Dark green religion and hunting Essay
Dark green religion and hunting
Hunting and Dark Green Religion with a Twist of Sport Hunting Dark Green Religion and hunting go hand in hand in the traditional sense. According to Dark Green Religion, as exemplified by Bron Taylor, the death of an animal should be appreciated and teach us the ethics of loving and caring for the bounty of our planet. Farm animals are killed all the time with the justification that they are for food. The conditions those animals deal with are explicitly anti-DGR. There are several types of hunting but the main two are hunting for subsistence and sport hunting.
Hunting for food is acceptable because since the beginning of time, animals eat other animals, due to our carnal nature. Numerous environmentalists, in accordance with Bron Taylor, agree that hunting is a life function for almost all animals its either for survival or for food, therefore it is acceptable, but the death of an animal should come at a price of great sadness and appreciation. Dark Green Religion and its followers believe that animals have some sort of spiritual value, this leads them to respect all living things whether they are sentient beings or not.
Humans are omnivores by nature, so eating dead animals is as natural as it can get, as long as it is not factory farmed. One thought that arises is what is naturally acceptable and what is not? In the wise words of Henry David Thoreau what is wild is good or “all good things are wild and free. ”1 Anything that is untainted by humans is natural, just like killing for food is natural, but killing to show off skill is not because other animals in the wild do not kill for pleasure or thrill. It is either for food or for self-preservation in some rare cases.
Through the various DGR literature pieces that are analyzed in this paper there is a spectrum in the environmental literature. 2At one end is the view that hunting is justified only for self protection and for food, where no other reasonable alternative is available. Most writers, in this case Bron Taylor, Gretel Van Wieren, and Priscilla Cohn, also agree that hunting is sometimes justified in order to protect endangered species and threatened ecosystems where destructive species have been introduced or natural predators have been exterminated.
Others, especially in western society, accept hunting as part of cultural tradition or for the psychological well being of the hunter, sometimes extended to include recreational hunting when practiced according to “sporting” rules. Nowhere in the literature as far as DGR is concerned is hunting for fun, for the enjoyment of killing, or for the acquisition of trophies defended. 3 Imagine being an animal… getting chased and shot at by humans for pure enjoyment. It cannot be fun especially if they miss the vital organs and you are in severe pain.
Sometimes the hunt will take hours and the animal will drag its mutilated body around trying to die in peace because that is all it can do at that point. Animals can feel pain just like us. In a movie that Dr. Ellard showed to us in class, a man with special powers transferred the pain and sadness of a dying deer to a hunter, the hunter screamed and writhed in pain. That just makes you think what must have been going through the deer’s brain. At what point is it acceptable to kill animals?
For instance, killing in self defense is justified only if no effective nonlethal means is available. Some say the thrill of the hunt makes it worth whatever the cost may be. Killing to obtain trophies would be justified and only if trophies are an important nonsubstitutable good, or if some other important substitute good cannot reasonably be achieved by any other means. 4 Others say hunting does have a thrill but it shouldn’t be the only thoughts going through your head. According to Bron Taylor no small numbers of DGR folk hunt. Taylor does not approve of trophy or sport hunting.
In his words; although there is nothing wrong in my view with appreciating and enjoying all that goes with the hunt, this is best combined with the feelings of sadness that I hope also comes with the taking of life. Dark Green Religion gives wildlife intrinsic value and a sort of spiritual relevance. Wild life is to be revered, not conquered and made to look inferior. 5 Humans are a part of the whole circle of life, and we should stay within our circle and not go out and destroy it. Bron and I discussed the main reason to which degree hunting should be considered acceptable.
I think hunting is justifiable for food, as a philosophical understanding that we are not superior but rather are a part of nature and like other organisms, kill to survive and thrive, and it is also justifiable, sometimes, to promote the health of an ecosystem and the viability of other species populations. 6 According to Gretel Van Wieren agrees with me that there is less harm done in hunting that there is factory farming. In our case up here in the northeast, we have hunted the wolves to extinction in our region.
