A couple of days ago my colleague Robin Huebner reported a story about a 12-year-old Fargo girl Sylvia Peach Leiviska who shot a 600-pound wildebeest during a trip to South Africa.
The hunt took place on a game preserve. None of the animals there are endangered. In fact, most of them are bred specifically to be hunted.
It was a fun story. That’s a massive animal, and seeing a young girl be successful on an exotic hunting trip with her grandpa was heartwarming.
But now the animal rights cranks are offended that this story was even reported.
“Game hunting story was a new low for The Forum,” reads a headline over a letter to the Fargo Forum from George Johnson. “To me it is one more sick attempt to glorify man’s (or child’s) “triumph” over defenseless animals that have caused them no harm,” he wrote.
“Boy, you guys at The Forum have really got a knack for being tone deaf about killing animals,” wrote Bob Stodola in another letter. “It’s called the anthropomorphic point of view, meaning to me taking, for no reason, gratuitously and pointlessly, anything and everything to feed the almighty me, me, me!:
“Most vertebrates left on earth are domesticated animals and humans,” wrote Ron Miller in yet another letter. “When will we teach our children and grandchildren they don’t have to kill these rare and endangered animals?”
I’ll admit that hunting animals on a preserve that were raised to be hunted doesn’t seem like my cup of tea. I’ll also admit that I’ve never actually done it. So, no judgment from me on that front.
What I’m puzzled about is just what, exactly, these letter writers are so upset about?
Assuming the facts are straight in Huebner’s report, and I have no reason to think they aren’t, young Sylvia’s hunt was ecologically harmless. This animal was not endangered. There’s no indication that cruelty was visited on the animal, outside of it being hunted. Per the article, the meat from the harvested animal didn’t go to waste either.
So what’s the big deal? As a practical matter, what’s the difference between this and the cows and chickens which are raised and slaughtered for our hamburgers and steaks and chicken tenders?