Going Wild: Hunting, Animal Rights, and the Contested Meaning of Nature

Jane E. Dizard, Author, Jan E. Dizard, Author University of Massachusetts Press $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87023-908-3
The impassioned debate on deer hunting staged here by Dizard, a professor of sociology and American studies at Amherst College, raises pros and cons beyond the fiery local issue. In 1991, after volcanic hearings, Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) officials opened 55,000 acres surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir in Western Massachusetts, Boston's major water source, to a nine-day deer hunt. The first day, 300 eager hunters killed 123 deer; 900 hunters killed a total of 576 by the ninth day. In an agile, well-focused narrative, Dizard explores the intellectual machinations justifying the hunt while delineating the underpinnings of how we view nature. The Quabbin is a spectacular example for this exploration; the woodlands around the reservoir were ``completely contrived,'' eventually developing into an ``idealized, tame wilderness.'' To his credit, Dizard sketches a broad canvas of subfactions, from demonstrators with placards reading ``Meat is Murder'' to honorable hunters sneering at cohorts slaughtering tame animals. In between, supporters claim the hunt was necessary because deer were eating new growth in the forest that protects the water supply; critics say the MDC wants to continue logging for revenue. Beneath the controversy smolder larger contending views. Should nature be seen as a self-balancing harmony or a challenge to use and dominate? Who decides what is wild? In short, is wildlife management an oxymoron? For those arming with arguments from both sides, this book is indeed mind-stretching and valuable. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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