Earlier this summer, a controversial trophy hunt in Zimbabwe led the international community to take to social media to express its collective outrage over the killing of a 13-year-old Southwest African lion.
Cecil, as the lion was called, was killed by Walter Palmer, a dentist and recreational big game hunter from the United States who is said to have paid upwards of $50,000USD to hunt lions in Africa’s wild.
The lion he shot with an arrow was a major attraction in Hwange National Park and was identifiable by a GPS tracking collar around his neck. Cecil, along with other lions in the park, was also being studied by Oxford scientists as part of project that has run since 1999 and his movements followed since 2008.
It is said that Cecil, because he was such a tourist attraction, had become accustomed to humans, which made it easy for visitors and researches to photograph and observe him.
In June, Palmer paid big bucks to a hunting guide to take him on the hunt, and when Cecil was out of the sanctuary, Palmer shot and wounded him with an arrow. The lion was tracked, and roughly 40 hours later, killed with a rifle.
On Sept. 1, B.C.’s hunting season opens, starting with bow hunting, and with Cecil’s tragic fate fresh in the minds of anti-hunting groups and animal lovers everywhere, it begs the question of whether or not the act of one perhaps misguided “hunter” will affect the livelihoods of the thousands in Canada who hunt responsibly. Maybe responsible hunting, to some, is an oxymoron. Though it should be mentioned that the majority of hunters are also animal lovers, and despite the fact their goal is to ultimately make a kill, they respect animals and hunt them in an otherwise fair manner.
From the 17th to mid-19th centuries, the fur trade was a vast commercial enterprise across the wild, forested land that is now Canada and was sustained by the trapping of beavers by Aboriginal people to meet the demands of Europeans consumers who wanted the pelts to make felt hats.
The practice of trapping and the fur trade in general led to exploration of the land and eventually settlement. In other words, hunting played a major role in the creation of Canada.
Today, Canada’s fur trade is valued in the billions with its trickle down effect from the activity itself employing thousands and thousands of Canadians – from butchers, to taxidermists, to leather workers, to meat shop and pro shop employees (as well as the sale of licenses, tags, rifles, gear, etc.) and so on, there’s no question hunting continues to have a major impact on our economy and on our overall gross domestic product.
As a meat eater and leather and fur appreciator, I very much support hunting. I am not condoning the actions of Walter Palmer or those who hunt game in small enclosures where the animal has little chance of survival – but then again, that isn’t really what hunting is all about. As a rule and not as the exception, hunters and trappers who earn a living from their mode of employ, deeply respect animals and understand that by minding regulations and abiding by restricted times of year when hunting is permitted and respecting the predetermined amount of animals they can kill, they also understand how hunting and trapping can be essential for conservation.
So, keeping in mind how important hunting is not only to our history and to our country’s creation, but also to the current impact it has on our economy, it is only right to not only respect our hunters and trappers and trust they are complying to the rules that are set in place to ensure conservation, we should also thank them for doing a job that most of us couldn’t stomach, but greatly benefit from as a result.