Ever since I was a child, I seemed to possess some kind of understanding about the animal kingdom that others denied or just couldn’t see (it wasn’t until much later that I met like-minded individuals). It could have been in part due to the feelings of isolation that separated me from the rest of the human family in general and specifically my own. I knew for sure that animals communicated and were intelligent in their own right, perhaps in a way we didn’t understand, and that they were all uniquely adapted to their own environment. I wasn’t a particularly smart kid, it was more a feeling I had that all animals deserved respect and should be approached, if at all, on their own terms and shouldn’t be used for our enjoyment. I didn’t need any “evidence.”
People who don’t share this compassion and respect for animals, such as trophy hunters, are quick to blame animal activists for being too soft (“bunny huggers”) or for attributing so-called “human” attributes and feelings to non-humans. Compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses and animal activists are summarily dismissed as being irrational.
I wonder how many people who love to hunt actually value human lives, especially those of strangers, any more than the lives of the animals they lust to kill. There is a proven connection between those who abuse animals and those who abuse other people such as bullies in a schoolyard, perpetrators of domestic violence, all the way up to mass murderers.
I remember when I was an undergrad at UT Austin and enrolled in an independent research course. One of my professors, a PhD who had specialized in Psychobiology, often proudly suggested that he would use humans as his subjects if he could, if there were no research ethics or oversight committees. He often gloated over the horrific ways he would “sacrifice” the research animals he used. He obviously had no empathy for nonhumans and shared the same sentiment when it came to his own kind. He merely channeled his murderous instincts into a culturally-accepted form of torturing and killing on a grand scale, from which he made a comfortable living and made his way into prestigious research journals.
It seems that animal advocates, such as those opposed to the Florida bear hunt, sometimes feel compelled to back up their convictions with scientific facts. Yes, it is true that scientists have not completed a bear population count and this is a very good reason to not allow hunting of the bears. But even if an accurate count was made and there are more than 3,000 Florida bears in 2015, would hunting bears then be acceptable? If hunting were “backed by science,” would murdering 20% of the population, leaving motherless cubs to die, shooting pregnant females, as well as destroying healthy adult males and thereby traumatizing the survivors be perfectly fine?
I am not against science, and it is true that there is a lack of scientific evidence that supports the massacre of our Florida bears. I just don’t think we should have to stand behind the shield of “scientific evidence” in order to conserve and protect the myriad of species that also call this planet home. We shouldn’t need “evidence” to realize that they value their lives as much as we do, have feelings, and deserve to live in peace.