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Environmental and Animal Groups: Views on Hunting

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Wildlife Watch, Inc.

Incorporated in 1997 in New Paltz, New York, Wildlife Watch seeks to protect wild animals through education, political awareness, and direct aid [28]. Its mission is "to help connect People, the Environment, and Wildlife," and it offers non-harmful, non-lethal solutions to wildlife "conflicts." Wildlife Watch sponsors a hotline to put callers in contact with wildlife rehabilitators, and publishes a journal called Wildlife Watch Binocular. Articles promote empathy for other species [29] and environmentalism [30].

Wildlife Watch generally supports vegetarian or low-meat lifestyles [31], collaborates with other anti-hunting organizations such as CASH to keep hunters off private property [32], and promotes awareness that government wildlife agencies only protect "game" during certain times of year, doing so primarily to increase their own income through the sale of hunting licenses [33].

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Deer in the Headlights:

It is a sad forest that Ted Williams exalts in "Wanted: More Hunters" [Incite, March-April]. In it, hunters assume the role of wolves and cougars (incidentally, killed off by hunters), and deer are killed to rid the world of Lyme disease. Natural predators kill the weakest and sickest members of prey species; human hunters prefer the best-as trophies. By removing the least fit, natural predators improve gene pools. By killing the healthiest and strongest-and leaving the most diseased-hunters weaken the species' gene pool. Williams writes, "Less than 10 percent of the public are hunters." In truth, it is about 6 percent: a tiny special-interest group linked to the weapons industry that helps fund wildlife management. Killing has never been a good ethical answer. May I remind you: We are not gods.

Constance Young Wildlife Watch Inc. New Paltz, NY [34]

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

Founded in 1981 through the merger of the World Federation for the Protection of Animals (WFPA), founded in 1953, and the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA), founded in 1959, WSPA is an international organization with 12 offices worldwide [35]. WSPA's campaigns include protecting bears from cruelty and captivity, opposing the dog meat trade, ending deforestation and "culling" of wildlife species, putting a stop to factory farming, educating people worldwide on the importance of animal welfare, disaster management, and ending activities such as bullfighting and the commercial whale hunt.

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WSPA's beliefs and principles are as follows:

  • Animals have biologically determined instincts, interests and natures, and can experience pain and suffering.
  • Each individual animal has intrinsic value, and it is the responsibility of humans to ensure that their welfare is respected and protected.
  • Animals should live their lives free from avoidable suffering at the hands of humans, rather than be used inhumanely as "raw materials' for the benefit of mankind.
  • The key difference between animal conservation and animal welfare is that conservation focuses on species, populations and habitats, whereas welfare focuses on the individual animal.
  • The welfare of an animal can be described as good if the individual is fit, healthy and free from suffering.
  • WSPA assesses the welfare of animals using the Five Freedoms (Farm Animal Welfare Council, 2003):
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.
2. Freedom from discomfort.
3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
4. Freedom from fear and distress.
5. Freedom to express normal behaviour.

WSPA's policy on wild animals is clearly against hunting, and they advocate non-lethal methods of controlling "pest" or "invasive" species whenever possible.

Organizations Allied with Hunters

While some organizations in this group do support limitations and regulations on hunting, none of them want to restrict hunting to subsistence-only hunting (e.g., they may not oppose recreational or sport hunting), and many of them are allied with hunters.

American Forests

Founded in 1875, American Forests is the oldest not-for-profit citizen's conservation organization in the United States. "American Forests believes that wildlife and fisheries are a critical component of healthy forest ecosystems. Hunting and fishing under proper regulation are valuable tools in the professional management of forest ecosystems. Recreation on our forests is an important and growing use of the resource on both public and private lands. Hunting and fishing under appropriate regulation are legitimate forms of forest recreation."[36]

American Humane Association

Founded in 1877, American Humane describes itself as an organization for protecting children and animals. Although American Humane has come out against "sport" hunting, their definition of recreational hunting as described explicitly in their Animal Protection Position Statement is limited to "canned" hunting, internet hunting, and trapping. Within this context, the stated primary goal of American Humane is to ensure that animals killed by hunters do not suffer unnecessarily, but they do support hunters.

From their position statement: "American Humane strongly opposes any animal hunt in which the target animal is confined or tame, in which the hunter fires on an animal with a remotely controlled weapon, or which uses animal traps that cause indiscriminate and unnecessary suffering. These practices involve no sport or skill, are denounced by true hunters and outdoorsmen, and result in painful deaths to thousands of unsuspecting animals, many of whom have been tamed and are unafraid of humans."

Canned Hunting

Animals are kept within a confined area, where hunters often pay to shoot them. In addition, animals used in canned hunts are often geographically displaced from their native habitats, which can lead to the introduction of new diseases. Finally, the animals are often more used to people, and relatively tame and unafraid.

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American Humane comes out on the side of "true hunters," using the argument that "Most true hunters scorn canned animal shootings as unfair and unsporting."

Internet Hunting

Facilities for internet hunting allow users to shoot at animals from a remote location using a camera and a computer-controlled rifle.


Steel-jaw traps in particular cause pain and suffering as animals caught in them are generally not killed immediately. In addition they are indiscriminate as any animal (including humans and domestic pets) may be caught in them.

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Recent Psychology PhD graduate in the process of moving to Canada to begin my postdoctoral career working with kids. Also love animals, the outdoors, travel, cooking, drawing, movies, music and photography.

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Environmental and Animal Groups: Views on Hunting