I saw this video posted online some time ago and it got me thinking about the issues of highly selective trophy-based management, as well as the ethics and politics surrounding it. Manipulating wildlife through selection is not new. The act of leaving a certain buck to breed trophy offspring is a common practice and certainly on the ‘lesser-end’ of manipulation; the animal also remains functionally wild. At the more objectionable end is the use of livestock breeding practices to farm fantastically bigger horns and antlers. I personally don’t mind the former but I think we lose something innate to hunting (and to being an honest hunter), when we embark on the latter, when we seek domestic trophies purely for the inch value. This is not the conservation of endangered species through intensive management and domestic captivity; it’s the acquiescence and surrender to the Record Book Religion.
The utter, dogmatic and total obsession with trophies is just distasteful in my opinion. I cringe every time I see a hunting video or discussion etc. and the very first and often only thing the hunters talk about is horn/antler size, with an explicit disregard for any other aspect of hunting such as the experience, the environment and the meat. Trophies are alluring for sure. I like most others also have an attraction to big horns or antlers, but the zealous and complete totalizing of record book quality uber alles is downright off-putting and foreign to me.
Interestingly, a major global conservation-hunting organization The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation recently released an official position statement in opposition to these extreme manipulation practices:
“The CIC adopted a landmark recommendation at its last Council Session in Madrid in November. The recommendation deals with manipulative and intensive management practices in the breeding of wildlife species such as artificial insemination and tightly controlled breeding systems which aim at the “commercial production” of ever larger horns or antlers, a variety of color morphs and even hybridization between closely related species or subspecies.
Manipulative practices taken from domestic livestock production, which are increasingly observed across all continents, not only make a mockery of the honored traditions of hunting, but pose a real and present danger for the integrity of biodiversity. With this landmark recommendation the CIC invites governments, wildlife managements authorities, landowners as well as national and international hunting associations and conservation NGOs to join forces in preserving the wild in wildlife” (CIC Website).
The hunting majority must remain vocal in reminding those not ‘in-the-fold’ that this not what many of us believe in, nor desire to see happening.
PS – does ‘Sudden Impact’ even look healthy?
© Brian Joubert