Hunting and FishingMark Woods, Alastair S Gunn, Gary Varner, J Claude Evans, Christopher Preston. Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. Volume 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2009.
Hunting and fishing raise central concerns for environmental philosophy. Many argue that they are quintessential activities that allow people to participate in and be part of nonhuman nature. Many others argue that these activities constitute undue human interference with the natural world. However nature is valued, embracing or rejecting hunting and fishing will help express one’s environmental ethic. Whatever else nature is—species populations, communities, and ecosystems—it consists of individual animals and fish that should or should not be caught, killed, dismembered, and/or eaten. Critical evaluations of hunting and fishing have helped define and shape the field of environmental ethics.
Most recreational hunters observe legal requirements designed to maintain both ecological balance and stocks of game. They also follow hunting ethics, known as fair chase or walk and stalk designed to even the odds, to give the animal a fair chance. Fair chase requires the hunter to forgo pursuing game in a vehicle or on horseback, shooting over a bait (such as a tethered goat or carcass) or at waterholes, using spotlights to dazzle nocturnal animals, and the like. Only unconfined animals may be hunted; canned hunting, in which the game is confined to an enclosure or small park, is considered unethical by many people. Many hunters believe that telescopic sights and night vision aids are also unethical.
Green hunting involves fair chase but with a non-lethal climax such as a paintball shot or a dart gun that injects a tranquilizer so that the hunter can pose for a photograph with the animal. This is often part of a research program, allowing the animal to be studied, fitted with a microchip, or translocated.
The founder of Orion the Hunter’s Institute, Jim Posewitz, wrote: “Fundamental to ethical hunting is the idea of fair chase. This concept addresses the balance between the hunter and the hunted. It is a balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken” (Posewitz 1995, p. 57).
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