Would a Deer Hug a Hunter? I Don’t Think So

Billboard at Colorado and Evans
Billboard at Colorado and Evans

At a major intersection in my Denver neighborhood, this large billboard shows a deer and a hunter in an embrace.  The caption has the deer saying “Thanks hunter, for making sure my home isn’t turned into a mall.”  Really?

The billboard is part of an extensive advertising campaign by The Wildlife Council here in Colorado to convince the public that hunters and anglers care about preserving wildlife.  Then why are they systematically killing them by hunting and fishing?  If you cared about a group of animals, would you want to kill them?  Especially since you are not starving and have no need to eat their flesh?

The billboard bizarrely attributes to deer an affection for their killers.  Are we to believe that deer are victims of “Stockholm syndrome,” the psychological phenomenon in which sufferers develop an unhealthy positive attachment to their abusers?  Victims come to accept the abuser’s lies and rationalizations for his or her bad behavior.

Hunters will often say that hunting is necessary because when deer herds become too large, a death by killing is more humane than a death by starvation.  But let’s be rational here: how does it happen that herds become larger than their environment can support?  Because their natural predators have been removed.  Who has been the greatest killer of predators? USDA Wildlife Services, a federal program that kills native predators with traps, snares, poisons, gas, and aerial gunning at the request of corporate agriculture and the hunting lobby. They slaughter millions of wild animals a year with taxpayer dollars, including over 100,000 vital native predators like wolves, cougars, coyotes and bears. The agency has refused Congressional requests for transparency and has refused to account for their spending.

But back to the billboard.  A quick look at The Wildlife Council’s website hugahunter.com discloses that of its nine-member board, four represent those who directly kill wildlife, namely hunters and anglers.  A fifth is a representative of the livestock industry, in whose interest millions of predators are killed every year by USDA Wildlife Services, setting up the conditions for over-large deer herds.  It is also because of the livestock industry that so much land that would otherwise be wildlife habitat is now used for ranching.  Two more board members represent counties or towns that receive substantial revenue from hunting and fishing.

Does it sound like The Wildlife Council cares about wildlife?  Token efforts to protect a few wildlife species are entirely unconvincing.  The image of the fox guarding the henhouse comes to mind–of course the fox wants healthy hens in the henhouse so he or she can kill them as desired.  At least the fox actually needs the food.

The answer to having large expanses of land for wildlife, in order to have maximum biodiversity and to approach some sort of prey/predator balance without human intervention, is to drastically reduce the amount of land needed for agriculture.  How do we do that?  Simple: go vegan.

2 thoughts on “Would a Deer Hug a Hunter? I Don’t Think So”

  1. Lots of people talk about “saving the environment” and how important it is, but do nothing about it. They’re armchair activists who share posts on facebook and such. Hunters actively participate in saving the environment as the majority of, if not all, of the money for hunting licenses goes directly into conservation of game animals and their habitat. In turn, conserving thsee habitats also directly help save non game animals. The states’ departments of game and wildlife have a vested interest in ensuring the improvement of game population health. If not for hunting and fishing, I’d estimate that the majority, probably over 80%, of their funding would be gone

    1. It’s nice that hunters are paying to undo part of the damage that they’re causing, not to mention all those government subsidies for predator control (which is why there are so many deer in the first place). But the most important thing you can do for the environment is to go vegan. Livestock agriculture takes up more land than ANYTHING else, it is many times bigger than urban sprawl, malls, and ski areas and everything else combined, and is the leading cause of habitat destruction and species extinction. If you want to be active for the environment, go vegan.

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