Response to Hunting Article in AARP Magazine

As members of AARP, we are shocked to see that your magazine editor felt it was necessary to feature an article on hunting entitled “Where the Heart Is,” in the April/May issue, Volume 59, Number 3B.
Surely you are  aware that the majority of people do Not Hunt, and that shooting with a camera is one of the most popular ways to visit wildlife, not killing them? The the idea (stated in this article) that “as you hunt, you bond with animals” is nonsense. True “bonding” with an animal is simply respecting them, observing them, and letting them live.
The hunting/NRA lobby certainly has enough media venues already, without AARP enabling them to encourage shooting and maiming animals. Why promote such an activity, which clearly is tied to the overall gun violence in our society?
Perhaps you should have an counter-article featuring the blood trail left by the thousands of wounded wild animals who crawl off to die after being shot, or trapped.
Rosemary Lowe, M.A., RN
Marc Bedner

24 thoughts on “Response to Hunting Article in AARP Magazine

  1. I absolutely agree. The majority of people do not hunt, but the few who are fervent shooters have the big money and votes, as well as the publicity, on their side. They have the same kind of “bond” with the animals they are crippling and killing as John Wayne Gacy had with the bodies in his basement.

  2. Recreational, aka hunting, the killing of wildlife is promoted as healthy and wholesome. America did it for 300 -400 years. Settlement of the nation meant de-wilding, which meant killing off the predators especially. Conservation and ecology are new on the on the attitude landscape. State wildlife agencies are mostly a hunter and fisherman licensing agencies, too aligned with USDA, Wildlife Service, ranchers, and farmers. The agencies need to be revamped to reflect wildlife ecology, trophic cascades, balanced ecology, a valuing of predators, a valuing of biodiversity. We are no longer a subsistence species, hunters, and gathers. Now it is just recreational killing of wildlife and continued killing for profit, trapping, for instance. Hunters and fishermen represent only 6 and 15% of the population, more in states like Montana, but still very much a minority. Time to draw a line in the sand on the recreational killing of wildlife. Stop promoting it as healthy and wholesome.

  3. With all the reports of bear and deer killing in the newspapers over the years, I’d like to know why members of the clergy and the religious community aren’t speaking out against animal cruelty. Whitetail deer, bear, fox, elk, moose and any animal that can be stuffed, hung on a wall or be made into a rug has become victim to a cruel sport. Wounding rates can be high and suffering great. Thousands of pigeons, doves, wild turkeys and pheasant are bred to be shot and killed for sport. One hunt club was fined for using live animal targets at the shooting range. Hunting magazines ask hunters to submit pictures of animal kills, and even have contests for the biggest antlers. Sport hunting, sniping and culling, netting and head bolting are considered wildlife management while the opposite is true. Repetitive killing doesn’t work because of compensatory rebound which increases animal populations in the long run.
    The United States Department of Agriculture has poisoned thousands of blackbirds and starlings in various states because they said farmers complained the birds were eating food meant for cattle and because of crop damage. They have also gassed thousands of Canadian geese. Ovo Control G could have been used to control goose population and Ovo Control P could have been used to control bird population.
    A federal round-up and culling of wild horses in Nevada is the state’s answer to reduce the amount of wild horses, whose only crime is eating grass that cattlemen need to feed their livestock. In Nebraska, feral cats may be hunted. GonaCon could be used as fertility control for a variety of animal over-population.
    In 1990 Pope John Paul II stated that animals have souls. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God created man, woman, animals, all creeping things, the oceans and all that was in them and He said it was good. Noah was told to take two of every kind of animal with him on the Ark. How many people went with Noah? In Genesis 24:10, Abraham told his servant to find a wife for his oldest son Isaac. Rebekah came to the well and offered the servant water and also showed compassion for his camels. The servant knew then, that she was the right one. In the Book of Numbers 22:21, God gave a donkey a human voice to stop Balaam from beating him, when the donkey was only trying to stop him from going against God. Proverbs 12:10 says “A righteous man regards the life of his animals.” Isaiah 66:3 says “He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man.” Nimrod and Esau were two of the most famous hunters in the Bible, but were not favored by God. Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a manager or trough where animals are fed. He was the “Son of God “and could have been born in a Palace and placed in a bassinette fit for a king. Jesus rode on a donkey. He was called the “Lamb of God.” There are many references to animals and birds in the Bible, including the last book Revelation, where God uses animals (horses, eagles. lions, lambs, wolves, etc.) to describe the “Last Days.” Saint Frances of Assisi, Saint Giles, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Lord Byron and Steve Erwin are some well-known people who have left a legacy of love and respect for God’s creatures. Two more great people who have shown compassion for the animal kingdom are Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a 1952 Noble Prize recipient, who wrote ”Prayer for Animals” in which he mentions animals that are treated cruelly or hunted and Mahatma Gandhi who said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
    God gave nature the perfect balance but unfortunately Man has upset this balance. The killing of man or beast was not part of God’s original plan.
    We should hold our government accountable for the cruel destruction of wildlife and urge government agencies to use new technology and science, rather than poisons and other inhumane treatments to control animal populations. Also, “Sport Hunting “should not be accepted in our civilized society.

