To fully understand the senseless slaughter that is being carried out against wild animals by sports hunters, it is necessary for people to have empathy and to be conscious of the pain, suffering and death caused by this unnecessary kind of killing. It’s time for people to acknowledge that wild animals also have “rights”. Much more should be done to protect wild animals from sports killing, trophy hunters and poachers. When it comes to cruelty to animals, the Humane Society and most people care more about stray dogs and alley cats than they ever cared about the abuse of wild animals. People become emotionally attached to their pets and often don’t feel any kind of empathy for wild animals.
Just because an animal is wild and untamed doesn’t mean it’s any less sensitive to pain and suffering. If all the sports hunters who are clamoring for trophies could but visualize changing the hunter role to where they are the hunted, they could at last see life and death from the animal's perspective! Perhaps, maybe then they wouldn’t be so quick to make unnecessary kills.
In the hunter-gathering times of ancient man, wild animals were killed primarily for food and when people were defending themselves. As the weapons of people got more sophisticated and deadly, many more animals were killed just for the sport of killing. The early pioneers of America unnecessarily killed huge numbers of wildlife, causing many animals to become extinct. Traditions die hard, but the world should be ready for a new evaluation of both people and wild animals.
To the true naturalist, the trophies of sports hunters are hideous reminders of the atrocities that have been committed against once living animals. To all the people who truly respect nature, there is nothing noble, courageous or heroic about killing wild animals for the sport of it. This kind of killing is reminiscent of the times when human skulls were kept as trophies by headhunters and cannibals!
Religions and traditions have helped to create a “superiority complex” in the majority of people. This kind of belief places mankind at the center of the universe and belittles all the other evolutionary specializations that have occurred in other forms of life. Many people believe they have the right to take away the rights of all the other creatures. The crimes that humanity has perpetrated against nature have been well documented in history. It is a matter of record that mankind, Homo sapiens, is the most destructive species of the animal kingdom to ever inhabit the earth.
Here in America, a country that has often prided itself on being conservation minded, there have been many flaws in the way wild animals are protected. When wild animals and people are crowded together there is always conflict. In Florida, state officials have killed black bears that have attacked people. The trouble could have been prevented if the bears had been placed in a fenced in preserve away from people and their domestic animals. (Fences have worked wonders in many wildlife sanctuaries around the world.)
Many more wild animal preserves are needed to keep people and wild animals apart. Fenced in corridors extending over many miles would allow genetic diversity and if no roads were allowed thru the preserves this would prevent road kills. Too much of the habitat of wild animals has been destroyed and we need to give them a new home.
In many instances, conservation agencies are protecting wildlife only for the benefit of hunters. Game laws do not eliminate the scourge of sports killing. While laws may regulate how many animals a hunter can kill and when the animals can be killed, in the long run, this only exacerbates the problem of sports killing by allowing more animals to multiply for more hunters to kill. Conventional game laws may help prevent a species from becoming extinct, but over a period of time, all the living members of that kind of animal are subject to the same old kind of unnecessary killing.
Faulty management has often destroyed the natural ecosystem. When the early pioneers of America were carelessly slaughtering wildlife, they probably were unaware of the consequences that would follow. The same old story was repeated over and over from coast to coast and there are many kinds of animals involved in this story. Today the unnecessary killing still goes on.
In the state of Missouri, during the 19th century, the whitetail deer were almost wiped out by hunters. By 1925, there was estimated to be only about 400 deer left. In 1937 the Conservation Commission was formed and there was an effort to save the deer. A few small herds of deer were left in refuges and later more were shipped in from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. From 1938 to 1943 the deer season was closed. By 1944 the deer season was reopened when there was an estimated 15,000 deer in the state of Missouri. The natural predators of deer, wolves and cougars, had been killed off. The deer were only nurtured and primed so sports hunters could target them.
This mass production of wildlife for the sports industry has turned thousands of acres into regimented “killing fields” where huge numbers of wild animals are being slaughtered in the name of sports. At this time, many young people are being taught by their parents to take up sports hunting. America’s obsession with guns and other weapons has helped to fuel this unnecessary kind of killing.
The rights of wild animals have been violated in many different ways. People have long imposed their selective breeding programs upon the animal kingdom and are now experimenting with genetic modifications. The result of all this tampering with nature has been the creation of animals that are, in many instances, freaks of deformity and total misfits. (This can be exhibited in any dog show.) It’s time to keep the genetic reserves pure by protecting the wild animals. There is always a “downside” to selective breeding.
