January 17, 2018

Animal Rights: Bunkum and Balderdash

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Some people simply do not like hunting and trapping or the idea that other people do. Perhaps it’s time to get a life and get over it. There are many things in life that all of us don’t like, but does that mean we spend our time forcing our own idealism onto others? Evidently, that is true in some cases.

I have no issues with another who is opposed to hunting and trapping. I don’t try to get them to change their life over it. I only expect the same respect in return. Did I say respect? Pfffft!

What I do have an issue with is when ignorant and severely misguided excuses are given to defend one’s position on the dislike of the activity. Given the direction the American Society has taken in recent years, there is no guilt association with lying nor is there any need to present honest facts. This practice has become null and void and runs rampant throughout.

Recently two Letters to the Editor in Maine newspapers came from obvious despisers of hunting and trapping. As they go hand in hand, it is safe to say that these same people have a perverse perspective of the roles animals, both wild and domestic, play in man’s existence.

The first letter I’d like to address comes from someone who wants to stop the use of bait as a tool to harvest black bears. For the record, so would I. I don’t like baiting (I’ll save the reasons for another show). However, I can reasonably understand that without baiting the success rate for taking a bear would drop significantly, seriously hampering the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) ability to maintain the bear population at healthy levels.

But factual information is void in such conversations with animal lovers.

I’ve heard the argument before that baiting unnaturally over-feeds bears, causing a false increase in the number of offspring and that baiting habituates bears to human conditions, i.e. food and smells. The letter writer states: “One of the worst things that can be done to manage a bear population is to artificially increase the amount of available food in the environment and accustom them to human food and smells…”

Under different conditions, this may be true but I don’t think so in this case. If baiting was seriously widespread, in other words, that there actually is an artificial increase in food in the environment (not just at bait stations), throughout the entire habitat of Maine, artificially feeding bears would probably cause a problem.

According to the MDIFW’s website, bears in Maine number as high as 36,000: “Maine’s bear population remained fairly stable through 2005, but has been increasing over the last 5 years and our current estimate is between 24,000 and 36,000 bears.”

We also can find that in 2016 Maine’s bear harvest totaled 2,859. The same data tells us that 68% or 1,936 bears were taken over bait. From previous information found at various sources, it has been estimated that bear hunting success rate is around 30%. For Maine to have harvested 2,859, the number of licensed hunters probably approached 9,000. 62% of all bears harvested was done by out-of-state (guided) hunters.

How does all this translate into the number of bait piles and where they were located geographically? I dunno, but it would certainly appear that the process of baiting may have affected only a very small portion of the bear population, if at all, regardless of how one might fudge the numbers. Even if it were biologically correct to state that artificial feeding increases bear populations, baiting bears does not and cannot have any real effect on the growth of bears.

We also know that bears much prefer natural foods. During high-yield mast crop years, attracting bears to baiting stations is a difficult task to accomplish.

This is a poor argument to use against the use of bait for bears and is always simply a play on the emotions of readers.

The second letter is an excellent example of bunkum and balderdash. The diatribe begins with an attempt at likening bobcat hunting to an unfair advantage for the hunter over the animal because it doesn’t have a helmet, protective padding and shoes….or something.: “Most of us like some kind of sports by either following them, participating in them or both. Whatever ones we prefer, we expect that players or teams be more or less evenly matched in terms of skill and equipment.

We’d protest, for instance, if the tennis players we were rooting for were not allowed to use rackets, and we’d be in an uproar if the quarterbacks and linemen on our favorite team were denied helmets, protective padding and shoes.

Why? Because we require a level playing field and we believe in fairness, as well as giving those we contend against a sporting chance.”

Oh, my! This might deserve the Golden Horse Excrement Award.

Let’s put it this way. If the letter writer wants a “level playing field” wouldn’t that mean that each team would have an even chance, 50-50, of winning? This sounds more like “each participant gets a trophy.” How is it a level playing field when MDIFW has determined that a better than average chance at a bobcat hunter being successful, i.e. winning, runs at not much better than 9%?

