Recently a National Board Member for the Sierra
resignation from the Sierra Club received more
letters of support for condemning hunting than
criticisms and this was to be expected
considering that more than 80% of Sierra Club
members do not hunt.
Of the few
who were critical of my anti-hunting position,
they reportedly took offense to my remarks as
being anti-hunting (of course they were) and
they insisted that hunters were a strong
conservation lobby and thus essential to
protecting wildlife and wildlife habitats.
should have been more definitive of my position.
Instead of stating that I was anti-hunting or
opposed to hunters, I should have said that I am
anti-killing and opposed to killers.
is really between endorsing the infliction of
pain, suffering and death or opposing the
infliction of pain, suffering and death.
Pro-killers will say that those people like me
who are opposed to killing are alienated
urbanities, of the privileged class, and
insensitive to the traditional rationale that
argument does not work with me because I was
raised as the eldest of seven children by a
single mother in a small fishing village in a
rural area of Eastern Canada . My father was
abusive and he was a hunter.
spent a large part of my life in third world
nations and on the ocean. I oppose the killing
of wildlife not because I am alienated from
nature but because I happen to believe that you
can�t love or respect nature with a gun.
the trap lines in the Eastern bush as a child. I
walked them to free captive animals from leg
hold traps and to destroy the traps. I destroyed
hundreds of these vicious contraptions between
the ages of 11 and 18.
seen the suffering. In Kenya I watched a mother
elephant literally weep for the loss of her
calf. In Michigan I witnessed a Canada goose sit
for days without eating beside the body of its
mate who had been shot and not recovered. In
Alaska I saw a Grizzly cub sitting confused
beside the skinned body of its mother who was
killed only for her hide. In the Yukon , I
followed a trail of blood for over a mile to
discover an aerial gut-shot wolf staring at me
in fear and bewilderment.
have observed in the wild is suffering. It was
plainly evident and I felt remorse for the
arrogance of our species for justifying the
taking of lives for sport, for enjoyment, for
fun, and for pleasure.
Zimbabwe I spent time with big game hunters,
some of whom reluctantly led rich trophy hunters
into the bush because they had lost their jobs
as rangers and President Mugabe had ruled that
unless wildlife made money the animals would be
eliminated. These hunters described most of
their clients as slob hunters, arrogant and
ignorant and expressed their shame at being
forced to participate in the murder business.
amazed to discover that a Texan accountant had
won a prize from the Boone and Crocket Club for
bagging a trophy whitetail deer and then he was
exposed when it was discovered that the rack of
an animal stolen from a taxidermist in Alberta
had been surgically grafted onto a smaller
animal on a game farm in Mexico where they
flushed it out from cover into the sights of the
�great hunters� rifle.
John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club who
first described hunting as �the murder
In a few
places in the world people hunt for survival. In
the past, people were forced to hunt for
survival. The constituency the Sierra Club is
now courting through its killer outreach program
are not people who have a need to hunt for
people who spend more money on weaponry, travel
and related expenses than the value of the meat
they obtain. It is not the meat they are after
but the thrill of the kill.
Cheney, when not shooting lawyers, describes how
he loves to see the ducks tumble from the sky.
I�ve heard hunters describe how pulling the
trigger gives them an erection.
men who slaughter for pleasure. I call them
perverse death deviants and I have no apologies
for labeling them as such. Killing for pleasure
is a sickness, no different than child
molestation or rape.
no sport in killing an animal from a distance
with a sophisticated tool designed to inflict
death. The name sportsman implies that there is
a fair contest. There is nothing fair about
being ripped apart by high powered bullets.
target the biggest, the strongest and the best
of the species they pursue. This is behavior
outside the laws of ecology. It is unnatural
predation and certainly cannot be condoned by
defend their perverse desire to extinguish life
by saying it is traditional. Unfortunately many
barbaric practices are traditional. However,
modern day hunting bears little relation to so
called traditional hunting. Hunters today are
more akin to those who eradicated the bison and
took only the tongues.
were responsible for the extinction of the
Labrador duck, the Passenger Pigeon, the Eastern
Bison, the Plains Wolf and the extirpation of
the Grizzly from most of the lower 48 states.
