With dismay I read the Palestine-Herald Press article of Dec.18, entitled "Hunting for Education Excellence". It described a new fundraiser by the non-profit PISD Education Foundation called the "Predator Classic." To participate, teams of hunters pay to kill select animals.
Certain animals, such as bobcats, fox, coyote, are good for so many points. Hunters can also compete in other hunts for biggest, most number, etc. of other animals. (The non-profit's Facebook page features a lurid red and black ad for the hunts, describing payouts, points, etc, which looks like a sensational ad in a hunting magazine.)
The 2020 series of hunts is supposed to fund education and "innovative" teaching. I found it utterly ironic that hunting would fund "innovative" teaching.
What message is the funding of education through killing animals sending to students? Are living creatures just "points" and targets to be "popped off" to win a prize? There ought to be a semblance of ethical sportsmanship to hunting. Killing to achieve points detracts from this ethical side. This is not hunting at all, but killing. So one might as well call this fundraiser "Killing for Kids".
Every person has a different opinion about hunting. Hunting is offensive to me, especially if animals are killed merely for sport or thrills and their meat not consumed by the hunter. I find "canned hunts" particularly disgusting. These involve hunting of tame or semi-tame exotic beasts that are raised and introduced on private preserves or ranches.
These animals do not run from humans. They are accustomed to seeing them. So they are not really hunted, but killed. A true seasoned hunter, bound by ethical sportsmanship, would object to a canned hunt and would not participate in one.
Irrespective of one's opinion of hunting, hunters are responsible for subsidizing wildlife conservation in the United States. Hunters and anglers pay more than $372 million a year from federal excise tax on arms, ammo, archery equipment, fishing tackle, and boats. The "Duck Stamp" alone, introduced in 1934 and sold through the U.S. Postal Service and National Fish and Wildlife Service, generates about $11 million annually.
Moreover, it was a hunter – the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, (1901-1909) – that introduced wildlife conservation in the United States. He created the U.S. Forest Service and more than 200 parks, preserves, and reserves to protect game and bird species, many of which were wantonly decimated by overhunting for their fur, feathers, or meat.
Legislation set aside, under federal protection, 230 million acres. Federal and state revenues from hunting taxes, stamps, and licenses fund protection, conservation, and management of U.S. wildlife.
The role of hunting in conservation cannot be disputed. Most seasoned hunters respect wildlife and their habitat. They are stewards of the wildlife they hunt, with a duty to obey hunting laws, rules, and regulations. They strive to uphold the principles of ethical sportsmanship.
Hunting is not a contest, but a process of skill and determination. It should no longer subscribe to the 19th century mentality of colonialism, where the hunter, at all costs, is determined to bag the "big five."
Hunting is not a game show, where people kill for points or prizes. The Predator Classic is not a real hunt, but merely an animal "killing contest". (And it is a flimsy argument that these hunts will benefit the ecosystem.)
Fundraising in this manner is in poor taste, regardless of the motivation or reasoning. If the non-profit aspires to innovation, that mean going beyond the commonplace and seeking the new and unlikely. That's not killing animals for points and prizes.
Surely, they can do better.
Elise Dean lives in Palestine.