Hunting essay Essay
“Sport” hunting is a violent form of recreation that has left countless animals maimed, and orphaned animals vulnerable to starvation, exposure, and predation. This activity disrupts natural animal population dynamics and has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk. (1,2)
Although less than 5 percent of the U. S.population hunts, hunting is permitted in many wildlife refuges, national forests, and state parks and on other public lands3 where almost half of all hunters slaughter and maim millions of animals every year (by some estimates, poachers kill just as many animals illegally). (4,5) The vast majority of hunters do not kill for subsistence. (6) Municipalities and other entities often resort to hunting in an attempt to reduce urban animal populations, but lethal methods never work in the long run and often backfire.
When animals are killed or removed, a spike in the food supply results. (7) This causes survivors and newcomers to breed at an accelerated rate—and populations actually increase. (8) The result is a pointless, never-ending, and expensive killing cycle. Pain and Suffering Many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when they are injured by hunters. Bowhunters often spend hours tracking the blood trails of animals before finding them. Many are never found by hunters.
(9) Our office routinely receives reports from upset residents who spot animals wandering around with gunshot wounds or protruding arrows. In cases in which euthanasia is not feasible, weeks can elapse before victims succumb to their injuries. It is also not uncommon for us to hear of wounded animals running wildly onto highways, posing grave risks to commuters. An estimated 20 percent of foxes who have been wounded by hunters must be shot again to be killed. Ten percent manage to escape, but “starvation is a likely fate” for them, according to one veterinarian.
(10) A South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks biologist estimates that more than 3 million wounded ducks go “unretrieved” every year. (11) A British study of deer hunting found that 11 percent of deer who’d been killed by hunters died only after being shot two or more times and that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying. (12) A member of the Maine Bowhunters Alliance estimates that 50 percent of animals who are shot with crossbows are wounded but not killed. (13)
A study of 80 radio-collared white-tailed deer found that of the 22 deer who had been shot with “traditional archery equipment,” 11 were wounded but not recovered by hunters. (14) Hunting disrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys families. For animals such as wolves, who mate for life and live in close-knit family units, hunting can devastate entire communities. The stress from which hunted animals suffer can severely compromise their normal eating habits, making it hard for them to store the fat and energy that they need in order to survive the winter.
Stress can also cause animals to bound onto roadways, abandon their young, or become weak and succumb to parasites and disease. Blood-Thirsty and Profit-Driven To attract more hunters (and their money), federal and state agencies implement programs—often called “wildlife management” or “conservation” programs—that are designed to boost the numbers of “game” species (since killing individuals will prompt surviving animals to breed at an accelerated rate, resulting in more animals in the long run).
These programs help to ensure that there are plenty of animals for hunters to kill and, consequently, plenty of revenue from the sale of hunting licenses. Duck hunters in Louisiana persuaded the state wildlife agency to direct $100,000 a year toward “reduced predator impact,” which involved trapping foxes and raccoons so that more duck eggs would hatch, giving hunters more birds to kill. (15)
The Ohio Division of Wildlife teamed up with a hunter-organized society to push for clear-cutting (i. e., decimating large tracts of trees) in Wayne National Forest in order to “produce habitat needed by ruffed grouse. “(16) In Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game is trying to increase the number of moose for hunters by “controlling” the wolf and bear populations. Grizzlies and black bears have been moved hundreds of miles away from their homes.
Two were shot by hunters within two weeks of their relocation, and others have simply returned to their homes. (17) Wolves have been slaughtered in order to “let the moose population rebound and provide a higher harvest for local hunters.
“(18) In the early 1990s, a program designed to reduce the wolf population backfired when snares failed to kill victims quickly, and photos of suffering wolves were viewed by an outraged public. (19) Nature Takes Care of Its Own The delicate balance of ecosystems ensures their own survival—if they are left unaltered. Natural predators help maintain this balance by killing the sickest and weakest individuals. Hunters, however, kill any animal whose head they would like to hang over the fireplace—including large, healthy animals who are needed to keep the population strong.
Elephant poaching is believed to have increased the number of tuskless animals in Africa, and in Canada, hunting has caused bighorn sheep’s horn size to fall by 25 percent in the last 40 years—Nature magazine reports that “the effect on the populations’ genetics is probably deeper. “(20) Even when unusual natural occurrences cause overpopulation, natural processes work to stabilize the group. Starvation and disease can be tragic, but they are nature’s ways of ensuring that healthy, strong animals survive and maintain the strength level of the rest of their herd or group.
Shooting an animal because he or she might starve or become sick is arbitrary and destructive. Not only does hunting jeopardize nature’s balance, it also exacerbates other problems. For example, the transfer of captive-bred deer and elk between states for the purpose of hunting is believed to have contributed to the epidemic spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). As a result, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given state wildlife agencies millions of dollars to “manage” deer and elk populations.
