Selected Articles from our
The C.A.S.H. Courier
ARTICLE from the Winter 2008 Issue
Time To Re-Evaluate Hunting With Hounds
Marlene A. Condon
In the wake of Michael Vick’s conviction for animal cruelty because of
his participation in dog-fighting, it is time to re-evaluate the old
Virginia tradition of hunting with hounds. This activity, which is sometimes
cruel to the hounds themselves and always cruel to the wildlife being
chased, negatively impacts many species — some of which we are losing in
Virginia. It is time for this pastime to come to an end.
(Picture of Almond Joy by
www.coonhoundrescue.com Visit them to adopt a coonhound)
Game birds, such as the American Woodcock and the Northern Bobwhite
quail, nest on the ground. According to “Virginia’s Birdlife” (published by
the Virginia Society of Ornithology), decades-long breeding bird
surveys have shown declines in the numbers of these birds, precipitously in
the case of quail.
Hunting dogs (and pet dogs, which also need to be restricted) undoubtedly
wreak havoc with ground nesters by disturbing nesting activity. And this
impact is likely felt by nongame ground-nesting species, as well. The
Eastern Meadowlark, a once common bird with a beautiful song, has suffered
“significant statewide declines since the 1960s.”
Lack of habitat — the result of too many people and too much unnatural
landscaping — is a main contributor to such declines. Wildlife is being
forced into smaller and smaller areas because of overreaching human
development. Allowing hunting dogs to run uncontrolled through these
limited-in-size areas undoubtedly adds insult to injury.
Additionally, Virginia law has placed burdens on landowners that
rightfully belonged on the hunters, which has turned numerous landowners
against hunting altogether. As a result, more private lands are closed to
hunting and more dogs are let loose to chase wildlife on state lands that
may be the final refuges for some of our disappearing species.
Last but not least, abandoned hunting dogs are not an uncommon sight in
Virginia. These hounds are often hit in traffic or, perhaps worse, suffer
uncontrollable shaking as blood sugar levels drop due to starvation. Too
weak to walk, they finally collapse and can’t get up, awaiting whatever fate
befalls them. Can anyone deny this is cruelty inflicted by hunters upon
man’s “best friend”?
And what about the wild animals that are absolutely terrified while being
chased — either just for hound training or to their deaths? Shouldn’t
compassionate humans care about such cruelty to them as well?
Unfortunately, many people do not realize that there is absolutely no
difference between animals that are born wild and animals born into
domestication. Wild animals suffer the same pain and terror as any living
being. And, just as is the case with pets of whatever kind, each individual
has its own unique personality.
Travis Quirk, a University of Saskatchewan graduate student who shot
skunks when he was growing up but who now studies them, could verify this.
As reported in National Wildlife Magazine online, Quirk had to hand-raise a
litter of orphaned kits (baby skunks) one year, feeding them with a syringe.
He is quoted as saying, “They were like kittens, playing games, following me
around. Just sweethearts.”
Making wildlife suffer the sheer terror of being chased by hounds solely
for someone’s enjoyment is an activity that has gone on for far too long. If
you wouldn’t find it acceptable for your pet to endure this terror, then you
should find it unacceptable for wildlife, too.
There are many reasons to silence the baying of hunting hounds — even if
that baying has been a source of music to some hunters’ ears.
Constituents can contact the chairman of a committee studying this issue
by writing to Rick Busch at the Virginia Department of Game & Inland
Fisheries, 4010 West Broad St., P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230. Or you
can send an e-mail to him at
Marlene Condon is author of “The Nature-Friendly Garden.” She lives
in Crozet, VA.