Be the Wind

Upon awakening from a fitful sleep after a cold, windy night, it occurred to me that birds must have to keep an unconscious death-grip on the branch they’re perched on to hold their place until morning. It must be second nature to them; part of what makes them who they are.
Next the thought came to me that a bird’s nighttime death-grip on a perch is analogous to the death-grip “sportsmen’s” groups, “game” departments and the livestock industry have on our wildlife. Like a trembling bird, fearful for its future, animal exploiters must be afraid that if they loosen their grip, they’ll be blown away.

Well, they’re right.

It’s high time we be the wind that finally breaks loose their death-grip on wildlife once and for all, and for the good of all.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

“Game” Laws Are the Ultimate In Moral Schizophrenia

People like to think we live in a civilized society; after all, we no longer condone slavery, human sacrifice, cannibalism, lethal gladiator games or a host of other outdated cruelties. But in reality, we’re living in a time when the accepted treatment of non-human animals has never been more morally schizophrenic.

Take, for example, the following excerpt from a UK Mirror article about a criminal case of animal abuse that could easily be confused with a perfectly “legal” bird hunt…

Locked up: Yob shot dead 18 ducks and posted pictures of rampage on Facebook
The cruel 18-year-old went on the rampage up a canal bank and when caught told police he only killed the birds ‘for a bit of fun’
12 Jan 2013
A lout who shot dead 18 ducks and posted pictures of their corpses on Facebook was locked up for eight weeks yesterday.
Cruel 18-year-old Michael Prince went on the rampage up a canal bank and when caught told police he only killed the birds ‘for a bit of fun.’
The sick gunman caused armed police to be deployed to the scene to reel him in and his friend who was also armed with a gun at the waterside.
Animal welfare bosses described Prince’s actions as ‘senseless cruelty’ as he was sent to a young offenders’ institution for eight weeks.
Prince and his pal shot birds while others they had just targeted lay flapping their wings in agony and even took aim at horses in nearby fields in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
Cops managed to catch the brainless teen when he stupidly posted photographs of his macabre exploits on the internet. …

A “bit of fun” eh? That sounds eerily reminiscent of a case of senseless animal cruelty I covered in an earlier blog post entitled, “Just Out For a Bit of Fun.”
It’s good to know that crimes like these are prosecuted (though the punishments for crimes against animals are seldom more than a slap on the wrist). The question is how does the shooting of ducks “for a bit of fun” differ from the legalized blasting of birds in the name of sport? Depending on the species, the shooting of 18 ducks can be well within the “bag limit” set by local “game” departments. And leaving ducks winged and wounded is standard practice for the average bird hunter.

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Just Out for a Bit of Fun

“I think it’s cruel that they would take sport in stuff like that. Very cruel. It’s just sophomoric, juvenile.”

That quote could just as easily have been a humane person’s reaction to witnessing any legal goose, pheasant, elk or wolf hunt, but in this case it was in reference to a speeding driver running over 92 protected shorebirds on the Washington coast (on the same stretch of beach mentioned in this earlier post, Compassion for All, Not Just the Endangered).

Shorebirds, like the dunlins who were senselessly killed, huddle close together on the beaches this time of year, which makes the act of running over nearly eight dozen of them at one time no great challenge for anyone willing to stoop to such an act.

The driver was most likely just out for a bit of fun when they spotted the flock of migratory birds dead ahead. After plowing through the birds—who have an uncanny knack of flying off at the last minute to avoid any vehicle following the posted speed limit of 25mph, but who must not have been ready for someone going twice that speed—chances are the driver said to his passengers something like, “that was pretty neat.”

That same line was uttered by a Dubois taxidermist and outfitter, Joe Hargrave, who, on Oct. 5, just four days after their season opened, became one of Wyoming’s first hunters to legally kill a wolf since 1974.

“It was pretty neat to be able to hunt them because they’re a magnificent animal,” Hargrave said. “I like to see them in the wild just like elk, moose and everything else. It is nice to be able to have the opportunity to hunt them.” (The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves from the endangered species list in Wyoming on Sept. 30, kicking off the first hunting season since wolves were placed on the list in 1974. Conservation groups have filed three lawsuits seeking to re-list the wolves; they are expected to be decided sometime in 2013.)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Wildlife Rehab Center of North Coast are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the illegal killing of the protected shorebirds. Meanwhile, thousands of unprotected migratory geese, deer, elk, cougars, coyotes and wolves are shot each year by people with the same motive as those thrill seeking, sophomoric, sociopathic beach drivers—they’re just out for a bit of fun.

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Like the KKK, the NRA will eventually Fade Away

Comparatively speaking, the body of hunters in America is withered and shrunken, only a wee fraction of its former self. Today there are six times as many photographers, bird watchers and others who enjoy seeing animals alive as those compelled to make them lie down and die. Like the KKK and the SLA, the NRA has seen its day and will rightfully fade away. Literally, figuratively and statistically, hunting is a dying sport.

But non-hunters should not be lulled into a false sense of security for wildlife. Sportsmen, though a skeletal minority, are a shrill and voluble 5 (or 6) percent when it comes to forcibly interjecting themselves into animal issues; they‘re reluctant, to say the least, to kiss their blood-sport goodbye and join the civilized world.

The NRA and other heavily-funded hunting groups are pushing to pass laws such as the odious “Hunting Heritage Protection“ acts (already shoved on several states), aiming to enshrine their perceived “birthright“ to shoot and kill nonhumans recreationally.

Worse yet are the unconstitutional Hunter Harassment laws, which essentially punish residents and land-owners for trying to protect animals and keep hunters off their properties. In direct answer to the drop in sportsmen’s numbers, meddlesome state game departments are encouraging young kids to get a taste for killing (perverting their natural affinity for animals).

Alabama opens deer season two days early for children under the age of 16 (so they’ll have a better crack at “bagging“ one), and Maine holds a “Youth Deer Day,” allowing pre-season bow hunting for children ages 10 to 16. States like Illinois and Colorado are preying on women by offering hunting lessons for single mothers, while the private pro-hunting programs “Becoming an Outdoors-woman“ and the NRA’s “Women on Target” are seeking to enlist the future Sarah Palins of America.

Fouler still are the ongoing schemes to open more and more public lands to hunting…

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The preceding was excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport