Letter to editor: Hunting is animal abuse

Times Chronicle, Ambler Gazette, and Public Spirit

January 14, 2020

Details of Sunday hunting and other regulations will concern people as long as hunting is lawful, but it behooves us to understand the big-picture context in which human beings hunt other animals with manufactured weapons (“Allowing a Bit of Sunday Hunting Enough for Now,” November 10, 2019).

Three decades of studying these matters while working full-time as an animal advocate convince me that …

(1) hunting is an unnatural practice and an ecological disruption;

(2) hunting is a form of animal abuse – not cruelty aimed at causing pain and suffering, just abuse, maltreatment (though hunted animals often endure agonizing pain);

(3) hunting is not a sport – sport is fair and requires that all participants willingly choose to participate; that doesn’t describe hunting.

Most people believe human beings are natural omnivores and predators, hunting mimics predation, and so it is natural and necessary for human beings to kill other animals, ethics requiring merely that we inflict as little pain as possible. But many unrefuted sources, including an article by a physician available online, “The Comparative Anatomy of Eating,” shows that every human food-related anatomical and physiological trait is that of an herbivore, none that of an omnivore or a carnivore.

The award-winning biological anthropology book Man the Hunted by Donna Hart and Robert Sussman and many other reliable sources debunk the man-the-hunter myth – it’s pseudoscience, not science. Humans evolved as prey. Hence our innate terror of actual predators and our practice of labeling horrifying criminals “predators.”

Hunting with manufactured weapons originated when some of the most aggressively dominant humans grasped that they could kill predators when they were not attacking. This gave the impression of greater safety in their extended-family society, boosting the killers’ social status. Humans started to supplant predators by hunting and eating prey animals, too. As humans migrated to cold places, they stole other animals’ skins for warmth, also becoming increasingly dependent on meat – the great variety of plant foods from the original home on the African savanna not being available up north.

By the time agriculture began some 12,000 years ago, humans had driven extinct about half of the large mammals on Earth. Eliminating dangerous animals made land safe for long-term farming and thus civilization. Technological innovation intensified, causing ever more harm, so that preeminent biologist E.O. Wilson characterized our species as “the serial killer of the biosphere.”

Today’s hunting practices and regulations may comport with some aspects of micro-science – this or that adjustment will increase or diminish one species or another in some location – but they flout macro-science. They’re part of the Animal-Abuse Revolution begun over 60,000 years ago. They’re anti-life, part of the harm our species does, not among desperately needed remedies.

Reversing climate breakdown, pollution, rapid loss of species, and their impacts on human beings – infectious-disease epidemics, intensifying fires, hurricanes, and floods, moral injury from our destructive lifeways, and more – demands that we question what we human beings are entitled to. I think it’s much less than we take.

David Cantor
Founder & Director
Responsible Policies for Animals