The Hunting Debate

On Wednesday the 10th of October I went to a University Debate with the motion “This House Supports Hunting”.

  • I heard people say, “that they hunt because they love nature and animals and the sport of hunting gives them a greater appreciation of nature and the world around them.”
  • I heard people argue that “through hunting animals are giving a sporting chance in survival.”
  • I heard people say that “hunting is a sustainable practice.”
  • I heard people argue that “it is a more humane method of livelihood.”

Indeed, I even heard people argue that “trophy hunting should be allowed and encourages since it raises awareness on animal conservation…?” Which is the point where I personally lost the thread of that particular argument because for me that statement goes against all reason.

Controversially both sides of the debate were arguing for sustainability and combatting of climate change either through hunting or against hunting. This opened my eyes to how skewed the understanding of sustainability is. How is it that we understand sustainability both in terms of killing life and the concept of “live and let living”? How come is it acceptable to define love and appreciation in any act of killing?

Why is it that sustainability is often seen as a way of humans “controlling nature” rather than finding ways to balance with nature, learn from nature and come into tune with nature.

With reference to the statement that hunting aids conservation it is like saying “whaling” is a solution for whale conservation. Hunting has led to the extinction of many of the species and led to the red-listing of many more species that are under threat today.

Maybe we should look closer at the detail that most hunting is a commercial, elite sport, practiced mostly by men, in order to satisfy their desire for killing another creature. State agencies make money from selling licences and in their mission statements proclaim that they aim to “increase hunting opportunities”. In terms of deer hunting this often means that reserves and hunting agencies will encourage population growth by feeding animals and clear-cutting forest sections to allow meadows and making space for ideal living grounds. Which is were one could question how that fits into sustainability and protecting of the forest and wider environment. Another major issue within deer hunting is sex-based hunting. Most hunters primarily aim to hunt strong male animals leading to a skewed population dynamic. This in turn can lead to increased populations of deer since there will be more females to give rise to offspring.

Another point which I think needs consideration is the fact that big game rarely ever exceeds their biological carrying capacity and if they do this will be regulated by NATURE. A lack of food will kill the weakest and will also cause pregnant females to reabsorb embryos to have fewer offspring. This results in the strongest surviving and maintaining a healthy population. Hunting, however, adversely affects populations since hunters often take out the strongest animals of a group.

For me it seems that hunter will think of 101 possible reasons why hunting is beneficial to society and the world while in actual fact they see hunting as a sport and recreation. In today’s society, we need to question the desire and legality behind hunting being labelled a recreation and sport. We need to question men’s desire to possess guns and kill fellow, breathing and living Earthlings for the sake of pleasure.  We need to question the morality behind humans saying that “they are giving animals a sporting chance for survival” because I am sure that is what each and every single one of us would appreciate – the opportunity to be hunted down rather than getting the bullet through our brain immediately. Indeed, it rather has similarities with the dystopian story of the “Hunger Games”.

Maybe next time we look down onto our plates we should reflect about what we see in front of us. Who we see in front of us? Is the flesh or secretion of a brutally killed animal? How can killing be humane if the being that was killed did not want to die? Maybe too many people see the question “of would you rather die that way or this way” as a joke rather than a reality that millions of animals around the world face every day!

“How can you ethically kill someone who does not want to die?”

It is time to finally step down from the benevolent role we humans assign ourselves in arguing that we know what is best for nature. “We know what is best for ecosystems.” “We know how nature works and are just helping animals along the line.” “We know what it means for nature to be in balance.” “Animals are overpopulating, and we need to control and contain them to maintain sustainability.” I wonder which species is the “overpopulating” the Earth the most at this current point in time?

In case you were wondering the proposition supporting hunting won. It is strange how accepting killing still is in today’s society and that despite all humanity has gone through. We need more people who speak up against this and who challenge norms such as this one. This includes you too, dear reader. Be brave.