I do not see a single comment in favour of the hunters, so, without agreeing with this practice, I write this in an attempt to bring a bit of light, because I do not seem to see any voice, which I do hear in my day-to-day life, from those who not only support hunting and what it entails but see it as necessary. The fact that there are no voices in social networks supporting it does not mean that this support does not exist, as much institutionally as socially as economically.
Recreational hunting is not going to disappear based on videos or protests – as seen in the case of bullfighting. If anything, perhaps it is worthwhile to engage in dialogue, or at least to be aware of the point of view from the other side of the fence, and to develop discussions and avenues for dialogue.
People who live in rural areas are aware, even if they don’t need to go out into the mountains every day or none of their economic activities are related to agriculture or livestock, that their way of life is founded on the countryside. It is not only that one is much more aware that all food, vegetable or animal, has to come from somewhere and does not appear on the shelves of the supermarket as if by magic. It is enough to know some farmers and breeders by name. No matter how small that part of the population may be, the rest of it is aware that all the money they generate with their rural activity pours directly into the economic life of the whole town, generating necessary jobs at the same time. So, any issue that is perceived as merely, potentially damaging to the agrarian industry, is going to have a bad press, or is simply removed from the collective mental scheme. And detrimental to the industry is any factor that cannot be controlled, and that includes any wildlife, unfortunately for those who are considered the rural world “those animalists”, with great contempt. And this, also unfortunately, regardless of whether it is true, because many times the information does not arrive with its facts and figures. Or if it arrives, it is not heard, because they can consider it as an attack on their way of life, their income, and no animal is worth the life and well-being of their children.
It may be necessary to make an effort to get into the minds, or at least the shoes, of those who live in this rural environment, to understand why it makes sense to consider all wildlife as superfluous, harmful and destructive. First the wolves ate the sheep, and the foxes ate the hens. There are hardly any now, if at all. And without a natural predator, deer, roe deer and rabbits are perceived as the vermin that “destroy everything”, they eat what the farmers are trying to produce in order to stay in the village in the face of the horrible prospect of having to emigrate to the city contributing even more to the depopulation of the rural world.
Living in this environment, or at least walking between fields of wheat and sunflowers, can help you get into those rural shoes. Rural tourism can sell us hiking and very healthy activities in the wild. But the rural economy is made up of, or needs, large extensions of industrial production of cash products. This translates into several practical aspects. On the one hand and not totally insuperable, the paths are not made to satisfy a tourism on foot or by bicycle. They are tractor tracks; tractors with wheels that can reach two meters in diameter, designed to get around the mud that is produced in these trails, but they can contribute to producing it as well.
Then there are the large extensions of crops, often monocrops as far as the eye can see, sometimes hundreds of kilometers around on clear days. It is not nature. It is industrial production of cash crops such as wheat, for bread, or seeds such as sunflower, for oil, making it possible for it to reach global markets or our shelves at affordable prices.
In the production process, and over the centuries, nutrients have been drained from the soil. There are no longer any birds following tractors when they plow the soil, looking for the worms that come out when the soil is moved, because there are no worms anymore. Years of fertilizers with components originating in the chemical and/or oil industry have removed them from the ecosystem, which shrinks every year. The soil is cracked, depending on the season, as in the desert, even on rainy days. The area of the Middle East known as “the fertile crescent” is today a desert; it did not happen in a few years and this area of Europe is, let’s say, in transition between orchard and desert.
But none of this has an impact, or even reaches the rural population. What you see on a daily basis, or what they answer when you ask them about the need for a wild nature because it is what sustains agricultural production, is that it is a lie that there are no more wolves or foxes, if you don’t see them it is because you don’t walk in the mountains enough, and that roe deer are like the rats that eat the crops and bring diseases, and killing them as a sport is not enough, it is necessary to make them disappear systematically, there are too many and it is totally incomprehensible that there are people who don’t see it that way; animalists are extremists who should be more concerned about the human race than animals, because a roe deer can even destroy your car if it crosses the road, and that if you do not make the mistake of trying to stop and kill yourself in the attempt.
So the hunters who practise this sport, which is an expensive sport, are worthy of praise because they contribute to making agriculture sustainable. Of course they are animal lovers, they only kill prey with a lot of respect, and dogs, yes, sometimes they are abandoned and it is necessary to create shelters for animals, but those who abandon or kill puppies just because they are a little too scared by the sounds of thunder or shooting are but exceptions.