USS Clueless - Shooting your own wounded

Stardate 20011231.1556

(On Screen via long range sensors): People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has started a new ad-campaign where they are advocating people not contribute to other animal rights organizations, explicitly including the World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Why? Because they're not radical enough -- and this is something you'll see on the radical fringe every time: at some point the groups out there will start to fight each other over ideological purity. (Monty Python famously lampooned this with their "Judean People's Front" and the "People's Front of Judea" who end up killing each other off rather than fighting the Romans.)

And so it is here; PETA totally fries most of their erstwhile allies because they aren't sufficiently committed to the cause. But then, PETA is the radical fringe of the animal rights movement; they're the ones who think that no human should ever harm any animal under any circumstance, no matter the reason.

I surely don't think that we should be going out and trying to make life miserable for animals just because. But I also don't accept the idea that it's OK for us to sacrifice humans for the sake of animals, and I do think it's completely acceptable to sacrifice animals for the sake of humans.. I'm forthrightly and proudly "species-centric"; I like humans and I want humans to do well, and I'm willing to sacrifice animals for that cause. (I'm going to be eating parts of some animals tonight for dinner, and I'm not going to feel even slightly guilty about it. Life without pepperoni pizza wouldn't be worth living.)

As to animal testing, it's possible that there's too much of it, but there's no way it can be dispensed with entirely. Given a choice between a rabbit going blind and the kid on the next block, bring on the rabbits.

But animal-rights activists often go beyond the bounds of reason. In Princeton, NJ, they are facing what many localities are facing: the deer are reproducing like mad, and humans have long since removed all their natural predators. As a result, the only limit on their numbers now is availability of forage, and the deer are wrecking the local green-stuff, including crops. They've also become a traffic hazard, with a lot of car accidents some of which doubtless caused human injuries.

Until such time as these areas regain the same kind of populations of wolves that once were present (500 years ago) it's always going to be necessary for humans to hunt and kill deer. They are active and enthusiastic reproducers, with a reproduction capability geared to  maintaining their numbers in the face of active predation by efficient and intelligent killers (i.e. wolves). Without predation, their numbers will grow exponentially until they are limited by food, something we can't allow.

But once you're faced with too many deer, just what are you supposed to do about it? That's where the animal rights activists kick in. To humans, deer and elk are beautiful animals, and for many there's a visceral negative reaction to the idea of shooting them, even though it's an ecological necessity now. (I have to wonder if the animal rights activists would be as activist about this if we were talking about warthogs or possums or armadillos.) The usual way to deal with overpopulation of deer is simple: go out and shoot enough of them to get their numbers under control. Usually it's done at night, with sniper-scopes and silencers, so that it can be done efficiently and quickly. If you're good and if you're aiming at an animal that's standing still, you can kill it instantly. If it's running or otherwise spooked, there's much more chance of bullets going astray, or of animals being wounded without dying instantly, and thus suffering. (Which is why you do it at night, when they're not as active.)

But far be it for the animal rights activists to accept such a straightforward answer. No; it's still awful to shoot those beautiful creatures and give them an instant and nearly painless death. Better to scare the wits out of them first by netting them and killing them with a hydraulic ram into the skull.

Or if they must be shot, then use shotguns instead of rifles. I really don't understand the logic behind this one. The point of a rifle round is that it goes through the chest and explodes the heart; the animal dies very shortly thereafter from circulatory failure. But a shotgun works by tearing up the body, and against an animal the size of a deer you have to be quite close to kill. Against an animal that size, you have a much higher chance of maiming without an instant kill, increasing the chance that the animal will suffer. (I think that the idea was that if a rifle shot misses, there's more chance of it hitting a person; shotguns are shorter range. Seems to me that it would just be better to set up the hunt so that the chance of missing was low.)

Of course, the real solution is to not kill them at all, right? Forget the fact that there are too damned many of them;

Captured by MemoWeb from on 9/16/2004