Ronda Roaring: Aldo Leopold No Environmentalist

Aldo Leopold, best known for his posthumous book A Sand County Almanac, is widely viewed as the father of wildlife ecology.

Among other things, Leopold played a crucial role in the successful proposal to designate the Gila National Forest as a wilderness area in 1924 — the first time an area was such designated.

No matter, for animal rights activist Ronda Roaring the issue is quite simple: Leopold hunted, so he can’t have been an environmentalist,

Aldo Leopold was not an environmentalist. He enjoyed killing animals and was pro-hunting.

The problem, of course, is that Leopold was not an animal rights advocate, and animal rights is in clear and direct conflict with environmentalism.

A major part of Leopold’s life work was managing and restoring ecosystems which necessarily means managing animal populations therein. Leopold, however, was an opponent of excessive hunting such as eradication efforts aimed at wolves.

Today the conflict between animal rights and environmentalism usually becomes most clear when animal rights activist oppose culling some alien species that is threatening an endangered native species, especially on island ecosystems, or oppose animal testing to better understand the risks associated with chemical compounds both to human beings and wildlife.

An ethic that holds each animal as a full rights-bearing creature is incompatible with an ethic that attempts to manage larger systems.


Comment on Aldo Leopold. Ronda Roaring, April 13, 2005.

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