Winter 2012: Alyssa Johnson Response to "The Ethics of Hunting" Essay Winners

Alyssa Johnson responds to the winners of the Winter 2012 YES! National Student Writing Competition.
Alyssa Hunting play button

To Stro Hastings, Johnny Bobo, Lisa Schwartz, and Jenny Courtney,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write down your thoughts after reading my article. I enjoyed hearing your perspectives, and it was a learning process for me to see where my story led you.

Like Johnny, I had not thought about hunting much before talking to Ken. The morality of hunting turned out to be a much more complex issue than I had anticipated. The focus of my article was necessarily narrow; I was only able to talk about hunting in the wild, in a respectful and sustainable way. However, Stro, Johnny, and Lisa bring up commercial hunting, invasive species, and trophy hunting, all of which come with their own complicated moral issues. Stro brings up commercial hunting as an example of immoral hunting in cases where endangered species are targeted, or when the non-commercial part of the animal is discarded. We all seem to agree that when an animal is killed, the entire body should be put to use. We also all seem to agree that hunting is wrong, as Lisa brings up, when the only reason is to “show off.” Then there is the interesting issue of invasive species. As Johnny asks, “which is more humane and moral, hunting animals or letting them starve to death?” Some even propose controlling populations through sterilization. Is this disrespectful to animals in a completely different way? There are no easy answers.

I believe that moral behavior towards animals comes from direct involvement in their lives, in their natural setting. Because humans have dominated the planet, “wild” places strike us as something that humans should protect by leaving them “untouched.” I disagree that leaving these places untouched is even possible, but beyond that, as Jenny and Lisa both argue, hunting can actually protect these places and decrease our need for artificially raised meat through inhumane practices such as factory farms. It is hard to argue that it is better to get our meat from a factory than from the wild, where animals are generally given the “fair chase” that Jenny mentions. I wholeheartedly agree with Jenny when she says that she would rather eat meat from “an individual who took pleasure in a single kill, rather than one who felt nothing while performing hundreds of them a day.”

I appreciate each one of these responses to my article, and I am overjoyed that I was able to convey a different type of hunter than the “blood-thirsty, crazy rednecks” stereotype that Johnny mentions. Like it initially did to Lisa, hunting strikes many as wrong on an emotional level, yet as Lisa and Jenny describe, it is really our food system and environmental impacts that are devastating animals. All of these essays touch on different reasons why hunting is not the enemy. In fact, respectful, sustainable hunting is beneficial to the wild spaces that humans care about, and even has a small part in improving animal treatment worldwide.

Thank you all again for your well thought out responses!



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