A report released by Dr. Joel Berger of the Wildlife Conversation Society says the fear of predators is not a natural instinct in animals. It is a learned behavior.
This revelation is a bit of a shock for many evolutionists who believe the fear of predators is a naturally evolving instinct that enabled species to survive.
Berger came to this conclusion after studying the relationship between prey and predator in 19 ecosystems in Russia, Greenland, Canada and the US. He focused specifically on elk, moose, bison and caribou and their natural predators wolves, tigers and bears.
He compared systems where predators existed with those where they didn’t.
He noticed that prey-animals only feared predators, if they regularly encountered them. Once the predators were removed, prey animals lost a fear of their natural enemies.
In his study, Berger played sound recordings of predators around test animals that had no predators in their area and compared their reactions to similar species that regularly encountered predators in their surroundings.
Berger said “elk in the mountains of Siberia — who subsist alongside tigers, wolves and bears — responded five times faster to the recordings than did elk in the Rocky Mountain Park (Colorado) where major predators have been absent for some 90 years.”
As well, when predators were not around, the animals did not participate in typical defensive reactions such as flight or clustering together.
The Biblical record
This study reveals the basic instincts of animals are still in harmony with how God originally created them.
We get a picture of this in the book of Isaiah where the prophet talks of a future day when there will be a dramatic change in the natural environment of the world:
“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them,
Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lay down together,
And the lion will eat straw like an ox.
The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. (Is 11:6-9 NASV)
It will be a day when prey will have no fear of predator and they will actually co-exist peacefully side by side.
The reason there is no fear is found in the latter part of verse 7 — the lion will eat straw like the ox. Essentially, the natural life cycle as we understand it today will be dramatically altered.
Berger’s research shows that since fear of predators is a learned behavior, if they never attacked, the prey and predator cycle would not exist.
Isaiah re-emphasizes this theme again in chapter 65:25 when he states the wolf and lamb will lay together. In this verse, Isaiah reiterates what was mentioned earlier when he says snakes will eat earth — re-emphasizing that a predators’ source of nourishment will not be other animals.
In this chapter, Isaiah puts this strange occurrence in the time of the new heaven and new earth which the prophet referred to in verse 17.
Though Isaiah is looking ahead to a future day, most theologians believe these verses also reflect how God intended nature to function at creation. Animals were never intended to prey on one another, as vegetation was to be their natural source of nourishment.
The reason God didn’t put a fear of predators in prey animals is because they didn’t need it. The reason it never evolved is because God created.
Of course, we are aware of a group of bears who survive solely on vegetation. Panda bears live off Bamboo shoots. Other meat-eating bears also include berries as a natural source of food.
This was to be the norm. Meat-eating bears are the aberration.
- Prey Not Hard-wired to Fear Predators (www.sciencedaily.com: June 22, 2007)