Sunday, January 27, 2008

Disgraced New Jersey senator launches anti-hunting tirade

Here is an amusing little tirade by one Robert Torricelli. For those that don't know, Mr. Torricelli is a former U.S. senator from New Jersey who was forced from office after being implicated in a bribery scandal. Let's dissect Mr. Torricelli's diatribe:

"I did, however, observe a bow hunter last month while hiking through the woods. This gentleman must have weighed in at about 250 lbs. This was probably his first sporting experience since the hot dog eating competition at Nathan's."

Why does Torricelli feel the need to engage in ad hominem attacks against this individual? How does attacking him for his appearance lend any credibility to his argument? Answer: it doesn't. It's simply self-indulgence.

"He was perched in a tree with lunch and refreshments. Below him were scattered melons and corn. With the onset of winter the deer are without plentiful food. The smaller deer in particular can't find anything to eat and are quickly attracted to the pile of seeds. The great hunter must have been resting thirty or forty feet from his prey. Felling the helpless and hungry animal requires all of the skill and precision of a bather finding the surf. The arrow flies directly down on the feeding animal."

Here, Torricelli makes two points, one I agree with, the other I don't. His first comments about baiting deer are right on the money. Baiting wildlife with food, is, in most states illegal. At the very least, it is very poor sportsmanship. I don't know if baiting is illegal in New Jersey, but if it is, did Torricelli report this individual to a game warden? If not, why not? I certainly would. I do not hesitate to report any illegal activities I see from hunters and anglers, because such activities are bad for wildlife and conservation, not to mention they ruin the experience for those of us who do it ethically and legally, as well as bringing general disrepute on all sportsmen.
Torricelli's second point that it is easy to make a shot from above on deer is off the mark. In bowhunting, most shots require skill, even at close range. Many factors come into play, including wind, the angle of the shot, the draw weight of the bow, the type of sight being used, etc.. Shots from above are often more difficult than shots in which the archer and the target are level with one another. Anyone who has tried archery can attest to the fact that it is more difficult than it looks. I doubt that Mr. Torricelli has ever picked up a bow in his life, let alone made a difficult shot.

"It only gets worse. The slaughter is only part of the story. Days latter my dog begins to arrive home with various body parts. Whole legs, ribs and skulls arrive at my door. It isn't enough that the animal is killed."

How does Torricelli know that the parts his dog was dragging home came from a carcass abandoned by a hunter? He offers no proof. How does he know it didn't come from roadkill or some other source? Furthermore, why does he irresponsibly let his dog roam about the countryside at will?

"The carcass is left to rot. Provisions have been made for homeless centers to receive the meat to feed the needy. It would make some sense out of the killing. It's just too hard to climb down from the tree and recover the dead animal. There's just so much exertion that one sport can impose on its participants."

Here again, I must concur with Torricelli on this. Leaving a carcass to rot is at best unethical, and at worst, in many states, it is illegal to waste edible wildlife. Again, it also begs the question, however, if it is illegal in New Jersey, and Torricelli knew it was going on, why did he not report it to authorities?

"A small wounded doe was found hovering behind my barn. Her leg was nearly severed by a single blast from our precision marksmen. She shook in terror if you approached. Her panic caused her to urinate as her wide eyes conveyed pure terror. She couldn't move but she dragged herself on three legs to attempt a futile escape."

If this deer was found on Torricelli's property, and was wounded this badly, it didn't get there from very far. A hunter would have wounded it very close to where it was found. If that is the case, they were very likely trespassing on Torricelli's property. And yet, we aren't told whether anyone was trespassing, and whether or not Torricelli confronted them or notified law enforcement. Notice also the self-contradictory statement in the last sentence: "she couldn't move but she dragged herself..". All of it leads me to question the truthfulness of Torricelli's little tale.

"I killed her. I ended her misery. "

Now Torricelli's story just gets better. He claims he killed her. How did he kill her? Was it in humane fashion? Why doesn't he tell us? Furthermore, did he have a license to kill a deer? If not, he himself is technically a poacher and a lawbreaker! Intentional killing of wildlife without the proper license to do so is poaching, Senator Torricelli. Also, what did he do with the carcass? Did he hand it over to wildlife officials as he should have? Why doesn't he tell us? When one looks critically at Senator Torricelli's story, very little of it adds up.

"60,000 deer will be slaughtered in New Jersey this year because we tolerate these yahoos and haven't the will to humanely control the population."

One wonders what ideas Torricelli has in mind "to humanely control the population". Since he would apparently rather just rant than offer solutions, one has to wonder. Perhaps he has "deer birth control" in mind. Such a solution is a known failure on many levels. First, it is extremely labor intensive because the vast majority of the female deer in the population have to be treated in order for it to be effective. It is thus very, very expensive. Hunting, by contrast, actually generates revenue for wildlife departments, making them fairly self-sufficient and thus making wildlife management far less of a burden on taxpayers. Secondly, it can take years for the population to decline and tangible results to be seen. Third, and most importantly, are the negative ecological impacts of such a policy. The drugs used in "deer birth control", once they are introduced, have the potential to contaminate the entire food chain and have very negative ecological consequences. It is not a viable solution, despite the false claims of the AR community. Perhaps Torricelli had predator introduction in mind. Reintroduction of native predators to ecosystems has great ecological benefits, but if he's looking for a "humane" solution, this isn't it. The death that prey animals suffer at the fangs and claws of predators is often far less humane than any arrow or bullet from a hunter.

I wonder if Torricelli is a vegan or vegetarian. My guess is no, which costs his rant something in terms of moral credibility. If Torricelli is a meat eater, as I guess he probably is, then he is simply paying someone else to do the "dirty work" of killing animals for him to eat ( even if he is a vegan, the production of his food still involves animal suffering and death ). At least hunters have the courage to recognize where food comes from and do the killing themselves. An anti-hunting omnivore ranks right up there with many ARAs as the worst kind of hypocrite.

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