Tag Archives: hunting

The Devastating Effects of Hunting and Poaching In Short Hills Provincial Park

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George Catlin - National Museum of Wildlife Art

George Catlin – National Museum of Wildlife Art

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the hierarchy of public lands, parks are the most special places, where nature and all its associated diversions – quiet streams, the scents of the forest after a rain, and the occasional sightings of deer and other animals – are sacrosanct.

George Catlin, a painter of native American art, experienced  the western Great Plains when it was untouched by extensive American development. While witnessing the beauty of this land, he wrote, “…what a beautiful and thrilling specimen….. to preserve and hold up to the view of her refined citizens and the world in future ages!  A nation’s park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty.”

Hunting methods have changed a lot since Catlin painted his scenes of bison hunts.  No longer are many  parks primarily left relatively undisturbed  to preserve and protect natural resources but now they must be the venue for a vast array of harmful activities.

The Short Hills Park in the Niagara Peninsula is being destroyed not only by the sanctioned Haudenosaunee native deer hunt each year, but also by illegal and off-Shorthills1seasoned hunting. Poaching and the fear and disruption it causes compromises animals’ normal eating habits, making it harder for them to store the fat and energy they need to survive the winter. The hunt has also devastated the entire community and left residents constantly on edge,  long after the official hunt is over.  Horses live on the outskirts of the park as well, making the park perimeter a dangerous place due to the continual presence of poachers.

Disinterested indentured public servants in the Ministry of Natural Resources have no apparent interest in overseeing the parks. With budgets for maintenance exhausted on the private exploitation of the park, Short Hills is essentially abandoned without oversight. When vegetation is destroyed by 4WD vehicles, plant vigor and regeneration is reduced, ground cover is deteriorated, and there can be a change in species composition.  Inappropriate behaviours such as littering and other depreciative uses add to the degradation of the park.

Shorthills2While the MNR is busy circulating social memes to discourage the use of bird feeders by private citizens, they have no comment on the garbage accumulating in the park.  If bird feeders can attract bears, why is nothing done about garbage in the environmentally significant Fonthill Kame Moraine?  Not only that, gut piles and the remainders of deer carcasses can attract bears,  and are disturbing reminders of this cruel hunt.  Even if one is not in the park to poach deer, the condition of some trails and presence of trash do not inspire visitors to pack out all their garbage.  Perhaps the MNR will have to find space in their budget now to promote the seven principles of the “Leave No Trace” program?

Hunt supporters’ critique of the anti-hunt protesters at Short Hills has often focused on what they claim is the “unacknowledged racism” of nearby “NIMBY do-gooders” as the motivating factors in our protests.  Acrimonious counter-campaigns by hunt supporters seem to have at their core the presumption that protected public lands are there for individual use however they see fit and it is racist to suggest otherwise.   The reality is that vigilant neighbours  are good indicators of a great community.  A population of people like the anti-hunt demonstrators is actually among the most valuable resources a neighbourhood can have.

And it’s always “someone’s backyard” isn’t it?

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Grumpy Old Men – The Orchestrated Attack On Bill C-246

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31642869_lWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Since 1999, the Liberals have made numerous attempts to pass a much-needed update to the antiquated and inadequate animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. There was Bill C-17, resurrected as Bill C-15 and then re-introduced as Bill C-15B, followed by Bill C-10, Bill C-10B, Bill C-22, Bill C-50, Bill C-274, Bill C-277 and, finally, Bill C-610. While the House of Commons has passed new animal cruelty legislation three times, those Bills were either prorogued by the government or blocked by the Senate before they made it past the finish line. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies provides an excellent overview of the Bills here.

M2Toronto-area Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, recently introduced a Private Members Bill (C-246)  – the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, to reinforce Canada’s public policy and legislative commitments to animal welfare (World Animal Protection ranks Canada’s animal welfare laws a “D” on a scale of A-G).  Only the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, and New Zealand scored “A” grades on the index.  The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on May 9th.

Despite rampant paranoia, the law is focused on eliminating the loopholes that allow chronic hoarders, repeat abusers, puppy mill operators and dog fighting perpetrators to get off with a slap on the wrist. It would create a new offence for individuals who cause unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal through gross negligence of the animal’s welfare. The Bill also sets out to achieve several key measures that are entirely reasonable and should win broad support:

  • Prohibition of dog and cat fur importation
  • Banning of shark-finning
  • Prohibitition the use of live animals in target shooting
  • Establishment of penalties for the killing and injuring a police dog
  • Prohibition of the training or breeding of animals for the purpose of fighting, as well as making it illegal to profit from dog fighting.

Enter Robert Sopuck, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Neepaw. Sopuck and his cabal of trigger-happy, pre-Darwinian animal killers are so paranoid that hunting Brian_Skerry_Mako_Finning(1)and fishing activities will result in cruelty charges, (I wish!) they have created numerous websites and Facebook pages to spread false information and extol the mythical virtues of hunting while proclaiming their services as absolutely necessary for controlling wildlife populations and preserving the environment. These pages feature Sopuck and others dressed up in a variety of machismo fashions, exhibiting unusual levels of arousal while carrying an arsenal of weaponry as they blast into the forests and streams to conduct their primitive rituals.

