “I said I'd happily kill a lot of bears to save one human life.” sounds a lot like “ I would forbid cars to save human lives”.You ‘ll tell me that cars bring a lot of benefit to men and I reply that a healthy enviroment enhaces more vitality and life of the same people.

    Hunting is a an naturaly (good) activity but with the premises of respecting the complex natural equilibrum. What’s the gurantees that all hunting permits have this perspectiv? No one.

    Beasides, hunting permits for highest bider dosen’t seem fair nor to manly.

  3. How many bears would I kill to save one human life?

    Assuming I could press a button would I exterminate 10,000 bears to save the life of my own children? Absolutely without hesitation. To save the life of a complete stranger from Burkina Faso or Qatar? Absolutely not and I would not even consider it for a second. The extinction of an interesting and attractive animal species is a worse tragedy to me than the death of someone I don't know. What if that person was a convicted child rapist? I would not kill even one bear to save that person's life. It would not even be a dilemma. The point is that it would depend on the value of that person to me.

    1. A friend of mine tonight said that unfortunately the world is run by people who think as you.

    2. Ok so let me get this straight, you are saying that you would destroy the entire world population of bears in order to save the life of one random dude in Indonesia? Thats what I take "no upper limit" to mean. I find it strange that you think this yet you complain about mass migration and its deleterious effect on British culture and standards of living. The migrants are here in Europe because people with your excessive concern for preserving human life everywhere run the world. For decades they have sent Western food and medicine to save starving Africans which has resulted in artificially ballooning their population to more than their economies can sustain. And then when the economic migrants get here we send the navy to go out to rescue them and bring them here because of course, they're homo sapiens so we can’t just let them drown even though they are criminal trespassers here to compete with us for our land. Really if you were consistent you would be celebrating what is happening to Europe because it is the consequence of your "every human life is sacred" view. I think you dont want to admit it though.

    3. "I find it strange that you think this yet you complain about mass migration and its deleterious effect on British culture and standards of living." I have not complained about mass migration and immigration's deleterious effect on British culture and standards of living. I argue that mass immigration should be ended now, which is a different matter. The African population has grown for many reasons, not artificial ones; one is prosperity, which in turn is caused by many factors.

      I cannot imagine a situation where the choice was between the entire bear population and one human life. I admit I am more moved by preserving old buildings than bears. William Golding, an old bore, said that one should unhesitatingly sacrifice Salisbury Cathedral for the life of a child. I find this thought much harder than sacrificing a gross of bears.

    4. It's not because of prosperity it's because more people are being born into a stagnant world and Africa is consequently massively overpopulated. This is because of Western help in sending aid and medicines. If people who thought as me ran the world, this aid would be banned and African countries would be forced to institute strict one child policies. This is not happening and nobody is even talking about it. Population growth is slowing in other parts the world but not in Africa where it is set to quadruple to 4 billion by the end of the century. If you think African migration is a problem now what do you think it will look like in 30 years?

    5. The problem is terrifying but it is not starving people who migrate. As African countries become more prosperous far more people seek to emigrate.

    6. Africa is not stagnant but experiencing extraordinary economic growth.