The number one most annoying thing I hear when someone finds out I do wildlife rehabilitation is, “oh, well I guess we can’t be friends.” I know what’s coming next and I do an internal eye roll every time. “Because I’m a hunter.”
Well no shit, Sherlock, this is Minnesota. Everyone and their grandma is a hunter. And news flash: I don’t care.
I don’t have a problem with hunters or hunting in general. There are certain practices I would like to see changed, but overall I have no issues with hunters. Humans are natural predators and if a person is going to eat meat I believe it’s far better for both animal and human that the animal be hunted in the wild, rather than raised in a box, without a chance to live life the way it was designed to.
So why is it that hunters all immediately jump to the conclusion that I am a lunatic tree hugging hippy, who will only be content when hunting is outlawed and hunters all put to death? It’s amazing to me that as soon as hunters find out about my extra-curriculars they immediately start listing all the things that they think we should be fighting about. Why? It’s baffling to me.
I understand there are those out there who are, shall we say, a bit over-zealous when it comes to animals and nature, who choose a militant way of trying to get their point across, there are a lot of hunters out there just interested in going out, drinkin’ beer and killin’ shit. Still, I don’t find out someone is a hunter and say, “oh well, you must hate me. I am a wildlife rehabilitator. I guess we can’t be friends.” And honestly, how many of those crazy militant-style nature-loving people has anyone actually come across in their day-to-day interactions? Especially here in the upper Midwest where every weekend during rifle season, every single pick-up on the block comes home with a deer carcass on top of it.
And you know, not once has any hunter ever asked me what wildlife rehab really is, what I do, why I do it or what our mission is. Never. Once they have finished spouting off their un-asked for opinions on why wildlife-friendly people are nuts, and me just smiling and nodding without saying a word, they walk away and never talk to me again. Because obviously, we can’t be friends.
Hunting as it relates to conservation is not a black and white topic, even though we fight so hard to make it that way. Listen to a fantastic debate about it from Intelligence Squared.