For several years I lived in Connecticut, where this photo was taken. It was there I was walking through the woods one winter’s day, appreciating the quiet and enjoying seeing the occasional animal leaving tracks in the snow as they scurried about looking for food. On my walk I encountered a hunter intent on “bagging” a deer, and though I begged him not to, he wasn’t interested in anything but bringing down a big deer just for the fun of it
As we spoke a beautiful red-tailed deer and her tiny faun stepped from behind some bushes. What a perfect picture of nature – a mama deer and her baby walking together through the snowy woods. The hunter raised his rifle and shot her through the neck. The shot reverberated through the woods, sending flocks of birds into the air and the baby deer running back into the bushes.
I wept for the deer and screamed at the hunter, asking how he could cold-bloodedly kill an innocent being who was simply taking care of her baby. As I sobbed, the hunter dragged the dead deer by her legs up the hill to the road leaving a trail of bright red blood in the snow. The little faun crept back out from the bushes and sniffed at the blood in the snow as she followed her dead mother. The hunter tried to scare the baby away by shouting and throwing things at her. But the little baby wouldn’t leave her mother even as her corpse was loaded into the back of a pickup truck. After the hunter drove away with his kill, the baby ran back into the woods. Too young to feed herself or keep herself warm, there’s no question she soon died, too. With one bullet, the hunter had killed two gentle souls.
For what? There’s no need for people in a civilized society to hunt anymore. Whether it’s in the woods of Connecticut or on the Serengeti plains, killing for pleasure as a “sport” or as a hobby is pure evil. The thrill hunters get from killing deer, bears, coyotes, wolves, lions, or elephants eludes me.
Hunters have invented all sorts of excuses to rationalize their murderous recreation. Save the excuses – killing has no justification. Hunting has nothing to do with “conservation” or “population control;” nature has handled those matters quite well for millions of years without the “help” of humans. In nature, most animals self-regulate; at times of food scarcity, those animals cease to bear young. Left alone by humans, the delicate balance of nature’s ecosystems ensures the survival of most species.
Few things are uglier than the head or other body parts of a noble animal hacked off and hung on a wall or over a mantel. For their “trophies,” hunters typically seek out the largest, most robust animals, those needed to keep the gene pool strong. “Trophy hunting” weakens the rest of the species’ population. Elephant poaching is believed to have increased the number of tuskless animals in Africa, while in Canada, hunting has caused the horn size of the bighorn sheep to fall by 25% over the last 40 years. Nature magazine reports “the effect on the populations’ genetics is probably deeper.”
Hunting is not a “sport.” Real sports involve competition between consenting parties and don’t end with the slaughter of an unwilling participant.
Quick kills are rare in hunting, and many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when hunters severely injure but fail to kill them. Hunting also disrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys families. For animals such as wolves and geese, who mate for life and live in close-knit family units, hunting can devastate entire communities.
The fear and the inescapable, earsplitting noises from gunfire and other commotion that hunters create cause hunted animals to suffer tremendous stress. This severely compromises their routine and their eating habits, making it hard for them to store the fat and energy that they need to survive the winter. Loud noises can also disrupt mating rituals and can cause parent animals to flee their dens and nests, leaving their young vulnerable to natural predators. When animals are killed, families are broken up, leaving the young to perish of starvation, exposure, or attacks by other animals.
Hunters likewise often accidentally injure and kill animals other those they’re hunting, including horses, cows, dogs, and cats. Dogs used for hunting are often kept chained or penned up when they’re not hunting, and much their lives are spent in miserable conditions.
Those who wish only to enjoy our country’s vanishing wilderness and the beauty of nature are often forced to share wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks, and other public lands with armed individuals on the hunt for animals to kill. Close to 40% of hunting in the United States is conducted on public lands, at the cost of millions of dead animals every year. Most federal and state agencies charged with managing wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks, and other public lands are funded in part by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and hunting tourism, and agencies now go out of their way to encourage these activities rather than regulate or police them. In fact, wildlife departments often kill majestic predators, such as wolves, bears, and coyotes, to increase the elk, caribou, and deer population in certain areas so hunters will have more of those animals to gun down. Talk about upsetting the balance of nature.
Before you support a “wildlife” or “conservation” group, ask first about its position on hunting. Some groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League, the Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund are either in favor of “sport” hunting or make no effort to oppose it.
Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!