Over the past several years we have maintained wildlife feeders on our ranch, for the benefit of the deer and the turkeys, but primarily for the benefit of ourselves. Twice a day, at precisely 7:00am and 4:00pm, we enjoy the sight of turkeys or deer at the feeders within sight of the house. Thanks to Roundrock Journal’s pablo, and his pangs of conscience (detailed here), we now must give serious thought to the ethics involved in such activities. What once seemed to be such a simple personal pleasure will now require the type of soul searching heretofore reserved for matters of much greater significance. While we ponder the issues involved, and consult with others wiser than ourselves for their sage consul, we offer up the following, merely as food for thought.
The turkeys at the feeder above are typical of what we see for a few minutes each morning, and then the scene is repeated again each afternoon. The turkeys (or deer) will usually hang around the feeder for 5-10 minutes, and then off they go, returning to the foraging that they do so well in our pastures, fields, and food plots. When they leave the feeders, there is still corn remaining on the ground, which indicates to me that they are successfully obtaining nourishment from their natural habitat.
This is where the turkeys spend the bulk of their time. They are away from the feeders, and from what I have been able to observe, they spend the better part of the day foraging for whatever the natural foods are that turkeys eat.
Two observations from all of this:
A) We have feeders on our property to attract the wildlife so that we may observe them, and if we are lucky, shoot them with our cameras. Our neighbors have feeders on their property so that they can attract wildlife so that they may observe them, just prior to shooting them with their hunting firearms. If we are more successful in attracting the wildlife than our neighbors, I believe this accrues to the benefit of the wildlife.
B) While we subscribe to the notion that we are but the temporary caretakers of the land and it’s inhabitants, we also realize that it is our name on the deed to the ranch. We are the ones who keep the water supplies clean and abundant, we are the ones who keep poachers at bay, we are the ones who avoid the use of all manner of pesticides and herbicides, all for the benefit of the wildlife. All this, and what do we ask in return? Just the simple pleasure of regular visits from those who reside here.
We will definitely ponder the ethical issues of the activities we undertake here at the ranch, but in the meantime, the catfish are calling out to be fed!