By Joe Haptas
Even though I work for an animal rights organization, I want to help hunters
improve their image.
I offer this advice even though I don't understand hunters. I just don't get
their claim, repeated like a mantra, that they respect and care about
animals. Yes, they may run them through with arrows and shoot them in great
numbers-but, they tell us, all this is necessary to keep the population
numbers at proper levels and save natural habitat.
Question them about this and they'll tell you with great sincerity that they
must, for example, hunt deer to keep their burgeoning numbers down. What they
won't mention is that hunter-controlled state agencies clear-cut land to
attract deer and create conditions for a population explosion. Very
But all this aside, I have an idea that will improve hunters' credibility and
show that they really do care about animals. Here it is: Oppose factory
Because if hunters honestly give one whit about animal suffering, if they
actually consider themselves to be authentically respectful of animal life,
they would walk the walk and talk the talk by joining us in condemning the
cruelties of the animal agriculture industry.
Hunters should be on the front lines in the war against factory farms that
destroy and violate every reasonable ethic established by hunters for killing
animals. I've often said, show me a hunter who only eats what he hunts and
kills himself and who condemns cruel "modern" methods of raising farmed
animals and I'll show you someone I give grudging respect to. In 10 years
I've met two such people, and both were vegetarians except for their practice
of eating meat from animals they personally killed.
Why is it that hunters, instead, assume a bunker mentality, bragging about
the license fees they contribute as though they alone support habitat
preservation? And don't even get me started about the hunters' biggest
celebrity, rocker/slaughterer Ted Nugent.
Even as allegedly reputable hunting organizations espouse the importance of
fair chase and hunting ethics, they welcome and embrace in their circles
despicable humans like Ted Nugent with sadistic and truly psychopathic views
toward animals. Among Nugent's more memorable quotes: "I contribute to the
dead of winter and the moans of silence, blood trails are music to my ears
… I'm a gut pile addict … The pig didn't know I was there … it's my
kick … I love shafting animals … it's rock 'n' roll power."
With Nugent as their poster child, these so-called conservationists and
ethicists who feel a kinship with the animals they kill somehow forget all
this when it comes to the 10 billion domesticated land animals bred and put
through hell on factory farms and scourged and butchered in slaughterhouses
every year. How can any supposedly fair and ethical hunter refuse to condemn
routine factory farming practices like tail-docking, castration, debeaking,
drug and hormone injections, and intensive confinement?
It shouldn't be difficult for hunters to come forward, be counted, and take
an active vocal stand against that which I have a hunch many hunters deep
down know is wrong.
Then perhaps the 95 percent of us who don't hunt will believe that hunters do
respect and care about animals. It could spur a reevaluation of the
malevolent conditions of life and death that we have imposed on billions of
living beings with whom we share the planet.
Joe Haptas is a campaign coordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
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