Monday, March 12, 2012

The Joy of Killing

I've never understood hunting. I can't wrap my head around the need to kill an animal for the pure joy of taking a life, so when our California Fish and Game Commissioner accepted a $7000 trip to Idaho and killed a mountain lion for sport, I added my voice to the choir calling for his resignation.
I haven't changed my mind. I still think his behavior is disgusting, but I wasn't going to make an issue of it on this blog. Then my friend, Tanya, sent this to me. She's so much more reasonable about this kind of thing than I am.

The recent blow up over a California Fish and Game Commissioner shooting a mountain lion in Idaho is being portrayed as radical animal rights versus radical hunting. I believe this is obscuring the point. I am ambivalent about hunting but was fed by my hunting father for the first 5 years of my life and was paid to conduct environmental education programs in under-served schools by a non-profit associated with hunting. I agree with many of the precepts of animal rights but reject many of the more radical actions that some of these organizations undertake.

The issue to me is one of judgment. This person was appointed by the Governor to oversee the Department of Fish and Game, the agency that grants hunting licenses, oversees regulation enforcement, and interacts with the Federal Government on management plans for Endangered Species recovery. As long as he is Commissioner, he represents the Department of Fish and Game and his actions are a reflection on the Commission. The reflection from the photo of him holding a dead mountain lion in triumph is not attractive. To many of my hunting friends using dogs to tree a mountain lion so that it can be shot is not hunting, it is target practice. To most of us, an appointed California Fish and Game Commissioner accepting such an expensive trip as a gift from a person who would make more money if more people used his company looks suspicious.

Hunting whales is legal in some countries but that does not mean it would be wise for an American member of the International Whaling Commission to participate. Hunting elephants is legal in some countries but that does not mean it would be smart for a representative of the Species Survival Plan for elephants in the United States to go hunting elephants in Africa.

Just because something is legal it behooves us to think about the consequences before we indulge. I think this Commissioner should lose his position, not because he shot a mountain lion legally in another state, but because of the clear lack of judgment he showed in doing so.


Dan Richards with his kill.


  1. I grew up in a guns and hunting environment. My dad would shoot just about any critter that gave away its position. He loved to hunt "varmints" (i.e., woodchucks, foxes, etc) as well as the traditional edible game like deer, squirrel and game birds. Then of course there were the trophy hunts -- his passion was sheep and he shot just about all the North American variety and went to NZ to hunt the many species of imported sheep over there. He hated cats anyway, so he would have loved to blast them too, but never got the chance I guess. His enthusiasm never rubbed off on me, but as a teen ager, I did shoot a deer and a bear. The deer was gut shot and quite a mess and I had to drag it about 2 miles up and down hills. Too much work. The bear was the last thing I shot. We were out in Wyoming and the guides had taken an old lame horse up the mountain, tied it to a tree, shot it and left it for a week. Once the smell got out, the bears came in to eat. I was positioned up in some rocks and when the bear came in, I shot him. He looked pretty big in the scope, but upon arrival at the body, he looked like an overgrown German shepherd that was killed for nothing by some dumb kid from Ohio. I never shot anything again.

    Notice that the F&G official is a real estate developer. How do they get jobs like this without some sort of educational credentials? Oh, I guess he is appointed to the position by the governor as a reward for some favors or contributions.

    I had been following the saga of Wolf OR-7 that was born in Oregon and traveled into northern CA. Most of his siblings who stayed in the Oregon area were shot by F&G because they ate calves and sheep and the farmers got real irate until the government finally "did their job" and killed them.

    Big cats are especially threatening to us civilized folk, and fear is instilled often to regard these beasts as potential "mankillers" who will take a hiker for dinner if at all possible. I feel fortunate having seen one around our place. It is a damn shame that people can kill these creatures for sport in any state.

    1. I get comments sent to me, but for some reason, they aren't able to post them to the blog. The above is from my friend, Jan.

    Thanks for the great blogs Ginny and Tanya,

    I too, was raised by a hunter father and a canning mother and participated in both activities. I've raised my own chickens/ducks/geese in the past and after they stopped being effective egg producers I did kill them and in the pot they went.

    As an only child it was my job to "here, clean this" with abalone, fish and many other things. But I was raised that you used what you killed - this was not sport. My father worked as a hunting guide in Northern Michigan (the Upper Peninsula) and even as a young man was disgusted with the "sport" hunters from Detroit only looking for a trophy rack. They didn't want the meat and my father could use it for their large family or pass it on to others.

    On my property and on the 100+ acres next door the native, local birds and wildlife are taking a huge hit from the non-native introduced wild turkeys. They eat everything and they're huge (one last spring dressed out at 23#s). I hardly see a lizard, salamander, snake, frog or other small creatures. They ate the earthworms in my garden and compost piles until fenced out.

    I don't hunt any more (except mushrooms) but had like-minded friends come out and they killed 8 turkeys last year. For a while I had only one lone Tom. It was a pleasure not to have to constantly be on the lookout for the shit. Ah, but 6 weeks ago here came 13 more - and the toms are busy looking beautiful so there can be many more . . . Another problem is that when they multiply in residential areas they can't be hunted because the houses are too close.

    And Tanya, it is a question of judgement and hope that "commissioner" is kicked off - then he can pay for his own hunting trips. WHAT was he thinking?!

    Ok, enough,