Euthanasia (which means Good Death) is technically defined as a technique that causes the death of an animal while it is unconscious. For instance, drowning would not be euthanasia because the animal would be aware of its dying. But who decides what methods meet the standard? One commonly appealed to group is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)which has created guidelines that have been revised over the years. The AVMA guidelines is also a favorite of animal rights groups.
At this point you may wonder how all this impacts wildlife control. The answer is that animal rights groups have been trying to use cruelty laws written for domestic animals to apply to the capture and control of wildlife. Since some states have laws/regulations stating that wildlife control operators kill wildlife in a humane way, animal rights groups have the potential to bring lawsuits against wildlife control operators for using euthanizing techniques not allowed by the AVMA. Thankfully, animal rights groups have been generally unsuccessful in getting the legal system to apply domestic animal laws on wildlife, but if cultural trends continue, this situation will likely change.
Recently, the National Wildlife Control Operators Association was successful in publishing the results of a review panel on euthanasia techniques suitable for wildlife control operators. While the article lacks the depth of the AVMA panel reviews, this publication is a first step in creating guidelines from an industry perspective.
You can read this article entitled “Euthanasia methods in field settings for wildlife damage management” by Timothy J. Julien, Stephen M. Vantassel, Scott R. Groepper, and Scott E. Hygnstrom for yourself.
Stephen M. Vantassel was a professional wildlife control operator and now provides wildlife control information to the public at the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. He is also the author of
National Public Radio recently related a story about efforts of animal rights protest industry advocates to get Israel to ban fur. You can read the story at Israel Fur Ban
It has created somewhat of an uproar as the ban will be a significant issue for Orthodox Jews who have the tradition of wearing a fur cap. My understanding of the tradition is that the wearing of a fur cap represents the kingliness of the wearer, who on the Sabbath remembers to rest as the LORD commanded.
Of course the animal rights protest industry advocates point to Jewish tradition that forbids cruelty to animals, suggesting that the production of fur is somehow a violation of that tradition. This argument is similar to the same kind of legal nonsense employed by so-called Constitutional attorneys who claim that the death penalty was/is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. What makes the argument so egregious is its revisionist understanding of history. How could the death penalty be anti-constitutional when the founding fathers believed in its use? Likewise, how could the production of fur be cruel when Jews who wrote the tradition were involved in various forms of animal use?
But who cares about the facts? Animal rights protest industry advocates know how easy it is get a hot country with a small minority of fur wearers to marginalize “others” in the name of fake-morality. I propose that Nebraska ban ice houses. Everyone knows how dangerous they are when the weather gets warm. Do you think I can get this legislation passed?
Stephen Vantassel is the author of Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009). He also believes that animal rights poses almost as a great a threat to the environment as the hungry bull dozer.
Rolf Bouma of the University of Michigan published a review of Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009) in the March 2010 issue of ASA Perspectives in Science you can read his review at
As seems to happen so frequently with readers of my book, Bouma simply misses the point.
Here is my response which was finally published in the September issue of the Journal. I sent a copy of my response to Rolf Bouma in early April, 2010, but never received a response.
I appreciated Dr. Rolf Bouma’s willingness to review my book, Dominion Over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009) published in the March 2010 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (p.62). Reviews constitute a gift of time and as such are to be treated with respect.
By the same token, reviewers have a responsibility to be sure their comments are accurate and in accordance with the goals of the book under review. Unfortunately, some of Dr. Bouma’s statements failed to inform readers of the contours of my argument as well as the volume of evidence presented in support of my view on human-wildlife relations. I will highlight a few examples. First, he insinuated that I was unfair by calling my description of the Christian animal rights position, a “caricature.” That is quite a claim given that I engaged the Christian animal rights activists’ evidentiary appeal to three separate intellectual domains, namely Scripture, ethics, and science. In which section(s) did I mischaracterize their view? Unfortunately, Dr. Bouma did not say nor did he provide one specific instance. Second, his assertion that I failed to appreciate Linzey’s “the greater serves the lesser” argument completely missed the point of my findings (which involved a detailed analysis of his interpretation of Scripture), namely that Scripture provides no support for such a position. In fact, I go to great lengths to show that Christ, the perfect example of what it means to be a Godly and obedient human, never served animals in a manner Linzey suggests. Third, Dr. Bouma’s final paragraph leaves the reader with the impression that my Shepherdist position does not countenance limits on the human use of animals (despite mentioning previously of my support for protecting species viability). Such is clearly not the case as anyone who reads the final chapter would understand (cf. p.172). I contend that Christians are obligated to treat animals in a way appropriate to their owner, namely Christ. Ultimately Dr. Bouma’s suggestion that I engage the thought of Rolston’s theocentric view failed to consider that if my exegesis, ethical reasoning, and use of scientific evidence was correct, then obedience to God’s will as revealed in Scripture and nature is about as theocentric of a view any Christian could hope to obtain.
Regrettably, Dr. Bouma seemed to have been caught up in reacting to theological labels rather than assessing my treatment of the Biblical evidence, the only infallible source for Christian doctrine. Maybe that is why he considered my book more of an apologia rather than a theology. Apparently, he skipped chapter 1 (p.14f), where I explained why the book focused on the consumptive uses of wildlife on account of a. it avoid anachronisms and speculation because the bible mentions on these activities, and b. if humanity’s consumptive use of wildlife violates God’s perfect will, as the Christian animal rights activists claim, then a whole host of human uses of animals are in danger of being immoral as well. To my knowledge, very few environmental-theologies provide such a sustained review of the morality of a concrete, real-world practice (i.e. hunting, trapping, and fishing) followed by suggestions on how Scripture’s answer to consumptive use of wildlife may provide guidance on how humans should utilize the environment. Dr. Bouman certainly has a right to disagree with my evaluation of Scripture, ethics, and science (the last of which he offered no comment), I just wish he took the time to provide some concrete examples of where he saw error.
Stephen M. Vantassel
University of Nebraska-Lincoln