Is It Possible for Intelligent People to Understand Hunting?

Hunters' numbers have risen over a five-year period from 2006 to 2011, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Eleven percent more Americans (ages 16 and older) fished and 9% more hunted in 2011 than in 2006, according to USFWS, a loud reversal of a twenty year decline. More and more folks are understanding that doing things outdoors are healthy according to Dan Ashe, the Fish and Wildlife Service's director.

It isn't surprising that some people automatically object to what they don't know. Only 6% of California residents fished in 2011, but 41% in Alaska did. Just 1% of Massachusetts residents hunted in 2011, but 21% of South Dakota residents did.

As a matter of fact, some 90% of the people of the world eat meat and that number is on the rise, led by China. In the United States and Canada, an estimated 97 – 98% of the population consumes meat. Of the couple of percent of the population that doesn't consume meat, they still buy it in various forms from food for their pet dogs and cats, live feeder mice, crickets, worms, and so forth for pet reptiles. It is an untenable contradiction, for hiring mercenaries to kill and butcher meat for your use is what compared to actually getting it for yourself? Just laziness?

The existence of mankind stresses wildlife, for loss of habitat is a key factor. Yet, automobiles, trains, airports, farming, wind farms . . . all of these things randomly kill animals every single minute. That's 24 / 7, no tags required, a year round situation that has no season and is random in its mass-killing.

Wildebeest migration, courtesy of FujiFilm and the Fujifilm XS-1.

The best way to insure survival of a species is to hunt it. No one cares more about healthy game populations than hunters. Every year, I spend thousands in licenses, taxes, and fees just for opportunity. The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration of 1937, most often referred to as the Pittman–Robertson Act for its sponsors, has raised over $2 Billion U.S. It has been so successful, that a similar approach was used for fish, the Dingell–Johnson Act. Hunters contribute somewhere upwards of three and a half million dollars every day in the United States to conservation by purchasing taxable items and hunting licenses.

For every individual that has nothing better to do than complain about hunting, the question that begs to be asked is how many thousands of dollars did they contribute to DNR's last year? How much habitat restoration and protection have they funded? How many hungry folks have they given meat to? How hard do you have to hit a chicken to turn it into a McNugget, anyway? Do we think that if animals like their health care plan, they can keep it, period?

Last month (November 13, 2013), horrified onlookers at the Dallas zoo watched as a male lion killed five year old lioness, Johari, by biting her in the neck and clamping down for about ten minutes, for no apparent reason.

Male lions don't live long in the wild, primarily because they kill each other. Male lions don't hunt, the lionesses do, and 80% of lion cubs die before the age of two. When male lions oust a dominant lion, they tend to kill all the lion cubs as well. Lionesses do not become fertile or receptive until their cubs mature or die: males lions take the quicker path by just killing them all. Lions charge and kill hyenas for no apparent reason, leaving them to rot. Lions tend to dominate smaller cats such as cheetahs and leopards where they co-occur, stealing their kills and killing their cubs and adults when given the chance. Lions (like pet house cats) often kill just to kill and remain on of the most despicable predators on the planet. How could this actually be news to anyone at this late date? The lion's proclivity for man-eating has been systematically examined. American and Tanzanian scientists report that man-eating behavior in rural areas of Tanzania increased greatly from 1990 to 2005. At least 563 villagers were attacked and many eaten over this period. Yet, when someone hunts a lion legally, it is some sort of a weird news event. Lions kill lions all the time as a matter of course. It is their nature.

Australia apparently wants to kill Great White Sharks now, for no other reason than it can. When governments kill things with tax dollars, it isn't called killing, it is called “culling.” The West Australian (WA) government has announced their shark mitigation policy, or in layman’s terms, their cull of Great White Sharks. This is being led by the Hon. Premier Barnett and, at the time, by acting Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell. Australia, home of the great governmental minds that introduced the cane toad to Australia. Native to Central and South America, cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in June 1935 by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations in an attempt to control the native grey-backed cane beetle (Dermolepida albohirtum) and Frenchi beetle. From the initial releases of one hundred or so toads, there are now over 200 million of the bloody things. It certainly is an “invasive species,” but the invasion was enabled by the stupidity of the Australian government. The United States of course is good at exterminating things, as is the case of the American Bison. When you are in the middle of genocide of the Native American, what better way to kill them than to just destroy their prime food source? Starving Indians worked well: it saved the writing of a few more treaties to break, perhaps.

What of science? Unfortunately, education does not equate to wisdom. Consider the plight of Ming, the mollusk, as reported in November, 2013. Ming was the world's oldest living creature, estimated to be 400 years old. Ming the ocean quahog was dredged up in 2006, in Iceland. The external growth rings were not precise indicators of age, so British scientists had to know. They opened up Ming, killing him in the process, concluding he was 405 years old. Ming was actually 507 years old when killed by scientists, for they had originally miscounted the growth rings on the hinge ligament of their kill. The killing of Ming is held as "incredibly fascinating" to a portion of the scientific community. The charity Help the Aged, gave the marine biologists from Bangor University £40,000 to investigate why this animal lives so long. For far less than £40,000, I could have told them that if you want to live that long, you need to be an invertebrate with a very, very slow metabolism. If you want to live longer, you need to keep away from scientists.

Hunting and conservation are inextricably linked. If not for hunters such as Theodore Roosevelt and John Olin, there would be scant little in the way of wildlife in the United States for everyone to enjoy. No one needs to hunt, but ordering a pizza is not a particularly courageous act, nor one that protects wildlife. Whether anyone hunts or not, the benefits of hunting cannot be ignored, for all you have to do is just very basic research to gain knowledge of the subject. If you love nature and wildlife, be thankful that there are hunters willing to invest billions of dollars to insure its continuation and conservation, when no one else does. To ban hunting is often to condemn a species to extinction, to create a world where the zoo and the circus is the pathetic remnant of what was once nature.


Pure Opinion: Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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