Predictable attack on private ownership

Not a recent sign in Ohio as far as I know,
but don’t you just wish it was? 

The slaughter of dozens of lions, tigers, bears and wolves set free from a private Ohio farm has sparked calls for restrictions on the largely unregulated ownership of exotic pets in several US states.
Police in Ohio shot dead almost 50 animals in a frantic hunt after the owner of an exotic farm freed the dangerous animals and then killed himself.
The bloody toll – which included 18 endangered Bengal tigers – has sparked outrage from conservationists, who say it should be a call to action against private ownership of exotic animals.

No argument from me, this is sad. I don’t know the ins and outs of this story, why the guy kept all these dangerous animals or why he set them loose before topping himself, but the unnecessary loss of 18 individuals of a species numbering only a couple of thousand or so – plus the other animals – is a bloody shame. That said I don’t think I agree with the conversationists and anyone else whose knee jerk response is not just sadness but outrage and the stock statist cries of ‘It shouldn’t be allowed’ and ‘There ought to be a law against it’. Yes, there are all sorts of practical problems to keeping an animal in captivity, and the bigger and stronger and more fearsomely armed it is the greater the problem and the expense needed to tackle it. A dog and two cats? Easy. Fifty or so assorted large predators? Different ball game.

Easy? You’ll pay for that in your sleep, Exile.

And yet should that alone be a barrier if someone has the resources needed? Sure, if you live near a private zoo and the lion keeps coming over your fence and taking a dump in your veggie patch there’s an issue, but isn’t that sort of thing what tort law is for? Wouldn’t it still be an issue if an animal escapes from any other zoo, private or public owned?

Not only that but banning private ownership means losing one of the advantages of private ownership – property rights. Think about who owns all the endangered species in the world. Generally it’s nobody, isn’t it? Oh, states and governments and maybe monarchs might claim ownership but even then for all practical purposes there’s no real owner, and if the animal is either a resource itself or getting in the way of a resource someone else wants to get at then tough. This is tragedy of the commons stuff, and the way to avoid it is private property rights and the threat of someone coming along and suing the arse off anyone who causes damage or loss, i.e. hurts or kills, that animal.

Take the unfortunate Bengal tiger, for example. Wikipedia suggests that the principle threat to its survival is poaching for skins and body parts, which sounds plausible enough. But what if the tigers were all or mostly privately owned? Wouldn’t the owners take steps to protect their property, and if the tigers had value (this is distasteful but presumably the tiger doesn’t need its skin, teeth, bellend or whatever after it’s carked it from natural causes, so is there still a problem with trading in parts then, and if so is it different from telling the doctors they can harvest a dead relative for organs even though they didn’t have a donor card) wouldn’t they also encourage the tigers to make lots of little tigers and feed them up to make even more little tigers, and so on? Yes, you could simply hack up all your tigers now for a quick buck, but every half competent owner would be aware of the downside of killing the goose that lays gold eggs or at least understand the principle. Most owners would want to maximise their return and keep up the supply, which in turn means wanting there to be as many tigers as the market can cope with (and can safely be accommodated without eating said private owners, of course).

Now I agree that it’s a little weird and not a little nasty to think of encouraging a trade in tiger bollocks or rhino lips or shark earlobes or whatever, and certainly my inner and not quite dead lefty is wailing something about the humiliation of noble beasts for profit, but you know what? Fuck it. If it means not seeing the Bengal tiger go the way of the Tasmanian tiger wouldn’t it be worth it?

Really the only concern should be whether or not private ownership would work, and for that I suggest we look at species which are largely in private ownership and see if any are endangered. And as far as I can tell the world isn’t exactly short of cats, dogs, horses, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys…..

Advertisements

Posted on October 20, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Predictable attack on private ownership.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: