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A Conversation About Trophy Hunting

CNN recently broadly advertised and then showed a special called Trophy. I understand that the show featured trophy hunting and started conversations. On Facebook, I posted a link to an article explaining the downside of trophy hunting, and a hunting fan responded with what I c all propaganda. Here’s our conversation, that started with my post that refers to research done by the University of Oxford.

My Original Post: Local people only get 3 to 5% of hunting revenues, and hunting targets the biggest and healthiest animals contrary to natural predation. Killing one animal can even lead to deaths of others.

Eco tourism both gives revenues to local people and preserves the integrity and health of animals and wild spaces.

Reader’s Comment: Trophy hunting is for one thing only, money in someone’s pocket and stroking the ego. Absolutely senseless

My Response: And not much money goes into local economies. The University of Oxford researchers have found that in Tanzania, a leading hunting destination in Africa, only 3 to 5% of the hunting fee goes into the local economy.

Linda: That is not a true statement, hunting is conservation, responsible hunters are conservationist, they care about wildlife just as much as you people do.

My Response: Hi Linda, I disagree. Hunters do target the animals with the biggest horns, longest tusks, etc. Bighorn sheep have been hunted and now they have smaller horns than 30 years ago. It’s not natural, as natural predators go after the smallest and weakest animals. And to suggest that someone cares about something that they kill? Propaganda, I’m afraid.

Linda: You my friends are misinformed

Hunters are not all about the trophy. All the meat is used, natural predators do not always go after the weak or smallest, if you ever lived in the bush with the animals, you would know that. Wolves for instance kill just for the sake of killing, don’t believe me, look at the stats. Grizzly bears kill young of there own kind etc

No you groups who make all these claims to pull at people’s heart strings, not caring the damage it does to the wildlife.

My Response: The show was about trophy hunting, which is all about trophies. They don’t eat the meat. Although some hunters who live in some areas of our world such as the North or the bush do eat the meat and use the fur. So there are different kinds of hunters.

FACT: Wild carnivores do not kill for fun; they kill to survive.

Wolves do sometimes kill more than they can eat in one sitting, which biologists call surplus killing. This has been documented in many carnivore species including bears, coyotes, and snow leopards, as well as wolves (Kruuk 2002). It is best recognized in cases of interactions with domestic sheep and predators. It is believed that the sheep’s ensuing panic during a predator attack triggers the increased losses not directly caused by predators such as wolves. Additionally, people often deem a wolf kill as a “sport kill” when they come upon a dead animal and little of it is eaten. People rarely take into account that perhaps they scared the wolves off of the kill before they could finish eating (Vander Wal 1990). Also, what looks like an animal killed by wolves may simply be the case of wolves scavenging from the carcass of an animal that died due to other causes. https://defenders.org/gray-wolf/fact-vs-fiction

And wildlife conservation is not about pulling on people’s heart strings – it’s about saving what is left to save on our planet, and that helps rather than harms wildlife.

Linda: Wolves do kill for fun and that is a fact. It is law in BC and Canada to take the meat. This is the kind of stuff that worries me. Partial information to the public. As I will continue to say, man has been part of the balance of nature for centuries. No hunter ever wants any of the species to be gone. That’s a fact.

My Response: Hi Linda, Indigenous and as you first said responsible hunters don’t tend to go after endangered trophy species. I remember being in Alaska in 2008 and the tour guide was going to kill an average bear so he would have meat in the winter. Although I don’t like the idea of killing anything, I tried to understand his way of life. Unfortunately, trophy hunters are not responsible hunters and they do even kill endangered species. This is just plain wrong to do. So we can’t lump all hunters into one group and say they all care.

Linda: Sorry but you are wrong, I know many a trophy hunter and they take all the meat and are responsible hunters. Trophy hunters do not want all species or any species to be gone from this earth. That’s a fact also. Now if you talk about poachers, you talk about a different kind of person, a person who doesn’t care about wildlife conservation. They are not responsible hunters, It seems you have all hunters rolled into the same headlines.

My Response: Hi Linda, As I ended my message of earlier today, “So we can’t lump all hunters into one group and say they all care”. You are right about poachers. My bottom line is why can’t hunters find a form of what they call fun or entertainment that doesn’t involve killing a living animal?.

Linda: Most hunters hunt for food

Better food then what’s in the grocery store. I don’t think the killing of the animal is what is fun, but all the other things that go into the hunt. The killing is what happens to acquire the meat. Just like every living thing we put in our mouths

From harvesting plants, fish to animals, in the grocery stores or out.

END OF CONVERSATION

This conversation was taking up my time that I needed to spend preparing for a speech and working, and it was getting buried in my Voices For Our Planet Facebook page, so I left it at this point. This was draining me of my time which reminded me of the SLAPP lawsuits that drain environmental groups until they either agree to be silent or run out of funds and close. And I had made most of my points already. As photos of trophy hunters suggest, their broad smiles as they stand over their dead trophy animals do suggest they do it for what they call fun. But it’s an ongoing conversation between pro trophy hunters and real conservationists.

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Alison Wheatley

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