Discover more from Jared Kukura
Trophy hunting supporters will be remembered as science deniers
History won't be kind to those that promote killing living beings for fun.
I hear a common theme when I talk to conservationists about trophy hunting. Many conservationists on both sides of the debate believe that the trophy hunting industry’s declining public image will render it obsolete.
That raises an interesting question – How will history remember trophy hunting supporters?
I believe we will come to regard trophy hunting supporters as science deniers. I understand that some conservationists may find this conclusion uncomfortable. But there is ample evidence showing little or no difference between trophy hunting support and the science denial perpetrated by tobacco and fossil fuel industry proponents.
Much of the science denial dirty work was conducted for the tobacco and fossil fuel industries by free market think tanks that argued government regulations to exaggerated environmental problems were a slippery slope to communism. Think tank economists played an instrumental part by claiming that neoliberal policies like deregulation and privatization would solve environmental crises.
Free market think tanks and their members teamed up with seemingly respectable scientists to conflate political opinions with scientific facts. Science deniers derided people who exposed the tobacco and fossil fuel industries as Marxian, emotional, and unscientific.
This story roughly repeats itself when we look at trophy hunting support.
While many people know of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s science denial on behalf of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, few people realize that the free market think tank was one of the first organizations in the United States to support trophy hunting as a conservation tool. It promoted trophy hunting in a book that defended capitalism from environmentalists’ imaginary concerns.
It regularly platformed International Union for Conservation of Nature members who lobbied for trophy hunting as a conservation tool under the banner of sustainable use. CEI Board Member Ike Sugg also enjoyed a seat on IUCN’s North American Sustainable Use Specialist Network steering committee.
Op-eds and academic papers that defend trophy hunting often include economist Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes. He was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the UK’s leading tobacco disinformation and climate denial free market think tank.
[Read more about Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes’ work with science deniers here.]
IEA featured his paper that argued trickle-down economics would benefit poor people living near rhinos alongside the think tank’s climate denial content. He is now a Research Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, an American free market think tank notorious for climate denial.
University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit Director Amy Dickman is arguably the most vocal trophy hunting defender in the scientific community. She was listed in PERC’s people section and frequently defends trophy hunting with Sas-Rolfes and former PERC Research Fellow Catherine Semcer.
[Read more about how Amy Dickman obscures the truth about trophy hunting here.]
Semcer joined Dickman’s WildCRU while leading PERC’s Wild Africa Initiative. Semcer’s WildCRU research appeared to be an extension of PERC’s initiative given that they both entailed using fine-scale assessments to studying commercial interests’ impacts on anti-poaching efforts.
[Read more about Catherine Semcer’s troubling connections here.]
I exposed the trophy hunting industry’s disinformation campaign and its attempts to fund biased research. Trophy hunting supporters labeled me an “eco-Marxist” and unironically lumped my work with climate denial.
It took decades for the public to recognize tobacco and fossil fuel industry proponents as science deniers – it’s only a matter of time before trophy hunting supporters face the same fate.
This is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.