BY JOE MIELE
GOT A QUESTION FOR UNCLE JOE?
YOU CAN E-MAIL IT TO
WOULD YOU RATHER SNAIL MAIL YOUR QUESTION? SEND IT TO: ASK UNCLE JOE,
C/O WILDLIFE WATCH, BOX 562, NEW PALTZ, NY 12561.
UNCLE JOE GETS A LOT OF MAIL SO DON’T BE OFFENDED
IF HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR QUESTION IN THE COURIER. HECK,
HE’S GOTTA WORK A DAY JOB, TOO.
Letters are printed as received. They are unedited.
Dear Readers -
Today’s column is a reply to a student who requested help with a school
C.A.S.H. often receives questions from students, and we do all we can
The following questions were sent by Molly, a student living in
Dear Uncle Joe:
WHAT ARE YOUR REASONS FOR WANTING TO ABOLISH ANIMAL HUNTING?
C.A.S.H. focuses on several broad topics as reasons for abolishing
sport hunting. Each of these reasons is as important as the others.
1) Hunting seasons and bag limits are regulated by state and federal
game agencies for one purpose: to satisfy the desires of hunters who
derive pleasure from killing animals.
Part of their strategy to win public support is to scapegoat the
animals and blame them for everything from deforestation to the spread of
By doing so, they are effective at selling the false notion of a “need”
for hunting to the public. For example, they take advantage of the public
concern over “overpopulation” failing to mention that a species is managed
into overpopulation in order to supply animals for hunters to kill. Their
manipulation of food and cover, and their skewing of the male/ female
ratio is designed to increase animal populations. It’s of minor concern to
these agencies that an artificially produced overpopulation contributes to
collisions with automobiles, and landscaping and crop depredation. When
this happens, game agencies circle back around to scapegoating the animals
for the problems that they themselves have created. It is a dishonest and
cruel cycle of public and media manipulation, violence and death.
2) Hunting contributes to a more violent world and this violence has a
disastrous effect on all life on earth.
By promoting violence and bloodshed as “wholesome” family traditions,
hunters destroy the innocence of youth and create desensitization to the
taking of life.
C.A.S.H. does not feel it’s a mere coincidence that so many of the
young people who have been involved in sensational killing have been young
hunters. [This issue of the C.A.S.H. Courier covers this aspect in more
3) Hunting violates the rights of the public by making public parks and
recreation areas off-limits during hunting season to the taxpayers who
maintain such areas. In some parks they actually allow hunting and other
outdoor recreation to co-exist, but nonconsumptive outdoor users (by far
the majority) are forced to stay out of areas that are being hunted due to
safety and emotional concerns.
4) Hunted animals are slaughtered in horrific ways, causing them to
suffer extreme pain before death. Since the object of hunting is to
inflict upon an animal a wound so severe that it results in the animal
dying, there can be little about the sport that can be considered humane.
Consider these quotes uttered by brave and macho bow hunters:
“The rule of thumb has long been that we should wait 30 to 45 minutes
on heart and lung hits, an hour or more on a suspected liver hit, eight
to 12 hours on paunch hits, and that we should follow up immediately on
hindquarter and other muscle hits, ‘to keep the wound open and
bleeding,’.” Glenn Helgeland - Fins and Feathers Winter 1987.
“For a bow hunter to easily recover a wounded deer, the blood loss
must be extensive. A deer will have to lose at least 35 percent of its
total blood volume for the hunter to recover it rapidly.” Rob Wegner -
Deer and Deer Hunting August, 1991.
Only the Manson Family could consider this a wholesome family tradition
that should be passed down to future generations.
5) A great number of animals are wounded and not retrieved by hunters.
These animals suffer and die slow, painful deaths from starvation,
infection and/or predation. A New Jersey study of bow hunters concluded
that 57% of the animals hit by arrows are not retrieved.
This information is in the NJ Division of Fish and Game’s An Assessment
of Deer Hunting in New Jersey, p.25.
These animals undoubtedly suffered painful and lingering deaths through
infection, predation, starvation or exsanguinations (blood drain).
6) The great majority of the public does not hunt and the number of
people who participate in wildlife watching overwhelms those who enjoy
wildlife killing. The numbers of active hunters is declining in nearly
every state in the country, and as hunters die off, the number of
non-consumptive outdoor enthusiasts (everyone from hikers to bird watchers
to rock climbers) increases.
WHAT ABOUT HUNTING TO GET RID OF FERAL AND PEST ANIMALS, IS IT OKAY TO
Understanding and tolerance are two of the least used techniques for
dealing with feral and uninvited animals.
Humane, non-violent management techniques are effective in solving
every wildlife-related issue and these techniques should be the only
methods of wildlife management that are considered. Solutions to wildlife
problems can be as simple as repairing a fence or planting different
shrubs and need not be elaborate or prohibitively expensive.
Molly, think about this: There is one pest species that seems nearly
impossible to control, however. It is the one species that is responsible
for more environmental destruction and more pain and suffering than all
other species combined. Try as we might, we’ve so far been unable to find
a way to keep this pest from making a mess wherever it goes. What horrible
invader can I be talking about? I think Pogo said it best: “I have seen
the enemy and he is us.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF PEOPLE WHO HUNT ANIMALS FOR SPORT/ENTERTAINMENT?
WHAT WOULD BE A GOOD PUNISHMENT FOR THIS?
