BYU: Killing for conservation

By By Lauren Mueller

By Lauren Mueller

Admittedly, I’m not a vegetarian. I love animals and I’m currently housing scores of them, but I’m also a sucker for anything bacon-wrapped. Sure, it’s a little hypocritical, but I’m hungry — not bloodthirsty. I don’t revel at the top of the food chain, draped in endangered pelts. My carpet is berber, not bear, and you won’t find any mounted heads in my home.

And I don’t live with Fred Morris.

This Draper businessman and avid decapitator — er…trophy hunter — has traveled to more than a hundred countries to kill some of the rarest and most beautiful animals to have graced this green Earth. I’m not the only one impressed with Morris’ systematic execution of doe-eyed quadrupeds the world over. Brigham Young University has also taken note.

Last year, the Y’s Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum commissioned Morris to travel deep into South Africa’s Mkuze National Park to bag them a big ‘un — a 3-ton white rhinoceros. Oh, the thrill of the hunt — just man, the heaving beast and a .375-caliber H&H Magnum rifle with a fixed power scope. Way to level the playing field, Morris.

Far be it for me to expose my pro-rhino agenda or anything, but is this really necessary? These holdovers from the Cenozoic Era have been stalked, maimed and killed — mostly in the name of fashion — for decades. Conservation efforts for the southern white rhinoceruses have been a success after their near-eradication in the 1970s at the hands of poachers, but does this mean it’s now open season?

To literally add insult to injury, Morris and, subsequently, the museum, insist the dead animal skin is meant as a conservation effort.

“I will not hunt it if it can’t be imported for public viewing,” Morris told The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Brian Maffly.

Supposedly, this carcass is meant to rally public support for the rhinos’ plight. The northern white rhinocerus remains one of the most critically endangered species in the world today, and I didn’t have to kill one to learn that. I Googled it.

Morris and the museum’s vertebrates collection manager, Wesley “Skip” Skidmore, feel that money is best invested in the preservation of the savanna’s wildlife by way of high-powered ammunition.

“The hunted animals of the world are thriving because that’s where the money goes,” Morris said to The Tribune.

You know what they say: one is never enough. Skidmore has a whole wish list of animals he’s hoping will fill out his burgeoning slaughterhouse, including a hippopotamus and a giraffe. Morris is currently planning a trip to Namibia’s Etosha National Park to hunt an extremely rare and endangered black rhinocerus.

Sadly, this rhino is done enhancing the natural beauty of the bush, but it will be hung up on a wall in Provo until January if you’d like to see what wildlife conservation looks like up close.

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