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By Lawrence W. Reed

Every day the world over, good intentions cover up a multitude of sins.

A visitor from another planet could hardly fail to notice that humans seem to care more about motives than results, and when results achieve the opposite of the intended effect, we’re rarely as quick to reverse course as we were to embark on the wrong path in the first place.

“God save us from people who mean well,” wrote the novelist Vikram Seth in A Suitable Boy.

This is not to recommend bad intentions, but rather, to recognize that good ones can be even worse, depending on outcomes.

Among the latest victims of good intentions are the foxes of Great Britain (the four-legged kind). A story written by correspondent Hayley Dixon published in the The Telegraph on Tuesday reveals a “catastrophic decline” in fox populations since the 2004 passage of a ban on hunting them. Red foxes in particular face extinction in certain rural areas.

More than 100 veterinarians from around the UK have signed a letter which points out, “Advocates of the 2004 ban on hunting would not have expected their efforts to protect foxes to result in this catastrophic decline.” Oops.

Prior to enacting the ban, Parliament spent 700 hours debating it. That was more time than it deliberated over the invasion of Iraq the year before. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair went along with it, but in his autobiography six years later, he revealed that the Hunting Act of 2004 was “one of the domestic legislative measures I most regret.” On a vacation in Italy a few years after its passage, he ran into a lady hunter who persuaded him that the ban was a mistake:

She took me calmly and persuasively through what they (the fox hunts) did, the jobs that were dependent on it, the social contribution of keeping the hunt and the social consequence of banning it and did it with an effect that completely convinced me.

Nearly 20 years since the ban took effect, and 13 years since Blair saw the light, the ban is exacting a terrible toll on the fox population.

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What went wrong?

The activists and the “armchair authorities” in Parliament, it turns out, had commissioned no scientific research on the question. Fox hunts were bad, no fox hunting would be good. Such virtue-signaling beating of the breasts was enough to pass a law. But farmers, livestock ranchers and homeowners vexed by predatory foxes took matters into their own hands. Dixon’s article in The Telegraph cites the veterinarians in their recent letter:

The most humane method of controlling fox numbers should be based on selection for the weakest animals, minimizing the possibility of wounding and preventing the orphaning of dependent young. Perversely, hunting with hounds was much better at achieving this than any of today’s legal methods. The number of foxes killed in hunts was limited and the hunt dispersed the foxes that survived from sensitive areas…It is dispiriting that two decades ago, the debates on fox hunting were driven overwhelmingly by political instincts, and the need for scientific research was scarcely considered.

In the US, we’ve seen a similar effect from the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It’s called “shoot, shovel and shut up” because of the law’s perverse incentives. John Stossel provides details in this short but revealing video.

So before you embrace a course of action, no matter how emotionally convinced you are of its inherent virtue, it’s almost always a greater virtue to set your passionate intentions aside for a moment and consider what the results might be. Facts can be inconvenient and humbling too, but they trump intentions every time. To reinforce the point, here are a few further observations:

Without wisdom, all the good intentions in the world amount to nothing. Intending to do good without having wisdom is like intending to fly an airplane with no knowledge of airplanes or the laws of aerodynamics. Good intentions without wisdom lead to either nothing or to actual evil ― Dennis Prager

And good intentions? These scared him the most: people with good intentions tended not to question themselves. And people who didn’t question themselves, in the scientific world and beyond, were the ones to watch out for ― Shanthi Sekaran

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth C. S. Lewis

 

Lawrence W. Reed is FEE’s President Emeritus, Humphreys Family Senior Fellow, and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty, having served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is author of the 2020 book, Was Jesus a Socialist? as well as Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction and Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. Follow on LinkedIn and Like his public figure page on Facebook. His website is www.lawrencewreed.com.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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83 COMMENTS

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  1. Hitler was a vegetarian and was also against hunting. The same for the anti fox hunters as well.

      • The fox says thanks. Now I can eat you garden plantings. I can attack your cats and small dogs. And if I feel like it, I can even attack your small children. And perhaps give them rabies.

        • And since you don’t hunt me, my population will be decimated just as it was in England.

          Are there such a large number of fox attacks on children that it presents a significant health hazard? Or is it as rare as being hit by lightning — which can really screw up your day?

        • Man, I do not know about foxes here in the US. What I see on the road indicates we use highways for fox population control.

          I do know coyote attacks are becoming a real problem in places that do not allow their hunting.

        • Pirate: The problem with coyotes is that hunting pressures results in larger litters. That is why it is so difficult to eliminate them even in urban areas. The more you kill, the more they breed. So said a scientific study. (The same study showed, from examining stomach contents, that coyotes will eat literally anything.)