They were not only killers they were involved in
the act of specicide � the complete eradication
of entire species. This was not conservation.
cite Theodore Roosevelt as a big game hunter who
was also a conservationist. This is true, he was
both. He lived in a time when killing for
pleasure was accepted but it was also a time
when racism was accepted as normal and it was
considered abnormal for women to have any
rights, especially the right to vote. Roosevelt
did set aside land to conserve much in the same
way that the British aristocracy set aside land
as exclusive hunting preserves to keep out the
Club is spending hundreds of thousands of
dollars to reach out to invite killers to join
the Club. The leadership of the Club believes
that the over 80% of Club members who don�t take
pleasure from killing must be tolerant of the
less than 20% who do. They want to bring in more
killers into the Club.
There is a
big difference between hunting and killing.
Photographers and film makers can hunt wildlife.
It actually takes more skill to hunt a Mountain
sheep with a camera than with a rifle. Any
nimrod can pull a trigger and send a high
velocity bullet unexpectedly into living tissue
to shatter organs and induce shock. The
photographer brings back nobility, a creature
caught in its natural habitat in harmony with
the world around it.
watches his victim tumble from the air or crash
to the ground as it chokes and gurgles on its
own life blood. The photographer brings back
life. The hunter brings back death.
been a hunter myself. I�ve never killed anything
but I have stalked and hunted human poachers. I
have destroyed their ships, their rifles, their
nets, their longlines and their harpoons. I have
snatched clubs from the bloody hands of sealers
and defended myself from their attacks. My form
of hunting is much fairer and gutsier than these
killers who prey upon their unsuspecting and
innocent victims. I target the guilty not the
trekked with Kenyan rangers across the plains of
Tsavo on the track of poachers. We followed
their trail of elephant carcasses rotting on the
ground with only their tusks removed. We found
the criminals. They fired on us and killed one
of our rangers. We did not kill them. We wounded
two and arrested seven. They were armed with
AK-47 rifles and our rangers were armed with
British Enfield 303�s. We were up against a
superior foe and we beat them. It was not sport.
It was not fun. It was dangerous and necessary
work and the objective was to save lives, not to
the only kind of hunting that makes sense today
in a world with a human population approaching
seven billion. If every American exercised their
�right� to kill, the ducks, geese, quail, elk,
deer and other creatures would disappear quite
quickly. There are simply to many of us and not
very many of them.
hardly be an egalitarian sport if only a
minority of citizens can realistically
participate. Instead of encouraging hunting,
groups like the Sierra Club should be
discouraging the number of hunters. The nation
and the world needs fewer killers of wildlife �
over a hundred million songbirds are gunned down
every year. Elephant populations have been
reduced by 70% in East Africa since I worked on
poaching patrols there in 1978. World fisheries
are in a state of collapse. Wildlife is getter
scarcer and there is more need now than ever for
we protect wetlands simply because wetlands need
to be protected? Why is there this demand that
killers are needed to help protect wetlands
simply because they want to slaughter ducks?
Canada geese mate for life. Shouldn�t it bother
us that we shatter tens of thousands of these
relationships every year? Why should we tolerate
the accumulation of lead and steel shot in the
marshes and estuaries? Why should we tolerate
the legal murder of human beings that we label
as hunting accidents, especially when the victim
is a non-killer, perhaps a child some nimrod has
mistaken for a deer.
The son of
Sigmund Freud was walking on his own property in
Quebec when a hunter shot and killed him. The
killer was found not guilty because the death
was ruled an �accident�.
stranger can kill you on your own land and get
away with it, it demonstrates that our tolerance
for this legal killing has gone over the top of
wrote me to say that my �radical anti-hunting�
ideas were unacceptable for a member of the
Board of the Sierra Club. When did opposition to
killing, to the taking of life, to the
extinguishment of a living creature, to the
wasting of a sentient being become a radical
I think we live in such a bizarre world where
advocates for life are considered radical and
proponents of death are considered normal, where
violence is considered acceptable and
non-violence is dismissed as unpatriotic or
killers question the morality of their actions.
Once you have reached a stage where you can
inflict cruelty and death, thoughts of morality,
empathy and respect have long since vanished.
For if a
killer of a deer could feel the pain and anguish
of his victim or see the fawn starve because of
a mother that did not return they would have
little appetite for the meat.
have crossed the line into dealing death and
inflicting misery have become alienated from the
wonderment of life and no longer see or
appreciate the magic of being alive.
Life is to
be cherished, protected, defended and
championed, not to be wantonly and cruelly
destroyed, and certainly not for so frail an
excuse as pleasure or sport.