BOOKS: The Great Antler Auction
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:
The Great Antler Auction
by Susan E. Goodman, with photos by
Michael J. Doolittle.
Atheneum Books (1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020), 1996.
40 pages, $16.00, hardcover.
Apparently aimed at the school library market, containing
more facts and figures than story line, The Great
Antler Auction describes how the Boy Scouts of Jackson’s
Hole, Wyoming, have since 1968 maintained a monopoly on
collecting the antlers shed each year by the 7,500 elk within
the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge. The Scouts sell the
antlers at auction, then use the proceeds to feed the elk over
the winter. The herd has predictably grown well beyond the
winter carrying capacity of the refuge. The conclusion asks
whether the Scouts should let elk starve, or encourage more
hunting, which is already permitted within the refuge. Not
asked is whether hunting has exascerbated the population
growth by skewing the gender balance of the winter herd to
calf-bearing females (it has), and what the outcome would be
if gender balance were restored. In the end, The Great Antler
Auction documents how wildlife managers cynically manipulate
young people by using their instinct to help animals
toward achieving their complicity in killing animals, but
you’ll have to read between the lines to get the message.