The dogs of humanity have suffered greatly from their transference from the natural wolf stock to the selectively bred animals that came later. Not only are most dogs inferior to wolves in surviving in the wild but also there are a lot of inherent weaknesses in many breeds of dogs. The loyalty of wolves was meant to hold the pack together and this commendable attribute is still present in dogs, but too often this loyalty is being squandered on people who only abuse them.
Another area where people have interfered with the ways of nature has been the “coddling” of wild animals to make them family pets. Many people have brought wild animals into the confines of civilization only to discover that the animals did not adjust to their new environment. When people lose their infatuation with their “pets” they often release them into the wild. Only a relatively few kinds of wild animals can make it in the wild when hand-raised. In Florida, pet pythons were released into the everglades and later, state officials were trying to exterminate thousands of them!
Wild animals should stay wild and free. There are farmers here in America raising bison, elk and other wild animals just to be killed for food. These animals should never be herded and slaughtered like cattle! Farming operations should not be allowed to encroach upon the heritage of wildlife. With all their domestic animals, people have an ample food supply in many places where they don’t have to kill wild animals for food. Sports hunters who can afford all the equipment needed in trophy hunting usually never need the meat. More often than not, it is an egotistical pursuit tainted with bloodlust and tradition that drives sports hunters to kill wild animals unnecessarily.
Endangered wildlife should be protected at all times. Killing polar bears and other kinds of bears should be outlawed. One big attraction in Alaska has been the killing of bears for trophies. One “guide” there stated he hated to see the bears killed, but thought he was doing the bears a favor by leading hunters only to the biggest male bears and sparing the females! Some of the many low-life tactics of sports hunters has been to kill polar bears with high-powered firearms after chasing them with snowmobiles, icebreakers and airplanes!
Many governments have allowed sports hunters and native subsistence hunters to kill endangered wildlife. This kind of killing has caused too many animals to become extinct. Regardless of race or place of birth, “all” people, (including subsistence hunters) should be prohibited from killing endangered wildlife, whether it’s at the North Pole, South Pole or anywhere in between!
All around the world, sports hunters have earned a bad reputation. Trophy hunters in Africa have paid a lot of money to hunting operators who provide them with “tame” lions to kill (canned lion hunting). The lions have been raised as pets and are easy targets. The big cats are simply led into an enclosure and the trophy hunters shoot them with high-powered firearms! This kind of killing shows how low-life some members of the sports industry are; it also brings out the worst side of humanity, reflecting sadism, egotism and cowardice!
Added to the perils of sports hunting, poachers are also a major threat to wild animals. In Africa, huge numbers of elephants are being slaughtered just for their tusks, leaving behind growing numbers of helpless orphan elephants. In some locations, it has come to a war between the protectors of wildlife and the destroyers of wildlife. The president of Uganda has ordered his people to shoot poachers on sight! If more nations would take this approach there would be a lot less poachers and a lot more animals! Obviously, it’s going to take a lot of drastic action to stop the poachers.
There should be an organized effort to get rid of all those stupid traditions about the magical powers of animal parts. Too many people in China, India and some other countries believe they can obtain magical powers from tiger bones, elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns and other parts of animals. There may be a way to educate these people to respect and rejoice in the living animal rather than being deceived by their illusions about a dead animal! These are the people who are “paying” the poachers and they have created a criminal organization where the poachers are acting like hired killers. Usually, working clandestinely in their home territory, the poachers have resorted to the most sadistic forms of killing, including the poisoning of water holes.
The people in the sports industry who are continuing to bring unnecessary suffering and death to wild animals may think of themselves as being civilized and caring individuals, but their disregard for other life forms is reminiscent of the savages of the past! It is time for everybody to try to make up for some of the injustices that mankind has committed against nature. Too many people have forgotten or never realized their close biological links to all the other creatures of this planet and have distanced themselves from the real crisis wild animals are facing just to survive. Wild animals have as much right to live on this earth as people. They have the right to have a home and to be left alone in their home. When enough people come to understand and acknowledge that wild animals also have rights, the killing of wild animals for sport will be outlawed.
--Marlin O. Wallace