New today on the Mother Jones home page (and in the current issue of the magazine): Sacrificial Ram, by Daniel Duane. Not your typical MoJo story, this. Duane, a card-carrying Sierra Club member and outdoor type, recently tagged along on a “conservation hunt” in the Mexican desert for the majestic — and endangered — bighorn ram. That’s right, conservation hunt. Sounds like a term cooked up by the same folks who brought us “Compassionate Conservatism” and “Clear Skies” — but, no, it’s for real, and it works like this: Conservationists sell off the right (at a cool $60,000 a pop) to kill a couple of sheep each year, with the revenue going into conservation efforts. And it looks like the approach is paying off: since the hunts began, the bighorn population has increased fourfold.
Don’t buy it? Well, if my inbox is any guide, you’re not alone: plenty of readers have written in to give us hell. (One of the more polite emails ran as follows: “This is a classic case of ‘cognitive dissonance.’ Only a turncoat could get so enthusiaistic about supporting something he vehemently opposed in the past. Shortly, Duane will probably go to Falluja and give a glowing account about ‘how democracy is taking root among the gun pocked ruins…'”) But roughly equal numbers have praised the article — and the approach. (“Daniel Duane understands … and all it took was an open mind and one experience.”) Read the article and judge for yourself. Also, check out a Mother Jones interview with Daniel Duane where he explains how he went, over the course of the hunt, from weirded-out skeptic to gung-ho proponent of conservation hunting — won round to the idea of shooting sheep to save them.