        • Mark, would you have a link to that study? I would be very interested in reading it.

        • Mark and Pirate,

          Don’t know the specific study Mark’s referring to, but I’ve read a couple, years ago, that were similar. Never bothered to copy them, because when I started law school, I was first interested in doing Property and Natural Resources Law (until I found out how bloody boring it was!!). For one of my classes, I was required to attend a “public comment” session for BLM/Dept. of the Interior on a new proposed regulation to allow “bait traps” for coyote control.

          To say the least, comments were many and passionate, on both sides. One particular gentlemen intrigued me – a crusty, weathered old Park Ranger (wearing the old school “Smokey the Bear” hat), who didn’t get to comment until near the end of the night, so he’d heard most of the sturm und drang. His comment was simple, and utterly convinced me: “I’ve been a Ranger around these parts for more’n thirty years. I’ve seen coyotes hunted with dogpacks, on horseback, from Jeeps, and from helicopters. They’s more damn coyotes know than there ever were, and they’re bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter. Hunt ’em any damn way you like, you ain’t never gettin’ rid of ’em.” I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud.

          Most “ecologists” don’t know diddly squat about actual ecology. The Sierra Club, in particular, is an agenda-driven farce. Most hunters know more about the animals they hunt, their habitat, their numbers, and the overall “herd health” than all the college professors and grad students ever hatched.

    • “Hitler was a vegetarian and was also against hunting”

      According to Albert Speer and several other biographers it is a myth that Hitler was a vegetarian or opposed to hunting. Meat, especially ham and Bavarian sausage, was a regular part of his diet. He was also known to eat wild game if it was killed humanely.

      • “Meat, especially ham and Bavarian sausage, was a regular part of his diet“

        So he didn’t observe the kosher dietary restrictions…

        • Or the halal dietary restrictions, either, @$$clown. Were you trying to make a point, or just mouthing off without substance, as usual??

      • Near the end of his life, Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) followed a vegetarian diet. It is not clear when or why he adopted it, since some accounts of his dietary habits prior to the Second World War indicate that he consumed meat as late as 1937. In 1938 Hitler’s doctors put him on a meat-free diet and his public image as a vegetarian was fostered, and from 1942, he self-identified as a vegetarian. Personal accounts from people who knew Hitler and were familiar with his diet indicate that he did not consume meat as part of his diet during this period, as several contemporaneous witnesses—such as Albert Speer (in his memoirs, Inside the Third Reich)—noted that Hitler used vivid and gruesome descriptions of animal suffering and slaughter at the dinner table to try to dissuade his colleagues from eating meat. An examination carried out by French scientists on a fragment of Hitler’s skull in 2018 found no traces of meat fibre in the tartar on Hitler’s teeth.

        • @dacian

          Given that his policies resulted in starvation for multitudes, his foregoing meat likely served as a political lightning rod.

          Ditto the Norko dictator who claimed that he never pooped because he “only are exactly as much as needed.” The takeaway being that if you were still pooping, you were eating too much. This while subjecting his population to Maoist famine policies.

          All criminals are not Leftists, but all Leftists are criminals.

  2. But the feelings!?!??! THE F E E L I N G S !!!!!!!!!!!

    I don’t want the foxes to go extinct but I really want the fair-weather enviro’s and sadistic PETA crowd to feel like complete and absolute shit for living their knee-jerk, short-sighted emotionally driven lives.

    • The first time I saw raccoons on my property, Mrs Haz saw them, too. A family grouping of three adults and three weaned young. The smaller ones were playing on the lawn and looking oh-so-cute. So I left them alone.

      A few days later, they returned and absolutely destroyed that lawn. I mean shredded it while looking for grubs. Then shredded the adjacent lawn the next night. I ended up having to completely remove and re-sod both lawns, at considerable effort and expense.

      The next Spring, the ‘coons came back and started their damage again. I sprayed them in the face with a garden hose. I yelled and chased them. I set out a large cage trap (to relocate any of them elsewhere). No success. I finally shot one in full view of the others, and the survivors finally got the message that Haz was serious. They left and I didn’t see them again.

      …until the next Spring. The thing is, young raccoons grow up into large ones and have their own babies, and when they get thirsty, they remember the tasty grubs and ample sprinkler-fed water at your home, so they bring their new group with them and tear things up. So I had to shoot another one.

      Long story short, every year end up shooting rabbits or raccoons that enter my property and refuse to leave things alone, despite my attempts to dissuade them. There are soooo many here, they are considered vermin.

