The Judas Goat
So here I was enjoying a ride in my car on a fairly nice day with NPR on the radio, when suddenly the story I’m listening to about saving the tortoises of the Galapagos Islands turns dark.
Very, very dark.
It’s a story of mankind doing what he always does, mercilessly killing animals, only this time it’s endowed with a “noble” purpose.
The story is about scientists deciding that the giant tortoises of the Galapagos are endangered by goats that are destroying their habitat and thus the goats must be eradicated.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving the magnificent giant tortoises, but to slaughter tens of thousands of innocent goats to do so? You mean there is no better, more compassionate way?
Of course, this story has a familiar beginning, as well as ending, because guess who was responsible for bringing the goats to the Islands in the first place, goats who then began eating everything in sight and destroying the tortoises’s habitat?
Mankind at it again.
Pirates, or buccaneers and whalers to be exact. Pirates who ate both goats and tortoises.
At any rate, the goats, it was decided, had to be destroyed, so they were shot by snipers in helicopters, terrorized from the air, running in panic, trying to hide, and being mowed down like inanimate objects.
The way the story was presented was so, well, clinical. So lacking in any human mercy for these animals, who through no fault of their own were reaping the deadly crop of a seed sown by man.
Oh, wait. It gets better.
The reason I titled this blog “The Judas Goat” is because that was part of the strategy for slaughtering these innocents–make one goat lead them to her comrades who were hiding from the helicopters.
From an article at National Geographic’s website:
After endless planning and meetings, we commenced project Isabella…In under a year, through an aerial attack [by helicopter], we ended up wiping out 90 percent of the goats on Isabela. But to give an example of the nature of this business, its relatively easy to remove 90 percent of a goat population from an island. As they become rarer and rarer, they become harder to detect. The become educated. So the goats start hiding. You end up flying around in an expensive helicopter not finding any goats.
So the way we deal with that is an interesting technique called Judas goats. Goats are gregarious and like being in groups. They’re herd animals. The technique we would use was you fire up the helicopter, capture goats live, take them back to base camp, unload them, put a radio collar on them, and then throw them back on the island. Instinctively, that goat will go find other goats. A week, two weeks go by. You fire up the helicopter and…start tracking the Judas goats until you spot it with other goats. And then everyone gets shot except the Judas goat. And then they do it again. Every two weeks for a year.
Make this goat live to see more and more of her friends and family shot to death so she could keep leading the human devils to the other ones, so they could be shot, too.
I don’t know the exact count of the killings. I believe it was around 80,000.
Funny species, mankind. He expects mercy shown to him, begs for it when faced with suffering and/or death, and then blithely disregards the animals he so casually destroys.
There are days like today I’m ashamed to be part of the human race.