What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.
After scrolling through piles of furious emails regarding my recent blog about Rip Van Winkle’s Crow Killing Contest, it seemed to me that all of us needed Dr. Phil. Accusations were leveled, assumptions were made, direct questions went unanswered, and there was no monitor to call the room to order.
The subject was not hunting; it was contest killing. Contest killing – where individuals or teams gun down as many of a single species as they can within a specific time period, with prizes going to the winner(s) – is legal all over the country. The one taking place this weekend at the Rip Van Winkle Rod and Gun Club in Palenville, NY is targeting American Crows, and parents are invited to bring their children along to participate in the slaughter.
Defenders of the gun club accused me of lying, of distorting facts, of being anti-hunting, of being an animal rights activist, of being allied with the dreaded Friends of Animals, of hiding my true agenda (gun control), and of being unconcerned that animal lovers were supposedly threatening members of the gun club with death.
You can see the comments from both sides by scrolling down after the initial blog’s conclusion.
At the end of the day, however, no one from the club’s side ever addressed the actual issue: that people who have no problem with hunting do have a problem with mass slaughter, especially when it is being taught to children.
A bill has been introduced by two senators that would outlaw this type of contest in New York, and I started to wonder if people who really are anti-hunting could jeopardize its potential success. Since no one was vilified by gun club defenders more than Friends of Animals, I called its New York director, Edita Birnkrant. I expected a hard-liner who would accept nothing less than a total legal prohibition on any type of hunting.
“As a group, yes, we are anti-hunting,” she said. “But the idea that hunting could ever be banned is ridiculous. It will never happen. And being anti-hunting does not weaken our position when it comes to contest killing.”
“What about the view that two senators from downstate are trying to tell the upstaters what to do?” I asked.
“We get calls from upstaters who want to stop this kind of thing all the time,” she said. “We all live in New York, we all pay taxes, we should all have a say in what goes on in our state.”
A late-posted blog comment was both revealing and chilling. It was written by Bob Aronsohn, who, in December 2013, killed his 150,000th crow.
(The hunters who do not eat their crows) “are providing a smorgasbord for other wildlife!” he wrote. “Foxes, coons, coyotes, possums and hawks all get a free meal that lasts for days on some of the larger shoots.”
Unfortunately most of the hunters use lead ammunition, which means more than a few of the happy diners will end up dying of lead poisoning.
“… the reason crow hunters strive to shoot as many as they can is no different than keeping track of the score at any football, baseball or basketball game,” he continued. “The higher the score the better you feel.”
The difference, of course, is that at the end of a ball game your opposing team, their family, and all their friends are not lying in pools of blood while you stand over them, feeling really good.
Forgive me if I’m a little apprehensive about the effect all this good feeling is going to have on the kids.
Photos by shochin on deviantART
The reason why I stopped arguing with hunters is that in their world, you either agree with everything they do or you are the anti-hunting arch enemy. They have a very strong tendency of pouring their victim mentality over even the slightest critizism.
Sounds exactly like my CABS experience in Malta last September. You are either with us or you are against us. There was no middle ground.
*American* Crows, not “Common Crows”.
There are hunters out there who hunt the traditional way and are not gun rights fanatics, the problem is they get drowned out by the all-or-nothing crowd. I can’t imagine there will ever be civil discourse as long as Wayne La Pierre is still speaking for the NRA.
Guaranteed I’ll now be accused of writing death threats to Wayne La Pierre.
“American Crows,” Nate. Thanks!
Well written Suzie. I am not anti hunting. But this is slaughter for fun ..plain and simple.
I know crows. I’ve taken care of crows. I’ve lived with crows. I have to wonder if the world wouldn’t be better off if crows ran it instead of humans.
Thanks, e.h. lamore. I’m with you.
And Mikal, I have also experienced firsthand how amazingly intelligent, social, loyal and emotional they are, and it makes this kind of thing even more repugnant.
I don’t even know what to say. My heart is too heavy.
thanks for the information regarding American Crow killing…i suppose it is incumbent on us to maintain a comfortable distance from generalizations about the hunters, and, in the scheme of things this might be considerably less of a concern than, say human slaughter: having said that;It is difficult for me to imagine killing one of this bird. Perhaps the old “marijuana leads to higher drugs” argument could be brought to bear here: killing crows leads to other higher order killing..isn’t that really our base fear? That if this is sanctioned, where will the next ‘crime line’ be drawn?
