Conservation controversies in hunting for sport

After Trump brings up big game trophies, the debate on hunting has just started to heat up

Lexi Shoup

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Soon after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) moved to lift former president Obama’s ban on the imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, President Donald Trump tweeted his intentions to reverse the lifting of the ban.

The Obama administration put the original ban in place because the FWS found that the hunts were in no way contributing to the survival of the elephants in those areas, an argument used by many trophy hunters.

When the FWS announced they would to lift the ban, the news was poorly received by the public.

Two days after the announcement, President Trump tweeted, “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

While a final decision has not yet been made on whether or not the ban will be lifted, the proposal has sparked heated conversation about the ethics of hunting, both for sport and for survival.

New Trier senior Patrick Helle, who has been hunting since he was 10, has received criticism in the past. “People have criticized me for hunting but to that I️ usually respond that hunting actually contributes a lot to the conservation of endangered wildlife,” he said.

Helle usually hunts pheasant and elk, and he recently participated in a trophy hunt in Mongolia. “I️ think that trophy hunting can be good when it’s implemented right. Although it was a trophy hunt, all the extra meat went to the villagers nearby and the money went to conservation of wildlife.”

Although Helle defended the practice of hunting, he draws the line at big game.

“When it’s hunting for lions or other large predators, I️ feel like it’s unethical because you can’t really eat them and it doesn’t benefit other wildlife,” said Helle.

Many people tolerate hunting to a certain extent. Senior Nadia James believes that hunting for survival is completely fine, but hunting for sport is unethical and unnecessary.

“I have cousins who hunt turkey each year. I went with them once and the experience was fun but it was really hard for me to see the animals die. It helped that my cousins used the whole turkey. They ate it as their Thanksgiving meal, so at least it died for a cause,” said James.

James does not support trophy hunting, however.

“I don’t see why people go to Africa to kill elephants. They don’t usually eat them. They’re just killing an animal to brag about it and take pictures with it. Even if they justify killing it by saying they’re using the ivory, that still doesn’t make sense to me,” said James.

Senior Kelly Allison thinks perspective is the most important thing to have when forming opinions about hunting, “Personally, I think hunting for sustenance is necessary and I disagree with anybody who believes otherwise,” she said.

“I used to be an avid supporter, but I was always uneasy about the actual process of taking the life away from a living thing. I really took advantage of where my food came from. It was pretty ignorant of me to just turn the other cheek because it didn’t involve me directly,” said Allison.

When she went to Hawaii to visit family, she went wild boar hunting with them for the experience.

Allison’s feelings about hunting didn’t change, but she gained a new respect for people who hunt their own food.

“It made me realize how easy I have it that I don’t have to do that whenever I want to have a pork chop. If you want to take a side on this issue, try and gain as much perspective as you can because you never know how you’ll think in the end,” Allison said.

Some hunting criticism is not focused on the animals, but instead on the guns.

“People should be able to hunt because stopping them from hunting is limiting their rights. However, I don’t think people need semi-automatic weapons to go hunting. Automatic weapons are not necessary to hunt for sport,” said junior Lilly Meehan-Egan.

Only a few states in the US have completely banned semi-automatic weapons. “California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons,” according to the Giffords Law Center website.

While the state of Illinois doesn’t have a ban in place, Cook County does.

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