The Joy of Killing

I've never understood hunting. I can't wrap my head around the need to kill an animal for the pure joy of taking a life, so when our California Fish and Game Commissioner accepted a $7000 trip to Idaho and killed a mountain lion for sport, I added my voice to the choir calling for his resignation.
I haven't changed my mind. I still think his behavior is disgusting, but I wasn't going to make an issue of it on this blog. Then my friend, Tanya, sent this to me. She's so much more reasonable about this kind of thing than I am.

The recent blow up over a California Fish and Game Commissioner shooting a mountain lion in Idaho is being portrayed as radical animal rights versus radical hunting. I believe this is obscuring the point. I am ambivalent about hunting but was fed by my hunting father for the first 5 years of my life and was paid to conduct environmental education programs in under-served schools by a non-profit associated with hunting. I agree with many of the precepts of animal rights but reject many of the more radical actions that some of these organizations undertake.

The issue to me is one of judgment. This person was appointed by the Governor to oversee the Department of Fish and Game, the agency that grants hunting licenses, oversees regulation enforcement, and interacts with the Federal Government on management plans for Endangered Species recovery. As long as he is Commissioner, he represents the Department of Fish and Game and his actions are a reflection on the Commission. The reflection from the photo of him holding a dead mountain lion in triumph is not attractive. To many of my hunting friends using dogs to tree a mountain lion so that it can be shot is not hunting, it is target practice. To most of us, an appointed California Fish and Game Commissioner accepting such an expensive trip as a gift from a person who would make more money if more people used his company looks suspicious.

Hunting whales is legal in some countries but that does not mean it would be wise for an American member of the International Whaling Commission to participate. Hunting elephants is legal in some countries but that does not mean it would be smart for a representative of the Species Survival Plan for elephants in the United States to go hunting elephants in Africa.

Just because something is legal it behooves us to think about the consequences before we indulge. I think this Commissioner should lose his position, not because he shot a mountain lion legally in another state, but because of the clear lack of judgment he showed in doing so.


Dan Richards with his kill.