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“But, of course, the auction was protested, because it just feels so wrong to be able to buy a privilege to shooting an endangered beast. Perversely, what the protesters are protecting is their own privilege to feel however they intuitively feel, without the bother of studying and understanding the facts of the natural world.” – Ann Althouse on the Dallas Safari Club’s black rhino hunt auction

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    • I am in agreement here. We have destroyed enough species already. Unless you are feeding yourself or others, leave them alone. And population control is not a valid excuse in this case: they are already endangered.

      • This case would be a bit special. The money generated from hunting would be used to help restore the species. The net effect would be positive.

        • Guy, that’s sort of the point. This gets people who don’t care to donate absurd amounts of money.

      • Dude, this animal is not reproducing. It is an Alpha which is preventing other males from reproducing as well. By killing this one, more rhinos will be born. This is not about protecting the individual animals living now, it is about keeping them around for future generations.

        Try thinking outside of your little box for a minute.


          Seriously, people need to inform themselves about issues before saying a single word about them that isn’t in a question form.

        • I hunt ever tasty tasty animal I can get my sights on. And I understand the conservation point, alpha male and all. But It’s endangerd! I’d pay money to hunt it with a Tranq gun so it could at least go to a zoo or something. They can do artificial ensemanation on rhinos right?

          Remove it from the herd yes. but don’t kill it if you aren’t going to eat it.

    • Agree. But the money goes toward helping other rhinos and prevent poaching. And they usually only let you shoot an old or sick individual.

      I dont like it but I understand it.

      • You must have misunderstood what I wrote Denny. I don’t like it, but I see why its necessary. Kinda like carrying a bunch of useful stuff in your pockets, its not fun but sometimes you have too.

    • Read the story, this specific rhino is slated for death. It is a non-reproducing alpha male that is keeping the other younger males that could actually help increase the population from breeding. It is literately a pest to it’s own species. You can either get some rich guy to pay 350k to shoot it, or have the park ranger shoot it and get nothing. Both situations are a dead rhino, the former is 350k to help keep the breeding base of the species safe.

      • That’s fine, I suppose, but I kind of feel like if you are itching so badly to kill something that you are willing to pay big bucks for it, maybe it’s you who needs to be put down.

        No matter the net benefit, this kind of trophy hunting is a sickness.

    • The economics of endangered species are a funny thing, full of perverse incentives. In theory, agreed, I don’t like “sport” hunting. There’s no real purpose and it’s just killing for the sake of killing something. In these african nations though, you have a lot of incentives lining up against the survival of these species. In many cases they are considered pests because they destroy crops or endanger people’s lives, and at the same time poachers have a huge incentive to kill the animal due to the black market prices for various pieces (horns, trophies, etc.). The long and the short of it is that the animals are worth more (at least to the people that live in these countries) dead than alive. The real trick is figuring out ways in which you can turn that on its head, so that your average person views these animals as more valuable alive. Mostly this is accomplished though tourism, in this case safari hunting tourism. Whether it works or not is really based on precisely how it is implemented, but to me it seems like you have a choice between strictly sticking to your ideals and accomplishing your goals. I’m a pragmatist so I tend towards door #2.

      • ^ This.

        Animals like these don’t have a whole lot of intrinsic value to the common folk who live near them (and by extension the governments who have to deal with them). When you attach a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars to each one, you create incentives and the means to run effective management programs and even get the local community involved with discouraging poaching. Unfortunately this takes more effort to understand than the initial “they’re rare! don’t kill them!” reaction.

        Sport hunting has an exceptionally long history of being one of the things to do when you have a surplus of money and free time. If someone is willing to pay $350,000 to shoot a geriatric rhino, well, I can’t see how that’s NOT better than paying someone to kill it for population management purposes, just because that paid person might possibly have the appropriately PC “I feel bad doing this” reaction.

