I am currently reading a book entitled, “The Call” by Yannick Murphy. The book’s main character is a veterinarian who, oddly enough, enjoys hunting. I have never been able to understand how a person who devotes their life to healing sick and injured animals can inflict injury and death on those animals in their spare time. Unfortunately the story is not particularly far-fetched as two of my classmates were avid duck hunters. When questioned (harassed) about this their only defence appeared to be that they ate their victims. This seems to be a commonly used defence as does the “enjoying the great outdoors” one. I too enjoy the great outdoors and I enjoy seeking out and watching animals go about their business. I don’t, however, feel the need to then go and kill them. The only shooting I do involves a camera.
When we bought our rural property it was overrun with rabbits, and still is unfortunately. I had grand ideas about shooting all the rabbits and providing the meat to the local zoo to feed to the carnivores. I even went out shooting a few times, but my heart just wasn’t in it. While I can certainly see the need to remove the rabbits and other feral species, such as foxes, I take no pleasure in the activity and so have left it to those friends who do seem to enjoy it.
The inconsistency in this approach is not lost on me and other conservationists who routinely work with hunters. Unfortunately this dance with the devil is a necessary evil as, ironically, hunters can be a force for good when it comes to conservation. At a wildlife management conference I attended, the pros and cons of hunting were widely debated, and the final consensus was that hunting brings in far more money than ecotourism. This is money that can be ploughed back into conservation and local communities. For example, instead of rangers culling a rogue elephant a hunter will gladly pay for the opportunity to add the pachyderm to his trophy cabinet. Revenue raised from hunter related activities in California paid for the acquisition of a helicopter by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Controlled legal hunting has the potential to decrease poaching as local communities benefit from hunting but not from poaching. As I recall only the Indians objected to hunting on ethical grounds.
While I acknowledge that the end can justify the means, what I still cannot grasp is that people kill animals, not for food, not because they damage the environment or other species, not because they are a danger to people, but because they enjoy it.
Dr. F. Bunny