The wolves were the main predators of the deer population, since all the wolves have been killed; now it is our responsibility to hunt the deer since they are constantly overpopulating the region and devastating the flora of the region along with farmland. Bron Taylor and his colleagues who are mentioned above, joined us in our discussion, agreed with me wholeheartedly thru the lens of DGR. According to Ted Kerasote, avid outdoorsman, hunter, and author, buried in our animal nature lies an important but unstated fact: The drive to hunt and the drive for sex have much in common. Both are primal and both can be thanked for our presence here today.
While the drive to hunt is less obvious than the drive for sex, the former probably contributed more to our culture. Sex is accomplished by two, but hunting is often accomplished in cohesive and enduring groups. 7 Before we became hunters, we met our need for animal protein by snacking on insects, snails, fledgling birds and other slow creatures too small to share. But hunting produced large, festive meals too grand to be eaten by any one person, meals which could feed large groups of people who would stay around the carcass not only to be sure of their shares but also to defend the meat from scavengers.
8 Based on the facts presented by Kerasote hunting, therefore, made us social. Since we have evolved and advanced so much that hunting is outdated in most cases, we hunt for other reasons. Hunting has brought us subsistence, and then the social aspect took over and now we are acting in the reverse direction of why we started hunting in the first place. The social aspect has led us to believe that hunting is acceptable just for the social aspect and not for that which it was originally intended.
On the other hand, certain people, hold that animals were not put on earth for our use, certainly not so that we can kill them for pleasure. To the various DGR people mentioned in the paper, sport hunting is no more exalted than pulling the wings off flies. What the issue comes down to, then, is this: Now that we have become an industrialized society, should we indulge our instincts at the expense of other intelligent forms of life? That question has been very intelligently addressed in Ted Kerasote’s book called Bloodties.
He makes a big a point in his introduction to the book that as long as we hunt locally (so that we don’t burn fossil fuel getting to our quarry) and as long as we eat the victim, we do infinitely less harm to the overall environment than we do by eating ordinary supermarket vegetables. After all, the vegetables are grown by an energy-hungry agribusiness whose pesticides decimate the ecosystem and whose combines fatally batter hundreds of small animals (insects, toads, snakes, ground-nesting birds, mice, voles, woodchucks, striped squirrels, weasels, skunks, foxes) in the course of each harvest.
But venison is in dramatic contrast to the vegetables resulting from that harvest, as well as to feed-dependent pork, beef, mutton, chicken and turkey. Unlike agricultural produce, venison requires no pesticide or fossil-fuel to grow, and results in the loss of just one life: the deer’s. 9 Why don’t we all see this? Because to many of us, the little animals in the crops are vermin and the deer are Bambi, yet as Kerasote points out, life is precious to all creatures. This point that he makes shows us how deep this animal harm goes, people who are vegans probably do not think this deep.
The land cleared for their food was once a home to animals. That same land is annually inhabited by other animals and every year they get killed or chased away by machinery. Kerasote hunts, probably very well. As a hunter he sounds more like an Inuit or a Bushman (or more like a wolf or a mountain lion, to name two other hunters of the deer) than like the camouflage-clad, beer-sodden macho types with automatic weapons who infest the woods each fall. And because he’s a hunter, Kerasote’s descriptions of hunts are realistic perfection, his detail is very vivid and proves the reader with imagery that makes you want to hunt.
The thrill of the hunt is what our ancestors must have followed in order to even overcome the challenge of hunting with stones and on foot. Trophy hunting is the selective hunting of wild game animals. Although parts of the slain animal may be kept as a hunting trophy or memorial (usually the skin, antlers and/or head), the carcass itself is seldom used as food or mostly it is considered useless and thrown away. 10 Sport hunting goes back to ancient Mesopotamia and Persia. Kings would conduct lion hunts from chariots, and would often stock their lands with the beasts for this purpose.
One of the oldest legends in history–Gilgamesh–celebrates his killing of lions and other beasts, mythic and real. Hunting–whether for food or for sport–has been directly tied to the extinction of megafauna in the Ice Age 41,000 years ago. The advent of firearms made hunting easier, and hunting expeditions (like the safaris of the 19th and early 20th centuries) became popular. 11 Before conservation laws, virtually anything was deemed fair game: elephants, tigers, rhinos, gorillas, wolves, deer, elk and most other large animals.
