We all have our opinions on different subjects. Webster’s dictionary defines opinion as “a belief not based on certainty but on what seems true or probable”. Some people verbalize them, some hold them in to avoid controversy, and some put them in print. Those that do, suffer the wrath of those who disagree. “Ouch”. But again we all have ours, and in this free world we can express them.

Not only is hunting responsible for the disappearance of so much of our wildlife heritage, hunters also cause untold pain and suffering to the animals involved. It is estimated that for every bird or mammal killed instantly by a hunters bullet, at least double that number are wounded and escape to die a slow and painful agonizing death. Those not so “fortunate” are crippled for life.

And even when a hunter’s bullet kills instantly, there still exists a large element of cruelty. The loss of the leader of a wolf family, for example, can traumatize and disorient the pack for a long time, and affect its ability to survive and reproduce. Moreover, many migratory game birds mate for life, such as the Canada Geese. These birds are known for their strong family ties, and when the female is incubating the eggs, the mate guards her, and bravely attacks any animals which threaten the nest. According to legend, when the mate of a Canadian Goose is killed the remaining bird spends the rest of its life alone. Do we think about these things when we squeeze that trigger. Each year about 800,000 Canada Goose are shot and recovered buy hunters. I use Canada Goose for example because of proven statistics.

It is difficult to translate the cruelty and waste involved in hunting into actual figures, since the total number of animals shot and recovered each years boggles the mind.

Doves, the symbol of peace, are a particular favorite of hunters. An estimated 51 million doves are shot each year. Because of the Interior Departments dove hunting regulations, many doves in the southeast United States are killed while they are still nesting and feeding their young, which inevitably causes the additional loss of hatchlings.

About 6 million Mallard ducks are “harvested” each year, along with 1.3 million Pintail ducks and the equal number of Greenwing Teals. Over 2 million deer are “taken” annually, and the figures for rabbits, quail, squirrels, and pheasants are well into the tens of millions. But the hunters and many Federal agencies claim that this incredible carnage is actually good for the animals involved. They claim that they are truly conservationists and are helping “balance the ecology” by preventing overpopulation and starvation of wild animals.

They conveniently ignore the fact that, in the few cases where deer actually do overpopulate, it is often because hunters have helped eliminate the deer’s natural predators, such as wolves, mountain lions, and coyotes. Hunters claim, with the revenue derived form ammunition, taxes, hunting licenses, and stamps, they are “putting back more than they are taking out”. It is thus ludicrous for a hunter who shoots a bear or cougar to say that this is justified by a $20 or $30 hunting fee.

The day will surely come when we will look upon hunting with the same revulsion with which we now look upon the early Romans popular sport at the Coliseum, in which people were fed to the lions. The only question is, when this time comes, will there be any animals left to save.