Nature versus hunting

How can I go out and shoot an animal? It might surprise you that many animals that go through meatpacking companies are actually shot with a .22 caliber stunning bullet, then hung up by the back legs, then sliced so they can bleed to death in a way that makes the meat of that animal satisfactory to our taste buds.

Some don’t realize just how horrible nature is on the species that inhabit it. That little cottontail rabbit does not live forever. In fact, it is a lucky rabbit if it lives more than six months. What it has to contend with is the predictor that includes being torn alive by the fox, wolf, coyote or raccoon. Should a mink locates its nest, goodbye to all the young bunnies.

When I was a conservation officer in 1960, I was detailed to conduct three-year life cycle research on the life of the Hungarian partridge in eastern Ontario. Most believed that this upland bird would live out about 10 years if the predators did not find its nest in the first few weeks of its egg life. After three years of live trapping, banding, tagging and following this bird from birth, we found the bird would be lucky if it saw a second winter, and that was dealing with nature’s pressures alone. The Hungarian partridge has a short life, not only due to predication from every predictor that walks, flies or crawls, but from deadly cold ice-forming snow levels as well. In this case, the Hungarian partridge huddles in a covey, a small group of birds, deep down in the snow. The wind blows a cover of snow over the covey and the moisture in the air creates an ice roof, trapping the covey under the snow and their ultimate death.

As for the wolf, coyote and fox, they were susceptible to every disease known to wildlife and humans alike. In the normal 10-year lifespan of a wolf, the wolf is susceptible to mange, distemper, pneumonia, arthritis, malnutrition, and all sorts of parasites and injuries. In reality, a well-placed bullet by a hunter is far more humane than any of the above hardships a wolf faces in the natural world.

As to big-game animals, Mother Goose nursery may have you thinking that the moose, deer and sheep live forever. The oldest deer I ever aged by its teeth was seven years. This was taken by a hunter in my patrol area in eastern Ontario. There was an average of 25 deer killed each year by motor vehicles, where the highway 401 went through many wintering areas. Many road kills were around two to three years old. If you have never seen a big-game animal that has died from a tick infection, you won’t understand just how horrible this killer infection is. So which is more humane? Deadly diseases or a well-placed bullet from a hunter’s rifle?
As for bears, they face every disease known to animal or human that could cause a long, painful death.

So why do we hunt nature’s creatures? In wildlife management, it is called “ only so many.” That means there can only be sufficient food and cover in one area for so many members of a species. Too many can lead to that species eating itself out of house and home. If there are too few members of a species, hunting must stop for that species. Populations must be kept at a healthy stage, much like what the “buck law,” did for deer did in Ontario.
And of course I will say Amen to that brother!

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