By Natalie Blanton
This is merely food for thought [rather than animals]. An earnest olive branch. From me to you. From a vegan to a hunter. Hear me out. I understand you long to “connect” with the Earth and “live off of the land”. Trust me, I get it. Humans have been separated from the natural world, to an alarming extent, post-industrial revolution — and it is beyond frustrating. Hunting has since been shifted from survival into the category of “recreation” or “sport”, because we now live in a world that has been built upon the backs of oppressed animals. And animal products are readily available everywhere, and seemingly sneak their way into everything.
I grew up among you. In rural Utah where, every fall, there would be carcasses of deer, elk, and the occasional moose, hung from trees in your front yards, like disturbing trophies. It was horrifying, even before I was awakened by animal liberation.
Hunters, know this. Scholars are beginning to shift the language around “Hunter-Gatherer” societies to “Gather-Hunter” because the bulk of human sustenance has, in fact, always been dependent on foraged nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables. Animal-based protein was few and far between in the early days of human life, and thus, we have been able to not only survive, but thrive on a plant-based diet for centuries. And now? It is easier than ever.
Every human should realize that industrial animal agriculture or factory farming is vile. For so many reasons. And I absolutely understand your desire to abstain from paying into that sector. But, I see you, hunters. I see you with your crumpled up McDonalds wrappers on the dash of your truck. I see that you want to have, what you think is YOUR cake and eat it, too. This Earth, and all of her inhabitants, are not YOURS. This planet does not belong to us, as humans. I would argue we have lost any privilege or right to these natural spaces, after we have increasingly and greedily infected and parasitically fed off of the natural bounty.
Hunters, I know this is tradition, or a huge component of your lifestyle. But, before you try to argue and debate with me, here are some facts for you to digest [instead of these defenseless animals]:
- Hunting is not conservation. Hunting is not an effective or “natural” balance of wildlife population. You want us to believe that killing animals equals population control equals conservation, when in fact hunting causes overpopulation of deer (your preferred victim species) destroys animal families, and leads to ecological disruption as well as skewed population dynamics. In fact, most state wildlife management agencies intentionally keep the deer population high, for hunters.
- Lands managed for hunting are often purchased and maintained with tax dollars, even though 95% of Americans do not hunt.
- If you value wildlife, why do you insist on terrifying, injuring, and eventually killing them? Disrupting what is natural and beautiful.
- Hunting is not a “sport”. Sport involves competition between two consenting parties, adherence to rules and fairness ensured by an intervening referee, and achieving highest scores but not death as the goal of the sporting events. In hunting, the animal is forced to “participate” in a live-or-die situation that always leads to the death of the animal, whereas the hunter leaves, his/her life never remotely at stake.
- Hunting is not “fair chase” when your arsenal is complete with rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, bows and arrows.
- Hunters kill more than 200 million animals yearly – crippling, orphaning, and harassing millions more.
- The annual “hunting season” 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.
- You are not doing the rest of the populace any favors, I assure you. Let natural carnivores continue to balance their ecosystem, and stay out of their way. Do not disrupt these processes. Natural predators such as wolves, mountain lions, and bears are the real ecosystem managers, if allowed to live out the seasons of their lives. “For instance, the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park (YNP) caused “ripple effects” throughout the ecosystem, with an increase in ‘biodiversity,’ including a higher occurrence of beavers, several bird and plant species, and natural habitat and stream recovery.”
- Hunting leads to species destruction and ultimate extinction.
- Venison, or deer flesh, is often contaminated with lead, as the bullet that injures or eventually kills the deer can spread far into the meat and greater system of the animal prior to death — making it highly difficult to remove during butchering and processing. A 2009 study in PLoS ONE found that 80% of professionally processed deer meat samples contained lead fragments. Furthermore, deer hunters and their families continually have higher-than-average lead concentrations in their blood. These levels can cause kidney damage, hearing problems, aggressive behavior, anemia, constipation, and difficulties with sleep. Venison is also more prone to foodborne illness such as E. coli.
If you are anti-hunting, In Defense of Animals has a list of what to do to take this fight further:
Before you support a “wildlife” or “conservation” group, ask about its position on hunting and trapping. Some groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, the Izaak Walton League, the Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund support recreational hunting or they do not oppose it.
If you are a student of environmental studies, conservation and natural resource management or wildlife biology, challenge the concept of hunting as the foundation for wildlife conservation/management. Become familiar with non-lethal human/wildlife conflict solutions, and educate your classmates, your professors and your community.
Attend public meetings of your state’s wildlife agency, voice your opinion against hunting in their public commenting process. Speak up, write letters and comments, and encourage others to do the same.
Join or form an anti-hunting organization and help with spreading the word about the injustice done against wild animals by hunters and state wildlife agencies.
Contact your state’s Governor and wildlife agency, and request equal consideration of non-hunters in employment opportunities, and equal representation of non-hunters in any decision-making process about wildlife.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.“
– Albert Einstein
I truly hope you were able to hear me out. And give those defenseless animals a second thought. It is up to us to do better for this earth. It is time to level-up ethically. And recognize that we are not the top of the food chain, in anyway that is fair or natural. Hunting is unnecessary in so much of the developed/western world (I would argue, consuming all animals is, as well). We, as a species, are the root cause of so many global issues. And we have the choice to do one thing: respect animals in such a way that we do not eat, wear, experiment on, or hunt/torture them.
In solidarity, for all of us – human and animal alike,