Stop demonizing hunters like Melissa Bachman

Eli Federman Columnist
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This week over 450,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling for the South African government to ban big-game huntress and Minnesota-based television presenter, Melissa Bachman. The online fury was sparked after Bachman posted a photo posing with a dead lion she hunted in Africa.

The irony is that lawful hunters like Bachman are instrumental in raising money for conservation efforts, and keeping wildlife populations stable.

The Change.org petition says that she is a “contradiction to the culture of conservation.” It also describes her Facebook post as one featuring her with a “lion she has just executed and murdered.” It is perfectly acceptable to renounce the concept of sport hunting, but equating hunting with murder is absurd.

Lawful hunting does not pose a threat to conservation. Lions are not listed as an endangered species, nor are any of the other animals and birds Bachman poses with on her website. In fact, lawful hunting serves a vital role in managing overpopulation, reducing intraspecies competition for food and shelter, and raising money for conservation.

Proceeds from licenses, animal tags and other expenses associated with hunting, fund more than $1.6 billion a year in conservation programs in the U.S. This pays for wetland restoration, research and wildlife law enforcement work to fight poaching, habitat creation, and other activities that help countless species.

A study cited by National Geographic pointed out that tourists pay over $200 million a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos, in the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting. These funds contribute to the economy and are used to maintain sustainable habitat for these animals.

Lawful African hunts are regulated so they provide the maximum benefit without endangering any species. It is poaching that poses a threat to wildlife, not lawful hunting. Funds raised through lawful hunting are used to combat poaching.

The meat from hunting often goes to help feed the hungry. The Maroi Conservancy, which guided Bachman’s hunt, announced on their Facebook page that “all meat from animals hunted is distributed to the local community.”

Those describing hunting as murder are equating humans with animals, which is a morally inconsistent position for anyone who eats meat. Whether the animal is a lion or a cow makes no difference.

Animals either have the same rights as humans, or a human, as a predator, has a right to consume them. If you eat meat or wear leather, than you can’t equate killing animals to murder.

Hunted meat is arguably more ethical than factory raised meat because at least the animal lived a free life before its death. It is also healthier and leaner meat.

People need to stop demonizing millions of lawful hunters, like Bachman, with emotional, sensationalist, knee-jerk reactions and anthropomorphizing animals. It is one thing to object to sport hunting on moral grounds, but it is completely disingenuous to call it murder and to disregard its benefits. Humans have been hunting for eons; it’s a way for families to connect with nature, procure healthy meat, help the economy, manage excess wildlife, and yes, thereby, help the environment.

Eliyahu Federman’s writings on religion, culture, law and business appear in The Forward, Huffington Post, Fox News, USA Today, Forbes and elsewhere.