Sometimes Beautiful Things Have To Die

PERSPECTIVES

Paradox … pair o’ ducks … Canada goose couple … cow moose with calf … hunter with rifle restoring the balance of nature.  Me backing up and taking another look at the issue.

We met an acquaintance at a coffee shop a week ago so we invited him to join us at our table and we began to visit.  The day was mild and sunny; we commented on that, then on our lovely fall weather and the beauties of nature in general.

He spoke of being out hunting geese – he’s an avid goose hunter – and how he was hiding in a bush by a pond one morning watching the geese float down through the fog to settle on the water.  So beautiful.

BANG!

I gasped.  “Don’t tell me you were SHOOTING them!”

He spoke of seeing a cow and calf moose on someone’s property not far from where he lives.  He asked permission to shoot the calf, but those folks had been enjoying watching the pair all summer.  “And once folks have made pets of them, they’re not going to let you hunt them,” he said.  So much worse if they give them names yet.

It’s all in the perspective.  Those people looked at mother and calf as beautiful wild animals grazing on their acreage; he sees moose calf as tasty steaks.

He told us about going down to the States and hunting deer.  He found a number of them ravaged by diseases; he attributes this to overpopulation.  If hunters could keep the deer population down, disease wouldn’t get as much of a chance to spread.  Dying of disease isn’t preferable to being shot.

I mentioned the two does and their fawn that I saw nibbling shrubs in our yard several times a few weeks ago.  They haven’t gone far away; several times when I’ve come home from work in the evening my headlights have picked up their shining eyes and dark forms in the field right across from us – maybe having just come from our shrubs.

Now that we’ve finally found something that deters them from our valuable shrubs I can afford to think, How cute!  My husband, having seen his new spruce trees eaten right down, says, “Deer are giant rodents!”  Our friend says, “I see delicious steaks on the hoof.”  Funny, isn’t it, that we are all three of us right.

Even mice can be cute when you see them scampering in the woods.  But you never want to see one pop out of your cereal box.

Actually, I come from a long line of avid hunters.  You could say I’m the “black sheep of the family.”  But, much as I love nature and the many beautiful creatures around me, I realize that if all the deer, all the geese, all the moose born or hatched lived, we’d soon be in a major economic crisis; precious fields of grain would be destroyed by giant flocks and herds.

The aboriginal peoples here in North America could afford to live in harmony with nature because they didn’t ask much.  The first nations were mainly nomads or lived in small villages and took only what they needed for survival.  If there were extra animals around, nature balanced itself out: predators increased; at times weather quirks dealt death to large numbers of creatures.

Our modern lifestyle has changed all the rules.  Our life expectancy is so much longer, thus we’re consumers for so many more years.  We’re growing and exporting zillions of tons of grain to swell our own country’s coffers and send prairie farmers to Arizona for the winter.  We want private transportation –two and three vehicles per household even– so we must have roads and oil.

Our population growth creates land-gobbling cities.  With all this going on we cannot at the same time sustain a huge increase in the number of wild animals.  So, since I’m a beneficiary of all the perks of modern civilization I have to accept that some of these beautiful creatures must die.

I have to face it: we can’t have it both ways.  We can’t be devoted tree-huggers if we want to live or shop in the city.  We can’t support “No Hunting Ever” if we ourselves want to eat.

All I ask for then is ethical hunters like our friend.  Hunters who know how to handle a gun prudently.  Hunters who know WHAT they’re shooting at in the first place and stay sober until they’ve put their guns away.  Hunters who shoot to kill, don’t leave wounded animals to suffer, and stay within the legal limits.

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