Hunting for Identity and Inflicting Suffering: The Stress of Being Stalked
March 27, 2012 3 Comments
One justification for hunting animals as a way to supply meat is that it’s more humane because the animals are able to avoid confinement and, as a result, suffering. A recent piece by one of my favorite writers, Marc Bekoff, explains why this is a false assumption. He explains:
“Stalking animals causes immense suffering for those who are stalked . . . .Even if people stalk animals but don’t try to kill them, the animals suffer greatly. Just seeing a potential predator, and hunters are viewed as predators, is stressful. Patrick Bateson, at the University of Cambridge in England, found red deer stalked by dogs showed stress responses similar to those experienced when animals were anxious and scared. Deer showed high levels of cortisol and the breakdown of red blood cells, indicating extreme physiological and psychological stress. Stalked deer also displayed excessive fatigue and damaged muscles. Non-stalked deer and those shot without prolonged stalking didn’t show similar stress responses. There’s no reason to thinik that birds would respond any differently. Clearly, animals don’t like the emotional distress, anxiety, and fear of being stalked and neither do humans. Stalked animals may also spend less time feeding, resting, and protecting young. The stalker’s intentions, malevolent or not, are unimportant to the animal and there often is much collateral damage to family and friends of the targeted individual.”
Hunting is becoming stylish among people who somehow think that it’s a virtuous way to reconnect with nature, our primitive forebears, and some inner sense of what it means to be part of the food chain. Kudos to Bekoff for drawing on science to provide a much needed, and hopefully heeded, reality check.
Here’s the whole piece: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201203/killing-other-animals-food-does-not-make-us-human
(thank you to Mariann Sullivan)