      Captive-born raccoons (or space-faring Guardian variety) are cute, and likely could be good pets. But adult feral ones are irritable and destructive. “Feelings” don’t protect my property and pocketbook from them.

      • Skunks were grubbing up my wife’s garden. She was not amused. They were doing it at night. They would tunnel under our fence and then grub away.

        After trying to cover in the tunnels and even jamming bricks in I hit on the idea of large rat traps laid broadside at the base of the fence at known tunnel routes.

        A couple of paws feeling under the fence getting snapped and the skunks stopped coming around.

      • Dont take my threats of releasing the “Coons of Doom” lightly, us critters are going to have our revenge.
        Humans

        • jethro,

          Would you prefer “Crackers of Doom”?

          Just askin’, for a friend.

          (I really wanted to ask about “Beaners of Doom”, but I KNEW that would get moderated!).

        • Lamp. In my years I have been called racial slur words. Mostly ‘honkey’.

          Never been called a ‘cracker’.

        • jethro,

          My family is from the south, so I’ve heard just about every racial slur there is, from BOTH sides. Been called a cracker a few times. Been called “ofay” and “whitey”, and a few others I can’t remember right now.

          Never much cared for racial slurs, going either direction. OTOH, as Robert Heinlein said, “Insults are like alcohol – they only affect you if you accept them.” Feel free to call me anything you like – if it’s true, I shouldn’t get offended, and if it’s not, I should just laugh at you.

          That’s been working for me for about 70 years, now.

      • I Haz a Question,

        When I was in high school, a raccoon family kept tearing into our garbage cans and leaving a huge mess in our yard–a huge mess which I had to clean up.

        One summer night after dark (and after school was out), I was up kind of late and had my bedroom window open. I heard a noise out at my garbage can. So I went outside with a flashlight and my Marlin Model 60 semi-automatic rifle (chambered in .22 LR). When I approached the garbage can, two or three raccoons scampered up our short pine trees. I shot all of them. Then I looked in the garbage cans and found two more inside. I shot them as well. I threw all of their dead carcasses into the weeds just past the edge of my lawn.

        I never had to clean up a garbage mess in my yard ever again. All of the raccoons in the area apparently got the message loud and clear.

        • Leave the bodies out so the others can sniff em and get the message… 🙂

    • As you should, but they won’t feel that way. They will blame someone else. Never their fault.

    • Any bets the farmers tired of attacks on pets and livestock retaliated with 1080 baits?

      • I have a guest house I used to rent out (I used to live in it before I built my house). There was a fox hanging out under the porch. The kids and I began looking for it every day. Then I noticed he always seemed to be asleep. I went to check on him. Dead. My renter had put out rat poison in the garage. She usually left the garage door open. I asked her not to do that anymore in case someone’s dog or cat came by.

  3. Bill Snape Center for Biological Diversity.

    I think they’re shooting, shoveling, and shutupping the wrong animals.

  4. Kinda like how websites get coded. Fill them with JavaScript to the point that they are barely functional and then complain when someone gets hacked. Meanwhile, no one filters out other websites but rather bogs down the system even further by installing monitoring software. But who am I?

    It’s all just part of those advertising dollars right?

  5. Albert Hall should be happy about this. It proves that no one really needs a gun for hunting.

    • fyi

      This is very scary. Everyone likes the trees around where they live. So does the animal life. And the thicker the woods the bigger the chances of coyotes and foxes occupying those areas.
      It was several years ago. But I have personally seen a wolf just trotting down the open road. I and dozens of other people sitting on our cars, just watch this animal just walk in the open air. That was a big surprise.

      Coyotes are everywhere where I live. And I have a wonderful picture of a male and female pair just behind my house in the winter snow.
      But I am sure the local cattle ranchers are very concerned.

      From Dec 2022

      “Coyote attacks toddler in Woodland Hills California” video 4 min long

      • “This particular dog should probably be removed, euthanized.” She didn’t sound too sure about it. The coyotes around here aren’t very aggressive. I see them in my yard fairly often. I never heard about them existing in the region when I was younger.

  6. Got a story about wildlife :

    I’ve been reading a book by a guy who immigrated from Ukraine in the early 1990s.

    He grew up in Kiev, but summered at his grandmother’s little village near the Belarus border. His job during the summers was tending her vegetable garden and harvesting it. In the 1980s, the Russian government ‘allowed’ rural families to tend a small plot of land for their own use. Interestingly, those tiny private plots of land provided Russia with over 50 percent of total national yield.

    Now for the wildlife part. So, in the late 90s, he came to America, met an American woman and bought his first fixer-upper house on the cheap. It had a huge back yard. He remembered his grandmother’s garden and decided to plant his own. He sweated and toiled and grew his veggie garden. He was quite proud!

