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Hunting Editorial

Sam Kolman writes for www.pittnews.com (Univ. of Pittsburgh) but no source was given for this article that is being distributed by National Trappers Association.

By SAM KOLMAN
Columnist
March 22, 2006

Not long ago, Vice President Dick Cheney went hunting for quail with one of his friends on a ranch in Texas and accidentally shot him in the face and chest. The news made headlines nationally. After reading what had happened, I couldn't help but question the moral justification for hunting: taking the life of an innocent animal for pleasure.

When the Native Americans were the prominent people in North America, in the 18th and 19th centuries, they would hunt and utilize every part of the animal. The fur would be used for clothing, the bones for tools and the meat for food. The Native Americans had to hunt in order to survive; this is not the case today. Machinery now exists which can produce large amounts of clothing from cotton and wool, and genetic engineering has revolutionized the way food can now be produced. Hunting back then was a necessity to survive; today it is simply a means of enjoyment.

I feel this activity is largely unjustified because it takes the life of a living creature for an unworthy purpose. There are many other more humane ways to have fun rather than going out with a 28- gauge shotgun and killing an animal.

One of the things I find particularly appalling associated with hunting is mounting the heads of killed animals on the walls. What meaningful purpose does it serve? To me it symbolizes a sickening portrayal of manliness a way of showing others how physically tough a person can be in hopes of commanding some superficial type of respect.

In reality, though, an elk with 5-foot-long antlers hanging from the wall is hardly a display of strength or toughness. It stands no chance against an automatic rifle.

I don't mean to suggest that humans should not utilize the resources of animals, but rather they be just and appreciative when doing so.

I feel eating meat is also permissible, providing those who eat it are grateful for it. This might mean saying a blessing or taking some time to acknowledge the fact that something was killed in order for there to be meat. Humbling one's self and not taking the goods of an animal for granted is a way of ensuring appreciation for life a principle I feel elevates our status as humans and separates us from savages.

Hunting today neglects all appreciation for life and exploits it in the worst way possible, for pleasure and pride. It's even considered a sport. The goal is to kill as many animals as possible or catch the biggest animal possible in an allotted time frame. How can someone morally justify taking part in such a "sport"?

Competitive fishing is one such example. Those who engage in it do so in order to catch the biggest fish, with the intention of breaking records and inspiring admiration in others. This is a superficial and meaningless goal.

Leisurely fishing is also unjustified, though less so than competitive fishing, because harm is still being transmitted to the animal. Even if the fish is thrown back into the water, it has still sustained an unjustified injury one that imparts pleasure to the fisherman.

And one could further argue that if leisurely fishing was justified, shooting a moose in the foot or wounding the wing of a bird would be as well. Eventually the appendage would heal, but the animal would incur unnecessary injury.

To regard the lives of other living creatures as worthless is immoral and unjustified. There's a fine line between hunting for food and being thankful for it, and hunting for the purposes of self- gratification.

E-mail Sam at sek39@pitt.edu. That is, if you have an appreciation for life.

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