    • You did see the photos and article about the “killing nun” in Pennsylvania, didn’t you? It was all over FB. She is a recreational hunter and boasts about her killing of bear, deer and who knows what else.

      • I hadn’t seen it until you mentioned it. Her attribution of her successful hunts to the will of God ought to be held in contempt as an obscene sacrilege. The fact that this nun is still teaching in a Catholic school and still a member in good standing of a religious order illustrates why nobody who cares about animals can take the Roman Catholic church seriously as an arbiter of morality. Same goes for all those other denominations whose clergy have consistently failed to speak out about the institutionalized animal abuse that goes on routinely within their congregations. They’re all a worthless bunch of hypocrites.

  4. Wow! What a powerful response. I have seen an increase in hunters trying to make their “sport” more mainstream and acceptable, which is surely a desperate response to their declining numbers. Thank you for writing this.

  5. I am shocked that AARP would go this route. I will have to reconsider my membership. Shame on them. This is 2016, not 300 years ago.

  6. There are a few passages in the Bible that speak of treating animals well and it appears from Genesis that Adam and Eve were given a vegan lifestyle. However, there is this passage from after The Flood that revokes that peaceful existence between Man and Nature: “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs (Genesis 9:1-3, emp. added).”That passage is still being used as a reason and excuse for the abuse and exploitation of every living being.

    While some of the Church fathers were said to be kind to animals, the official position affirms the major theologians, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, who declared that animals had no moral standing, not having souls, and that human beings owed them no humane consideration. The only reason given by St. Thomas Aquinas against cruelty to animals, for example, is that brutality to animals might lead to a coarsening of the character and give rise to ill treatment of humans.

    The story is long and involved, but the issue is that the Catholic Church will not condemn even the horrendous cruelty to animals in Spain, including bullfighting and the torture of animals during religious festivals honoring its saints. The following are some of the most notorious Spanish festivals from hell.

    On the Tuesday following the Patron Saints Day, the Toro de la Vega is held in Tordesillas. First a bull is released near the center of the town. Then men, 100 or more, armed with long spears stab the bull for up to an hour. When the bull finally becomes pierced so often he cannot stand, someone sticks a knife into neck and then cuts off his testicles while he is still alive. In the festival held in 2000 someone recorded that the bull lived 35 minutes with a spear through his body before finally dying. During one recent fiesta, a pregnant cow actually gave birth to its calf while being stabbed.

    During the Toro Embolado a bull is tied up until people can fix balls of tar or other flammable material to his horns. They may then throw firecrackers at him to induce further panic. As he tries to escape, the fire flare up and burns his horns, his face, and his eyes, even the rest of his body. If he is blinded in the process, he may injure himself further running into whatever objects are in the way.

    There are many more examples of such festivals from Spain, Mexico, and South America. The list of animal cruelty exists everywhere there are people willing to do it, which means it exists everywhere. And the churches are silent.

    It is incomprehensible to many of us how Christianity in general (along with most religions except Jainism and some Hindu and Buddhist sects) can be so hypocritical and amoral as not to condemn such behavior which tortures animals and demeans the human beings involved in that torture. Maybe the religions are just pragmatic in their hypocrisy and realize that human nature can be both greedy and ugly and that no amount of preaching will help. The churches also realize that condemning hunting, circuses, fur farms, Big Ag and its slaughterhouses, and other forms of abuse that people gain profit and pleasure from will result in emptier churches and smaller contributions. And that is the ultimate hypocrisy of religion.

