31 December 2011

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:
In “Hunting Deer With My Flintlock” (Op-Ed, Dec. 26), Seamus McGraw says he has a responsibility to kill deer because there are too many. He has volunteered to kill a deer cruelly, ineptly and with an outdated weapon that causes additional suffering to the deer. I assume that the use of the flintlock is to enhance his self-image as a master of the woodland.

He says he hunts out of a need to take responsibility for his family, who evidently live where the supermarkets offer no meat. He says meat tastes more precious when you’ve watched it die. May I recommend a trip to a slaughterhouse?

I’m tired of hearing people who enjoy killing justify it with specious moral platitudes. Animals suffer when killed. No pearly phrases can make that any better.

Baldwin, N.Y., Dec. 26, 2011

To the Editor:
Seamus McGraw mounts all the standard defenses: I am feeding my family; there are too many deer; I kill as mercifully as possible.

But whether with a flintlock or a modern rifle, hunting cruelly takes the life of a living, sentient being that has as much right to live as any hunter or writer. It is only the prejudice of our species that justifies culling the deer population while protecting our own.

Highland Park, Ill., Dec. 26, 2011

To the Editor:
I don’t have all the answers concerning Pennsylvania’s burgeoning deer population (most of it caused by the burgeoning human population), but I want to comment on the self-serving tone of Seamus McGraw’s article.

For a man who claims not to enjoy killing, he takes considerable pride in his bloodletting. That his flintlock rifle failed him, and more important, the doe, because he flinched is reason enough to put down his antiquated weapon. It ought to be reason enough for such a firearm to be banned entirely.

Beyond that, though, is the tragedy of the doe’s sole contact with a human: a moment that could have initiated a communion between the two was instead reduced to carnage. Nothing noble there. No art in it either.

President, Make Peace With Animals
New Hope, Pa., Dec. 26, 2011

To the Editor:
Please give me a break. Seamus McGraw tells us he has to kill deer in his section of Pennsylvania because “with no predators to speak of—the wolves were wiped out centuries ago and the last mountain lion in the state was killed more than 70 years ago—the responsibility for trying to restore a part of that balance fell to me.”

Who wiped out the wolves and mountain lions? Hunters like him.

Boston, Dec. 26, 2011