It’s easy to say “hunters are cruel” while not acknowledging that you pay people to “hunt” far more cruelly on your behalf than any hunter would ever treat an animal.
Easy, but irrational.
The very best argument for not hunting and not eating meat and treating animals with respect comes from Peter Singer, and it goes like this: anything able to feel pain is worthy of equal consideration. There’s no imaginary line between humans and animals because not all humans (newborn infants, the severely handicapped) reach the threshold of self-awareness while some non-human animals do (like primates who learn sign language) so to draw a line where there isn’t one is akin to drawing a line based on skin color. We can only draw a line where reason allows a line to be drawn — around all animals, human and non-human that can be self-aware.
Therefore, as the species more or less “in control” of the world, we have a responsibility to not cause suffering among anyone human or non-human that can feel pain. You can use this argument to say hunting is immoral but it most definitely also applies to your factory farmed meat is out because of the insane levels of suffering that had to be produced in order for you to have it.
You are a typical egg-laying chicken in America, and this is your life: You’re trapped in a cage with six to eight hens, each given less than a square foot of space to roost and sleep in. The cages rise five high and run thousands long in a warehouse without windows or skylights. You see and smell nothing from the moment of your birth but the shit coming down through the open slats of the battery cages above you. It coats your feathers and becomes a second skin; by the time you’re plucked from your cage for slaughter, your bones and wings breaking in the grasp of harried workers, you look less like a hen than an oil-spill duck, blackened by years of droppings. Your eyes tear constantly from the fumes of your own urine, you wheeze and gasp like a retired miner, and you’re beset every second of the waking day by mice and plaguelike clouds of flies. If you’re a broiler chicken (raised specifically for meat), thanks to “meat science” and its chemical levers – growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically engineered feed – you weigh at least double what you would in the wild, but lack the muscle even to waddle, let alone fly. Like egg-laying hens – your comrades in suffering – you get sick young with late-life woes: heart disease, osteoporosis. It’s frankly a mercy you’ll be dead and processed in 45 days, yanked from your floor pen and slaughtered. The egg-layers you leave behind will grind on for another two years or so (or until they’re “spent” and can’t produce any more eggs), then they’re killed too.
This is something people can legitimately be outraged about, it’s mass unnecessary suffering.
Something people should not be outraged about is a 19-year-old cheerleader from Texas, Kendall Jones, who is currently being lambasted by the public for big game hunting in Africa. Unless you opt out of this process via veganism or complete dedication to only free range, cruelty free meat, you are pointing the finger at hunters who get their food from animals raised in the wild and killed humanely while being the morally inferior being.
It’s amazing to me how much people hate hunting culture when the culture of eating food that is factory farmed is easily a million times worse, morally. Hunted animals grow up in their own habitat and are able to move around for their entire lives. They aren’t raised in a pen that’s so crowded their legs might atrophy for lack of use and they are forced to lay in the same space until they die, for instance. In hunting, animals are also killed humanely with arrows or bullets. The animal on your plate could have started being processed before it was even dead. Which death would you prefer?
Here are some more (poor) arguments people make.
“Killing animals is wrong.”
Yeah, probably. Peter Singer makes this argument very logically as I said above. But unless you believe killing any animal is wrong, you can’t think killing only certain kinds of animals is wrong. It’s hypocritical and akin to saying it’s okay to kill non-American humans but American humans are “majestic” and should be protected based on their beauty.
“Hunting for sport is wrong, we should only hunt for meat.”
I hope you don’t ever throw meat away, that’s the same principal. But regardless, here’s a video of just some of the people (possibly over 100) that were fed by Kendall’s catch. Just because you are removed from this culture and you don’t personally eat this kind of meat (you know, because it doesn’t live here) doesn’t mean you speak for everyone.
“Hunting is cowardly because you have a gun and the animal doesn’t, it’s not a fair fight.”
Please revisit the factory farming conditions and tell me that is a fair fight. Explain how it isn’t cowardly to buy meat that is made in the most cruel conditions possible and pretend it’s okay since you personally are removed from the process.
“It’s wrong to hunt endangered animals.”
It’s wrong to be bad stewards of our resources and allow animals to go extinct. We can be bad stewards by being idealists that don’t actually improve animal populations when we know that hunting makes tangible improvements in animal numbers.
At the turn of the century, only around 50-100 white rhino remained in South Africa and urgent conservation action, including the involvement of private landowners, was taken to save this species from the brink of extinction. Since 1968, South Africa has permitted the limited hunting of Southern white rhino and data from the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group shows that since hunting began, the numbers of Southern white rhino have increased from 1,800 to over 20,000.
Rhinos in the DRCBy allowing private landowners to conduct limited trophy hunting of rhinos, this helped give white rhinos an economic value and allowed private landowners and communities to benefit from having rhinos on their land. It became an incentive to own rhinos. Currently almost 25% of Africa’s rhinos are privately owned.
Many National Parks have reached their carrying capacity for rhino populations. Private landowners and community land are important in providing habitat space to host and expand rhino populations. To do this, they need to receive income and derive a benefit from having wildlife on their land.
You know who probably knows more about these animals than you? The people who live in their habitat. They aren’t stupid. You aren’t smarter than they are just because they live in a less developed country. Maybe you should consider the slim possibility that they might actually know what they are doing and have the best interest of their own wildlife in mind.
“Hunting kills animals for no reason.”
No one does anything for “no reason.” That argument is illogical. There’s obviously a reason to do something or no one would do it. In this case it’s probably an adventurous outdoors experience that also helps preserve the animals you are hunting with the money it costs in order to hunt. (Yes, charity is selfish because you give to places you get something out of. This is nothing new.)
“Why don’t you just donate all your time and money to preserving animals/habitat if you care so much.”
Because that is not how humans work. Take an economics class. People act in their own self-interest. There are always more philanthropic ways we could be spending our money, but we don’t. It’s simply not a realistic expectation that we don’t act in our own interests.
Kendall’s hunting is only a big issue for people who are removed from nature and only eat things that come packaged for them in a grocery store or restaurant. Natural human consumption becomes barbaric when you are used to your own, manufactured method. But you can’t be outraged at someone for making a morally superior decision — and hunting vs. factory farming is morally superior because the former causes infinitely less suffering. Most people hire a middle man to carry out the immoral actions for them while shaming people who are self-aware enough to not only decrease animal suffering, but get meat in a way that has integrity — because you faced the animal and are forced be aware that an animal gave it’s life for your meal. If you’re going to be a meat-eater, it’s the least barbaric way.