    • Thanks for a revealing post. And the corollary to all of this is that sincere animal rights advocates should assiduously avoid contributing any money or support to any organized religion that fails to address the issue of animal abuse and the manifest moral failings of their congregants in this regard. One earns respect, not commands it. And the Roman Catholic Church, even with its new media-savvy Pope at the helm, has done and does nothing now to benefit animals. As this post makes clear, the Church is fully complicit in the moral degradations victimizing animals that its adherents routinely participate in. Pope Francis the Ostentatiously Compassionate, reportedly relishes and regularly dines on chicken, so I guess poultry falls somewhere beyond his boundless sympathy for the downtrodden. A flaming atheist who respects animal rights is more likely to go to heaven than any one of the pious hypocrites making up the College of Cardinals.

      And what’s worse, the Catholic Church almost looks sane and respectable compared to some of the equally-clueless but crazier Protestant denominations (screaming Baptists and magic-underwear wearing Mormons come immediately to mind).

      • I absolutely agree! Pope Francis sounds more inclusive than other popes but the dogma does not change. And although Religion is supposed to be the arbiter of morality, it will not have the courage to condemn our abuse, exploitation, and killing of nonhuman animals because it would lose most of its followers. The shallowness and hypocrisy of most adherents match those of their churches.

      • I believe that St. Augustine and St. Thomas got the idea of animals not having souls from Aristotle. By having no souls, they couldn’t feel pain so they could be experimented on without any guilt. Descartes followed through with this insane thought with convoluted explanations.

    • Human behavior and selfish interests have perverted any good from religious tenets. I do have my own personal beliefs, but do not support organized religions.

      I was shocked to read about the mass sacrifices of animals in Nepal at the Gadhimai festival, 500,000 at the last one in 2009. Thankfully they have been cancelled for good. Just imagine from the animals’ point of view, crazed people killing them for no meaningful reason whatsoever except belief and superstition.

      Apparently it doesn’t please the goddess either, and isn’t working, judging by recent events..

      • That festival is one of many in the world, often in the name of religion, that tortures and kills animals. There are many saints days in Spain that are equally horrific, where the goal seems to be to cause the worse possible pain. The Church does not condemn them.

        Reinhold Niebuhr had the right idea: Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people. Those who want to cherry-pick the best or the worst religious texts do so to explain or justify their behavior.

  7. Yeah, I’m sort of not surprised AARP would feature a pro-hunting article as if to symbolize an unlimited tolerance of everyone’s likes and values, cultures and preferences. It would be politically incorrect for the organization to denounce bloodsports even though most members don’t hunt and because most haven’t adopted an anti-hunting stance as have many of us following this site.

    However, in today’s world, even the anti-hunting stance is not enough. For example, as mentioned in the above comments, there are alternatives to killing wildlife deemed overpopulated, presumably “humane” alternatives. Wildlife immunocontraception and other non-lethal “controls” are a sham–part of the myth of wildlife overpopulation. Who defines what animals are overpopulated? We do, and worse yet–hunters who are poised more than anyone to inflate animal numbers. In the present-day biodiversity crisis surely the earth’s imbalanced ecosystems sometimes lead to abnormally high concentrations of various species which often impact more vulnerable ones. But these phenomena are symptoms of human overpopulation, the only species truly out of control and the primary root of our own problems in these cases.

    It could (and should) be argued that, say, pigeons, need not be poisoned even if guano is found to pose a public health hazard, which would be a dubious determination anyway. Too many people make too many problems, running around trying to find solutions as a reaction to symptoms, and getting to throw some jabs in the process. We should oppose removing prairie dogs, for example, from a schoolyard ball field despite parents or personnel bellyaching about kids tripping over mounded burrows. After all, young people must learn about and appreciate urban wildlife rather than worship on the altar of competition playing sports. Compassion is not enough. If we don’t awaken to our species’ insanity and address the fundamentals, we will liquidate our future and destroy the earth. There is no human religion that can possibly try such a profound crime.

    • The cultural issue is a significant one, and one that we will have to be dealing with. Every culture has both desirable and undesirable traditions.There are many good things about diversity, but animal abuse is not one of them should not be tolerated.

    • I beg to differ! On Long Island, New York in the Hamptons the deer populations were out of control. A mass culling was scheduled but the humane people of the Hamptons took up a collection to have the deer sterilized rather than killed. New York Newsday covered the story as did Dan’s Paper. To get people’s attention, Dan’s published a story about a millionaire who was going to bring in Lions to bring the deer population under control (of course the story was fake). That story set of a firestorm,as the people did not want sniping and culling.

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