Live With It, Elmers!

Sorry Elmers, it’s time to snuff out one of the most overused and overstated rationalizations for your beloved sport.

Hunters would have you ingest the preposterous pabulum that hunting helps animals; that hunters are their philanthropic fairy godparents (well-armed well-wishers, if you will) performing the gallant duty of keeping animal populations in check; that animals won’t go on living unless they kindheartedly kill them (this of course is all the more outrageous in light of how many species have been wiped off the face of the earth, or perilously close to it, exclusively by hunting).

But deer, along with most other animal species—besides Homo sapiens, have built-in mechanisms that cause their reproduction rate to slow down when their population is high or food is scarce.  Though state “game” departments are usually loath to share any information that might work against one of their arguments for selling hunting licenses, even they know that in reality the wildlife can ultimately take care of their own. According to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, “A mule deer herd that is at or above the carrying capacity of its habitat may produce fewer fawns than one that is below carrying capacity.”

The fact is, hunting encourages ungulates to reproduce more, thus seemingly warranting the alleged need for population controls via, you guessed it, more hunting.

Hunting industry propagandists have a lot of people convinced that culling is a necessary evil for controlling animal overpopulation. Lethal removal is their one-size-fits-all solution, no matter the circumstance. But there are always alternatives to that fatal fallback position. When we finally get past the viewpoint of animals as objects, or “property of the state,” and start to see them instead as individuals, the justifications for culling begin to wear thin.

Many places that provide habitat for healthy populations of deer could also support the natural predators who evolved alongside them. All that’s required of humans is to get out of the way and let nature take its course, or, in some cases, repair the damage they’ve done by reintroducing wolves or other native carnivores who were fool-heartedly eradicated. Yet, in the western US and Alaska, as well as in Canada, natural predators are still being killed to allow deer, moose or elk hunters a better chance at success. While some people complain that these browsers and grazers have gotten too tame, hunters in states like Idaho and Montana are whining that wolves make the elk too wild and thus harder for them to hunt.

I tend to be even more cynical about areas where humans have claimed every square inch for themselves and aren’t willing to share with native grazers. When I hear grumbling about deer, elk or geese pooping on a golf course, I have a hard time relating to people’s grievances. It’s the height of speciesism to expect that these animals should face lethal culling for successfully adapting to an unnaturally overcrowded human world.

Ours is the invasive species, overpopulating and destroying habitats wherever we go. We wouldn’t want some other being jumping to a knee-jerk “cull them all” reaction every time humans reached their carrying capacity in a given area.

Sooner or later Mother Nature will tire of humans’ destructive dominance and come up with a way to bring life back into balance. I can just hear her telling off the hunters: “Other animals have a right to be here too—just live with it, Elmers!”


Portions of this post were excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport 

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

33 thoughts on “Live With It, Elmers!

  1. They’re so grandiose in their claims. They’ve been drilled to repeat the endless PR campaign that they’re “managing” by killing. I’ve never met a hunter without children, and we are the most overpoulated mammal. They deny and deny.

  2. I love this:
    “…humans have claimed every square inch for themselves and aren’t willing to share with native grazers. When I hear grumbling about deer, elk or geese pooping on a golf course, I have a hard time relating to people’s grievances. It’s the height of speciesism to expect that these animals should face lethal culling for successfully adapting to an unnaturally overcrowded human world.”

    The “culling” excuse is so similar in nature to those made by animal “shelters” who insist they have no choice but to kill the pets in their care because of “overpopulation.” Such bullsh*t.

  3. You’re too kind to them, you’re a much nicer person than I am 😉 You’re so right, animals would never get out of balance if people didn’t mess with things. Nature gets back its properly functioning system, cruel as it may be, when starvation causes deaths and less births; non-thriving animals in nature either overcome that by nature’s principles, or perish; so only the strongest survive, and populations never get out of hand that way. Man’s loony, sadistic interference is far beyond unnatural, it’s nothing more than destructive. And for ego of all things.

      • I truly believe FEAR is keeping most humans silent. Look what happened to Dr. Fossey!

        We are warned in Environmental Science to be aware you may lose your position if you “blow the whistle.”

        It is true. It has happened to myself. At least I can sleep knowing the drinking water in my area is clean 🙂

      • As it should–the birds you call “poultry” lived their lives. Most “free range” birds are still crowded into cages and trucked for miles to the slaughterhouse where all the rest of the unfortunate chickens killed in this country meet their ends.

    • We’re going to support all efforts to save and protect our wildlife. But first we need to make the government agencies accountable to US!
      We must support organizations that work hardest for our wild animals in every way possible including financial when feasible.
      Somehow we MUST find a way to compel the wildlife agencies to determine WHERE most of their funding comes from – US or the hunters!?! Supposedly we should be learning more about study results on this issue sometime in Nov.
      Write, call and email relentlessly. And as Jim mentions, get as much support as possible….too few people know about snares, traps etc.
      With all of the photos the wolf killers are sending around, they make our job easier to provide anyone who will look with photos of the most vile actions against animals imaginable. Of course, expect a few people to “unfriend” you because the graphics are often so upsetting.
      Thank goodness for these blogs….at least we have an opportunity to vent while we’re fighting.

  4. Danielle, I believe that fear is one of the factors for apathy, both in the “culpability” context that Jim mentions, as well as the infamous Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)….hunter harrassment laws. And as I’ve mentioned before what perhaps you allude to above, it is THEY who carry the weapons and which my local newspaper sport writer admonished: “If hunters are hunting illegally on your land, DO NOT APPROACH THEM. Call the DEC or some other authority”. So there you have it.

  5. It’s real shame that those of us from the same species refuse to show compassion and empathy to other creatures, yet other animals have show such displays quite often. With a popuation of 7 billion people I think it’s time to take a look at the damage being done. what will we do when Earth can no longer substain our out ofcontrol habits? fly to another planet? thats no a good thing in my book, first earth then the universe.

    I also found some intersting videos that would be great explainations of the problems we face:

  6. Pingback: Bringing back the wolves? | Science on the Land

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