'The Land Ethic' and Our Relationship with Carnivores

| 11/3/2015 9:16:00 AM

Tags: Aldo Leopold, conservation, wildlife, wildlife management, predators, books, Geri Vistein, Maine,


In my last blog post, I shared with you the importance of knowing the carnivores with whom you share your farm.  But there is another knowing that is important as well ~ knowing your place in the land community. So how do you see yourself in relationship to the land on which you farm? How you see yourself in that relationship determines how you farm and how you relate with all other life that shares your farmland with you.

Aldo Leopold, a forester, a farmer, a hunter, a philosopher, and father of wildlife conservation wrote of "The Land Ethic" in his renowned book The Sand County Almanac. Central to the land ethic is the community concept. These are his very words: “In short, a land ethic changes the role of homo sapiens from conqueror of the land community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

When Leopold speaks of the community, he does not reserve that word for the human community alone, but for the larger community of life that goes beyond our species. When he speaks of his fellow-members, he does not point out only certain ones, but refers to all of them.

This way of knowing one’s place within the community of life is a far cry from the manner in which European settlers saw themselves in relationship to the new American continent. And as I discussed in my first blog detailing a historical perspective, their behaviors followed that perception of how they viewed themselves. Our generation is at a crossroads between these two perspectives of ourselves and our relationship to the land.

A major red flag will point out to the farmer where in this continuum he or she stands. The red flag ~ How do you look upon carnivores?  Again, Leopold’s words defining the Land Ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community; it is wrong where it does otherwise.”

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