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Killing defensless wildlife should never be called 'sport' hunting

"sport" hunter poses with his defenseless trophy
"sport" hunter poses with his defenseless trophy
Robert Snyder

As the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi approach, physically superior performances come to mind in anticipation of athletic excellence rewarded with gold, silver and bronze medals.

The definition of “sport,” according to Wikipedia, is a fair competition in games that involve two or more participants, which is governed by standards, rules and customs to determine a winner.

Hunting is clearly a game to hunters, but it should never be called a “sport,” when gun-packing humans track, find or simply wait for defenseless prey to come along, then shoot it with bullets or arrows, not giving it an even-handed chance to win the game.

Some hunters say the prey’s odds of escaping are its chance at defense and survival, but that contention wouldn’t hold up if arbitrated under the fair rules of any sporting game.

Andrew Cox wrote brilliantly in “The Age” about the hunter’s delusion of sport as they annihilate innocent creatures, with his reference being specific to duck hunting:

“The bookies aren't taking much money on the opposition as the hunter with his arsenal and his portable cooler sets out for a bit of weekend sport. Once the shotguns start firing in northern Victoria the ducks better have a damn good interchange system going. The shooters, meanwhile, are just taking it one duck at a time. It's not their fault if the ducks haven't put in a big pre-season or evolved larger brains to invent their own weaponry. Adapt or die, that's the way of modern sport.”

Human ancestors used to hunt and kill animals for sustenance, but today’s humans have safeway. Sport hunting to avoid starvation can rarely be defended in modern times, even if some animals are consumed after shooting, while others have their heads or pelts kept as souvenirs.

Killing deer and other animals to “manage” their population is also not without options, including trap-neuter-release and other birth-control methods.

People for the Protection of Animals provides a fact sheet pertaining to pain and suffering of sport-hunted animals:

Many animals endure prolonged, painful deaths when they are injured but not killed by hunters. A study of 80 radio-collared white-tailed deer found that of the 22 deer who had been shot with “traditional archery equipment,” 11 were wounded but not recovered by hunters.(7) Twenty percent of foxes who have been wounded by hunters are shot again. Just 10 percent manage to escape, but “starvation is a likely fate” for them, according to one veterinarian.(8) A South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks biologist estimates that more than 3 million wounded ducks go “unretrieved” every year.(9) A British study of deer hunting found that 11 percent of deer who’d been killed by hunters died only after being shot two or more times and that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying.(10)

Some so-called sport hunting is particularly bloody and barbaric.

Journalist Richard Conniff rode along in South Dakota with members of the Varmint Hunters Association, or as they affectionately referred to themselves, “the red-mist society”—to write about their activities. He was appalled at what he saw, as they killed one prairie dog after another with high-powered rifles, giving each other kudos for the most explosive hits, the highest propelled bodies and most grisly long-distance kills.

In conclusion, the group’s leader bragged, “Shooters: 136; prairie dogs: 0.”

Social and cultural reasons are often cited for traditional sporting events like fox hunts, where brave participants ride horses and follow groups of trained hound dogs as they relentlessly chase a poor fox until it is exhausted and trapped. Even the ban on using dogs in 2005 didn’t diminish the brutality of the so-called sport.

What does the thrill of extinguishing the life of an innocent (unarmed) animal say about the people who enjoy the recreation of killing it? What does it say that such enjoyment is traditionally passed down to the next generation, influencing young children, male and female to the thrill of a deadly “sport” where animals stand no chance?

Thankfully, not every child accepts the idea of a life demonstrating human superiority over birds and beasts.

Harvard University business editor Garry Emmons wrote about his experience as a young boy with his first BB gun and the sadness he felt after taking aim at a song bird, pulling the trigger, watching it thump to the ground, then hearing nothing but silence.

“For an instant, the world went completely still; to this day, I carry some of that stillness with me,” said Emmons.

Wildlife conservationists see the cowardice in sport hunting, because it is a one-sided game only the hunter can win. Precision and skill can be accomplished using artificial targets that have no real heartbeats and no families.

Ecotourism where animals are shot with a camera is the only civilized win-win for animals and mankind.

To sign a petition against bow hunting click here.

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