In Defense of Life or Property vs Wildlife
Dr. John Woods 12.19.17
Debates continue over the justification of shooting wildlife in defense of self or property. While hunters faced with life threatening advances by dangerous wildlife animals most often will defend themselves if necessary, other groups do not think that there is any reasonable justification for killing an animal under these circumstances. Of course, we might imagine that those against it probably have never be attacked by a mad bull moose or a hungry grizzly bear.
On the surface, many of these human-animal confrontations may seem like rather simple ethical questions, but there is nothing simple about them. On the one hand it would seem meaningless to kill an animal say trying to protect its territory or more likely its young in the area, however, when an actual attack is imminent then the circumstances change, and can very quickly.
Having black bear hunted in the wilds of the Minnesota backwoods years ago and sleeping in a tent made of a micro-thin nylon, I can tell you the idea of a night visitor is not very calming. You can bet my hunting rifle was close at hand just in case. And I always wondered until this day why my host buddy always slept in the back of his SUV every night.
An elk guide of my acquaintance was once approached by a grizzly bear high up in the mountains one morning while on a scouting trip. The guide was unarmed this time but with a bag of apples. When the bear approached down the trail, the guide started rolling him the apples. To which the bear sat down to munch on the fruit and wait until the next sample came rolling down the pathway. He ate the whole bag of apples and then ambled off, much to the delight of the guide. It was the last time he scouted for elk without a protective firearm. What if he had been attacked? If armed, what should be have done?
There are many incidences in which humans, hunters, even hikers or campers have been approached by dangerous game. Outdoors people are coached constantly to avoid contact with all dangerous game, walk out of their way, and never approach them especially if young are nearby. Sometimes it is unavoidable, and self-defense is defensible.
Kill a wild animal for trashing your camp or eating your cooler? I don’t see that, but prepare your camp responsibly and conduct yourself in the same manner. However, if dangerous game threatens your life or others, then you have to do what you have to do.
John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications