Trophy Hunting: To kill, or not to kill, that is the Question By: Sophia So

The ancestors of human beings date back over six to eight million years ago, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. That means it was crucial for the human species, for millions of years to hunt for survival. Although essential for survival in prehistoric times, hunting is now simply a cruel and unnecessary activity for a vast multitude of reasoning’s concerning harsh realities and my own disturbing experience.

I, being an impatient five-year-old, waited in the the back seat of my dad’s car for him to return from his workplace. My father worked as an arborist for a tree company who all just so happened to be hunting enthusiasts. While waiting in the back seat on that cloudy day, my patience grew thin as another song by the Monkees hummed through the radio static. After a minute more of my patience, I could bare the isolation no longer and set off my search for my dad inside the garage of the tree company. Growing up with pets of many species and learning to love them all, I was not prepared for what awaited ahead of me behind the garage doors. Stepping inside, the first thing I noticed was a pungent scent of metal in the air. Adjusting my eyes to the sudden dimness of light emerged shapes of deer, rabbits and other creatures dangling from the ceiling, being drained of their blood. My screams echoed through the vast space long after my hasty departure and the memory has been echoing for even longer.

Although as tormenting as this memory was, it not to assume that I think all hunting should be banned. Hunting is perfectly acceptable when the kill is used for biological needs, such as food or using the hide for clothing. According to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation, approximately 13.7 million Americans hunt, and according to the People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals organization, the vast majority of hunters do not use their kills for sustenance. This leads to the most obvious reason that makes hunting for sport so malicious and unnecessary, which is the fact that it no longer serves as a crucial element for human survival.

Today, it is uncommon to find a family of Americans combing through their local forest for their night’s dinner. That is because humans have evolved for millions of years to the point where hunting and gathering for food is no longer a mandatory aspect of everyday life. National Geographic points out that “agriculture was developed around 100,000 years ago”. Since then, humans have evolved and developed the practice of agriculture, bringing us to this day and age where most food can be found at farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and all kinds of food shops. As time progresses, so does technology, resulting in modification of the human lifestyle. It is safe to say that hunting is not necessary for todays culture considering food sources are within a reasonable distance from most American’s location. Even the International Hunting Education Association claims that it “may not seem to be absolutely necessary” and when describing why people enjoy it they respond with, “I don’t know—I just like it”. Those who hunt for recreational purposes also like to justify that they are helping to maintain the environment and overpopulated species.However, that is a poor excuse considering that nature is able to control itself without the interference of humans.

It is almost comical to hear when trophy hunters claim they are doing the environment a favor by hunting down the biggest and strongest prey they can find. In fact, by killing the most fit to survive, they do quite the opposite of sustaining and maintaining the environment. According to PETA, “Natural predators help maintain this balance by killing only the sickest and weakest individuals” whereas, “Hunters, however, kill any animal whose head they would like to hang over the fireplace—including large, healthy animals who are needed to keep the population strong”. How can trophy hunting help overpopulated species and protect the environment when the point is to kill the largest, most intimidating, and probably the fittest to survive of the species being pursued? However, killing the weakest to survive is also unnecessary because nature is perfectly capable of maintaining itself. Hunters claim that they are doing animals a justice by killing them before they die of starvation or disease in cause from overpopulation. Although starvation and disease of any animal is heartbreaking, natures way of natural selection ensures the future of healthy, capable animals; not people who hunt for enjoyment. Yet, hunting does more than go against natures ability of natural selection, it also causes pain and suffering to the living creatures being pursued.

A lot of the time, animals who are not immediately killed from an injury to the heart or brain, endure extensive and excruciating deaths.In a study involving the wounding rates of white-tailed deer, it was found that out of the 80 radio-collared white-tailed deer, 22 deer of the deer were shot and 11 were wounded but not recovered by hunters. This statistic states that fifty percent of the deer that had been shot, were not recovered. It can be assumed that those who were not recovered had to suffer, and eventually came to an agonizing death, whether from the wound or starvation due to weakened health.Again the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals states that, “Hunting disrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys families. For animals such as wolves, who mate for life and live in close-knit family units, hunting can devastate entire communities”. For any hunter who likes to dispute they are assisting in the maintenance of the environment, they should think again.It is sure that many can remember when news came out that Cecil the lion had been killed in Africa by an American dentist. The dentist, Walter James Palmer, had not killed Cecil to control lion populations, or conserve the environment. From the devious smile that plastered Palmer’s face in the picture with the deceased Cecil, it is obvious what his true intentions were when he had killed the innocent lion. It is clear that those who trophy hunt do not kill for the best interest of species population or environmental preservation, it is for their ability to boast and admire the biggest of kills they can make.

Hunting, in addition to it being harmful to the wild animals being pursued, is also dangerous for people, pets, and property. There have been numerous hunting accidents that have damaged property, or even worse, injured people or pets.For example, back in 2014, the Huffington Post released news that stated, “a 57-year-old hunter is dead after one of his companions slipped in the mud and accidentally shot him in the back in northern Utah”. The Huffington post released another news article a year earlier that claims, “A Disputanta hunter suffered life threatening injuries today when he was accidentally shot in the head by a fellow hunter shooting at a moving deer in Sussex Count”. The list could go on for all the injuries and accidents that result from the cruel nature of hunting for sport. According to the International Hunter Education Association, around 1,000 people in the US and Canada are accidentally shot by hunters every year, and just under a hundred of those accidents result in death.These are deaths that could have been prevented if hunting were not so dangerous, pointless, and malicious.

In conclusion, it is evident how hunting is cruel and unnecessary for a vast majority of reasons. It is unmistakable that hunting is no longer necessary for human survival because of the access to a plethora of food markets. It is also a hobby that can be deemed as vindictive from the fact that many animals must suffer prolonged and agonizing deaths. Humans, property, and pets are also at threat from the violent hobby. The laughable remark that hunters are contributing to maintaining the environment can be proven fictitious seeing as in actuality are interfering in natures way of selecting the fittest to survive. Overall, hunting is nothing more than a despicable and superfluous hobby that has outlived its prior purpose to human survival.

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