Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Sick, Bizarre World of Trophy Hunting

Douche bag Walter Palmer and his victim
I will admit that I am anti-gun and anti-hunting.  In part this stems from early exposure to the lawlessness and selfishness of hunters.  Growing up in Central New York we lived in the county we lived on 50 acres and had horses.  During hunting season we had to fear for the lives of our horses and ourselves as hunters trespassed at will despite all the "Posted - No Trespass" signs that were up and down our property lines.  That experience was not unique and family members in the Charlottesville, Virginia, area experience the same problem to this day.  Personally, I think the phenomenon links with a psychological defect that makes some feel like "macho males" only when they kill largely defenseless animals.  Part and parcel with this mindset is an attitude that the law and rules do not apply to these "real men."  With the furor over they illegal killing of Cecil the Zimbabwe lion, much needed focus is coming on the sickness of hunters, especially trophy hunters.  A piece in Salon looks at this sick and disturbing world.  Here are highlights:
Minnesota dentist and trophy hunter Walter Palmer ignited worldwide outrage after killing the beloved Zimbabwe lion named Cecil. Hundreds have left angry reviews of his dental practice on Yelp and a Care2 petition condemning his actions has racked up more than 200,000 signatures. Focusing this rage on Palmer overshadows the bizarre practices and unscrupulous conduct that are a big part of business as usual throughout the trophy hunting industry. When wealthy clients pay thousands to kill exotic species, professional hunting guides face enormous pressure to deliver the goods even if that means breaking the law. Trophy hunters maintain that they hunt for the benefit of nature, but when the interests of profit and animals collide, abuse is inevitable.

The practice of trophy hunting originated as a way for humans to demonstrate power over large, dangerous animals, but now that modern high-powered weapons can subdue even the largest animals, the trophy hunter’s focus has shifted from animals that are dangerous to those that are rare.

[T]oday’s trophy hunters are corporate types who may spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to kill a single animal. And the bigger and rarer and more beautiful the animal, the more a trophy hunter wants to kill it: An African lion hunt starts at around $39,000. For $60,000, power brokers can bag a bull elephant.

Exorbitant prices can pressure hunting guides to deliver a “successful” hunt no matter what. Hunters want to feel that their experience is real and that the hunt has not been staged, but when a hunt costs as much as a new luxury car, guides must practically guarantee that clients will take home the trophy they want. This leads guides to undertake unscrupulous and even unlawful methods to tilt the odds in their favor. Palmer’s guides allegedly used bait to lure Cecil away from the safety of Hwange National Park and illegally disposed of the lion’s radio collar. American hunting ranches use bait stations to concentrate animals and cameras to monitor their whereabouts. On African big game safaris, some hunting guides use bush planes to herd animals into firing range of a waiting hunter.

Trophy hunters argue that their pastime helps to conserve wildlife, but the reality of trophy hunting’s success as a tool of conservation has been mixed: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for the first time in history, may list the African lion as an endangered species—a move that could ban American hunters from importing lion trophies—citing overzealous hunting as one reason for the big cat’s decline.

[R]arity itself makes animals more desirable and causes collectors to value killing them even more, a phenomenon Franck Courchamp calls the anthropogenic Allee effect: “The human predisposition to place exaggerated value on rarity fuels disproportionate exploitation of rare species, rendering them even rarer and thus more desirable, ultimately leading them into an extinction vortex.”

Wealthy hunters don’t need to travel to Africa to shoot exotic big game animals. Hunting preserves in the U.S. offer the chance to kill a dizzying array of species, including fallow deer, antelope, zebras and even exotic breeds of domestic goats. Most were bred specifically to be killed, but some game farms purchase animals from exotic animal auctions and even zoos.

In 2014, the Indianapolis Star conducted the first comprehensive investigation into America’s trophy deer hunting industry.  . . . They concluded that the trophy deer hunting business “costs taxpayers millions of dollars, compromises long-standing wildlife laws, endangers wild deer, and undermines the government’s multibillion-dollar effort to protect livestock and the food supply.”

In less than 40 years, deer breeding—which started as a backyard hobby—ballooned into an industry that operates primarily to give wealthy and busy clients the opportunity to kill trophy-size animals with a minimum of effort. The trophy deer breeding industry comprises at least 10,000 farms and hunting preserves in the U.S. and Canada. Over half of the states that permit the hunting of captive wild animals have few or no regulations regarding how captive wild animals are killed.

Chancellor also noted differences in how men and women approach animals right after killing them: “When they approach a kill, most guys high five or have a cigar,” he said. “Women will, almost without exception, sit by the animal, touch the animal. Some say a prayer. Some cry. Some walk with their head in their hands.”

These trophy hunters are a sick bunch and in my view must have microscopic penises if they so desperately need to kill rare and beautify animals so that they can feel like "real men."  Trophy hunting needs to be banned.   As for Palmer, I hope his dental practice is destroyed.  Perhaps he should have spent his wealth on penile enlargement surgery so that he would not need to be off killing prized and beloved animals.

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