Thursday, June 21, 2012

What the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy has to say about Hunting

Hunting and Fishing

Mark 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.
Hunting 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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  1. I had to read it all the way through to counter my initial, negative reaction to this. But once I did, I found it presented a really nice (and generally neutral) catalog of the discussion points around both hunting and fishing. Very cool point of reference for future conversations!

  2. "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."

    Drugging an animal to pose with it for a picture? That is perverse. Dislike.

    1. Holly - The hunting version of catch and release fishing. Ted Karasote wrote a great piece on that "Catch and Deny" that had some of the fly fishers up at arms.

  3. I agree with Holly completely - if you want to hunt nonlethally do it with a camera. I have not participated in catch-and-release fishing for many years after contemplating the unethical nature of it - it's not nice to play with your food. I don't see this reference as a decent source of information. They cite the overkill hypothesis to explain mass megafauna extinctions 10,000 years ago - there is considerable debate around this untenabale hypothesis and several lines of evidence against it. They cite telescopic scopes as unethical to some - c'mon now......clearly the authors and not familiar with prehistory or modern times.....Shawn

  4. Shawn you raise an interesting point imbedded in the use of scopes. Fair chase hunting requires the self limitation of equipment and techniques making the odds of us killing game harder and less likely. A competing ethic is clean, one shot kills. the balance between fair chase and clean kill requires lots of self knowledge about your limitations and the discipline to stay with in these limitations.
    Back to the non-lethal hunting topic. Some hunters (occasionally me) impose so many limitations on the hunt that we severally limit the odds of us ever taking a shot. We don't usually think of it as non-lethal hunting because there is a chance and a desire to have a lethal result but most of the time the result is the same.
    An example is a friend of mine who loves to hunt deer. He scouts year round and knows most of the bucks in his area. Prior to opening day he settles on a few of the largest as the only ones he will shoot. He passes on the four point or bear for most of the season. If he sees one of "his" deer he passes if it isn't a 100% sure shot - no running shots, etc) He has great hunts and great stories but has more venison free seasons than most hunters with his skill would have. All is by his free will and he enjoys every minute. the side benefit is he gets to hunt the whole season...

    1. the non-lethal hunting that was mentioned in the article and by Holly is the "hunting" outfits that use tranquilizers, paint-guns, etc. To the use of a camera, I should have added "at a respectful distance".

  5. You have a dead link over there. Here's the new one:

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