Sopuck himself proceeded to write a preposterous Toronto Sun article claiming that Erskine-Smith’s Bill will give animals human rights. Clearly channelling former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, he writes that “Canada already has adequate measures to protect animals and prevent cruelty. Furthermore, all animal uses are covered by veterinary-approved Codes of Practise that guide what you can do with your animals.”  Those “guides” are just that.  They are meaningless because they are not laws.  And they are not “veterinary approved” either – they are the result of inputs from the agriculture industry.  How is it that Sopuck believes we have adequate protections when there are hundreds of entries in the caselaw database of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, with many of those not prosecuted successfully.  Very few animal cruelty cases are prosecuted each year in comparison to the number of cases that are investigated. It is estimated that less than 10% of cases that warrant prosecution are successfully prosecuted.

Lawyer Peter Sankoff lobs a nuclear strike at Sopuck in this deconstruction of Sopuck’s Toronto Sun article.  In the end,  Sankoff finds that virtually all of Sopuck’s claims range from the merely overstated to the downright preposterous – finding none of his claims to be accurate:

 

 

Despite the hunting propaganda which I have read on the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters website, the reality is that most modern families do not embrace hunting as either a pleasurable pastime or a family adventure. In 2010, almost 3.3 million adult anglers participated in a variety of recreational fishing activities in Canada, the majority of whom fall into the 45-64 year age range (If the downward trend in hunting continues, by the year 2050, hunters will only comprise 1% of the population).   Depending on what source you read, about 2-7% of the population are hunters; of course this doesn’t include poachers or treaty hunters who don’t require licenses.  In any case both numbers represent a significant minority of Canadians.  So you have your acknowledged 2-10% of the population righteously informing everyone else that it is only they who are picking up the tab for wildlife conservation – part time at that.

That dog doesn’t hunt, sorry.

pigeonsdeadbirdCanadians have been signing animal welfare petitions for decades now, demanding that the values of fairness and justice that we’re known for are applied to the protection of animals and to the punishment of animal abusers. Laws are essential to both codify and enforce positive changes for animals. Why should we be one of the only countries that does not yet prohibit the importation of dog and cat fur, because self-serving groups and a few old conservative politicians, who are clearly a product of Stephen Harper, are arguing against reasonable updates to an ancient law.  The fact that Sopuck and the hunting/fishing groups believe that Bill C-246 seeks the “complete elimination of animal use in Canada” indicates that none of them can read. If the Conservatives feel the Bill is “fundamentally flawed,” why don’t they draft their own Bill as they frequently threaten to do?  Their objection is based on the desire to kill animals for the sheer delight it brings them – the rest of the world will move on into the next century without them. Compassion for the natural world is the new order.

You can read the details of Nate Erskine-Smith’s Bill below:

 

Disclosed Short Hills Park Hunting Documents Continue To Disprove MNR Rhetoric

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deer-postcard-copyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau, with files from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

The fractious first two days of the Short Hills hunt saw the life drained out of 18 deer on Saturday and 8 on Sunday. One deer was wounded on the first day and finally put out of its misery on the second day. The protesters maintained their composure despite the “rent-a-crowd” anti-protest protesters who have taken the low road by roughing up a demonstrator on November 14th. Despite the letter sent to Niagara Regional Police Services board by the Animal Alliance of Canada, there were two more incidences of unsecured weaponry by the hunters. The misconduct continued when a hunter’s vehicle made contact and pushed an anti-hunt protester while the MNR and OPP looked on distractedly, a demonstrator’s car was scratched, and a discarded sign was deliberately stuck to the side of an anti-hunt protester’s car. I’m sure that the police video will ferret out the culprit(s) responsible, since the entire demonstration is video taped all day long by the OPP and Niagara Regional Police.

With over 100 hunters entering the park in only two days, this hunt now bears more than a passing resemblance to the despised Florida bear hunt that left many young animals without their mothers. And like the Florida hunt, there are no limits on the number, sex, or age of the deer who will be killed – Short Hills park hunters are told they need not be “biased” in selecting an animal to kill based on age, giving free rein to the human tendency to exterminate everything that lacks a human face.  The Short Hills Wildlife Alliance continues to make good use of Access-To-Information documents, – the latest information shows that a high percentage of deer killed in previous hunts (2013 and 2014) were lactating females or were immature and under 1 year of age.

The Protocol Agreement – A Non-Binding,  Feel-Good Piece of Creative Writing

Yes – it’s exists, but after reading it one wonders why they even bothered to draft it at all. The word “harvest” or a variation of it was used 144 times in the above Protocol of 3,077 words. Of course, the hunting industry doesn’t like the word “kill” because it exposes the lie that animals die peacefully after being shot or otherwise tortured. Merely using the word “kill” also infers that there is no management of the hunt, while the term “harvest” has pleasant connotations of the nostalgic gathering of a crop that is planted and cultivated by continuous hard labour.   Of course, the hunters do nothing resembling care of this “crop.” Neither are the hunters collecting rainwater for irrigation or ripening turnips, although the hunt does bring to mind the image of a combine harvester and a crop of living animals that are simply mowed down. It’s just another level of duplicity used to get the public on board with having arrows fly through the park. Shame on the so-called animal rights activists who embrace this linguistic trickery…

 

 

From the Protocol:

Friendship is the new commandment here, where nothing is binding on the hunters and there are no penalties for non-compliance.  The designated hunt days can change at any time, which hardly seems safe given the number of entry points for the park and the lack of notice. Indeed, there’s not much that the hunters have to comply with at all – there is no “bag limit” on the number of deer that are to be killed and no limit to the number of hunters allowed in the park. And according to the MNR, securing bows is voluntary when convenient and therefore almost an afterthought (It is actually a requirement of the Fish and Wildlife Act).

