The hunter and the hunted.
A 39 year old American has been killed by a grizzly bear he was hunting. Steve Stevenson was mauled to death by the bear, after his fellow hunter, Ty Bell, had shot and injured it. They had tracked the wounded bear, but it seems that the bear found Stevenson first. It is notable that Ty Bell first shot the grizzly – a threatened species in that part of America, with only 30 surviving in the mountain forests of North Eastern Idaho and North Western Montana – having mistaken it for a black bear. After Stevenson had been killed, Ty Bell shot the bear multiple times and killed it.
Now, what struck me about this situation is my reaction to it. I have no sympathy at all for the dead hunter. The reason for this should be clear: Steve Stevenson has the moral status of a murderer. I am not saying that a grizzly bear is equivalent to a human – but I am saying that a grizzly bear is entitled to the right to live, without some dumb American (and they were dumb, because they were unable to distinguish a grizzly bear from a black bear – and because grizzlies are known to kill humans, if wounded...so they were even dumber to follow it after first shooting it) coming along and killing it. The right to life should be extended to all higher animals in our environment. It should be seen as essentially immoral – and, one hopes, illegal - to go hunting for wildlife. I can see no benefit, to the world, to life or even to humans, in hunting. Indeed, the only outcome of hunting is the endangerment of our fellow species and the immediate murder of individual members of them. Hunting is, if you pause to reflect on it, an abhorrent “sport”.
In a way, there is little to distinguish hunters from serial killers – the only difference is the species they target. I would not be surprised if it were much the same impulse that drives both types of people: the thrill of the kill. A hunter exults in killing other animals - often quite beautiful and special animals, which should be protected, not murdered. Steve Stevenson is dead, however, I do not believe he should be mourned, or missed – because he chose to live his life as a killer, of higher life forms, for sport. He saw fun in chasing down an innocent animal, who would otherwise, most probably, never harm a human, and killing it. Instead, however, the grizzly bear killed him. This, interestingly, does not make the bear a killer – for the bear acted in self-defence. If one considered the bear as equivalent in moral status and reasoning as a human, the bear would be seen as morally the higher being – and legally innocent of any crime.
Once upon a time, hunting was the means by which man secured food, for himself and his family. In such times, hunting was understandable and to be accepted. Now, however, hunting has transformed into a thrill for a certain type of adrenalin junkie – the more sadistic ones. Hunting has become the means by which those who find fulfilment in killing, have a real world outlet for their impulses. It is curious to me, that such behaviour is not seen as aberrant, for it could not be more so. How can someone exult in the murder of a fellow animal? It is a savagery I cannot accept. What is especially galling about this particular case, is that the victim of this hunt – the grizzly bear – is from a threatened species and should most definitely not be hunted.
Upon Steve Stevenson’s death, bear experts spoke of the need for programs to teach hunters how to distinguish black bears from grizzly bears. The implication of this, of course, is that it is OK to kill black bears. To my mind, these “bear experts” have completely missed the point. Bears should not be being hunted, at all: no higher animal should. These “bear experts” should be calling not for training for hunters – but for hunting to be banned altogether – indeed, I think hunting, except for food, in times when there is no alternative, should be criminalized, all the world over. Our world is not just for humans – it is for all that lives – and we humans should make room on this planet for all the other life forms that do not immediately threaten our own existence.
I have a mischievous, but curiously appropriate thought. If these hunters like hunting so much and have such a great desire to kill something...why don’t they hunt each other? The problem of hunting would soon go away – and all the world’s wildlife would be much the better for it.
Incidentally, Ty Bell should be prosecuted for killing the grizzly bear, since its hunting is illegal in the Lower 48, in the USA. It is only legal to kill grizzlies if human life is endangered - and before he shot the bear in the first place, that was not so. So, I hope to see Ty Bell jailed, for his crime against a fellow animal.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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