(21) The fatal neurological illness that affects these animals has been likened to mad cow disease, but the USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that CWD has no relationship to any similar diseases that affect humans or farmed animals, so the slaughter of deer and elk continues. (22,23) Another problem with hunting involves the introduction of exotic “game” animals into the wild. Animals who are released or escape from game ranches often form populations in the wild and are subjected to cruel eradication efforts when they are considered “invasive.
” For instance, the game ranching (also known as “canned hunting”) of boars has caused feral swine colonies to become so pervasive that some states across the U. S. are allowing them to be cruelly gunned down from helicopters. Canned Cruelty Most hunting occurs on private land, where laws that protect wildlife are often inapplicable or difficult to enforce. On private lands that are set up as for-profit hunting reserves or game ranches, hunters can pay to kill native and exotic species in “canned hunts.
” These animals may be native to the area, raised elsewhere and brought in, or purchased from individuals who are trafficking in unwanted or surplus animals from zoos and circuses. They are hunted and killed for the sole purpose of providing hunters with a “trophy. ” Canned hunts are becoming big business—there are an estimated 1,000 game preserves in the U. S. (24) Ted Turner, the country’s largest private landowner, allows hunters to pay thousands of dollars to kill bison, deer, African antelopes, and turkeys on his 2 million acres.
(25) Most game ranches operate on a “no kill, no pay” policy, so it is in owners’ best interests to ensure that clients get what they came for. Owners do this by offering guides who are familiar with animals’ locations and habits, permitting the use of dogs, and supplying “feeding stations” that lure unsuspecting animals to food while hunters lie in wait. Animals on canned-hunting ranches are often accustomed to humans and are usually unable to escape from the enclosures that they are confined to, which range in size from just a few yards to thousands of acres.
Many states, including Arizona, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, have limited or banned canned hunts, but there are no federal laws regulating the practice at this time. (26,27) Other Victims Hunting accidents destroy property and injure or kill horses, cows, dogs, cats, hikers, and other hunters. In 2006, then–Vice President Dick Cheney infamously shot a friend while hunting quail on a canned-hunting preserve. 28 According to the International Hunter Education Association, dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries are attributed to hunting in the U. S.every year—and that number includes incidents involving only humans.
29 It is an ongoing problem, and one warden explained that “hunters seem unfamiliar with their firearms and do not have enough respect for the damage they can do. “(30) The bears, cougars, deer, foxes, and other animals who are chased, trapped, and even killed by dogs during (sometimes illegal) hunts aren’t the only ones to suffer from this variant of the “sport. ” Dogs used for hunting are often kept chained or penned and are denied routine veterinary care such as vaccines and heartworm medication.
Some are lost during hunts and never found, while others are turned loose at the end of hunting season to fend for themselves and possibly die of starvation or get struck by a vehicle. Wildlife Control in Urban Areas Municipalities seeking to reduce wildlife population numbers can do so effectively and humanely by implementing an integrated, adaptive approach. Effective wildlife-control plans focus on containing food sources in residential areas and modifying habitat in riparian (wetlands adjacent to a natural waterway) and wildlife corridors.
A key to keeping wildlife populations in balance in urban areas is to ensure that free-roaming, healthy wildlife are never artificially fed. Animals who are artificially fed lose their fear of humans and begin to approach residents (who mistake them for being rabid or aggressive) as well as hunters! Feeding also causes animals to breed at an accelerated rate, resulting in more animals. The more animals you have in a small area, the more likely they will be perceived as overpopulated or as a nuisance, especially when they start to eat flowers, damage gardens, or defecate on sidewalks.
Many people and municipalities will quickly resort to killing unwanted animals (using poisons, trappers, and other inhumane methods) in a misguided attempt to get rid of them NUMBER 2 Hunting, the stalking and killing of animals, has been an American tradition most likely since the Ice Age when plant food became scarce. Today it exists as a “sport”; even when the animals’ flesh is eaten, there is no excuse or justification for stalking and killing an animal in his or her habitat. Nevertheless, people not only engage in hunting but strongly defend it as their right to do so.
With an arsenal of rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, bows and arrows, hunters kill more than 200 million animals yearly – crippling, orphaning, and harassing millions more. The annual death toll in the U. S. includes 42 million mourning doves, 30 million squirrels, 28 million quail, 25 million rabbits, 20 million pheasants, 14 million ducks, 6 million deer, and thousands of geese, bears, moose, elk, antelope, swans, cougars, turkeys, wolves, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, boars, and other woodland creatures. (Compiled by The Fund for Animals with data from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies.)
