The Shooting Field

 | June 5, 2009 6:00 AM

Monty Hunting 2009-05-12

Hunting is not really an endeavor most people participate in.  Obviously we no longer need to hunt for food so it is now just for pleasure.  Some people think of it as a masculine, courageous sport though with today’s technology it’s hardly a fair fight.

The Safari Club International, not to be confused with the Sierra Club, exists to promote hunting and is becoming increasingly defensive as it realizes its cherished hobby is in danger of extinction.  They market the sport, lobby for hunting grounds to be opened all over the world, and fight against any animal rights legislation.  They try to portray themselves as “promoting global wildlife conservation” to somehow legitimize their existence and their sport.

A recent modern day development is canned hunting where wildlife is harvested to be killed within confined grounds.  This makes it convenient for weekend hunters to hunt lions, tigers, etc. here within the United States.

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to MercyThis is what sport hunting looks like in modern America.  Your typical trophy hunter today is hunting captive animals, and for all the skill and manhood it requires might as well do his stalking in a zoo.  Indeed, many of the “exotic livestock,” as they’re now termed in the industry, actually came from zoos…  It is legal, and not all that rare, for even our larger zoos to sell off their older or sick animals to hunting concessions – the reward for a lifetime in one cage to be transported to another cage, released, and, as in the case of one aging tiger caught on film by ABC’s Primetime Live, executed on the spot for the trophy.  The San Jose Mercury News, in a two-year investigation, found that “of the 19,361 mammals that left the nation’s accredited zoos from 1992 through mid-1998, 7,420 – or 38 percent – went to dealers, auctions, hunting ranches, unidentified individuals or unaccredited zoos or game farms.

Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy , pp. 63-64.

I have always felt ambivalent at best about zoos except for the Toronto and San Diego Zoos.  I thought of the leopard, jaguar, and snow leopard caged in Stone Zoo, which we used to visited a few times when we lived in Boston, and how they might be sold in a few years to be hunted down for sport.

Elephants seem to be the prime target of the Safari Club because it recognizes that the elephant (and the whale) are symbols of the animal rights movement.  This is even more tragic considering how social and almost human-like elephants are.

Below a Safari Club hunter talks about what it is like to kill elephants.  As I read his words I thought of the parallel between killing whole elephant families as like judgment in the Old Testament, as though we’re God.

“Elephants are like us,” he answers. “They live to be eighty and they are sexually mature at, what, eighteen or twenty. When you kill them, like when they have to cull the herds from helicopters, it’s terrible because you can’t just kill some individuals. You have to kill them all. Men just cry like babies. I have been there.”

You have to kill them all because we have lately discovered the intricate family relationships at work in the herd. The calves, without their mothers’ care, will become rampaging, social juveniles, and so they, too, must go.

“Elephants, are very sociable animals – when you kill the adults the younger ones become dysfunctional. Africa is full of wild, dysfunctional elephants…  Where I am in Namibia, we have a road that divides the hunting area from the protected area.  The water is in the hunting area.  And i see the elephants come into the area, rushing, to get a drink.  And then they rush back.  And when they’re across theroad you can see them relax.  You can see the relief.  They know.”

Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy , p. 87.

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