Rewilding Revisited

BY NIGEL BEAN

According to several internet sources the phrase ‘Rewilding’ first appeared in 1990 and was written by a man called Dave Forman. He was a founder member of Earth First!, a radical group promoting sabotage as a weapon of intimidation against large corporations accused by the group of damaging the earth and plundering its resources. Dave Forman was inspired by a novel concerning itself with the use of sabotage to protest at environmentally damaging activities in South West USA. The novel called the ‘Monkey Wrench Gang’ influenced the phrase ‘monkey wrenching’ and has come to signify sabotage, activism, law-breaking and even law-making to preserve the environment and eco systems. The influence of the ‘monkey wrench gang’ on Dave Forman was such that he was credited with co-Authoring a book advising would-be saboteurs on how best to sabotage.

One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s perpetrator of terrorism and it was for the latter Dave Forman found himself accused by the FBI. He was arrested and charged with conspiracy after a powerline feeding a water pumping station was damaged. He was given a suspended sentence. Dave Forman left Earth First! in acrimonious circumstances over claims of his sexism and racism. He now sits on the board of the wildlands project and – with fellow board members – started the Rewilding Institute.

‘Rewilding’ in the UK should be viewed as nothing more than a manifestation of the belief amongst left wing conservationists and animal rights fundamentalists that in the UK wildlife manages itself. This belief was nothing more than a manufactured idea to obtain a ban on fox hunting. It appears to have been the brainchild of the vehemently anti-hunting Professor Stephen Harris – the head of the mammal society at Bristol University.

Harris needed a very simple idea that involved negating the notion hunting with hounds is in anyway necessary or needed for killing foxes. So, he put forward the concept of eliminating man out of the equation altogether as if the human race did not exist and through biological factors foxes control and regulate their own numbers. This idea was promoted at symposiums held around the mid 1980’s by the Mammal Society and the UFAW (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) of which the proceedings were made available in a document called the ‘Humane control of mammal and birds’ and notably influenced very powerful allies such as the RSPCA. Funding was then provided at various stages from 1990 onwards from the RSPCA and IFAW to Professor Stephen Harris to promote through largely non-peer reviewed reports this new idea to the public and politicians. Crucially, the manufactured idea gained credibility amongst left wing radical professors and so began the propagation amongst the left leaning universities of Great Britain. The indoctrination had begun and, not before long, a new generation including soon-to-be politicians were leaving university believing foxes control their own number.

Of course any legislation to ban hunting needs political backing and the Labour Party were targeted with many small donations which soon amounted to a considerable total. The donations were made by League Against Cruel Sports throughout the eighties and soon Labour only had an ear for anti-hunting groups. Naturally the manufactured idea of wildlife managing gained prominence throughout the Labour party and once in power from 1997 their members of parliament in prominent positions of authority could influence and propagate the idea of wildlife managing itself with the motive of banning fox hunting.

Elliot Morley was a fine example, a minister at MAFF (Now DEFRA), vehemently anti-hunting, vegetarian, a member of the League Against Cruel Sports, and member of the RSPB. Morley (later jailed for his errors in the MPs’ expenses scandal) received money for a secretary from IFAW. In a presentation Morley gave a PAWS seminar back in 2000 in which he informed the audience wildlife does not need managing.

Notably, at the Portcullis hunting hearings in 2002 chaired by Alun Michael, this idea was put forward again by the left wing academic world, Professor Andrew Linzey of Oxford University informed the hearing of his belief,

‘I do not accept we have an obligation to police nature, we have an obligation, I think, to leave them alone as far as possible, except when our own previous interferences cause problems. We have an obligation to leave them alone and to disrupt their lives as little as possible.’

The whole notion of foxes controlling their own numbers is totally without credibility – look at how they were nearly wiped out in the lowlands of Britain in the seventeenth century. Only when they had a sporting value did their numbers increase through habitat management and protection. One Lord even paid for a man to watch over his coverts to prevent theft of foxes.

The same goes for all wildlife. There is not an area in the UK that is not managed in some way. ‘Rewilding’ is just another excuse to start a charity and make money for certain individuals. Next, they will be lobbying Government and wasting money from the public purse. Great conservation work is already taking place the length and breadth of the UK and ‘Rewilding’ is simply not required.

Nigel’s articles can be read in full here at the Aldenham. 

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