“In the interests of safety, when possible, all archery equipment should be unloaded and encased outside of the harvest hours or when outside the harvest zone.”

The protocol goes on to state that if permission to enter private property is denied by the property owner (in order to kill a wounded deer), it will be the responsibility of the property owner to dispose of the deer.  Why should a homeowner take responsibility and liability for a hunter to hunt on their property?  What is the plan in the event the homeowner isn’t home or doesn’t wish to allow access? Why should the homeowner bear the burden of euthanasia and deadstock removal if the deer is still alive and suffering? The suggestion that the homeowners must take ownership of wounded deer wouldn’t withstand any legal litmus test. The fact that the MNR have to include such language for the eventuality of wounded deer on private property (which has already occurred) is proof hunting in a park that boundaries an urban area is not appropriate.

MNRF and Haudenosaunee monitoring and observation have concluded that the deer population at Short Hills is significantly larger than the Park’s ecosystem can support in a balanced way. The biological diversity of the Park is being impacted.

Where is the substantiation for this claim? All deer examined in post-mortems appear to be of healthy weight and are apparently free of parasites and pathological conditions (at least none are mentioned in the access-to-information documents obtained by Short Hills Wildlife Alliance). What surveillance have the Haudenosaunee conducted of their own volition?

Both the Haudenosaunee and MNRF will provide first aid supplies. Each MNRF vehicle will carry a first aid kit. A first aid station will be maintained at the Park’s work centre on 1st Street Louth.”

Bandaids and Chapstick – clearly useful for those soft-tissue injuries you’ll suffer when the MNR tries to run you down. Bizarrely though, the MNR Protocol identifies a major safety concern as the “presence off a large number of people at or near the Pelham Road entrance…” Outside of the hunt itself, the other principal risks come from rage-o-holic MNR agents and rogue counter-protesters who attempt physical intimidation or participate in causing vehicular damage. On the other hand,  the anti-hunt protesters have maintained their composure – who among the them is going to get into an altercation with hunters who have unsecured weapons anyway?

Access-To-Information Data Reveal Many Immature Deer Harvested Killed

The observational data collected in two previous hunts is extremely useful for refuting several claims by the MNR that there is overpopulation in the park, or that there is great concern over the spread of Lyme disease. While Lyme surveillance is important and ongoing, there seems to be little risk with the disease in this geographical area, an observation that is supported by the fact that current surveillance programs have not identified Short Hills as an area of heightened risk.  Nor did the post-mortems indicate the presence of ticks or internal parasites.

Post Mortem Stats:

  • 52 deer examined before or after field dressing, by MNR staff
  • 13 of these deer were fawns
  • 12 deer weighed 90 lbs or less
  • Oldest deer estimated by be 7.5 years of age
  • Youngest deer estimated to be “0” age
  • Smallest deer was 66 lbs (about the weight of the average golden retriever)
  • 45% of does were in various stages of lactation
  • Several deer were close to or over 200 lbs.
  • No ticks were observed

Age and weight are very important data points because they provide an index of population size relative to the habitat carrying capacity. In the wild, deer usually live no more than 10 years. The Wood god kills rabbitsaverage age of the deer in the MNR’s data is lowered considerably due to the killing of fawns that otherwise would have lived a few more years.  The age of the oldest deer is a good indication that there is a desirable apex predator/prey balance in the park. In most species of deer, lactation, which is the most energetically demanding component of maternal care, continues for about 80-100 days after birth, which occurs in May/June. It continues until the next rut. Lactation data provides evidence that the doe raised one or more fawns and is an indicator of good overall reproductive health in the herd (versus starvation).  The Protocol describes the deer as an important source of food for the hunters, but how hungry do you have to be that you can’t walk away from a 66 lb fawn? This fawn, along with some of the others, was most likely born in May or June of this year. This baby and her mother were probably both snuffed-out while standing together.

The MNR has offered several insipid excuses for the Short Hills hunt – population control, deer in over-abundance, and most recently now Lyme disease, but have provided no evidence for any of it. In fact, the MNR’s own empirical data disproves their bogus rhetoric. Even if the deer are at or over their biological carrying capacity, a hunt will temporarily reduce their numbers but will leave more food per deer, causing more twins and triplets to be born next year.

If either the MNR or the hunters think there are too many deer and the deer are going to starve to death, they should stop increasing the number of deer. Hunting is necessary – for hunters – so they can increase the population of deer for subsequent hunts. And it’s obscene that over 100 hunters have entered the park in only two days and that 25% of the deer killed in previous hunts are probably animals that were only born a few months earlier. Maybe the MNR tally of the casualties should have included the babies of those does who were still lactating……

 

 

Hunting for Fallacies – Why Hunting is Bad for the Environment

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The Logic of HuntersI would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ~E.B. White

A few years ago I boarded my horse at a really nice facility that happened to be adjacent to a property that was used as a weekend hunting camp.  Although we could quite literally ride into town on the abandoned railway tracks, the hunt camp itself was a beautiful site where you could ride for about an hour and have only a ½ km walk back to the barn afterwards.

Soon after I arrived at this boarding stable, I asked how it was possible that we were able to “trespass” on their property?  The barn owners explained that the property owner allowed us to ride there as a sort of compensation for the loud shooting that went on during weekends.  Shooting?  Right next to a facility with dozens of horses?  I briefly regretted my move and wondered if my horse would ever de-spook to the sounds of shotguns in the not-so-far-away distance.  After a few weeks,  I discovered that the hunters also gave us use of the property to “buy” our silence – they were hunting turkeys out-of-season and on days of the week when it was not permitted.

