I love the colors and smells of Autumn – the moist soil, the falling leaves – as my husband and I walk through the woods. Sadly, we are very limited in where we can safely walk because Autumn brings the guns and arrows of sport hunters. One of the times our walk was ruined occurred as we rounded a bend and were face to face with two hunters with their rifles. I worried that their guns might discharge by accident as they walked the rough ground; I worried that they might mistake the dog a woman was walking nearby for a wild animal and take aim. Fortunately, I’ve never come across a deer or other animal in the throes of death, but I’ve seen many photos of living deer with arrows protruding out of their bodies. I don’t want to see innocent blood flow; only the leaves of Autumn should turn red, not the bodies of these wild beings.
Sport hunters like to portray themselves as noble – getting up early and facing the vagaries of nature as a service to reduce the population of deer and other animals who some people regard as nuisances. Yet, deer and other wild animals tend to compensate for population reduction by such methods as producing more offspring (twins or triplets in deer as compared to one fawn) as a response to increased food if the number of animals in an area are fewer than the area can support. The NYS Department of Conservation(DEC) admits that it writes hunting regulations which will maintain a plentiful number for hunters to “harvest.” Although the number of sport hunters has dwindled, the DEC works to keep money flowing from hunting licenses by encouraging new recruits, particularly women and youngsters.
A law passed recently in NYS allows children as young as 12 to hunt deer and bears with bows and arrows when accompanied by an experienced adult. The law already allows youth of 14 to use firearms to kill “big game.” Surely parents can bond with their children by having an experience in nature that doesn’t include killing an animal for fun.
The writer is President of People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR, LDESTEFANO3@twcny.rr.com We would like to send you a brochure about our organization and a free sample of our newsletter. Contact us. This article was translated into Spanish by Rob English.