Readers of this blog are aware that I have a special interest in deer - specifically mule deer, who often pass my house in early-morning expeditions, big ears pointed to detect early-morning cars, dogs, whatever, happily browsing the mid-April grass, sometimes venturing into my back yard to, basically, poop. So, while reading an article in the New York Review of Books today, I rather eagerly read the part of a review that dealt with a new book: "The Hidden Life of Deer" by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.(Harper, 239 pp. $24.99).
The review was not particularly satisfying. It dealt with the author putting out food for deer, and the food attracting a big black bear instead - a once-injured bear that the author had dissuaded the police from shooting. (The bear, all healed, pretty much knocked on her door, then ambled away.)
As it turns out, Thomas is not against hunting game animals. As long it is done right. Expertly, and quickly. But as is the case with the other books in the review, she is against cruelty in the name of profit, be it slaughterhouse profits from mistreated cattle or poachers' profits from elephants.
As the reviewer, Tim Flannery, noted, it wasn't long ago that people thought they were somehow special. Top of the pile! As it turns out, animals make us human. How we treat them, whether for food or for enjoyment, define what kind of humans we are.