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.

Indiana Couple Challenges State's Hunter Harassment Law

Frederick and Rosanne Shuger are appealing an Indiana judge’s ruling on that state’s hunter harassment law, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The Shugers stand accused of interfering with a deer cull on property owned by the town of Beverly Shores, Indiana, numerous times over the past couple years. According to the Northwest Indiana Times, the couple show up in their car prior at the beginning of the deer cull and,

They allegedly yelled obscenities, slammed car doors, belw the vehicle’s horn and alowed a dog to bark, all actions that could scare away the prey.

The Shugers’ attorney, Garry Weiss, argued before Superior Court Judge Julia Jent that the charges should be dismissed on constitutional grounds, but the judge denied the motion. Weiss has now appealed that decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Shugers also claim their right to free speech is violated by the statute.

The Indiana statute looks pretty solid, saying that anyone who

knowingly or intentionally interferes with the legal taking of a game animal by another person with intent to prevent the taking commits a Class C misdemeanor.

So the Shugers could show up outside the cull and hold up signs protesting the hunt, they could hand out leaflets opposing the cull — but they can’t knowingly or intentionally make a lot of noise in order to scare off animals. That seems like a pretty straightforward definition.

Weiss’ claim that the the statute is vague makes about as much sense as a poacher claiming that Indiana’s statutes don’t adequately define what it means to illegally “possess” an endangered animal.

The full text of Indiana’s hunter harrassment law is available here.


Hunter harassment law faces challenge. Bob Kasarda, Northwest Indiana Times, May 6, 2003.

Deer culls must proceed unhindered. Northwest Indiana Times, May 9, 2003.

Courts in New Jersey, Illinois upholds hunter harassment statutes

In separate cases appellate courts in New Jersey and Illinois have upheld statutes
designed to prevent anti-hunting activists from using protests to disrupt hunting.

In the New Jersey case, three New Jersey residents were represented by Anna
Charlton and Gary Francione of Rutgers Law School. Their lawsuit contended that
the statute unconstitutionally restricted the three resident’s right to free
speech. By restricting where and when the activists could protest against hunting,
the lawsuit argued, the state of New Jersey was unconstitutionally impinging
on their right to express their views to hunters.

The appellate court upheld the statute so long as it is used to establish standards
on the time, place and manner of anti-hunting protests rather than being used
to quash all anti-hunting protests altogether. As the court put it,

[t]his construction places a reasonable limitation on the reach of the Hunter
Harassment Statute in that it circumscribes the area where protesters may
not be free to express their anti-hunting ideas, while preserving areas outside
the immediate proximity of the hunting grounds for that purpose . . . By defining
interference as a form of physical impediment, coupled with the general and
specific intent requirements that solely implicate conduct, the statute is
not an overboard regulation of First Amendment rights.

In the Illinois case, a court there granted an injunction to the Woodstock
Hunt Club in Woodstock, Illinois, to bar members of the Chicago Animal Rights
Coalition from protesting on the road outside the club using megaphones, air
horns, sirens and other noisemaking devices. Chicago Animal Rights Coalition
member Steve Hindi was arrested in 1996 for flying a motorized paraglider over
hunters in order to scare away geese. Hindi was arrested and eventually sentenced
to probation for violating the hunter interference statute.

Previously the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a portion of the hunter interference
statute that unconstitutionally regulated the content of anti-hunting protests,
but upheld the portion of the statute that set time and place restrictions on
anti-hunting protests.

Which seems like an excellent compromise to me. Certainly animal rights activists
should have the right to protest hunting and to communicate their opposition
in public. On the other hand, this right to protest can be accommodated while
also preserving the right of hunters to hunt without activists intentionally
disrupting them.