Less than seven percent of the U. S. population hunts. Hunting is permitted on 60 percent of U. S. wildlife refuges and in many national forests and state parks. On federal land alone (more than half a billion acres), more than 200 million animals are killed every year. Hunting by humans operates perversely. The kill ratio at a couple hundred feet with a semi-automatic weapon and scope is virtually 100 percent. The animal, no matter how well-adapted to escape natural predation, has virtually no way to escape death once he/she is in the cross hairs of a scope mounted on a rifle.
Nature’s adaptive structures and behaviors that have evolved during millions of years simply count for naught when a human is the hunter. Most deer, for example, would not perceive anything that is within the effective range of a big game rifle (up to 400 yards) as a predator or a source of danger. A wolf at that distance, even though detected, would be totally ignored. Even the much smaller range of bow-hunter (about 50-75 feet) is barely of concern to deer. Deer may start to keep an eye on a hunter at that distance, but the evasion instinct doesn’t kick in until it’s too late.
The stress that hunting inflicts on animals–the noise, the fear, and the constant chase–severely restricts their ability to eat adequately and store the fat and energy they need to survive the winter. Hunting also disrupts migration and hibernation, and the campfires, recreational vehicles, trash, and other hunting side effects endanger both wildlife and the environment. For animals like wolves who mate for life and have close-knit family units, hunting can severely harm entire communities.
Hunters and hunting organizations, including state and federally funded sponsors like Fish and Wildlife Services and departments of environmental conservation, promote supposed justifications as to why hunting is necessary. One of these justifications is that if certain animals were not hunted, they would slowly die of starvation and thus the lesser of the two evils is to humanely kill them. There are problems with this logic. When hunters talk about shooting overpopulated animals, they are usually referring to white-tailed deer, representing only 3 percent of all the animals killed by hunters.
Sport hunters shoot millions of mourning doves, squirrels, rabbits, and waterfowl, and thousands of predators, none of whom any wildlife biologist would claim are overpopulated or need to be hunted. Even with deer, hunters do not search for starving animals. They either shoot animals at random, or they seek out the strongest and healthiest animals in order to bring home the biggest trophies or largest antlers. Hunters and wildlife agencies are not concerned about reducing deer herds, but rather with increasing the number of targets for hunters and the number of potential hunting license dollars.
Thus, they use deer overpopulation as a smokescreen to justify their sport. The New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife states that “the deer resource has been managed primarily for the purpose of sport hunting,” (New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, An Assessment of Deer Hunting in New Jersey, 1990). Hunters also shoot nonnative species such as ring-necked pheasants who are hand-fed and raised in pens and then released into the wild just before hunting season.
Even if the pheasants – native to China – survive the hunters’ onslaught, they are certain to die of exposure or starvation in the nonnative environment. While hunters claim they save overpopulated animals from starvation, they intentionally breed some species and let them starve to death. Hunters and hunting organizations also promote the idea that hunting is necessary for “wildlife management” and “conservation. ” “Wildlife management” and “conservation” are euphemisms used to describe programs that ensure that there are always enough animals for hunters to hunt.
Because they make their money primarily from the sale of hunting licenses, the major function of wildlife agencies is not to protect individual animals or biological diversity, but to propagate “game” species for hunters to shoot. State agencies build roads through our wild lands to facilitate hunter access, they pour millions of tax dollars into law enforcement of hunting regulations and hunter education, and into manipulating habitat by burning and clear-cutting forests to increase the food supply for “game” species such as deer. More food means a larger herd and more animals available as targets.
Hunting programs also cause wildlife overpopulation by stimulating breeding by conducting “buck only” hunts, which can leave as many as six does per buck; pen-raising quail, grouse, and pheasants for use as hunters’ targets; transporting raccoons, antelopes, martens, wild turkeys, and other animals from one state to another to bolster populations for hunters; and exterminating predators like wolves and mountain lions in order to throw prey populations off balance, thereby “justifying” the killing of both “dangerous” and “surplus” animals.
Hunters claim that they pay for “conservation” by buying hunting licenses, duck stamps, etc. But the relatively small amount each hunter pays does not cover the cost of hunting programs or game warden salaries. The public lands many hunters use are supported by taxpayers. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs, which benefit hunters, get most of their funds from general tax revenues, not hunting fees. Funds benefiting “non-game” species are scarce.
Hunters kill more animals than recorded tallies indicate. It is estimated that, for every animal a hunter kills and recovers, at least two wounded but unrecovered animals die slowly and painfully of blood loss, infection, or starvation. Those who don’t die often suffer from disabling injuries. Because of carelessness or the effects of alcohol, scores of horses, cows, dogs, cats, hikers, and others are wounded or killed each year by hunters.