    Then, just as it was about time to harvest, the local wildlife of rabbits, deer, and whatnot, mowed his garden flat. Stripped it. He was pissed.

    Things were so bad in Ukraine in the 1990s, wildlife was effectively exterminated in the rural areas.

    That also goes back to what my grandfather told me about the Great Depression in rural Massachusetts. Times were so hard, the forests were stripped bare of game and all that was left were squirrels, birds, and whatnot.

    So, keep those 2 stories in mind if you think you can ‘head for the hills’ and feed your family if things go seriously sideways… 🙁

    • When I was a baby my mom’s friend babysat for me. Her father hunted squirrels. Food is where you find it. This was 1960’s Indiana.

      • Forgot to add that my grandfather raised rabbits during the depression and provided for his family and neighbors.

        • Raising them is one thing, expecting the woods to be full of them when times get tough is another…

  7. The left can’t resist a genocide. Even if its just animals.

    The left is a cult of death that never lets up.

  8. meddling.
    asian carp
    sparrows
    starlings
    asian ladybugs
    kudzu
    oscars
    pythons
    puberty blockers
    gain of function

  9. It’s all about the FEELZ of liberal White women, the most entitled, coddled, irrational and damaging creatures in the history of Western civilization. These lunatics are destroying everything good and noble because of envy.

  10. The urban population of foxes has actually grown by 40%. Seeing a fox in a city, especially London, was rare 50 years ago. Now they romp in people’s garden regularly.

    Have a friend in the UK? Ask them when was the last time they saw a fox.

    • “The urban population of foxes has actually grown by 40%.”

      Considering that the overall fox population has declined, the lack of hunting combined with “rural flight” must have nearly wiped out the country fox population.

      “Have a friend in the UK? Ask them when was the last time they saw a fox.”

      And this anecdotal evidence would prove what, exactly?

    • Foxes are common in many industrial areas in Sydney.

      If the UK wants more foxes, we can export a few million to you. They should be a similar genetic line to yours as they were introduced from old blighty back in the early 1800s.

  11. In the US the Progs/Demtards embrace “unintended consequences” as a way of life. Otherwise known as stupidity.

    Pretty such same as Eurowussie/OnceGreatBritain “Good Intentions”. Morons of a feather.

    • The road to He!! is paved with good intentions. Now they want to limit hunting in ILLannoy. You can’t shoot a freaking coyote in Illinois…Britain is a lost cause🙄

  12. The main reason we have wildlife in our country is the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

    If you want animals to thrive you have to have a group of people dedicated to preserving them.

    For conservation you need money.

    Dingle-Johnson, Pittman-Roberts, hunting and fishing license fees, a myriad of hunting related conservation organizations, a biologically based standard for licensed and regulated hunting and fishing seasons and bag limits…

    As much as the anti-hunting/fishing/firearms crowd is loathe to admit they need us to sustain wildlife on the landscape.

    You do not have the backpack and tentpole crowd footing the bill.

    You have the hook and bullet crowd.

    Take away the desire to hunt an animal and the desire to have a tradition and you have lost a major source of funding.

    Hunting and fishing are an integral part of any good conservation effort.

    Hunting and fishing conservation efforts do not just benefit an individual group of outdoors people or an individual species. There are many ancillary benefits to society and ecosystems as a whole. Improve habitat for whitetail deer, turkeys, elk… and you improve it for non-game species as well.

    Take away hunting of a species and those animals will still die. They do not see the difference between being shot by a gun or becoming a prey animals dinner. Cougars in California are being killed by paid hired guns of the state to control population instead of hunters paying the state for a license to harvest them.

    • Tom

      Similar here in Australia. The “green” idiots scream about duck season etc and conveniently forget that it was hunters and their money that set up the game reserves etc.

      We had one come out to club working weekend a few years back and couldn’t grasp the idea we spent our own money on the site.

      Hunting bans just result in “ shovel and shut up” as mentioned above.

    • The powers that be wont let a Kansan shoot wild hogs either. Nope gotta be a state paid trapper. Their idea is hunting spreads the hog herds as opposed to trapping.
      I figure the hogs are going to spread whenever the food gets scarce in one place.

    • Tom has it pegged.

      No shooting of hogs in KS? That’s crazy. But there’s gov’t and $$ involved, so all bets are off. You are correct that the hogs will follow the food, and it’ll be like the Haz backyard and my wife’s birdfeeder area.

    • Anti-hunters don’t understand that too many of certain animals can actually be a problem. Also funny how they vehemently object to individual hunting but are perfectly fine with mass poisoning with stuff like 1080 which has a very high rate of collateral damage among non-targeted species.

