Aug 31, 2012

Save a Deer, Shoot a Hunter

No, of course I don't want to you really shoot a hunter! I got your attention, though, didn't I?

But, seriously, we should protect wildlife by banning all hunting, right? Hunting is a cruel and unnecessary sport and hunters are just evil people who enjoy torturing animals and watching them suffer, right?

Well no, actually, I don't think so.

You're thinking, What!? You're a wildlife artist! You love wildlife! You love nature! You contribute to wildlife conservation! You care about animal rights! How could you possibly not support a hunting ban!? How could you not think hunters are horrible, cruel people!?

It's quite simple really.

First of all, the sad reality of this world is that it revolves around money. Wildlife conservation would not exist without money and hunters make huge contributions to wildlife conservation efforts through hunting licenses and through the support of organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Like it or not, without hunters there would be a whole lot less wildlife conservation going on.

Secondly, hunters aren't horrible, cruel people either. Well, not all of them anyway. I'm sure there are some bad apples out there just as there are in any group. But many hunters care very deeply about nature and wildlife. Now, I personally can't understand how you can love something and then kill it but I have met and talked with hunters enough to know there are such people. I don't know understand it but I know other people can feel that way somehow (just like I can't understand how anyone can like brussel sprouts but I know some people do!). I can tell by the looks in their eyes and the sounds of their voice when they talk about it that they love nature more than anything. These particular types of hunters are ethical and compassionate and have no desire to cause pain and suffering to the animals they hunt. Many are willing to let "The Big One" get away rather than hit it with a sloppy shot and they abhor sloppy, unethical hunters as much as we do.

I'm all for the ethical and humane treatment of animals but when attitudes become extreme then logic becomes flawed. While I appreciate the intentions of IDA, for example, something they said in an article about how to better reduce and control the deer population seemed a little absurd to me.

"Hunting does remove some animals from the population, but it does not keep deer populations at a continually reduced level. Immediately after a hunt, the remaining animals flourish because less competition for food exists, allowing the remaining animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a higher reproductive rate."
"In Defense of Animals believes that sport hunting is not only an ineffective wildlife management tool, but a cruel and unnecessary practice. Sport hunting should be banned, allowing deer populations to regulate themselves naturally." (source)
I have to wonder if they've given any thought as to how nature regulates deer populations "naturally." Some people feel that "natural" is always better. But if you think about it you'll realize that nature is often more cruel than humans. What IDA is saying above is that they want to see an end to the hunting that allows some animals to "live healthier lives" and instead let the populations increase until nature causes all the deer to suffer, since nature regulates populations through starvation and disease. This is an odd choice for an organization that supposedly cares about animals since starvation, malnutrition, and disease cause far more pain and suffering than a bullet. I don't know about you but if I had to choose I'd much rather take a bullet through the heart than die a slow agonizing death through starvation.

So try not to hate hunters, at least not the ones who are ethical and support wildlife conservation. They're doing more good for wildlife than they're doing harm to it. They're human like you after all and, whether you want to believe it or not, humans are part of nature too.

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