ANOTHER SCATHING ANTIHUNTING ESSAY
The term "ethical hunter" is an oxymoron, a fanciful, self-serving term created by some sportsmen. The phrase is an attempt to create a smokescreen to hide the callousness of hunting, to make it seem morally justified instead of morally bankrupt. Any hunter, even a slob hunter, can claim, at least on ocassion, to be an ethical hunter. It is a self-deceptive, vacuous term that implies hunting is good, righteous and rife with philosophical meaning. By comparison, think how much more ethical it is not to hunt animals at all, and imagine how supremely ethical it is to treat animals with decency, respect and humaneness.
There are many problems and flaws with today's modern system of hunting and dubious "wildlife management." To hunters, cougars, bears, wolves and coyotes are "bad animals" - nuisances - that prey on "good" animals - the hunters' favorite big game. Historically, hunters have shown little or no appreciation for the role of carnivores in ecosystems. This is because hunters are basically functioning as addicts who believe that animals must be "controlled," that is, animals must be shot at, killed and manipulated to suit hunters' needs and wants. They perceive massacring wildlife to be a mark of concern, as if they were literally killing animals with kindness.
Furthermore, an ecosystem's health should not be determined by its gargantuan deer and elk populations but by the number of top carnivores it contains. Feeding bears is illegal in most states and strongly discouraged by wildlife departments because such practices are known to habituate bears to human presence, creating "nuisance bears." Yet, wildlife killers are using bear - baiting (piling cooking grease, mollasses, or jelly donuts to lure bears) and this unnecessary, depraved practice is legal in nine states.
Because of bow hunting, deer and black bears are frequently wounded but not immediately killed. These poor creatures can and will linger for days, turned into living pincushions with arrows protruding, eaten alive by blowflies and maggots. But why should the "sportsman" care? He or she can have their fun by inflciting complete misery with total impunity! This is the sad, appalling reality of hunting, not the sanitized, glorified nonsense published in newspapers and hunting magazines.
Studies conducted by state fish and game agencies repeatedly show that bowhunters wound as many animals as they kill. The hunters' favorite how-to-kill magazines are fond of publishing articles on how to kill deer with .44 magnum handguns. Shooting deer with handguns they inform us is not cruel. It is conservation! Imagine a person so emotionally frustrated, so desparate for personal power and atavistic thrills, that shooting animals with handguns brings him satisfaction.
All bureaucracies, including game and fish departments, have a keen interest in creating more work for themselves. Game departments are the hunters lackeys, the butcher's assistants, whose main goal is to sell more hunting licenses. Servile state wildlife biologists and game wardens are preoccupied almost entirely with about 35 to 40 shootable species, a tiny pecentage of North America's approximately 1,000 birds and mammals.
It's important to remember that under federal law (Supreme Court 1842), wildlife killers have no more ownership rights concerning wildlife than people who want these animals to remain unharmed and protected from hunting. Animal killers have simply seized control of a "wildlife management" system that craves power and control, and one dictionary defines management as control.
Wildlife commissions in Western states are controlled by ranching, hunting, trapping and outfitter representatives. Each state's governor appoints a disproportionate number of hunters and pro-hunting representatives and a much smaller percentage of pro-wildlife advocates to its dubious "wildlife commission."
In eleven Western states, mountain lion hunters use packs of trained hounds fitted with radio telemetry equipment. To track these cats, a trophy hunter releases a pack of dogs fitted with radio transmitters. The hunter monitors the chase on a handheld directional antenna. When the dogs eventually tree a lion, the hunter picks up a stationary signal on his or her antenna, walks to the site and shoots the harassed, treed animal. And they call this hunting!
Ah, but wait, it gets worse. For the "sportsman's" personal amusement - sanctioned by wildlife agencies - mountain lions sometimes fight the dogs, resulting in bloody battles. More commonly, the dogs may find and tear apart lion cubs and according to my research, hounds become lost or injured while fighting and tracking lions. This is blatant animal cruelty at its finest with no ecological or ethical justification.
Research at Utah State University indicates that in some areas, cub mortality from maulings and orphaning is as significant as adult harvest. Mountain lion hunting amounts to little more than depraved cruelty and crass, commercialized hunting.
Thanks to years of deliberate mismanagement, whitetailed deer are nearly ubiquitous in the Eastern states. However, the mere presence of deer in a suburban area, munching on flowers and sapplings does not justify calling SWAT teams of hunters or game wardens to "solve" the perceived problem, if a problem even exists. Remember that hunters and game wardens are responsible for massive mismanagement of deer from Michigan to Pennsylvania to Alabama; their "expertise" in deer management is dubious, since their main concern is to produce more deer. Deer overpopulation in residential areas is largely a value judgement - some people simply have a low tolerance for deer and other wildlife. Hunters should be happy that some herds (not all) are being controlled by coyotes or other predators, who, along with deer and other wildlife, have a need and desire to be left alone. But left alone they will not be, because greed, apathy, and the need to kill outweigh any serious moral considerations against killing wildlife.
A study in Pennsylvania found that car insurance claims for deer-related accidents increases five times during hunting season. Along with many other states, Pennsylvania's humongous deer population has been grossly mismanaged, with over 1.5 million deer. In suburban areas, land developers, hunters and wildlife agencies will not pay for fences or vaccines to prevent fertilization, both of which control and contain these deer quite well.
Duck hunting has long been plagued with outrageous violations committed against waterfowl. The waterfowler is one of the most avaricious of all hunters and the most ecologically insensitive.
Greater and Lesser Scaup, Scoters, Pintails, and especially American Black Ducks have been overhunted. American Black Ducks have declined a whopping 60 percent in the last 40 years. All three species of Scoter dropped nearly 50 percent of their population since the 1970s. Greater and Lesser Scaup have yet to recover from years of overshooting.
In 1968, the U.S. Fish and Widlife Service got greedy. They attempted to boost their sales of duck stamps as hunting seasons were extended, and "bag limits" were increased. Pintails, Scoters, Scaup and Black Ducks took the brunt of too much buckshot, and their populations have yet to recover. Millions of wounded ducks and geese are not retreived, left to wander and then die, rotting in the wetlands. Many, many cripples are able to run and hide, but not fly, eluding hunters who are usually not even willing to track them down.