During the nineteenth century, a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill terrorized the American West, shooting and dismembering his victims who numbered in the thousands. But no special agents from the FBI headquarters in Quantico were ever sent to stop Bill or the procession of copycat killers joining in the fun. The carnage was endorsed and encouraged; the targets, though gregarious, caring and benign, were nonhuman after all.
A holocaust to the tenth power, 60 million bison were massacred in a shameful era that nearly brought an end to them, along with elk, grizzly bears, and about every other large animal that hunters could get a bead on. Meanwhile, fur-trappers busied themselves at brutalizing the less charismatic species, like beavers, muskrat, mink, or marten.
With the big grazers out of the way, would-be ranchers set up shop, bringing to bear that widespread brand of speciesism: species favoritism. Adding poison to the animal eradication arsenal, they killed not just for a quick buck, but with a sweeping agenda to do away with the competition from every other grass-eater, from pronghorns to prairie dogs, and wipe out any remaining natural predators, such as wolves and coyotes, that might turn to their livestock in the absence of accustomed prey. Problem is, this ecologically short-sighted conduct resulted in severely diminished biodiversity, a fact that should be an embarrassment to the inheritors of our abused land, yet blundering behavior persists to this day.
Here in our time, hunting is considered a “sport” and trapping is committed for the sake of “recreation.” Modern hunters feel no sorrow for the onslaught, nor compassion for its casualties. Rather than conceding to the errors of the past, those that still hunt are paying homage to the ruinous ways of the 1800s, targeting the same species of wildlife with a fervor that would make the most murderous of their forefathers proud. And when creatures like black bears, Canada geese, ravens and coyotes prove clever or resourceful enough to adapt to the human-dominated world, they hate, hunt and trap them with a vengeance.
Customs and culture are fine, until ones sense of entitlement leads to the abuse or killing of others. The culture of hunting has gone on long enough; it’s time to terminate it.
This post was excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport