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Hunting - Index
November 2, 2005
The birth rate of deer is controlled by the number of females, as each
female becomes pregnant each season regardless of how many males are in
population. Hence, if population control were the only motive, there
be no justification for killing the males. Am I correct?
There are other things that come into play here. For example, fecundity of
the does is to some degree a function of competition. By reducing the
population a little (through hunting) the remaining deer have less
competition...more food per animal, and this enhances fecundity, which is
what deer management seeks to do. It is a situation that is exacerbated by
winter feeding in places like Michigan, if it is allowed. Here in Ontario,
for example, the government used to do winter feeding, which produces an
artificial situation whereby the does are more likely to give birth (and
more likely to have twins) than would be true if their physical condition
were more in tune with the actual environment. Although the government
programme did end, hunt clubs still continue the feeding. If people suggest
that it would be cruel NOT to feed deer when the snow is deep, it begs the
question of why they aren't similarly concerned with the fact that all other
species must experience lowered reproduction rates, even starvation, when
there are such situations as prolonged cold, or deep snow.
Also, hunters invariably want to kill deer predators, which mostly means
wolves. While you have to be careful not to get into suggesting that
predators are the only, or primary, controlling factor in deer populations
(because if you do, the hunters will say that they take the place of wolves
in areas where wolves have been extirpated) in fact in areas where wolves
occur hunters invariably begrudge them deer and persecute them as
But your main point is most valid, and not only do hunters "select for"
bucks, the entire hunting culture is largely predicated on removing the
healthiest bucks from the herd, a situation that leads, in the long run, to
encouraging the population to become smaller and weaker.
Eugene: Should you have the right to bear arms?
As a Canadian I have HUGE problems with this one. I certainly would have a
copy of the second amendment in front of me during the interview, since it
clearly talks only about arming a state militia, which makes sense, not
about individual citizens, and it did not envision modern weaponry. One
needs only look at the absurdly high rate of gun-deaths in the U.S. compared
to other western nations to see that the "right to bear arms" is trumping
innocent peoples' right to live.
When you hear the term hunter or sportsman do you see an almost heroic,
rugged, self-sufficient, conservationist, pioneer type or a beer swilling,
slacked-jawed Neanderthal sadist?
I'd certainly refer to that 8 year old girl who killed a bear to point out
that hunting is an absurdly one-sided affair weighted against the animals,
and that anyone who takes pride in being able to outsmart an animal like a
dove whose brain is not too much larger than a couple of raisins isn't
The general public tends to support hunting if it serves some social
function, such as reducing "over" population, presents spread of disease, or
feed the hungry, none of which most hunting addresses (for example, the cost
of hunting greatly outweighs the cost of food that hunting produces). Every
aspect of the hunt can be and is imitated by birding, wildlife photography
and nature study, except the killing...it is the killing that is the turn
on, and hunters realize that they don't have a lot of support for that, so
they invent various rationales which may or may not have a grain of truth,
but usually not.
In the last few essays I did for Opinionatedly Yours I refer to the "myths"
hunters use for justifying hunting to a society that would otherwise tend,
in balance, to be intolerant of hunting. API wants to remove those essays
but I think they are still there, and you can google "Animal Protection
Institute Opinionatedly Yours" to find them. The last one is about swans,
but I think the three before that one will help you.
Eugene: Does hunting mean a throw back to a more
primitive time and activity that encourages brutish behavior and attempts to
answer inadequacies in ourselves especially sexual dysfunction, or does it mean
experiencing real Americana and humanely thinning a species that would otherwise
painfully starve to death?
See above with regard the latter argument. It is true that our ancestors
used to hunt, just as they used to shit in the woods, keep slaves and
worship royalty, none of which justifies continuing to do the same. One can
hunt without killing, and many hunters who have a real interest in nature
ultimately put down their guns, realizing that you learn less about an
animal by killing it than by observing it. Most hunters, however, only are
interested in wildlife if they can kill it, so it is not really the wildlife
that interests them as the killing. You have to be diplomatic in presenting