I rode a few times on the property, which was eerily silent except for turkeys fluttering in the brush.  The trail was beautiful and serene, uncharacteristic for

Brush and Rails

Brush and Rails

the activity for which the property was being used.  The “camp” also consisted of several chain-link “runs” for the dogs, and a few small outbuildings,  at least one of which was used for slaughtering and dressing the birds.  Apparently this town was noteworthy for turkey shooting, because one day a truck with several men boldly drove up the driveway and began asking for permission to shoot turkeys on the farm.  About a week or so after that, a locking gate went up on the driveway…..

I disagree with the philosophy of hunting and the premise that only a hunter can manage an ecosystem.

I’d never been that impressed with sport hunters, but these incidents started me on the path to believing that they were brazen, self-serving individuals who did whatever they liked without regard for bylaws or the safety of private citizens.  They truly believe that they are somehow “custodians” of nature whose culls were keeping animal populations strong and healthy.  And they considered anti-hunters to be hypocrites. Without their “custodianship,” wild animals will not simply wither away and die. While domesticated animals would have a tremendous struggle to survive,  if indeed they could at all, virtually all animals would flourish if we didn’t invade their habitat. And that would occur according to nature’s way and ideals – not ours. Many hunters seem to be very practiced at manipulating and manufacturing acceptance of hunting. I think that Noam Chomsky would be proud….

In Canada, the fur trade initially sustained Hudson’s Bay Company for a few hundred years, but ultimately birchbark canoes and beaver pelts gave way to an abundant newer and more broad commercial opportunity. I might also add that the greatest of the old growth white pines were cut to provide masts for the British Navy, which, at the time, was the dominate imperialistic force on the planet, protecting British economic interests worldwide so that the resources of the world could be converted into English wealth. The HBC was also initially a venture by the British imperialists.

Bear mom and cubsFast forward to modern times, where its estimated that anywhere from 5% – 17% of the general population hunts/fishes. Most of the higher percentages I’ve encountered were taken from data that originated from northern climes.  Herein lies the problem. Hunters assume that they are responsible for maintaining the ecosystem. You have your acknowledged 5 – 17% of the population supposedly maintaining the ecosystem – part time at that. That dog doesn’t hunt, sorry.

In my internet travels I came across the following stats, which I believe refutes the popularity of hunting. Despite the hunting propaganda which I have read on the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters website, the reality is that most modern families do not embrace hunting as either a pleasurable pastime or a family adventure. Despite claims made by hunting proponents that sport hunting is a popular, widely accepted traditional pastime, the number of hunters in the U.S. has declined over the past 20 years. In 1996, only 5.1% of Americans purchased hunting licenses, compared to 7.4% in 1991 and 9.9% in 1975, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  With young people having so many choices in their activities today, killing animals just doesn’t have much appeal. Compassion for the natural world is the new order. Gone are the days of the fur trade which launched the largest company in Canadian history. Statistics that depict the overall decline of hunting aren’t difficult to source. These are American stats.

Wildlife Watching

71 Million Participants
31% Of The Population
$40.5 Billion Spent
$7.65 Billion on Food & Lodging
Growing Business

Hunting

12.5 Million Participants
5% Of The Population
$21.3 Billion Spent
$2.71 Billion on Food & Lodging
Mature Business

The hunters I’ve debated with usually claim that anti-hunters are hypocrites of some sort.  So why exactly are anti-hunters hypocrites? Why are we unethical?  The fact is that we are not; the hunting community often behave hypocritically and many of their statements about the benefits of hunting are not based on case-controlled, peer-reviewed science.  In fact, they often stretch the truth until it’s almost elliptical.

First of all, we don’t have to live in the forest in order to live ethically.

For whatever reason, it’s expected that anti-hunters would live in the forest and wipe their asses with leaves in order to live up to the hunter’s example of living off the land – which is what they think they do when they drive in from the suburbs in their SUVs to their hunting camp. Clearly, we’re not required to eat nuts and berries in order to have an opinion on the subject matter.

You need to hunt something that can shoot back at you to really classify yourself as a hunter. You need to understand the feeling of what it’s like to go into the field and know your opposition can take you out. Not just go out there and shoot Bambi ~ Jesse Ventura

I’ve also been told that we’re unethical because we feed our dogs and cats pet food made of meat, whilst complaining vocally about hunters.  They claim we

Donald Trump's Sons were strongly criticized for shooting a multitude of animals on holiday

Donald Trump’s Sons were strongly criticized for shooting a multitude of animals on holiday

don’t know where food comes from and that they are just trying to put food on their tables.

Pet food is primarily made from the waste by-products of the human food industry – stuff that you wouldn’t eat and would never pass inspection for humans.  Okay, well,  sometimes it does – just ask the CFIA about XL Foods. But typically, pet foods include some meats and other food refuse that has passed its expiration date, and what are called 4D livestock, right along with their ear tags, which are also all fodder for rendering plants. So by purchasing pet food, pet owners don’t really contribute much money to mass butchering other than purchasing the byproduct. Most pet food is made primarily from the foodstuffs that are not deemed appropriate for human consumption. Meat is their natural food, and there is little to no chance that slaughterhouses are going to go away, so it’s hardly hypocritical to own an animal that requires a meat-based pet food.

