In the title of an October 2nd post to his blog column in Psychology Today, University of Colorado evolutionary biology professor Marc Bekoff, PhD, asked, “Do Some People Simply Like to Kill Other Animals?”
The answer seems to me a foregone conclusion.
Bekoff writes, “Many know that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, made a pledge in May 2011 only to eat meat he hunted so that he could be ‘thankful for the food I have to eat.’ Of course, it’s not obvious that he has to eat other animals… Surely, in the arena of who, not what, winds up in our mouth, Mr. Zuckerberg and others are not my moral compass. It’s always good to remember that a significant percentage of the food we eat was once sentient beings who cared deeply about what happened to them and to their friends and family. They should be referred to as “who” not “that” or “what.” So, when someone wants to talk about a meal it’s a matter of who’s for dinner, not what’s for dinner.”
His post included the subheading, “‘Ethical hunting’ raises numerous difficult and sticky issues,” about which Bekoff states, “I see no reason to kill other animals for a meal that isn’t needed. Every time I read an essay about “ethical hunting” it makes me reflect on a number of different and challenging issues. One that comes up time and time again is that maybe some people simply like to kill other animals and then offer a wide variety of excuses about their lust for blood (consider also the unrelenting war on wildlife including the wanton killing of wolves, the man who used a trapped wolf for target practice…)”
Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson backs up the assertion that some people enjoy killing other animals, “Behind all the chit-chat of conservation and tradition is the plain simple fact that trophy hunters like to kill living things.”
But no one makes the case as clearly as hunters themselves. One anonymous thrill-killer recently posted the following shocking admission to an animal advocacy site: “What i like to do as a hunter is go in the woods and kill everything possible and let my dogs chew on it. I once shot a deer and it layed in the creek and i had to shoot it again in the head while it was crying and it kicked me lol when i stuck my knife in its belly so my brother cut its throat it was soo funny. Me and my uncle was guttin one he told me to hold its head and when i did he pushed on its belly and made it bahh at me and scared the crap out of me haha. Hunting is awesome like when you see a herd of deer and just start firing right in the middle and then go and see how many different blood trails there are.”
Prairie dog hunting is a popular “sport” that can in no way be defended as “ethical” or necessary for subsistence (people don’t eat them). Private ranches offer “sportsmen” the chance to kill prairie dogs to their heart’s content—for a fee. The following is an ad for a typical prairie dog hunting excursion: “We approach the edge of a prairie dog town and set up and shoot for an hour or two or until the prairie dogs start getting scarce, then we pull up and drive over the hill and continue prairie dog hunting…after you get tired of the carnage, it‘s also fun to try shots over 1000 yards.”
Note that the ad uses the word “fun,” laying to rest any doubt that they enjoy the killing. So, why shouldn’t people be allowed to have their fun? Beyond the obvious answer that their animal victims are not enjoying this “sporting” behavior, society at large should discourage this kind of conduct for public safety reasons.
Keith Hunter Jesperson’s history of aggression toward animals began when he was only six. An avid hunter and part-time serial killer, Jesperson got his first taste of killing living beings by bashing in the heads of gophers. He discovered that he enjoyed it. Later, while living with his parents in a mobile home park in Washington State, he started killing larger animals. He would beat stray dogs and cats to death with a shovel, strangle them with his bare hands, or shoot them with his BB gun. His proud father bragged to others about how Keith had gotten rid of the stray cats and dogs in the trailer park.
“All this did is spawn in me the urge to kill again,” Jesperson told an interviewer. “I began to think of what it would be like to kill a human being. The thought stayed with me for years, until one night it happened. I killed a woman by beating her almost to death and finished her off by strangulation,” he said.
Keith Jesperson is by no means the first hunter to go on to become a serial killer of humans. As long as we enshrine hunting in books, magazines, cable TV shows and acts of Congress, there will always be people wanting to expand their species hit list to include our own.