I believe that people who hunt for sport and entertainment were raised
to suppress the instinctual love and compassion that all humans are born
with. They were taught to deny their emotions and to become cold,
heartless killing machines. Humankind does not progress when individuals
shut down their emotions and become more machine-like.
In a perfect world, those who kill animals for sport or entertainment
should be enrolled in programs where they are taught that inflicting pain
and suffering upon helpless animals is wrong. They would be given
sensitization therapy with a goal towards correcting their desire to kill
and encouraging sympathy for other beings and self-condemnation of taking
In fact, if schools gave students tools with which they could identify
and sympathize with others, it would go a long way toward making the world
a more peaceful, loving place for animals (humans included).
YOUR OPINION ON WEARING ANIMAL SKINS AND FUR?
All furs and skins have their origins in unnecessary pain and suffering
and thankfully, wearing animal skins and fur is absolutely unnecessary in
the 21st century.
The fur farming industry confines wild animals such as minks in barren
wire cages where all their natural instincts are stifled. They are
subjected to stress and put at risk of diseases to which their wild
cousins rarely fall victim. As a result of their unnatural living
conditions, minks are driven insane, displaying their mental anguish by
self-mutilation and psychotic pacing and twirling in their cages. In the
end, they have their necks broken, are gassed, injected with poison or
Animals killed by trappers meet deaths as cruel as the ones faced by
animals on fur farms. The cruelty of the steel jaw leghold trap is well
Animals trapped in this device have been known to chew off their legs
to escape the torture they are forced to endure. If they are unable to
escape they are either shot in the head, strangled, injected with poison
or bludgeoned to death.
Leather is also an unwise choice for people who care about animals.
More than one billion animals are slaughtered annually and their skins are
used as leather products. (Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, Slaughtered/ Production Animals
2002, FAOSTAT Database, 21 Aug. 2003)
Skins from animals killed by the slaughter industry represent “the most
economically important byproduct of the meat packing industry.” (David G.
Bailey, “Gamma Radiation Preservation of Cattle Hides: A New Twist on an
Old Story,” Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of
Agriculture, 18 Dec. 1998) Some estimates are that skins now actually
account for 55 to 60 percent of the economic value of cattle.
“Leather” is also made from horses, sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs
killed by the slaughter industry. Species that are hunted specifically for
their skins include zebras, bison, water buffaloes, boars, kangaroos,
elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, turtles,
crocodiles, lizards, and snakes.
Alligators are factory-farmed for their skins. Alligators unfortunate
enough to be born on a factory farm may be beaten to death with hammers
and axes, sometimes remaining conscious for up to two hours after being
skinned. [Sue Reid, “Getting Under Their Skin,” The Sunday Times (London),
16 Feb. 1997]
And let’s not forget that leather production is not environmentally
friendly. Animal skins turned into leather are processed with dangerous
substances including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and cyanide-based
Most leather produced in the U.S. is chrome-tanned and the waste
produced is considered hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of
leukemia among residents in an area surrounding one Kentucky tannery was
five times the national average. (Richard E. Sclove et al.,
Community-Based Research in the United States (Amherst: The Loka
Institute, 1998) 52.)
Many animal-friendly alternatives to leather exist and they are
becoming more widely available every day. Some sources are Payless Shoes,
www.veganessentials.com , and
If you really love animals you wouldn’t want to wear their fur.
FINALLY, IS FISHING JUST AS BAD AS ALL OTHER TYPES OF HUNTING?
Fishing is the same as hunting when it comes to the unnecessary
infliction of pain and suffering upon harmless and helpless animals. I am
as opposed to fishing as much as I am opposed to hunting.
Pause for a moment to think about what a fish experiences when she has
a hook thrust through her cheek and is then dragged face-first out of the
water and into the air where she cannot breathe. The hook is then torn
from her face before she is killed, usually by blunt trauma to the head.
If anglers treated a dog or cat the same way they would be brought up on
animal cruelty charges - and rightly so. “Catch and release” fishing is
not much better for the victim. The fish still struggles until she is
still dragged out of the water, and she is still subjected to having the
sharp hook torn out of her face. When thrown back into the water, she is
most likely in shock and could die some time later.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Roslin Institute
recently concluded that fish have the ability to feel pain. Having a sharp
hook thrust through their lips and sometimes their gills no doubt causes
great pain to these animals.
Fish do not always die quickly when out of water. In October 1980,
Field and Stream writer Ken Schultz described a bass left out of water for
an hour: the fish had reddened fins and gills and was “still gasping.”
If the words of fellow anglers are not enough to prove that fish are
highly evolved animals, perhaps they will trust the words of scientists.
In 1985, Professor Frank Hird, a microbiologist at Melbourne University
wrote of the ability of fish to feel pain “...The argument which says that
vertebrates such as fish do not feel pain is an argument of
Overwhelming anatomical, physiological and behavioral evidence
incontrovertibly demonstrates that not only do fish feel pain, but some
species “...have the capacity to feel pain far beyond anything humans
could possibly imagine,” remarks Dr. Garth Nelson, Curator of Fish at the
American Museum of Natural History.
Sending a child to a pond with a fishing rod is no less abhorrent and
cruel that putting a baseball bat in the hands of the same child and
sending him to beat the neighbors’ dog. The poet Lord George Noel Gordon
Byron may have said it best:
“[T]he art of angling [is] the cruelest, the coldest, and the stupidest
of pretended sports.” I concur wholeheartedly with Lord Byron.