Fall is hunting season, and in central Ohio certain manly men are salivating over “controlling the deer population,” i.e., viciously murdering helpless, non-threatening Bambis. Call me a wuss, but hiding in the forest, spying an innocent fawn or buck, using a bullet or arrow to kill it without a fight and bragging later seems unsportsmanlike and cowardly to me. But hey, we live in a country that thought our military bombing Iraq with shock and awe was a “war.”

The only awe I feel is the beauty of the forest and the quiet, gentle creatures who live in harmony within it. If you ask me, it’s the homo sapiens species that needs controlled -- sprawling suburbs, paving concrete and asphalt, clear cutting, polluting, corrupting nature.

I found some interesting arguments against hunting on the Internet (yes, I know how to surf the web, though the hooves are a bit wide for the keys). The following is a good answer to the question:

Doesn’t hunting control wildlife populations that would otherwise get out of hand?

Hunters often assert that their practices benefit their victims. A variation on the theme is their common assertion that their actions keep populations in check so that animals do not die of starvation (“a clean bullet in the brain is preferable to a slow death by starvation”). Following are some facts and questions about hunting and “wildlife management” that reveal what is really happening.

Game animals, such as deer, are physiologically adapted to cope with seasonal food shortages. It is the young that bear the brunt of starvation. Among adults, elderly and sick animals also starve. But the hunters do not seek out and kill only these animals at risk of starvation; rather, they seek the strongest and most beautiful animals (for maximum meat or trophy potential). The hunters thus recruit the forces of natural selection against the species that they claim to be defending.

The hunters restrict their activities to only those species that are attractive for their meat or trophy potential. If the hunters were truly concerned with protecting species from starvation, why do they not perform their “service” for the skunk, or the field mouse? And why is hunting not limited to times when starvation occurs, if hunting has as a goal the prevention of starvation? (The reason that deer aren’t hunted in early spring or late winter—when starvation occurs—is that the carcasses would contain less fat, and hence, be far less desirable to meat consumers. Also, hunting then would be unpopular to hunters due to the snow, mud, and insects.)

So-called “game management” policies are actually programs designed to eliminate predators of the game species and to artificially provide additional habitat and resources for the game species. Why are these predator species eliminated when they would provide a natural and ecologically sound mechanism for controlling the population of game species? Why are such activities as burning, clear-cutting, chemical defoliation, flooding, and bulldozing employed to increase the populations of game animals, if hunting has as its goal the reduction of populations to prevent starvation? The truth is that the management agencies actually try to attain a maximum sustainable yield, or harvest, of game animals.

The wildlife managers and hunters preferentially kill male animals, a policy designed to keep populations high. If overpopulation were really a concern, they would preferentially kill females.

Another common practice that belies the claim that wildlife management has as a goal the reduction of populations to prevent starvation is the practice of game stocking. For example, in the state of New York the Department of Environmental Conservation obtains pheasants raised in captivity and then releases them in areas frequented by hunters. For every animal killed by a hunter, two are seriously injured and left to die a slow death. Given these statistics, it is clear that hunting fails even in its proclaimed goal—the reduction of suffering.

The species targeted by hunters, both the game animals and their predators, have survived in balance for millions of years, yet now wildlife managers and hunters insist they need to be “managed.” The legitimate task of wildlife management should be to preserve viable, natural wildlife populations and ecosystems. In addition to the animal toll, hunters kill hundreds of human beings every year.

Finally, there is an ethical argument to consider. Thousands of human beings die from starvation each and every day. Should we assume that the reader will one day be one of them, and dispatch him straight away? Definitely not. Animal Rights ethics asserts that this same consideration should be accorded to the deer. www.hedweb.com/arfaq/arsec8q.htm I also recommend seeing “Powder” the movie.

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