Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hunters: No Respect for Life

Far be it for me to stereotype people, make sweeping generalizations or paint everyone with the same brush, but hunters are a despicable lot (despicable, adj. deserving to be despised; contemptible; morally reprehensible; vile).*

Case in point: I’m hiking out at Rockway Conservation Area last Sunday and I notice these two guys in the parking lot of the Rockway Community Centre doing something out of the back of one of their trucks. I didn’t think too much about it as I figured they were getting ready to go for hike as well.

When I returned a few hours later, they were still there, getting ready to leave. I also noticed something in the grass directly behind their trucks so I went over to investigate. Turns out it was a deer carcass, freshly killed and cleaned. The head was severed, the flesh removed and the innards stuffed into two garbage bags along with a rolled up sheet of plastic dripping blood.

The two guys jumped in their vehicles and took off as I went over to take pictures of the gruesome scene (and snapped a couple license plates in the process). One of the men drove slowly, smiled and gave me a little wave before pulling out of the parking lot.

I called the police when I got home, who suggested I contact the Ministry of Natural Resources. A very nice girl up in Sault Ste. Marie (who handles all hunting violation issues for Ontario) explained that although what these two men did was “unethical” and “not smart”, they did not violate any laws (providing they have a tag to hunt deer).

If anything they are guilty of littering, which, I was told, will be addressed by the local municipal bylaw office. However, killing a deer, stripping the flesh off his body and tossing his remains in a parking lot where people go hiking, walk their dogs and take their children to experience nature, is perfectly legal, if not “smart”.

According to the MNR, if these two Bungalow Bills had littered on Crown property, like a provincial park, then charges would be laid, but only for the garbage bags and the sheet of plastic. The nice girl on the phone explained that if a hunter dumps the bones or body of a deer back in the woods it’s a good thing, because he’s returning the animal to nature where other animals can benefit from it.

I wanted to ask her what was so natural about two weekend warriors, armed with high-powered weapons and driving a Hummer and an SUV, going in the forest (not exactly man’s natural habitat anymore) and taking down a healthy young buck when natural predators take down the sick and old, but fought the urge, knowing I would be wasting my time and hers.

The day before this happened I had taken a number of people to Short Hills Provincial Park - just down the road from Rockway - to do some nature photography. While we were on the trail, we spotted half-a-dozen deer, almost completely camouflaged in the tall grasses. We tried to get closer to take some pictures but they bolted across the field, their white tails flapping as they ran away.

No wonder they’re so afraid of us. Some people respect life, and feel lucky if they just get a glimpse of these beautiful and graceful animals in their natural environment. Others get their rocks off by destroying life. It makes them feel big and powerful to take down a helpless, innocent animal and kill it. I’m told it’s the way of the world. Maybe it is. But does it have to be?

* My apologies to all you despicable hunters who slaughter animals “responsibly” and “sustainably” and other such garbage like that, as if that makes it okay or means anything to the animal being killed. My advice? Get a life, instead of taking someone else’s.