Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Beast in the Garden

by David Baron

Thumbs up.

In spite of the fact that Mr Baron definitely carries contemporary Darwinist presuppositions, I really loved this book. Mr. Baron starts his account by leading the reader along with searchers as they discover the remains of Scott Lancaster. Eighteen year old Lancaster, of Idaho Falls, CO, was brutally killed by a cougar within a few hundred yards of his high school during school hours.

Baron then backs up and tells the history of nearby Bolder, CO, and how the particular societal attitudes and ensuing legal decisions of this small city eventually lead to the habituation of the area cougars to humans. Does that sound very exciting? It really was. Baron's talented writing style took me to visit families who loved natured and built lovely homes in the hills outside of Bolder. I visited animal lovers who enjoyed watching the deer in their urban yards. I felt the nervous awe when people started seeing cougars in their neighborhoods.

I could empathize with the local official who, after area pets started disappearing, thought the cougar behavior was changing, and that these cougars were likely to endanger humans eventually. I could hear this man's frustration when the rest of the people in his department continually claimed that cougars were no threat to humans.

And I could even understand the position the various government agencies chose to take in being hands-off. The City of Bolder had created the situation by their "we want to live with nature" policies. Baron relates an episode of a problem cougar over whose presence and actions the locals were becoming vocal in their desire to have this animal taken care of. When one of the local citizens finally hired a lion guide to help dispose of the animal, the city was outraged.

The evolutionary views of Mr. Baron, however, were somewhat hard for me to hear over and over and over and over. He uses a specific vocabulary, whether intentionally or just as a result of his presuppositions. When people hunt, for instance they are persecuting animals. When a problem animal has to be eliminated, it's life is taken. And when said problem animal is eliminated, it is an act of vengeance.

Hunters are all wanton killers. And government management efforts cater to these same wanton killers (oh, sportsmen).

This kind of phraseology at times felt like a continual assault as I read Baron's book. I definitely would not be able to read this if I was overly sensitive to the opinion of people such as Baron toward people such as I. I definitely felt like Mr. Baron would have considered me a less enlightened person for holding on to the view that God indeed put man over creation to use and, yes, even dominate.

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