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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

No Good Reason

Why do people hunt?

I understand that some people hunt to provide meat for themselves and their families. But what is the pleasure to be found in killing an animal for 'fun' or 'sport' or as a 'trophy'? I just read that in California's 2016 bear hunting season, 1,063 black bears were killed (grizzly bears were driven to extinction in California in 1922).

Another article noted that yet another mountain lion kitten had been shot and killed. Big game hunters pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege to kill an endangered African elephant or non-breeding rhinoceros or giraffe or male lion, all for bragging rights and so they can display the head or body of the murdered animal in their house. And that brings them pleasure?

If these people are so proud of what they do, why do they refer to the killing as a 'harvest'? Harvesting is what is done to corn and wheat and strawberries. Let's be honest here, hunters. You are killing, not 'harvesting', animals.

And don't give me that BS about saving the species by killing it. Really? That's the best you can do? Or how about the lie that big game hunting in Africa benefits local communities? Sure, the outfitter in South Africa or Zimbabwe and his employee rake in big bucks, but how much of that cash actually reaches people in the local community? When I go on safari in Africa, my money does benefit local people -- the drivers, guides, cooks, trackers, housekeepers and everyone else who helps keep the camps running and the guests looked after. 

Here's another favorite excuse: population control of predators. With the numbers of mountain lions, grizzly and black bears, and wolves, lions, cheetahs, leopards and other predators decimated by habitat loss, poaching and hunting, and human intrusion into the animals' habitats, do people really believe these species' populations need to be controlled by hunting?

How about the claim that hunters like to be part of nature and they love the animals they kill? Or they like the challenge? Right, shooting a lion that was raised by humans from birth and set 'loose' inside a fenced area so it can be slaughtered in a canned hunt is a real challenge, isn't it? 

I like to be part of nature, too, which is why I travel to Africa and to Yellowstone several times every year. And I, too, love the challenge of finding wild animals, but when I leave, the animals are still alive. If I'm lucky, I have captured the animal in its natural habitat by using my digital cameras and my skills as a photographer. And the animals survive to live another day.

I am sickened on an almost-daily basis when I see yet another photograph of a human, usually smiling stupidly, proudly posing with the dead body of a giraffe or zebra, lion or elephant, grizzly bear or wolf, that he or she has killed. And when I see a photograph of a man who probably weighs 400-500 pounds posing with the beautiful male lion he shot, I know for a fact that this obese person most certainly did not track this wild animal on foot before slaughtering it. He undoubtedly was driven up to the lion by a guide in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle before shooting it. Some sport in that, huh?

The bottom line is, these animals are killed either for profit or for personal enjoyment. So-called 'sport hunting' is decidedly not a sport, but a euphemism designed to make it seem more socially acceptable, much as is calling the killing of wild animals a 'harvest.'  

For another look at the hunting of predators, check out this article from 2014: frf