Next up is the hunter’s claim that we’re hypocrites since we own and therefore “exploit” other animals ourselves, in my case, a horse.  A hunter once told me I was cruel for having horse shoes on my horse.  At the time I had this conversation, I was driving my horse on the deserted country roads,  and she did wear borium driving shoes,  which I intensely disliked,  but really needed to save her feet on the roads.  I prefer my horse to go barefoot, but some owners do shoe horses feet if they have to traverse rough terrain.  The hoof is made of keratin, and there are no nerves running through that part of the hoof. It’s really quite comparable to the end of your fingernail.  Most horses aren’t “broken” in the manner depicted in Westerns either, and with a few cruel exceptions, they aren’t imprisoned in a stable. Finally, my horse was paid for and boarded using my own after-tax dollars. I don’t get supplementation from the government either, quite unlike the industry and government regulations that support hunting and hunters.

So here are some of the most unsupportable claims made by hunters.  I’ll start with one of the most obvious claims – that hunters help maintain an ecosystem.

The main problem with trophy hunters and hunting in general is that they do not cull the weaker animals from the herd.

Cheetah KillingTherefore, they do not replicate what nature does. When you kill a trophy buck, you are in all likelihood removing a HEALTHY STRONG ANIMAL from the population, a breeding animal with strong genetic influence. You accomplish the opposite effect of nature, therefore, your influence on nature is unnatural. When you choose only healthy animals to kill, inbreeding may result in a far higher expression of deleterious recessive genes within a population than would normally be expected. As a result, first-generation inbred individuals are more likely to show physical and health defects, including smaller adult size, loss of immune system function, lower birth rate, and increased genetic disorders.  Contrast this with predators such as wolves, who focus their hunts on the very young, the very old, and the weak or sick, thus strengthening the herd.

Clearly, inbreeding is bad.  Many species of animals give very little thought process to whom they mate with, thereby, when you have one buck mating with an unusual number of does in a season, you will have inbreeding. With sexual segregation, the dominant male reserves the right to mate with receptive does. Different individuals within a group form a status hierarchy in which higher-ranking animals get more access to food and more access to females in heat. While there are some exceptions to this rule, this is nevertheless, how it works.

Therefore, a hunter, by choosing superior specimens, has eliminated the gene pool of the bucks that would otherwise have contributed their genetic material and all the advantages that go with that. Therefore, these animals are wasting their resources producing individuals who may not survive in many cases. They are producing weak, inferior specimens. Hunting actually drives natural selection in reverse. Basically, you would eventually wind up with a stock of animals displaying the characteristics of those which were not killed in a hunt. In colloquial terminology – when you take them systematically out of the population for many years, you end up leaving essentially a bunch of losers doing the breeding. Unless hunters are habitually killing weaker animals, they are not capable of performing the same role that nature does.  They are not doing the animal a favour by “harvesting” them before they have the opportunity to die naturally either.

Hunting advocates like to claim that hunting is necessary as a means of population control and that they are in fact conservationists doing everybody, including the animal, a huge favour.

How many times have we read that in the absence of predators, an environments’ carrying capacity can be exceeded and animals will surely die a slow painful death from starvation, or so the justification goes. The problem is that hunters do

Canned Hunts are especially objectionable, and send the wrong message to youth

Canned Hunts are especially objectionable, and send the wrong message to youth. Animals used to routine,  return at regular times expecting to be fed,  instead,  they are shot.

not seek out and kill only those animals within the population most likely to die of starvation; in fact the opposite is true. This also disrupts the natural 1:1 male to female birth ratio of animals, leaving a disproportionate number of females, who will produce more in the subsequent years to the point of overpopulation.

It’s a fallacy that hunters often assume that they can manage nature better than nature herself can. An animal killed during predator/prey interactions is not wasted – it is used for food. Numerous animals rely only on carrion for food,  including bacteria, fungi, and worms. Everything alive is made from chemicals that are only borrowed from the earth. The mechanistic explanation of predator/prey relationships suggests that the machinery of nature functions without us quite well.  We know this via population modelling.

The Lotka-Volterra population model is composed of a pair of differential equations that describe predator-prey (or herbivore-plant, or parasitoid-host) dynamics in their simplest case (one predator population, one prey population). It was developed independently by Alfred Lotka and Vito Volterra, scientists with degrees in mathematics, population dynamics, energetics, and biology, in the 1920’s.  It is characterized by oscillations in the population size of both predator and prey, with the peak of the predator’s oscillation lagging slightly behind the peak of the prey’s oscillation.

The competitive Lotka–Volterra system plotted in phase space with the x4 value represented by the color.

The competitive Lotka–Volterra system plotted in phase space with the x4 value represented by the colour.

The theorem, which passes the acid test of any theoretical model, makes several simplifying assumptions: 1) the prey population will grow exponentially when the predator is absent; 2) the predator population will starve in the absence of the prey population (as opposed to switching to another type of prey); 3) predators can consume infinite quantities of prey; and 4) there is no environmental complexity (in other words, both populations are moving randomly through a homogeneous environment.

Predators and prey can influence each others’ evolution. Traits that enhance a predator’s ability to find and capture prey will be selected for in the predator, while traits that enhance the prey’s ability to avoid being eaten will be selected for in the prey. The “goals” of these traits are not compatible, and it is the interaction of these selective pressures that influences the dynamics of the predator and prey populations. Predicting the outcome of species interactions is also of interest to biologists trying to understand how communities are structured and sustained.

