Every species needs the cultural knowledge passed along by its mature members.

The BC province deserves to be criticized for expanding the big horn sheep hunt.

The province says that “.. even if all the rams with full curl horns were killed, enough older rams would remain in the population for breeding purposes.”  But a model of wildlife management that simply claims “enough” boy animals and girl animals will keep populations at a particular level is ill informed.  It doesn’t account for the knowledge that is lost when the most virile and experienced members of a group are eliminated.  Yet this happens time and again, particularly with respect to the largest “trophy” animals that are hunted for their horns, tusks, heads or impressive size.  Their bodies are eliminated; and so is their wisdom!

There’s a point to be made here that keeps getting missed, which is that the cultural knowledge of mature members of a species is essential to their group. This is true for big horn sheep, elephants, grizzlies or humans.

A recent article in the magazine Anthropocene addresses current research into the importance of cultural knowledge that is passed down in ungulate populations; research that holds equally true for all species.  How on earth can species navigate the shifting challenges they face if the cultural wisdom of their most mature members is eliminated in the cross hairs of weapons and ill-considered policy decisions?

Population science is an expedient means to an end but not a model for the health of a species.

 

 

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