      The one species they are perfectly fine with making extinct is homo sapiens.

  13. Wel its just to bad those foxes didnt live in south America, they could have immigrated to north America and our giverment would have forced the coyotes out of their dens and given the foxes their own chicken houses.

  14. First of all I want to say thank you to the hunters out there. Whatever you hunt. Because hunting is necessary to keep an environmental balance. Civilian hunting should be encouraged. And hunting by the government should be done as little as possible. The civilian population needs to be the primary source for wildlife management.

    When I took “a deep dive” into the Second Amendment for a college research paper I was surprised by the number of animal encounters, and outright attacks in the lesser built up areas of the big cities. But as my grandparents used to tell me, when you decide to live out in the woods, where the animals call at home, you’re going to have to put up with them.

    From 2020

    “Coyote Chasing 5-Year-Old Was Like ‘Watching a Horror Movie’” In Chiraq ILL. video 1 min long from 2020

  15. WANTA BAN SOMETHING BAN SIG P322 TURNED OUT TO BE A PIECE OF JUNK PISTOL .
    GOT WHERE WOULDN’T EVEN FEED CCI 22LR … REAR SIGHT JUNK ..
    SAVE YOUR MONEY IN GO BUY A RUGER 22/45 …

    • Well duh, and I wasnt real impressed with Walthers 22 either.
      If you want a decent, not the best, but decent .22handgunm a Heritage Roughrider for the money ain’t bad.

  16. In areas where hunting pressure is killing coyotes the older dominant pack leaders get killed and the rest have nothing keeping them from breeding. Populations explode. About every 2 to 3 months I have to shoot a coyote or 2 for getting a little too interested in my gardens or livestock. Loud, ornery dogs only do so much in deterring them.
    Fox are around here as well. Doesn’t get cold enough here for good pelts so I end up picking them off with the AR15 fitted with a thermal scope.
    Our biggest problem is feral hogs. Damned Spanish turned lose hogs and left. As did later settlers. Add in dumbasses who imported Eurasian Wild Boar for hunting and either turned loose or didn’t keep under control and we have a real problem.
    Years ago the DNR forced us to stop trapping fox in Wisc because it wasn’t considered humane. Rabies and other diseases decimated the population. Took nearly 20 years to get populations back to normal.
    Just as in England, do gooders never consider the consequences of their actions nor admit their failures. Unforeseen consequences anyone with a few critical thinking abilities and a little common sense saw miles away. Are all Marxists stupid or does Marxism attract idiots?

  17. This article was absolute bloody tripe for a COUNTRYMAN likeme. .The greatest bcause of reduction of OX numbers in the countryside [BUT not in the URBAN ENVIRONMENT by the way] is by shooting and disease especially SARCOPTIC MANGE and COMPETITION with the exploding BADGER POPULATION for common resources.
    Back in the day I trapped with WIRES dozens of foxes and shot even more -and at one time we were paid, by in the Ministry of Agriculture £GB2.00 a brush. I shot MORE bloody foxes in a month than the LOCAL HUNT which was at the time one of THE PREMIER hunts in the South of England took in a whole bloody season.
    The FOX hunts did absolutely Sweet FA to control foxes and that was not their point anyway. MY Grandfather actually BANNED the HUNT from our Farm though nhe had no compuction at shooting or trapping the buggers on the MORAL grounds of not hunting for anything you cannot eat.
    He even went so far as too COOK a FOX in the garden of a local pub [The WAR-BILL-IN-TUN In EAST SUSSEX] and challenged the Local Hunt and Huntmasterr to eat it! My grandad pronounced it a ‘effing disgusting’.

    • albert. Just like dacian you have a story for every situation. Personal experience. And we would be dumb to believe any of them.

      You and dacian are so much alike its like one person.

      • jethro,

        No, dacian spell a little better. It’s interesting to note that the British military ALLEGEDLY accepts illiterate morons (who lie about their expertise with firearms). No wonder “Formerly Great” Britain is so f***ed up.

  18. quote———— But farmers, livestock ranchers and homeowners vexed by predatory foxes took matters into their own hands.———–quote

    And therein lies lies the real reason the fox population declined not a few hunts cancelled for the pleasure of the super rich.

    • So you’re blaming the struggling, working class peasants for the decline in the fox population?

      Not very social-lists of you.

      • to Jethro the Janitor

        Once again you show your lack of education. All species are interdependent on each other and when you cause the extinction of one it will either directly or indirectly jeopardize the survival of the human race. Of course I realize that this is way over your head and that you will reject it because it is after all science.

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