But we soon discover the real reason for the whining and complaining: “…we believe that the consequence of defeat should not be the forfeiture of life itself.” Okay, so everyone DOES get a trophy. As I said, I don’t have an issue with people who don’t like to see animals die. I understand this but they don’t understand that the perpetuation of life insists that something must die in order for life to continue. But I digress.

The writer then goes on questioning the MDIFW’s bobcat management practices of which I have no problem. After all, I spend a great deal of time questioning their wildlife management practices. The letter writer states that MDIFW has no idea how many bobcats are in the state of Maine. This may be somewhat true but they do have a system, although it may be antiquated (I haven’t studied the plans and formulas used), where bobcat populations are estimated (like every other game species) and harvest requirements formulated from that information. See the plan here.

(Note: The writer honestly doesn’t see any difference between hunters and trappers legally taking wild animals for various reasons and MDIFW’s prohibition on hunters and trappers killing domestic animals. Where does one go from here?)

Then the writer gets back to the real meat and potatoes as to why he wants bobcat hunting to end: “Hunting bobcats is cruel and abusive.” And let’s not forget it’s “inhumane.”

What the writer rambles on about at this point is mostly pointless to discuss as it becomes obvious the writer places animals at an existence equal to or greater than that of man, giving them the attributes of man: “The word humane is derived from the world [word?] humanity, but until that connection is understood and practiced, what we have is really nothing less than state-sanctioned cruelty…”

The word “humanity” (an Evolution term) first appears in the late 14th century. All definitions and attributes are given to the existence of man…not animals. “Human” and “humane” were used interchangeably for centuries all in reference to characteristics of man…not animals.

Few know that “humane societies” were first established to save drowning people.

Any sense of humaneness pertaining to animals should only be derived from a value-weighted perception of the man toward the animal. It is certainly debatable as to whether or not an animal thinks, acts, and feels the same as a man. It is when we project our own “human” qualities onto animals, we get into some real serious issues.

I really do not understand what the author is saying when he says that “until that connection is understood.” Assuming he means a connection between human and humanity, I fail to see any connection that pertains to the existence of animals.

Not that many animal lovers would care to learn from the Scriptures, but perhaps I can give a better understanding of the role our Creator intended between man and beast (all animals, i.e. birds, fish, mammals, etc.). Genesis 1:26 tells us at the time in which He was going to “create man in our image,” “and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the beasts, and over all the earth, and over everything that creepeth and moveth on the earth.”

In verse 28, Yaweh instructs Adam to “Bring forth fruit, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over every beast that moveth upon the earth.”

After the Great Flood, Yaweh once again gave Noah and his sons the same instructions. We find them in Genesis 9: 1-5: Also the fear of you, and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the heaven, upon all that moveth on the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hand are they delivered.

Everything that moveth and liveth, shall be meat for you: as the green herb, have I given you all things.”

Clearly, the role of the animal toward man’s existence is clearly defined. An animal, of any kind, is not and does not have the same existence as that of man. It was intended for food, the same as plants.

Unfortunately, these verses and others are too often taken out of context to mean that man can do anything he wishes to an animal. Proverbs 12:10 tells us: “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the mercies of the wicked are cruel.” The original Hebrew word for “regardeth” is “yada.” It carries many meanings, mostly in reference to acknowledging “the life of the beast.” It also carries the meaning “to respect.”

Yaweh gave us all the plants and animals of the Earth. After the flood, He told Noah and his sons that animals “shall be meat (food) for you.” His Scripture also tells us to be knowledgeable about the beasts and give them respect. Obviously, this didn’t mean to the point that animals are protected beyond that which might ensure their existence or to the detriment of man.

My advice to the animal lovers and those who hate hunting and trapping, tell us how upset you are because someone is killing an animal, but save the bunkum and balderdash about equal playing fields and “inhumane” treatment of animals.

As an aside: The author quotes someone who says, “Bobcats are worth more for wildlife watching and tracking opportunities than they are as pelts.” Wildlife watching? Tracking? Seriously? I have lived in Maine for going on 66 years. I have “wildlife watched” a bobcat once in my life and that was while visiting a park in Florida. It would appear that this person places little value on the life of a bobcat. Shame.