The equation already assumes that predator/prey populations are in a constant state of flux, which they are. A good example of this dis-equillibrium is what happened in Yellowstone Park after wolves were exterminated – this was done because wolves preyed upon elk, animals human hunters also wished to hunt. They believed that without wolves to prey on them, there would be more elk and so on for humans to hunt. This was a foolish and short-sighted view, however – the elk population exploded without natural predators to cull the weak and sick, leading to overgrazing and damage to the environment. The herbivores then starved. Fortunately, wolves have now been reintroduced, and the balance between predator and prey has been restored. Also, hunting over a 200-year period killed more than a million

An illustration of spatial structure in nature. The strength of the interaction between bee colonies is a function of their proximity. Colonies A and B interact, as do colonies B and C. A and C do not interact directly, but affect each other through colony B.

An illustration of spatial structure in nature. The strength of the interaction between bee colonies is a function of their proximity. Colonies A and B interact, as do colonies B and C. A and C do not interact directly, but affect each other through colony B.

otters and brought them to near-extinction in the 20th century. Yet, their numbers have recovered. The fact that we see animal populations, such as wolves, in dis-equillibrium with their natural prey, it is because hunters have designed it so.  If predators weren’t compromised by hunting, carrying capacity of the land would not be exceeded. To sum up, both predator and prey species are healthier when left to the devices of nature, whose mechanisms are far superior to anything man could devise.

Both hunters and governments argue that hunting is important economically when it is increasingly evident that many animals, grizzly bears in particular, are worth more to the economy living than dead. Therefore, what social or historical imperative is there to maintain the hunt? I specifically recall hearing that when the bear hunt was cancelled in Northern Ontario, the president of the Federation of Anglers and Hunters said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “bears are too precious a natural resource to treat that way.” That is surely one of the most unintentionally ridiculous remarks I’ve ever heard! They are so precious in fact, that we gotta shoot ’em now while there’s still time!  At least the cancellation of the bear hunt kept Ted Nugent and his loincloth in Michigan. You’d think he’d be the biggest advocate for gun control, what with him being shot in the head and all…….

Do hunters even replenish the grizzly supply? Are any grizzly bears poached for gall bladders? BC grizzlies are now classified as “Special Concern” (or vulnerable) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Despite this status and the ever increasing degradation and loss of their habitat, Canadian grizzlies continue to face the very real, completely unnecessary and terribly cruel threat of hunting.

In 2007, 430 grizzlies were killed in B.C., 363 of them by affluent, mostly American and European sport hunters, making last year the highest rate of hunter-caused mortality of this iconic bear since records have been kept. This sad statistic puts the lie to the provincial government’s own description of grizzlies as “perhaps the greatest symbol of the wilderness” whose “survival will be the greatest testimony to our environmental commitment. Conservationists and independent scientists have been saying for years that the continuation of the sport hunt in its current form reveals a provincial government sorely out of step with reality on three fronts – grizzly bear science, economics and public opinion. For decades management and regulation has been governed more by politics and received wisdom than by anything resembling sound scientific reasoning, despite the fact that COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre consider grizzlies a species of special concern.”

“Manipulating data collected from a single government study of grizzlies in southeastern B.C. in the late 1980s, the province extrapolated habitat Grizzly hunterscharacteristics from the Flathead Range onto other regions of the province to arrive at an arbitrary population estimate. In 2000, Dionys de Leeuw, a biologist with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, published a scathing report titled “Grizzly Overkill in British Columbia Bear Management,” in which he pointed out the absurdity of the province’s habitat-based population estimate methodology, saying that grizzly bears could be exterminated by 2034 while government habitat suitability measurements would continue to indicate a theoretical bear abundance and subsequent harvestable surplus.”

“Independent research poked serious holes in the government science. Where government biologists said that grizzly bears were at 93 per cent of their habitat potential in the Central Purcell Mountains, Proctor’s results indicated a much lower number at roughly 54 per cent, putting bears in this region of southeastern B.C. close to the 50 per cent mark – the threshold for threatened status. Clearly, there is a government bias against grizzlies, therefore it follows that they are willing to manipulate any numbers, whether consciously or not, achieve their means. The science behind the population estimates on which annual harvest rates are based is bogus, decried by independent biologists in B.C., Alberta and the United States.”

The COSEWIC and other independent scientists should have the final say on the designation of threatened species and not have its recommendations subject to Cabinet approval. The article on the grizzly bear is the single most credible source of real science done by real and impartial scientists, performing real peer-reviewed science. I realize that it’s conclusion does not concur with that of the hunters, so perhaps they’ll write it off entirely as having been created in a vacuum. Before anyone runs on at the keyboard about deer not being threatened species, you need to recall and extrapolate what is already known about the ineptitude of the government to calculate true animal populations. Neither the government nor the hunters ever really know how well or how poorly they are “controlling” the environment by hunting. Modern hunting is “Evolution in Reverse.” And that’s not natural.

