I've become interested in hunting after a number of online groups drew my attention to it. Firstly, the RISE! (Rural Ireland Says Enough) campaign here in Ireland, and secondly a little facebook group protesting against PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and vegetarianism in general.
Not being a vegetarian or a major supporter of PETA, I considered myself pretty much on the fence. Hunting isn't something that's to my taste at all, but I was willing to just live and let live until this facebook group came to my attention. The group in question is called "Can this raw steak get more fans than PETA?" and can be found at this link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Can-this-Raw-Steak-get-more-fans-than-PETA/324782051579?ref=ts
Now, whatever about eating meat. I love meat, I definitely couldn't survive as a vegetarian but that doesn't mean I'm not concerned about the manner in which the meat gets from the farm to my plate.
I always thought hunting was about respect. It was about pitting yourself against the animal. Showing respect for the animal you're competing with should be a major part of that. However, a quick browsing of the photos people have added to this group makes it pretty clear that the modern day hunter has little or no respect for the animal he/she kills. The most disturbing thing for me was to see photos of animal corpses lined up on a road, all bloodied and killed. Who takes a photo of that and then uploads it to the internet? Someone I wouldn't like to meet in a dark alley, that's who. Who leaves comments on photos of animal corpses, speculating on how delicious it looks? A severely sick person, in my opinion. A corpse does not look appetizing to me, and why? Because I'm just about as civilized as the next person.
This group really crossed the line when pictures and comments about tasty baby seals started appearing. In Canada, baby seal clubbing (which sounds so cruel it seems made up) it becoming a serious problem. Every year, a band of fishers descends on the ice on the coast of Canada (where the seals stop during migration to give birth) and beat hundreds of thousands of seals to death, in order to sell their pelts on the international fur market. Many of the seals killed in the massacre are just a few weeks old. They are hooked in the eye or cheek and dragged across the ice, some while concious. I can't think of this without my stomach turning, but a number of people in the anti-PETA group seem to find it amusing. The addition of the seal beating picture above was accompanied by the caption "SEAL STEAKS! YUM! NICE AND FRESH!" I don't think I even need to elaborate. You get the picture.
Another matter close to home for me, is the RISE! campaign. This campaign, the organisers have kindly told me, protests the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill put forward by the Green Party last year. In the terms of the Bill, breeding establishments across Ireland would have to register and pay a fee to the local authorities, who would conduct checks on the establishments. There has been a huge objection to this attempt at controlling breeding establishments, including a number of protests, most recently in Waterford.
I don't honestly believe that these people are entirely wrong, however. The recent alleged actions of a group of Hunt Saboteurs completely undermined objects to coursing. A video was uploaded to youtube showing a hare supposedly wriggling and dying after a coursing event, allegedly the Clonmel national coursing final on February 3rd 2010. Greyhounds are now muzzled for this sport, and after veterinary experts examined the video it was concluded that it was a fake. The theory is that these "Hunt Saboteurs" caught a hair, restrained it with a wire and possibly poisoned or drugged it in an attempt to undermine the Clonmel coursing club.
It's downright shocking that they would go so far as to undermine their own point and go against everything they are supposedly motivated by, put a hare through terrible suffering just to try to make a point. Their point hasn't even had any effect, except to swing some people in favor of the very coursing club, and the sport in general, that they were attempting to discredit. The Irish Times article reporting this can be found here: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0402/1224267556145.html
Contrasting this with the behaviour of the people in the anti-PETA group, I can't find many differences. In fact, it seems to me that even the hunters who enjoy the sight of animal corpses haven't put the animals through as much suffering or acted in as disgraceful a manner as the activists who are trying to eradicate just that. Isn't it ironic?