The Slaughter of Wild Game

Our Vanishing Wild Life. By William T. Hornaday. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. $1.50 net.

DISCUSS almost any evil, and if you are a logical thinker, it is quite probable that you will come at last face to face with that twentieth century idol, Profit, whose zealous priest is Politics. How does this apply to a book on the preservation of wild life? In this way: Our legislators as a body are so busy dodging big financial issues while seeming to fight them, that they have little time, if indeed many of them have any inclination, to look after the general welfare. This is not a criticism of any party — we have almost gotten away from parties. It is a criticism of individual character debauched by selfishness. The result of this system is incalculable waste, and the waste of wild life is merely incidental as compared with the waste of human life. But if we are ever to emerge from the wilderness, all evils must be freely discussed, and we want specialists to discuss them. Mr. Hornaday is a specialist on the subject he treats and the fund of information upon which he bases his protest is surprisingly large.

In following his account of the extinction of many species of birds, and especially in considering his warning anent the rapidly approaching end of many of the wild animals native to North America, we come upon the trail of commercialism. Though the unsportsmanlike behavior of hunters, the inadequacy of game laws and the general laxity in the matter of enforcing some of the laws we already have, are three principal causes for the rapid extinction of wild game, the manufacturers of firearms are, perhaps, among the greatest offenders. Attempts have been made to forbid by law the use of automatic guns in hunting; but there are five strong, if not good, reasons why such a law should not be passed; all are the same, though each has a separate name: the Winchester, the Remington, the Marlin, the Stevens, the Union Fire Arms companies. These five companies put out every year over one hundred thousand automatic guns, the efficiency of which is ten times that of the old-fashioned single-barrel affair. Considering this in connection with the fact that a million and a half hunting licenses were issued in the United States last year, it is easy to see that Mr. Hornaday has a very good talking point.

As an indication of the carelessness and lack of forethought shown by our nation, the author gives the following excerpt from the report of a select committee of the senate of Ohio in 1857, on a bill proposed to protect the passenger pigeon:

“The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific, having the forests of the north as its breeding grounds, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen the species.”

The passenger pigeon no longer exists.

Mr. Hornaday offers suggestions for the modification of existing game laws and makes a strong plea to the individual sportsman. The book is unique in its field and deserves wide attention