OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: For the sake of our shared humanity

(Painting by Judy Scammell)

My friend Judy and I were having lunch together the other day and as all our lunches go the conversation launched into ways we could help solve the problems of the world. Our present topic was about the possible removal of the grizzly bear from the threatened species list. Her contribution to this cause was a painting of the grizzly bear that would hang in a show at the Visions West Contemporary Gallery, out in Bozeman, Montana in support of keeping these laws intact that are now protecting the grizzly. The lifting of this safeguard will of course open the door to the legal killing of these bears.

Our discussion quickly turned to the subject of trophy hunting which would most likely be the main reason anyone would want to kill a grizzly.

What does one say to someone when you walk into their home and see a full sized, stuffed grizzly standing in the corner of their den, which I have experienced? My first impulse was to acknowledge how this person was seriously lacking an awareness of the heartlessness of this act and what a sad representation of a human being he was.

This train of thought continued into a subject I really knew nothing about. Wildlife killing contests! After listening to the details of this disturbing practice I was stunned and shocked that this was even a thing. Are people really that heartless? I guess so.

For those of you who aren’t aware of this as I wasn’t here is a gruesome description of what Wildlife Killing Contests are all about written by the Humane Society of the United States.

Competitors achieve high kill numbers-sometimes hundreds of animals at a single event-by using night vision, thermal imaging and electronic calling devices. These tactics mimic sounds of dependent young or prey in distress to lure animals in for an easy kill. Animals are then shot with high-powered rifles which rip holes in the fur, often rendering the pelts useless for sale. After the killing is over, contestants gather to weigh and count the bodies and take pictures next to the bloody animals. The animals are then typically dumped like trash.

And yes, this has taken place in our state as well until recently when Gov. Kathy Hochul, along with nine other states, signed a critical legislation banning these contests for coyotes, foxes, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, crows and other New York species. This law prohibits these events which give cash prizes to the contestants who kill the most, the smallest and the heaviest.

There is no legitimate reason for such an inhumane practice and for those who erroneously believe that the random killing of coyotes will prevent such things as livestock conflicts it may in fact actually increase the coyote population.

I acknowledge and respect Gov. Hochul for taking this courageous stand against this completely horrendous “sport.” I told myself that I wanted to write articles that gave hope and were uplifting, but it’s difficult to ignore such unethical practices of animal cruelty and human soullessness. Hunting has its place but not when it meaninglessly sacrifices the lives of animals who have feelings, experience pain and loss and whose existence contribute to the balance of our environment. All animals should be treated with reverence. They are a gift of nature which we should feel privileged to share the Earth with.

I’m still shaking my head as I think of the cruelty humanity is capable of. There is a legitimate reason for these wildlife protection laws and one of the reasons is that there are segments of humanity that have lost touch with their souls allowing them to believe that heartless killing and torture is acceptable. If you need proof of that, go ahead and look up the recent wolf torturing incident out in Wyoming that is too horrific for me to even write about. Probably not the best topic to discuss while having lunch, but I’m so grateful I have a friend who keeps me informed with these issues that are too important to disregard for “the sake of our shared humanity.”

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