PETA should develop a better stance

By U-Wire -Russell Woodard

Instead of rushing straight home to the open arms of my beautiful mother the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I took the Louisiana Highway 165 split heading north for the hunting camp. Like most of you, I was bird bound, but the fowl I sought wasn’t on a plate – not yet.

Thanksgiving morning, some friends and I made it to the field for a hunt. Just after sunrise, a flock of a dozen or so mallards swung wide around the decoys for their final pass. Once the birds were in backpedaling suspension, just before their orange-legged landing gear touched the water’s surface, someone bellowed the duck hunter’s almighty command of permission – “cut ’em.”

After a shooting performance the French would laugh at, I awoke from my early morning celestial entrancement with the criss-crossing ducks and geese at different altitudes. While wadding from the spent shells helicoptered to the ground, the same friendly conversation picked up right where it left off. As the muscular retriever paraded after the few ducks we hit, with Dad and friends flanked on either side, I asked, “Who wouldn’t love this?”

Well, apparently a lot of folks. There are 1.8 million members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, according to its Web site. According to its online media center, the organization contends hunting is immoral because of the pain the animals endure. PETA says hunters and their organizations are “bloodthirsty and profit-driven,” and animal herds should be left alone because “nature would take care of itself.”

First of all, as any responsible hunter will tell you, the intention is to end the animal’s life as quickly and painlessly as possible. We don’t want to trail our game longer than necessary, and we sure don’t get our kicks from watching animals suffer.

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    Secondly, without organizations like Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation, there would be very little money put into wildlife preservation. According to Ducks Unlimited’s Web site, it has raised nearly $2.5 billion since 1937. What PETA needs to realize is turkey, deer and types of ducks had all but vanished from parts of Louisiana until sportsmen’s groups raised private dollars for the importation of game and the protection of their habitat. Also, without these organizations and the habitat enhancements they provide, many animals would starve or not be able to reproduce – a little more torturous and sad demise than a quick death from a firearm.

    Not to mention, hunting provides a great forum for friends and family to interact with each other. Outside of harvesting animals, it’s a place where people can get away from the city hustle and live a slower, less stressful life. It’s where men stretch stories beyond fabrication, and women show doubters they are more than just pretty faces. Like many of you, some of my best memories with family and friends come from hunting expeditions.

    According to an HBO documentary with Penn and Teller, PETA was recorded for rescuing 2,103 animals in 2002. Of these, it euthanized 1,325. For us nonmath majors, that means PETA killed nearly two-thirds of the animals it “rescued.” When asked about this perturbing issue, PETA’s president and founder, Ingrid Newkirk, responded by saying, “Sometimes the only kind option for some animals is to put them to sleep forever.”

    Perhaps your ideas should be euthanized instead, Ms. Newkirk. The same people who campaign around “ethical” animal treatment kill animals, too? It just doesn’t make sense. Newkirk has made other outlandish statements, such as “animals are today’s slaves” and “holocaust on a plate,” when referring to animal mistreatment and hunting. Doesn’t this primal comparison belittle those who suffered during the antebellum and World War II periods?

    Look, I’ve cradled a family pet after it was hit by a truck, and the entrepreneur in me wants to create and sell Michael Vick chew toys instead of going to law school. People who are mean to their pets, as well as wasteful hunters who simply kill to kill, are undeserving of respect. There should be some inherent understanding, however, in the difference between brutal and compassionate pet owners, between savage hunters and responsible outdoorsmen.

    Newkirk and her cabal are also against animal research. They claim animals should not be harmed regardless of the potential findings. In the aforementioned documentary, a professor from George Washington University Medical Center says 85 to 90 percent of our biomedical science findings are attributable to animal research. This begs the question: Is it humane or logical to spare lab mice while cancer, AIDS and other epidemic diseases run rampant in our society?

    PETA, I applaud and respect your time and energy for promoting kind animal treatment. I object to your extremism, however, when you claim owning pets, animal research and hunting to be immoral and unethical.

    Well, one could go on forever about your organization’s follies, but I’ve got to run because there’s something cooking in the oven.

    Duck … it’s what’s for dinner.