Although I love animals, I don’t consider myself an animal-rights activist. The cull doesn’t shock me: the ecosystem must keep its balance thanks to predators, which include men.
I wrote my graduation thesis on author Michel Faber, who among other things talks about the hypocrisy of who eats a packaged steak from the supermarket but would never have the guts to slaughter an animal himself. However, this dilemma can’t be solved by becoming vegetarian, because the choice – unnatural, in my opinion – of a single individual can’t change the biological reality of a race that evolved as an omnivorous superpredator and that as a matter of fact rules the animal kingdom, for better or for worse. Moreover, just because vegetables can’t scream, who can grant they don’t feel any pain? If one really wants to act with compassion towards other living beings, then for consistency’s sake they must extend the idea to all life forms. And then you die.
I remember a winter hike on Mt. Carpegna when we stumbled on what was left from the predation of a wolf. The meal, probably a roe deer, had been eaten very recently. Confronted with the horrifiying sight of the bloody remains scattered on the snow, a girl shouted: “Poor deer!”. Poor deer? And what’ s a wolf supposed to do? Maybe we could all give up on meat and become vegan,but then? Could we tell the wolf not to hunt? The perfect world those people wish for simply can’t be.
Even before Man came to spoil everything, nature was never a peaceful place. I see it as a gory and painful place, in which beings wither and die so that other individuals can live perpetuating the cycle. this obviously doesn’t mean acting cruelly, and doesn’t leave out respect.
All this introduction just to say I don’t dismiss hunting out of hand, but I can’t stand fanatism.
The resolution n.252/2014 by the Province of Ravenna, nicknamed “deer killer”, which made a lot of fuss lately and has now been temporarily blocked due to the protest, has its own reasons. The cull was seen as the only effective way to reduce the fallow deer population in the Pinewood of Classe. What baffles me, though, is the method with which it has been enforced, the superficial and hurried conduct of the local administration. Even more, I’m disgusted by the behaviour of both parties.
1) The PA
It’s ridiculous what was seen on last week’s Le Iene TV show. It showed fake fences, turrets built a few steps from the interpretation centre of a natural park, weapons with a 3 km (?!) range and high officials sneaking away through their office’s back door. Why refuse the offer of a lady who would have taken the animals and paid all expenses? What a beautiful name this lady has, by the way: Schönwald, which in German should sound more or less like “beautiful forest”. The law forbids that the deer be given to private individuals, as they are property of the State: but it also says that before exterminating them less traumatic methods have to be tried. This means capture and relocation or captivity in a suitable place, o sterilisation. Wasn’t it possible to solve this impasse with common sense? Oh right, we are in Italy: I almost forgot.
It is also true that the lady’s proposal would solve the problem only temporarily. Also, it was said that entrusting the assignment to kill the animals to the hunters instead of public officials would have been cheaper. In summary: deer are an indisposable public property and they can’t at any rate be given to private citizens, but it seems not to be a problem that private citizen are being put in charge of their killing. When something is convenient to someone, that’s when common sense prevails. Sterilization plans would have taken about 5 years: too much. But why too much, if we are in the land of bureaucracy? When in Italy red tape has ever been a problem? See how these officials become zealous and sensible all of a sudden!
2) The hunters
They seem to take hunting too seriously, using mafia-style methods like in The Godfather: delivering a deer head and throwing the carcass into the sea (found later on Rimini beach), human excrement splattered on a windshield. They reacted to peaceful protest with threats and blows. Have they forgotten it’s just a sport? They’re on the same level as hooligans beating each other at the stadium. The hurry with which this resolution was approved confirms that politicians only care about pleasing lobbies. And it also looks like an excuse to shoot at all costs. 67, I say six-ty-se-ven deer to to riddle with shot: an unmissable chance to jump at, dressing it as solidarity with farmers and concern for road accident. Also in my neck of the wood there is a certain degree of hunting frenzy, as proved by the pellet landing in my lap when I try to relax on the hammock in my garden. I’m convinced that the majority of hunters are balanced and sensible people, but today the cullers with this intimidating and grisly action missed the chance to prove that they are sane and respectful of nature, showing a childlish, fanatic attitude instead: the bloody fang is starting to show. I would revoke the arm license to anyone who does this kind of things.
3) The animal-right activists
Activists came from as far as Milan and Turin to protest against a very local issue. Stefano points out to me that there were no protests for the cull of wild boars that take place, for example, in the Casentino Forest from time to time. Could it be the Bambi effect? People are indignated for the lovely fallow deer, while the ugly wild boar may as well kick the bucket. And the crazy way they verbally assault some fishermen in that Iene report. Wrong approach: they will never make them change their mind by insulting them. Also, “murderers” is one of their slogans. But murderer is who kills a human being: who kills an animal could be called a butcher, at most. Dragging in the fifth commandment is out of place. I see too much emotionalism, humanization of animals, an attempt to equate beast and man putting them on the same ethical plane.
According to some newspapers (Il Resto del Carlino, Corriere di Romagna) they used the same methods as their opponents: beaten hunters, cars smeared with dung, cut tyres. For the record, it must be said that on the papers’ online version none of these articles dealing with the hunters’ complaint were published, but only the ones about the abuse suffered by the environmentalists. Strange way of making information! So, who started this? It doesn’t matter: they’re all wrong at this stage. The only ones to come out clean from this issue are the deer.
In such a scenario, last thursday we had the bright idea to go to our usual birdwatching spot, to find out that maybe we’re not welcome any more. A turret stands in the middle of the Ortazzino. Are they having us covered? We said to ourselves, maybe we’d better avoid the area for a while. We were afraid of being mistaken for activists and finding our tyres cut coming back to the parking. This adds up to the theft attempt we experienced in another viewing post nearby, where thieves must have gotten into the habit of following hikers and people who climb the birdwatching turret leaving the car at its base. We were not the only ones: we heard that in the parking of the Bevanella interpretation centre, photographers now leave their car open to avoid damage to car locks and windows.
And what about prostitutes who stroll undisturbed on the state road and along the river Bevano, the shady 24 hour bars ands some dodgy “hotels”?
There is more. Once we were heading to the estuary of the Bevano and we still disn’t know the entry was forbidden, so finding the road closed we asked a local man for information, and he said the area had become off limits after the arson that had destroyed part of the pinewood. While telling us the story, he seemed to suggest that the arsonist wasn’t completely wrong after all, because the fact that the estuary had been made into a natural reserve went against the interest of those who had beach resorts or tourist related business. He talked with envy of the people from Rimini who had “made money”, without anybody harassing them with this environment proterction thing. Tat guy made me shudder: could he have anything to do with the fire? Burning a wood is never right, in any case. Was he joking?
Something wrong is going on in Ravenna. There are people who don’t love their territory, and as often happens they are ruining an area with a great potential. There’s no use in promoting tourism if the environment is a horrible one in which pimps, thieves, pyromaniacs, ecoterrorists and uncivilized hunters with mass destruction weapons throw their weight around. It’s not prudery: it’s just that I want to go wherever I want without having to gear up for guerrilla. In the Po Delta Park, nutrias are not the main problem.