Trophy hunters in the spotlight

You must have read at least one or two stories about trophy hunting last week.

You must have read at least one or two stories about trophy hunting last week.

The internet was filled with angry animal rights activists after Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, illegally killed one of Africa’s most famous lions – Cecil – during a big game hunt in Zimbabwe.

It is believed Palmer paid $50,000 to kill this lion. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least 20 more useful ways of spending $50,000 (and that includes buying a waterslide for my backyard).

But we all know we don’t have to go as far as Africa to find trophy hunting.

This week Lakes District News reported on grizzly bear trophy hunting in B.C., and whether or not it is a sustainable practice. While writing this story, it was interesting to learn that Alberta suspended its grizzly bear hunt in 2006. Although Alberta’s grizzly population is considerably smaller than B.C.’s, some scientists believe the grizzly population in B.C. is also at risk.

Almost 300 grizzly bears are killed per year by trophy hunters in B.C. Scientists have pointed out flaws in the way grizzly hunt is managed in the province, urging caution and suggesting that reducing the grizzly hunt would be a wise move.

I must admit that hunting has been quite an intriguing issue for me.

Growing up in big cities, I was never exposed to hunting (as far as I was concerned, my dinner meat originated from the grocery store). When I moved to Canada, however, life in rural areas made it more difficult for me to ignore hunting.

It was quite a cultural shock to visit my friends’ families in Newfoundland and see moose heads hanging on their walls.

Ironically, I’ve met many vegetarians in my life. Most of them believe that killing animals, even for food, is simply unethical.

Although I have never felt the urge to become a vegetarian, I often wondered if these friends were right. After all, they seemed to have a strong argument. Should I be a vegetarian too?

Luckily I made many First Nations friends in Canada and I was able to ask them that question.

I figured that, if someone could answer this question, it would be the First Nations. I realized they were much more connected to the land and the environment than my city dweller vegetarian friends.

What I learned from First Nations is that it’s not evil when humans fish. It is not evil when a lion catches a dear, and it is not evil when a leopard kills a warthog.

I was satisfied with their answer, and it became clear to me that there were some flaws to the way my city dweller friends thought.

Trophy hunting, however, is in a completely different spectrum. The idea that someone would actually take pleasure from seeing another creature die is still beyond my comprehension, and I think many people in the Lakes District can relate to that feeling.

A few weeks ago, Lakes District News published the photo of trophy hunters who [legally] killed a bear in the area. Although our paper did not take any sides, many readers expressed their outrage on our Facebook page. It goes to show that trophy hunting also bothers many people in the Lakes District. I am also aware that many people make a living as guide outfitters, and I am certainly not here to judge how people provide for their families.

I would, however, question if it’s not time to re-think our actions.

Are we making the world a better place? Are we setting the perfect example for our children? Is our practice sustainable?