Am sharing this with as many as possible and urging all to make a phone call. As Gandhi siad, the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Wonton killing…for fun?? It is heartbreaking and enraging at the same time.
Thank you for making me aware Suzie…I was unaware that this slaughter takes place
Tim, the link between weed and harder drugs is a pretty flimsy argument to hang your hat on. It mixes cause and effect. Yes, many if not most hard drug users used weed first, but that doesn’t mean that smoking weed automatically leads to harder drugs. It could also mean that if you’re likely to do hard drugs you are also likely to do weed as well. They are also likely to drink alcohol, does that mean a beer or glass of wine will set you down the road to dying of heroin?
Jochen; sadly, that impulse isn’t restricted to hunters, I was blocked by some people and called a right winger because I argued that hunting could be used for conservation.
As we speak I am holding an olive sparrow in my hands that knocked himself out on the window of my house. I didn’t want him to die from shock so I got him standing up right away. He is looking all around but is still dazed, it’s been 15 minutes now and he is starting to walk in my hand besides pooping in it! He must have been lost as most olive sparrows are several hundred miles further south from where I am located. He is sitting on my desk as I’m writing to you, the door is shut so if he looks like he starting to get frisky I will turn him lose and do my good deed for the day.
The problem with this is it isnt really hunting – it is slaughter for the sake of killing. Their excuse about providing a “smorgasbord” for other animals is so week – there wouldnt be enough animals to eat all that and most of the carcasses would rot there.
I don’t understand the reason for the hunt/contest. If YOU don’t eat it and/or wear it, you don’t hunt it. Rats and woodchucks are an exception to that rule. I’m not certain; but I’m fairly confident that :lead” shot has been outlawed in all 50 states. Don and WE CAN! :-))
Suzie thanks for bringing yet another “killing contest” to light. It never ceases to amaze me that such a tiny percentage of the population can have such a devastating effect on wildlife which is enjoyed by the greater majority of people on the planet.
I will write Senators Martins and Avella in support of New York Bill S4074. You can also leave comments on that link.
I’m glad to see these killing contests being brought out in the open where the general public can finally see what’s going on across the country. Here in California there is also a movement underway to stop this worthless loss of wildlife. The California Fish & Game Commission recently voted unanimously to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests. You can view the YouTube video on the hearing here.
Until people have respect for all creatures on the planet and teach their children respect, senseless killing of wildlife will continue. The fact that these “adults” pass on their twisted practices to their kids is one of the most disturbing consequences of these contests.
Thanks for sharing it, Sandy. Larry, thanks for commenting, writing our senators, and sending your video. Keep up the great work. Feel free to friend me on FB and I’ll pass your info along.
Bob, just so you don’t go away believing that rehabbers are on the same level as you – the video was after intake. He had just arrived. According to rehabbers’ code of ethics, after exam wildlife with slim to no chances of recovery whose suffering cannot be alleviated with meds are euthanized.
Whoops – I mis-wrote and I don’t want it to come back at me. Suffering wildlife with no chance of recovery are euthanized. Ones with a chance whose suffering can be alleviated with meds are given some time, and if they don’t respond they are euthanized.
to clarify: weed/harder drugs is to killing crows indiscriminantly/killing humans…this was the attempted analogy…the weed argument [obvious sarc]is no longer valid….but what about killing?? I’m sure someone might say killing one thing is unrelated to killing another…i would disagree….stop random killing
I have a friend who just returned to New York as a resident after 13 years of being away. He is a friend of crows every where, and has a beautiful imitation of the crow call. He says that he hasn’t seen a single crow in New York, but they were there 13 years ago. Not a single crow in Queens or Manhattan. Could it be that the crows got the heck out of there because of the killings?
This contest occurs upstate and wouldn’t effect populations of crows in NYC. I live in Queens and there are plenty of crows, though probably less than thirteen years ago thanks to the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill and to the effect of West Nile virus.
Where in Queens are you? He hasn’t seen any in his neighborhood.