Wildlife Animals and Human Health and Safety
One of the challenges of trying to help Christian Animal Rights (CAR) proponents understand the complex issues surrounding human-wildlife relations is the notion that vegetarianism doesn’t address the role of managing wildlife for human health and safety. Even if you oppose the eating of meat, you still have to answer the question of how to handle wildlife that pose threats to human health and safety.
For example, the Bible contains several passages highlighting the threats posed by wildlife to human health and safety.
Consider Jer 27:6 where God states that He has given Nebuchanezzar power over wildlife. Why would this be important unless wildlife was a threat to either him or Judah’s inhabitants? Amos 5:19 explains the calamity that will face Israel using the illustration of a person being attacked by a lion, bear, and a snake. Hosea uses the illustration of God coming after Israel as a bear robbed of her cubs.
My point is that if wildlife were not a threat to human health and safety than these illustrations would be meaningless to the original hearers. Wildlife certainly offer humans many benefits and enrich our world. But to suggest that wildlife are always play a positive role is to neglect the reality of both Scripture and modern day realities that show that wildlife can and do pose significant threats to human interests if humans fail to manage wildlife properly. One need only do research on deer strikes to recognize that wildlife are associated with billions of dollars of damage and loss of life each year.
Ultimately, I would love it if CAR proponents would answer this aspect of the question. I would love to hear what they have to say because I have yet to hear a scholar or layperson respond to the argument contained in my publications.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a tutor of theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School (http://kingsdivinity.org). His research interests include practical theology, specifically environmental issues. His latest book is Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2009.
He is available for speaking, preaching, panels, debates, and teaching. He can be contacted at svantassel at kingsdivinity dot org.