By Susan Gordon
The only thing out of the ordinary about Dick Cheney’s shooting of
another hunter is that the perpetrator is the Vice President of the United
The media portrayed Cheney as a buffoon and law breaker, as someone who
did not report the crime in a timely manner and who initially blamed the
shooting on the victim. The media also failed to report to the public that
hunters routinely maim and kill each other in hunting accidents.
Injuries and deaths are incurred while recreationally and/or criminally
killing innocent victims, and they are but examples of “those who live by
the sword die by the sword”; but the tragedy is that innocent
(non-hunting) humans, and millions of innocent animals, also die at the
hands of hunters.
While Cheney’s reckless shooting received all of the media attention,
here are some hunting accidents that occurred during February that hardly
made a ripple in the national media.
* A Michigan hunter was shot by another hunter who mistook his friend’s
elbow for a squirrel.
* A 7 year old Virginia boy, part of a hunting party, was shot in the
head and died.
* A 13 year old NY boy was shot in the back and killed by his
grandfather, who was hunting illegally. According to the news report, as
the boy “called out for help…his 38 year old cousin kicked him and
threatened to duct-tape his mouth if he didn’t shut up.” They waited 1½
hours to seek medical help for the boy so they could retrieve their deer
victims. The grandfather, when initially questioned, denied shooting his
grandson. The cousin’s first question to the State Police was whether he
would lose his hunting permit “after all this is over.”
* A Kansas farmer was stabbed and killed by a hunter whom he caught
poaching and cutting the head off of a “trophy” buck. The farmer “was so
badly wounded … that he had to hold his intestines in as he stumbled to a
grain truck parked a half-mile away… He then drove the truck to his home
and began honking to get the attention of his wife, a nurse.”
* An Indiana man shot and killed his son, while hunting.
Only in the most egregious cases of human death at the hands of
hunters, are charges filed. The easiest way to kill someone with impunity
is to claim that it was a hunting accident.
Photo of bobwhite quail
While hunters report killing100 million animals annually in the US,
countless millions more suffer and die through illegal, non-reported
hunting. Hunters also kill non-”game” animals, including companion
animals, horses, and cows, along with non-target wildlife - sometimes
intentionally (for target practice, because the animals get in their way
or compete with them for “game,” or out of just plain wickedness).
As the number of hunters decreases every year, due to demographic
changes and expanded ethical concerns, panicked hunters recruit women and
young children. The latter recruitment (accompanied by the push for
legislation to lower the legal hunting age), if successful, will result in
even more human fatalities and more wounded animals left to suffer and die
State wildlife agencies and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exist to
provide recreational opportunities for hunters, to the detriment of animal
and human victims, the environment, and the public. See the USFWS web
site, which proudly answers the question “What does the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service do for hunters?”
Hunters do not alone pay for this carnage, misleadingly termed
“conservation,” as they claim. You and I pay via the General Fund for
“increased hunting opportunities” meaning more animal targets, more access
roads, and more pro-hunting propaganda.
Additionally, strong lobbies cause more and more laws to protect and
promote hunting. All decisions affecting wildlife in New Jersey are made
by, and for the benefit of, the less than 1% of New Jerseyans who hunt.
But because the mainstream media does not acknowledge or question this
power imparity, the following questions have not been asked:
Why are there are so many deer and geese? Why is hunting foisted on the
public as the only solution, even though animal numbers rebound after a
hunt? Why are habitats manipulated to create higher numbers of
overpopulated animals? Why are “game” animals demonized to the public as
health threats, although hunting is the cause of deer-car collisions, and
hunting does not lower the incidence of Lyme Disease? Why were bear
population numbers AND the public manipulated to justify a bear hunt,
though hunters, not bears, pose a risk to the public?
When these questions are asked, the demons are no longer the
manipulated animal victims, but the hunting industry that derives profit
and perverse pleasure from causing death.
This control is not enough, however, for hunters. These cowards who
torment and kill hundreds of millions of animals every year, these
criminals who scoff at already lenient hunting regulations, these goons
who harm innocent people: they want – and they get – more, from our
government. Private landowners must post their land against hunting, or it
is assumed that hunting is allowed. In all 50 states, hunters are
protected by Hunter Harassment Statutes. Those opposed to hunting, can be
– and have been – arrested for trying to protect animals from their
tormenters. New Jersey has ruled that the right to kill animals for fun
eclipses the right to peacefully disturb the killing.
What other activity enjoys such protections? What other activity is
Susan Gordon is a Board Member of New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance.
She has been active with NJARA for over 20 years and has advocated for
animals since earliest childhood.