Another rationale that hunters use for their hobby is that hunting controls disease,

despite the fact that Canada’s National Wildlife Disease strategy, does not even mention hunting as a method of reducing disease.  They believe that hunting maintains healthy animal populations and keeping population levels low avoids disease transmission.  While there is truth in the statement that any existent disease will travel faster though malnourished and densely populated herds of animals,  hunters acknowledge  that they don’t target sick animals.  In an ecosystem with the absence of hunting, an animal’s numbers will be reduced to the point where the animals are widely spread, they no longer pass on the disease, and the plague runs its course; leaving “enough” animals. Sometimes animals reproduce to the point of overpopulation; but nature reserves the right to correct the problem. Animals even follow certain inborn rules that cause them to become too plentiful. And that scenario exists without the intervention of hunters. Also, herbivores do not willingly travel in close proximity to predators, nor do predators of substantially different sizes normally mingle together: this situation inhibits viral transmission.  Again, hunters are attempting to parlay death into a bad or unnecessary thing which can only be relieved by hunters.

Likely a canned hunt, bow hunting is highly inaccurate and contributes to suffering

Likely a canned hunt, bow hunting is highly inaccurate and contributes to suffering

Further, just as a vector can introduce disease in the human body, hunting of wildlife by humans is known vector that carries a substantial risk for cross-species transmission. Despite cooking, the risk of zoonotic diseases emerging from hunting and eating wildlife is still of global importance because of increases global trade, and increased contact between humans and animals.

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness ~ Joseph Conrad

Chronic Wasting Disease can infect an animal for years before it becomes obviously apparent. Whenever there are deliberate culls of animals suspected of having CWD,  hunters kill as many deer as possible within an eradication zone. Therefore, I maintain that for the most part, hunters can not know whether they kill healthy or diseased animals until examination afterwards. It remains an open question whether such extreme culling programs are logistically feasible, particularly since CWD persists in the environment. Complete elimination of CWD from all deer herds is unlikely, despite the best efforts of humans. This is because, to some degree, it appears to be endemic.  Past research and experience has shown that herd eradication efforts failed to eliminate CWD in many states in the US. Therefore, I’m not convinced that any one group has special talents to rid deer herds of the disease. Hunters motivated by money (a bounty on deer suspected of having CWD) are often not safe hunters either. Furthermore, the presence of disease, any disease, for many years usually results in disease resistance as a result of natural selection. Natural immunity prevents entire species, and even entire species of plantlife, from mass extinction.

Far more needs to be known about this disease before engaging in all-out slaughter, if there is an expectation that wildlife management actions retain their “scientific” basis. I am for removing animals from the herd who are clearly suffering from disease, but hunting does not accomplish this. Otherwise, we would see fewer incidences of the disease and fewer calls for eradication of deer.

Nevertheless, if hunting could control CWD, we would not see rampant CWD in areas where exterministic hunting is promoted as a control mechanism. Even in states where exterministic hunting has been allowed, those clueless government biologists have been left scratching their heads wondering why they have a surge of CWD shortly thereafter.  The reason is that while massive culling of herds will remove infected animals, it also removes animals that have immunity to the disease. I do happen to know that health officials advise hunters not to shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick, as in the case of a chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis. So it follows that hunters would strive to avoid killing unhealthy animals. While there are exceptions to prey animal killings, generally speaking, prey animals have great difficulty culling healthy animals,  which is why they tend to remove older,  infirm or diseased animals from the population.

Hunters might like to use red herrings and other diversionary tactics to draw out attention away from the fact that wounded animals are a serious consequence of poor hunting skills. 

But precisely because the target is moving and because of the numerous variables contributing to the shot pattern, wounding is inevitable. Bow hunting Bow hunted moose (a common method used to hunt grizzlies) injures more animals than it kills. Dozens of scientific studies show that bow hunting yields more than a 50 percent wounding rate. Rates of wounding have been estimated in different ways. Spend any time watching waterfowl hunters at their sport and you will hear many shots for every duck or goose that is dropped to the water and retrieved. The proof of high wounding rates exists, in part, in the percentage of waterfowl who, when X-rayed, are found to be carrying shotgun pellets in their bodies. Those who were somewhat more severely wounded tend to die in the marsh or woods, unseen. Shotguns are meant for moving targets. You don’t “aim” a shotgun so much as point it. Dick Cheney is perfect proof of that fact. The fact that the target is moving contributes to the “sport.” The expression “a sitting duck,” meaning a person who is extremely vulnerable, derives from the “unsporting” act of shooting a duck sitting on the water. No skill is required to hit a sitting duck. (No hunter would admit to shooting a sitting duck, of course, but you have to wonder why so many decoys have pellet holes in them.)

Hunting is also not a “sport” that is economically viable,  at least,  not without significant government handouts. 

The Canadian government has granted charitable status to hunting groups and groups that actually promote anti-environmental agendas. According to the watchdog Charity Action Team, “many of these groups have adopted names that make them sound like pro-environmental groups. These anti-environmental groups cloak themselves in government-sanctioned subterfuge. A Charity Action Team report to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency named 13 pro-hunting organizations and fishing lodges that have been granted charitable status YET DO NOT COMPLY with the standards
detailed in their own applications.

• Alberta Fish and Game Association
• British Columbia Wildlife Federation
• Canadian Wildlife Federation
• Ducks Unlimited Canada
• Federation of Anglers and Hunters Ontario (OFAH)
• Manitoba Wildlife Federation
• New Brunswick Wildlife Federation, Inc.
• Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation
• Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation
• Ontario Wildlife Foundation
• Prince Edward Island Wildlife Federation
• Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
• Wildlife Habitat Canada

If you want to feel control and conquest, volunteer in the army, pick up a rifle , even don a bullet proof vest if you like, and patrol the streets of Fallujah, or Ramadi.

If you want to feel control and conquest, volunteer in the army, pick up a rifle, even don a bullet proof vest if you like, and patrol the streets of Fallujah, or Ramadi.

