Dear duck hunters, deer hunters and all other “sport” hunters:
I am taking time away from my very busy animal law practice - yes, believe it or not, there are many people and organizations who retain me to advance, and protect, the interests of animals - to write to you with the hope that at least some of you will think, feel and find it in you to abandon the “sport” of hunting.
We are entering duck hunting and deer hunting season and while I realize my chances are small, I also think it’s worth the shot (no pun intended).
I am saddened and sickened to the core, knowing that ducks, who mate for life, and are in the midst of resting and feeding before their thousand-kilometre-long migration flight, will be killed, leaving their mates and social groups fragmented and others wounded.
Or deer, who are simply trying to live in peace, and forage, in the forests will be killed. And the many other animals who will also be killed, simply because someone thinks it is fun.
I also feel angry that I cannot go for walks along the beautiful dikes, or canoe rides on the river, in Pitt Meadows in the fall because duck hunters pose a danger. Why do I have to sacrifice my peaceful outdoor experience because you want to shoot a duck for fun?
My heart and mind will never understand how killing – whether by bow and arrow, or rifle – is “fun.” How tearing animal families and social structures apart, shooting a completely innocent animal, using sadistic tactics to trick wildlife into coming closer to you for a closer shot, is fun.
I want to believe that many of you are good people for a number of reasons, and did not yet really think about the issue.
Some of the main arguments to justify hunting is for food, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is no shortage of food in supermarkets, and it will remain that way. Unless you live in an extremely remote area and live “off the land” completely (and even then I wonder about alternatives), using food as a reason, is simply an excuse for recreational hunting for the vast majority of hunters.
The other excuse for sport hunting is that it contributes to conservation. Or that hunting is less cruel than leaving wildlife to die naturally in the wild. Nonsense. “Conservation” means to protect and to preserve. It makes no sense to kill in order to conserve.
Hunters usually kill the strongest and healthiest of the population, leaving a much weaker genetic pool. Hunting also disrupts migration, hibernation patterns and destroys animal families. If you are interested in genuine conservation, please don’t kill animals.
I realize that I am writing as a white, privileged, urban, professional. I don’t consider myself a “yuppie,” but maybe you do. And who really cares what I think. I am “only” one person. However, there is no denial that there is a growing movement of people who unequivocally care about animals. Animal protection is no longer fringe.
We are extremely lucky to live in British Columbia, one of the most beautiful places in the world. This fall, please consider using a camera, instead of a rifle, to shoot an animal. Or go for a hike or camping adventure instead. Your kids, friends and community will respect you more. And more importantly, there will be more much needed peace in the forests and lakes.
Rebeka Breder is an animal rights lawyer in Vancouver, BC, and won in Canadian Lawyer’s magazine Top 25 Most Influential Lawyer in Canada, winning the Changemakers category. Her entire legal practice is devoted to advancing and protecting the interests of animals.Twitter: @animallawcanada