Most of the animals involved with trophy hunting are either endangered or on the watch list. “Sport” hunting is a brutal business. It means taking the life of an innocent animal for personal gain. The hunting industry doesn’t like the word kill because it exposes the lie that animals die peacefully after being arrowed, shot, trapped, choked and generally tortured to death. So they sanitize the cruelty of hunting by using euphemisms to describe their evil deeds. 12 To make matters worse, not all of these animals that are hunted for sport are eaten; this promotes the lack of appreciation for their life.
It is certainly true that many hunters seek to kill trophy animals which are precisely the animals that the species can least afford to lose: the “genetically prime” animals. 13 Since hunters look for the prime animals to kill, the stunted and genetically unfit animals are allowed to breed and then the offspring have less of a chance of surviving which further hinders the population as well as the hunters that are still hunting the species. A chief of this would be hunting elephants with big tusks.
When the animals with big tusks are poached, the remaining population has to breed with males that would have otherwise lost in fights over mating partners. Since these elephants are genetically inferior precisely due to the size of their tusks, they are less likely to survive because during the dry season they will not be able to dig for water, and their offspring would have to endure the same problem. This would cull the population to the point where there would not be enough healthy elephants to keep the population alive.
This just goes to show how such small actions by mankind can lead to such adverse effects for animals. Sport and trophy hunting have other deleterious effects on animal populations, as I discussed earlier in the paper with my example of the deer and wolf dilemma in northeast America. Hunting for sport has obliterated species. The dodo bird’s disappearance along with passenger pigeons’ is attributed mostly to sport hunters, and the historical decimation of the American buffalo from sport hunters nearly pushed that species to total extinction.
Big game hunting was a craze in the 1800s, and their effect on animal populations was devastating. Sport hunters of the time were ignorant of issues like sustainable breeding populations, and there were no protected species until the first conservation laws were passed in the 20th century. 14 Dark Green Religion people have made it their mission to let society know of the harm they are causing by hunting for pleasure. If you look at the bigger picture here, anything that humans do for pure pleasure generally has a harsh consequence for the environment.
If we paid attention to the devastation we cause we would probably help reduce the amount of damage we cause to our one and only planet. If the “pros” of sports hunting can be outweighed the “cons” by so much more it makes an obvious statement against sports hunting. Sport hunting has the direct effect of reducing animal populations; unless it is tightly regulated, this form of hunting can decimate species and disrupt the balance of ecosystems. 15 In many cases sports hunting has already upset an established ecological balance as in the case of the white tailed deer and the wolves.
The message of DGR people is quite clear at this point, and we see that in some cases advocacy helps, but illegal sports hunting still proceeds unhindered in many cases and we need to help raise support against it by denying a market for illegal animal products. According to various environmentalists along with Bron Taylor, Gottlieb, and Henry David Thoreau, in order to fix the problem, we need to identify the problem and advocate to the public to the point where the public will be scrambling for a solution on their own. As these various authors are working on advocating the problem, the environment and society are still on a downhill plunge.
In some cases we need visceral Dark Green Religion to come in explain why some groups regard wilderness with such reverence. It is because of Dark Green Religion that I even wanted to write this paper. I hope the rest of the world is as understanding as I am and attempt to do as much as anyone can to help improve the situation, because that is the only way change will occur.
Bibliography Gunn, Alastair S. “Environmental Ethics and Trophy Hunting. ” Ethics & the Environment. no. 1 (2001): 68-95. Kerasote, Ted. Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt . New York: Random House, 1993.
Priscilla Cohn Ethics and Wildlife: Hunting Myths, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1999. Swan, James A. In Defense Of Hunting. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. Tallmadge, John, “Deerslayer with a Degree,” in Mark Allister (ed. ) Eco-Man: New Perspectives on Masculinity and Nature, University of Virginia Press, 2004, 17-27 Taylor, Bron.
Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2009. Wade, Maurice L. “Animal Liberationaism, Ecocentrism, and the Morality of Sport Hunting. ” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport. (1990): 15-27.