Imagine leading a snarling hound – or a pack of them – to chase a badly frightened bear or
bobcat up a tree for you to shoot to death. There are lots of hunters – "sportsmen," as they're
called – who think that to be great fun.
Boy, are they mad at Gov. Jerry Brown of California for recently
signing a bill that will outlaw the practice in the state beginning next year. As the bill's author, State Senator Ted
Lieu, noted, "there is nothing sporting in shooting an exhausted bear clinging to a tree limb or a cornered bobcat."
Legislators in California thankfully are not the only ones who agree with that. The barbaric practice of using dogs
to hunt bears has been banned in two-thirds of the other states. But why not ban it everywhere, along with all other hunters'
Because, say hunting advocates such as California State Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, that would infringe
on hallowed traditions of hunters that date back hundreds of years.
Nielsen said he has received thousands of
phone calls and letters protesting Brown's bill signing. That, sadly, should be no surprise. Many people, if not most
people, seem to approve of stalking and killing our fellow creatures for sport.
Every year more than 20 million
American hunters, many with dogs, search the countryside for winged and four-legged victims. And manufacturers of guns and
other hunting equipment, and state fish and game departments, are trying hard to increase their incomes by increasing the
number of "sportsmen" who are chasing innocent animals. They're urging more Americans, including youngsters,
to go out and kill.
Think of the message that's being delivered to the young. It's a message, notes leading
animal rights activist Jamie Kemsey, "that it is acceptable to commit an act of violence and take innocent life
simply for the fun of it. In these violent times we cannot afford, under any circumstances, to condone such morally bankrupt
Certainly we still kill animals for food. But that is not the same as killing them for amusement.
You can argue that killing animals is still necessary for survival, at least unless you're a vegetarian. But killing them
for sport in today's circumstances is cruel and unnecessary.
In a fully civilized society, the money and energy
spent by government agencies and others to promote hunting would instead be devoted to protecting our fellow creatures from
human killers, and expanding and protecting their habitats, too many of which are now game preserves open to hunters.
We could at least deny hunters and their bloody practices the respect and approval of society and its leaders that they
now enjoy. This is the 21st century, is it not?
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