Charity annual reports and financial statements can conceal interesting realities even when impeccably prepared. The 1994 annual report published by Wildlife Habitat Canada (WHC.org) a pro-hunting group, is a case in point. It is a model of excellent reporting and depicts a tightly run organization engaged in a number of excellent conservation projects across Canada. It lists its revenues as $2.1million from its “stamp program,” $600,000 from Environment Canada, $296,742 from project contributions and $231,449 from other sources. While I doubt there’s anything wrong with their financials,  upon closer look,  it becomes obvious how much hunters DO NOT contribute to the “upkeep” of the wilderness. In 1995 it was stated in the House of Commons that Wildlife Habitat Canada raised only $9,000 in tax receiptable donations in comparison to government grants totalling $2.7million. This means that the hunters themselves contributed $9,000, while the Canadian government donated the balance – $2.7 million. This doesn’t appear to be a self-sustaining charity, IMHO.

Although hunters certainly won’t agree, hunting and fishing organizations shouldn’t have charitable tax status. Hunting and fishing organizations are variously posing as wildlife conservation organizations while engaging in lobbying and partisan politics, which is strictly prohibited under the Income Tax Act for registered charities and non-profits. This is exactly what makes a group such as Wildlife Habitat Canada suspect – they could lose their charitable status as a result. Yet, despite undoubtedly knowing this, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters launched a campaign not so long ago to “fight the Liberals in the next election.” Furthermore, why should hunting organizations, who cater to a small percentage of the population, get money from the government when organizations like the Lions Club don’t have charitable status? Do you think the OFAH provides a wider benefit to society than the Lions Club? I don’t.  I can think of many ways to make use of the government money that is currently spent propping up the mature hunting industry in favour of new, developing industries.

Outdated conservation strategy based on pre-ecological thought and faulty science is still being practiced.

“Volunteer wildlife managers” aka hunters,  manipulate ecosystems and wildlife habitat for increased hunter success, while boosting hunting license sale revenues which support their salaries. Alterations of the environment intended to stimulate ever greater populations of target animals such as deer is not only bad science, but plain stupidity. In fact, hunters’ license fees are used to manipulate a comparatively few game species into overpopulation at the expense of a much larger number of non-game species, which includes the extermination of natural predators. This contributes to the loss of biological diversity, genetic integrity and ecological balance of wildlife. Hunters’ licenses pay for environmental degradation and not conservation as is claimed.

Nature has endowed man with a noble and excellent principle of compassion, which extends itself also to the dumb animals—whence this compassion has some resemblance to that of a prince toward his subjects. And it is certain that the noble souls are the most extensively compassionate, for narrow and degenerate minds think that compassion belongs not to them; but a great soul, the noblest part of creation, is ever compassionate. ~Francis Bacon

When it came time for the Government of Ontario to create new legislation to protect Provincial Parks, the Federation of Anglers and Hunters lobbied them turkeysnot to restrict fishing, hunting, trapping, motorized vehicles including snowmobiles and 4WD vehicles. And didn’t the Tories lower the hunting age to 12 years, under lobbying pressure, thereby promoting the use of guns by minors? This is further evidence that wildlife should not be managed by hunters for hunters, anymore than one person should be given complete care, custody and control over Fort Knox. As I’ve already pointed out – they lobby for self-interest relentlessly, which results in alterations to natural ecosystems. Rivers and streams etc, have been stocked with fish species not indigenous to those waters, such as salmon. Lakes have become reservoirs for fishers, which seems to imply that the industry is not sustainable otherwise.

Hunters manage our wildlands as game farms, not as sensitive ecosystems.

Furthermore, hunting charities who are registered as “Protection of Animals” groups have opposed improving animal cruelty laws, they’ve opposed new gun laws, they’ve opposed protection of animals such as the grizzly and wolves. Seems like the antithesis of an animal protection group to me.

Conservation lands should be exactly that – totally conserved.

Not “conserved” for the use of hunters and fishers. Not conserved so that someone can go ripping through on an all-terrain vehicle. If the populations weren’t hunted or fished, there would be little reason to restore them. I’m sure that when John Cabot landed off the coast of Newfoundland, he thought that the cod would last forever too. So, restoration, while an admirable venture otherwise, becomes a selfish and self-serving goal.

aerial wolf killingAnimal populations become decimated through such causations as invasive species, habitat destruction, disease, hunting, and the inbreeding and resultant overpopulation as an associated result of hunting. Where is the “management” that the hunters proclaim exists? The sentiment that an animal’s life seems to be best served by providing food for man is a very anthropomorphic centralism. The imbalance caused by the extinction of the dinosaurs took millions of years to correct – but – it did happen and it was a mass extinction of species, not just a few species of prey or predator. It affected many groups of organisms in many different environments, but it affected marine communities the most, causing the extinction of most of the marine invertebrates of the time. So, many people do underestimate the rebounding ability of life unaided by man.

Man is changing the world in an inherently dangerous fashion.

Anthropocentrism such as hunters and some others espouse, has been posited by many environmentalists as the underlying reason why humanity dominates and sees the need to “develop” most of the Earth. Anthropocentrism is a root cause of the ecological crisis, human overpopulation, and the extinctions of many non-human species.

We hunters don’t mind if the animal suffers a bit. Yes there will be painful deaths sometimes, especially when bow hunting. That sucks, but the awesomeness of hunting overpowers that pain. ~Hunter Tim Wilson