In 1988, 177 people were killed and 1,719 injured by hunters while walking through the woods or on their own property. Hunters say that they are “ethical” and follow the concept of “fair chase. ” What is fair about a chase in which the hunter uses a powerful weapon from ambush and the victim has no defense except luck? Furthermore, despite the hunting community’s repeated rhetoric of “hunting ethics,” many hunting groups have refused to end repugnant practices that go above and beyond the cruelty inherent in all sport hunting.
There is clearly no “fair chase” in many of the activities sanctioned by the hunting community, such as: “canned hunts,” in which tame, exotic animals – from African lions to European boars – are unfair game for fee-paying hunters at private fenced-in shooting preserves; “contest kills,” in which shooters use live animals as targets while competing for money and prizes in front of a cheering crowd; “wing shooting,” in which hunters lure gentle mourning doves to sunflower fields and blast the birds into pieces for nothing more than target practice,leaving more than 20 percent of the birds they shoot crippled and un-retrieved;
“Baiting,” in which trophy hunters litter public lands with piles of rotten food so they can attract unwitting bears or deer and shoot the feeding animals at point-blank range; ‘hounding,” in which trophy hunters unleash packs of radio-collared dogs to chase and tree bears, cougars, raccoons, foxes, bobcats, lynx, and other animals in a high-tech search and destroy mission, and then follow the radio signal on a handheld receptor and shoot the trapped animal off the tree branch.
Some hunters say hunting with a bow and arrow avoids using high tech equipment that might make it an unfair chase. Bow hunting is one of the cruelest forms of hunting because primitive archery equipment wounds more animals than it kills. Dozens of scientific studies indicate that bow hunting yields more than a 50 percent crippling rate. For every animal dragged from the woods, at least one animal is left wounded to suffer – either to bleed to death or to become infested with parasites and diseases. Hunting is not the cure but the cause of overpopulation and starvation.
Luke Dommer, the founder of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, had proposed to several state wildlife agencies that if they are serious about using hunting as a population control tool in areas where the sex ratio is already badly distorted, they should institute a doe season (taking no bucks but only does until the ratio is again stabilized at 50:50). All agencies have rejected that proposal thereby giving up any pretense of ecologically motivated sound wildlife management. They quite consciously and openly state that they are in business to provide the maximum number of live targets to hunters each year.
Powerful hunting lobbies in 35 states have persuaded lawmakers to enact “hunter harassment” laws that make it illegal for non-hunters to interfere in behalf of animals targeted by hunters, but these laws are being challenged on constitutional grounds. Connecticut’s law was found to impact on freedom of speech without a compelling state interest and was struck down by a U. S. appeals court. History of hunting During the persistence hunt an antelope, such as a kudu, is not shot or speared from a distance, but simply run down in the midday heat.
Depending on the specific conditions, hunters of the central Kalahari will chase a kudu for about two to five hours over 25 to 35 km (15 to 22 miles) in temperatures of about 40 to 42 °C (104 to 108 °F). The hunter chases the kudu, which then runs away out of sight. By tracking it down at a fast running pace the hunter catches up with it before it has had enough time to rest in the shade. The animal is repeatedly chased and tracked downuntil it is too exhausted to continue running. The hunter then kills it at close range with a spear.
The persistence hunt is still practised by hunter-gatherers in the central Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa. Even as animal domestication became relatively widespread, hunting was usually a significant contributor to the human food supply, even after the development of agriculture. The supplementary meat and materials from hunting included protein (literally “the most important”) food, bone for implements, sinew for cordage, fur and feathers for ornament, with rawhide and leather also used in clothing and shelter.
The earliest hunting weapons would have included rocks, spears, bow and arrows. On Ancient reliefs, especially from Mesopotamia, kings are often depicted as hunters on big game such as lions, specially from a war chariot, another virile status symbol; perhaps the archetype is the legendary biblical Nimrod (king). The cultural and psychological importance of hunting in ancient societies is represented by deities such as the horned god Cernunnos, or lunar goddesses of classical antiquity, Greek Artemis or Roman Diana.
Taboos are often related to hunting, and mythological association of prey species with a divinity could be reflected in hunting restrictions such as a ‘reserve’ surrounding a temple. Euripides’ tale of Artemis and Acteon, for example, may be seen as a caution against disrespect of prey or impudent boasting. Hunting is still vital in marginal climates, especially those unsuited for pastoral uses or agriculture. Inuit peoples in the Arctic trap and hunt animals for clothing, and produce complicated parkas consisting of up to 60 stitched pieces capable of with-standing sub-zero temperatures.
From the skins of sea mammals they may make water-proof kayaks, clothing, gloves and footwear. With domestication of the dog, birds of prey and the ferret, various forms of animal-aided hunting developed including venery (scent hound hunting, such as fox hunting), coursing (sight hound hunting), falconry and ferreting. These are allassociated with medieval hunting; in time various dog breeds were selected for very precise tasks during the hunt, reflected in such names as pointer and setter.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 May 2017
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