The Grizzly Debate

The tradition of hunting is shaped and governed by three major principles; laws, policy, and ethics. Laws dictate the rules and punishments as they relate to hunting. Policies are issues lobbied for by hunting and anti-hunting groups alike and help to shape laws. Ethics are the standards we hold ourselves too and are also our most important tools for swaying policy makers.

Policies are very important to hunters and are largely directed by public opinion. These opinions, although well intentioned, are easily swayed and not always the best informed. A very good example is the current debate regarding the spring grizzly bear hunt in British Columbia http://www.globaltvbc.com/grizzly+bear+hunt+begins+again+groups+want+event+banned/6442612682/story.html. This issue has become hotly debated as of late, the degree to which is easily recognized with a simple google search on the topic. It has even gained relevance on the information giant Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_status_on_grizzly_bears_in_British_Columbia,_Canada .

Anti-hunting activist have started a petition to have the hunt band and it is gaining strength. Fortunately hunting enthusiast have combined to have a voice and have started a petition of their own and I encourage all who agree with our stance, to protect the hunt, to sign it http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/…zzly-hunt.html
. But perhaps the most important thing we can do as outdoor enthusiasts in understanding the debate is to recognize the issues and flaws in the anti-hunters argument.

For anyone who has studied philosophy and philosophical argument, you can see the approach used by the anti-hunter is simple, effective and flawed. It is based on a number of fallacies. Beating the straw man is one such fallacy where anti-hunters often use powerful descriptors to distract from the reality of the situation. For example they will use phrases like “slaughter of the grizzly bears” to describe our hunting tradition. I don’t know about you but I harvest my game. Slaughter implies to me a mindless act and suggests that I didn’t spend years studying my prey and honing my skills.

Beware the anti-hunter fallacy of ad hominem, or in this case a reverse of the usual ad hominem. In this anti-hunting argument you will hear and read about how beautiful the landscapes and habitats are where the hunting is occurring. They attempt to imply that hunting will somehow ruin this without providing a plausible explanation about how. We are the ones who walk the land, appreciate its subtleties, and more than anyone would not participate in something that could compromise these lands.

These debates are inevitable and will continue to arrive in the future. The silver lining is that they keep us united and encourage us to stay informed on current issues. As hunters, we must continue to hold our ethics to a higher standard every time we set foot in the field and we will preserve the tradition for generations to come.

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