The cultural attitudes toward native wildlife differ from region to region. Some wild animals, no matter how pestilent, are considered sacred in some cultures, which usually means that exterminating them is highly frowned upon. For example, in Japan, both foxes and deer are regarded as sacred animals due to their strong association with Shintoism. This is especially the case when it comes to deer, as one town in Japan, Nara, is home to more than 1,200 free-roaming Sika deer. For centuries, the residents of Nara have allowed native deer populations to live free without being subjected to inhumane population control measures. Needless to say, the Japanese are not big fans of venison. In places like Australia and New Zealand, where wildlife habitats overlap with human habitats to a potentially dangerous extent, hunting and killing animals is generally more acceptable than it is in most other regions of the world. In New Zealand, the population has eagerly prepared for total war with numerous pest species that have been invading urban areas for years. These pests include mice, rats, stoats, ferrets, weasels, possums, hedgehogs and any other native pest that is unlucky enough to wind up clasped within a snap-trap. This wildlife extermination campaign won’t endear New Zealanders to PETA, but the kids are eating it up.
For several months, a wildlife extermination project has been underway in Taranaki where residents have long been terrorized by wildlife invasions. The extermination project is called “Towards a Predator Free Taranaki 2050”, and it is being paid for with 11 million dollars in government funds. Officials with the project have waged a nation-wide and aggressive recruitment campaign that targets all types of New Zealanders, including elementary school-aged children. In order to liven up the wildlife extermination project, officials have created a website where each citizen can post and compare his/her amount of wildlife kills, and this website is proving to be popular among the nation’s youth. Eight year old Cory Barrett looked forward to bagging a variety of different animals, and all of his traps are set, but sadly, Cory is discouraged by the lack of kills under his belt. But nine year old Samantha Bentall is having much better luck, as she has managed to trap and kill 30 rats. Samantha claims that trapping animals can be stomach-turning for some people, as she claimed to have found rats that had become decapitated in traps, and she found one rat that had its eyes eaten away by ants. So far, 27 elementary schools have signed on to take part in the massacre, and many more are expected to join. This wildlife extermination campaign is already showing progress at preventing animals from infesting homes and inflicting ecological damage. Best of all, it has strengthened social ties in New Zealand.
Do you believe that the wildlife extermination campaign in New Zealand is necessary, inhumane or both, or neither?