Issues of Special Interest
Letter to the Editor to the Buffalo News
(submitted 24 July 2002)
Hunters Should be Charged With Terrorism
In your Outdoor Notebook column of 7/21/02 you mention the "Animal and
Ecological Terrorism Act" that was recently introduced by the U.S.
Sportsmen's Alliance with the purported intent to help track down
"animal rights groups responsible for ecological and animal terrorists
acts." In truth it is a special interest group inextricably linked to
the weapons industry that introduced this bill to assure that the
forests and properties of "canned hunt" preserves are safe for the 4%
of the population who hunt.
This bill is a draconian measure to safeguard the killing hobby of a
tiny group of "hobbyists" who like to kill -- and to maintain the
salaries of wildlife managers whose income depends on hunting and
firearms (the same types of weapons that have been used by kids to kill
their teachers and schoolmates). Wouldn't it be better to protect the
96% of the population who do not hunt from bullets gone astray, or from
landowners having to walk their dogs using hunter-orange jackets so they
won't be confused for deer or other game animals during hunting season?
Or how about introducing a bill to protect the non-hunting majority from
wildlife management agencies whose tampering often harms the "managed"
species - not to mention all others who get in the way - farmers, other
non-target animals, the environment? Habitat "management" includes
manipulating plant life using herbicides to allow more food for some
species and less for others; and setting fires (called "prescribed
burns") that can get out of control as one did a few years ago in New
Mexico causing one of the worst forest fires ever recorded.
A better approach would be to pay careful attention to people who abuse
animals, not those who try to protect these abusers. The link between
animal abuse and violent crime has been well documented. Psychiatrists
have long recognized a "triad" of childhood traits that often predict
future criminal behavior - setting fires, chronic bed-wetting, and
animal cruelty. People who brutalize animals do it often as a kind of
"practice run" and many serial killers have been hunters. In 1985, Yale
Professsor Steven Kellert studied 152 male criminals and found
altogether 373 abusive acts involving harm or violence to animals among
Take the case of Russell Eugene Weston, Jr., who was charged with
gunning down two policemen at the U.S. Capitol in 1998. The previous
day, Weston had blasted 12 cats with a shotgun near his home.
Such episodes give power to antisocial personalities, and with time and
outrage, the sadism graduates to a more vengeful, murderous mindset.
This was seen in the school shootings. Oregon school shooter Kip Kinkel
bragged of stuffing lit firecrackers in cats' mouths; Mississippi's Luke
Woodham performed ritual slaughter of pets a few weeks before he killed
two girls; and who can forget the cannibalistic serial murderer Jeffrey
Dahmer, who impaled frogs and staked cats to trees while a child.
In truth, animal rights organizations have done more good than harm -
pointing out abuses in factory farms and slaughterhouses that not only
cause pain and suffering to animals but also damage to human health; and
by calling attention to healthier and more humane ways of eating. Other
animal organizations around the country have helped people through
low-cost spay and neuter programs for companion animals and by educating
people on what to do about injured wildlife. Moreover, the Humane
Society of the U.S. has recently launched a campaign for tougher
sentences for animal-related crimes.
Let us learn from the great philosophers and sages such as Buddha of
India, St. Francis of Assisi, and Leonardo da Vinci who practiced
compassion and observed that "what goes around, comes around."
Public Affairs Outreach
Wildlife Watch/Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
New Paltz, New York
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