The views of the great nineteenth century preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon about the death of animals before the fall seem to have evolved during his ministry.
In 1855, we find him arguing that animal predation is a necessary part of this world, but that humanity is destined for another realm (emphasis added):
We are told, it is true, by eminent men that there is a necessity in nature that there should be death, since one animal must prey upon another. And even could all animals be taught to give up their prey, they must feed upon plants and so devour certain minute insects which had hidden thereon. Death, therefore, seems to be the law of nature. Be it remembered that men have already lived far beyond the present allotted term and it does seem most easy to conceive that the creature which can subsist a thousand years could exceed that period. But this objection is not valid, since the saints will not live forever in this world, but will be removed to a habitation where laws of glory shall supersede laws of nature.
By 1866, his position is that, if Adam had not sinned, the animals would still have died, but Adam’s life would have been continually renewed (emphasis added):
In that garden, if the leaves had faded, he would not, and if the animals had died (and I suppose they would, for they certainly did die before Adam came into the world), yet there is no need that Adam should have died – he could have renewed his youth like the eagle and remained immortal amidst mortality, a king and priest forever, if God had so chosen it should be; instead of which, through sin, though he is even now a priest, he must, like Aaron, go up to the top of the hill and put off his priestly garments and breathe out his life. Sin brought in death, and nothing that came in by sin can be man’s friend. Death, the child of Sin, is the foe of man!
However, in 1876 he claimed that animal death before Adam sinned could have been a consequence of Adam’s sin (emphasis added):
Death is an alien in this world. It did not enter into the original design of the unfallen creation, but its intrusion mars and spoils the whole. It is no part of the Great Shepherd’s flock, but it is a wolf which comes to kill and to destroy. Geology tells us that there was death among the various forms of life from the first ages of the globe’s history, even when as yet the world was not fitted up as the dwelling of man. This I can believe and still regard death as the result of sin. If it can be proved that there is such an organic unity between man and the lower animals that they would not have died if Adam had not sinned, then I see in those deaths before Adam the antecedent consequences of a sin which was then uncommitted. If by the merits of Jesus there was salvation before He had offered His atoning sacrifice, I do not find it hard to conceive that the foreseen demerits of sin may have cast the shadow of death over the long ages which came before man’s transgression.
This final position is apparently very similar to that of William Dembski, in his book The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. I haven’t considered this view in depth, but it seems problematic.
First, under a (neo-)Darwinian model of evolution, as Christopher Southgate points out, complex life is a direct consequence of the pain and predation of evolution. So it makes little sense to blame the suffering on Adam’s sin but to credit God with the creation of complex life, if complex life would not have evolved without suffering.
However, even if one rejects a (neo-)Darwinian view (as I suspect would have been the case for Spurgeon), it still seems arbitrary. There is no connection between the crime and the punishment. Why should Adam’s sin lead to the violent death of countless individual creatures and the extinction of countless species, and all of that before Adam was even created?