    • The history of African big game can be told quickly without brutalizing the facts overmuch: First no native person had weapons to enable slaughtering vast herds. Next, Europeans came to colonize, and they reduced the vast herds to lesser herds. After independence of the colonies native peoples, including ivory and horn poachers, decimated the herds with leftover English and German service rifles.

      Today the governments of most sub-Saharan countries charge enormous fees to allow big-game hunting, and forbid such hunting to their people. This has led to growth of the herds, money flows into the countries, and some funds to pay for anti-poaching efforts. When high-priced hunting ends, most of the big game will be gone in a decade.

      The story is quite similar in US hunting. The “I’m so well-intentioned” folks in Greenwich, CT, and Los Angeles scream for an end to the hunting of Dall Sheep and majestic Elk. Hunters, meanwhile, pay for the conservation of these animals. End hunting (and the fees it generates) and locals will, illegally if necessary, hunt off the animals for food and pelts. The US Bison herds weren’t destroyed because hunters enjoyed eating Bison, but rather because the coastal city folk liked Bison car robes, and wanted to impoverish native Americans in order to clear the way to build railroads for profit and land speculation.

    • Look at the animal in the pic. Isn’t it obvious that that animal is in its old age, probably arthritic, and not long for this world anyway? I guess they feel that an aged rhino who has fallen and can’t get up and gets eaten alive by hyenas and vultures is somehow morally superior to one who gives its life raising thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars to donate to conservation efforts?

  1. “Perversely, what the protesters are protecting is their own privilege to feel however they intuitively feel, without the bother of studying and understanding the facts”

    That sounds familiar. Much like people’s “right to feel safe” people keep claiming when they want to take away my RKBA.

  2. This is how you explain hunting to a liberal; say you and your buddies are protesting the man. You set up in front of a skyscraper with about 20 other metrosexuals and start hurling filth at anyone who looks successful. So far so good. Now, out of nowhere a group of hairy bohemian women decides they want to join you, and then the local unions, etc. Next thing you now, you smell horses; the anarchists have arrived! All hell breaks lose; bottles getting thrown, bros getting tazed. Those cold sores on Moonbeams face are somehow spreading to everybody, and all the granola is gone. It seems hopeless, until the cops get it together and arrest most of the troublemakers. Then, for the rest of the day, you can comfortably ham it up for the camera, accusing the police of abuse and so forth. When the sun goes down, you get to go back home to your bungalow/grotto and sleep in your nice warm cozy sleeping bag.


  3. I am discouraged by the ignorance in the comments regarding the benefits of controlled game management and conservation.

    It’s even better when a successful individual pays large sums of money to engage in such hunts, (thereby infusing money back into the local economy, creating jobs, and helping others put food on their own tables) instead of hiring guards and rangers paid through the extortion of local jobless or underemployed tax-payers, who then are forced to turn to crimes like poaching the locally protected species for their subsistence (whereby the protected species actually faces greater predation than when controlled hunting is allowed). Paid trophy hunting is largely what brought the African elephant population back from the edge of decimation in many countries, whereas elephant populations continue to suffer in countries with strict prohibitions on any elephant hunting whatsoever. TTAG has covered this topic before, so there is a historical and ongoing frame of reference to support the causal relationship between managed conservation, including trophy hunting, and decreased predation.

    It’s awfully short sighted to ignore the inherent virtue of a successful individual willfully paying his hard-earned money to the benefit of a species and, even more importantly, the benefit of his fellow man through the reinvigoration of a local economy.

    Might the moral point better be stated that one should only kill an animal he/she intends to eat, or if it will help someone else eat, and only if it is beneficial to the welfare of the species?

    • “Might the moral point better be stated that one should only kill an animal he/she intends to eat, or if it will help someone else eat, and only if it is beneficial to the welfare of the species?” Yes.

      • So then the following is immoral?:

        I am the apex predator on my 49.04 acres of heaven. There are coyotes present on my land. Subjectively, I enjoy hunting. Subjectively, I enjoy the challenge of interacting with, outsmarting, and asserting my dominance over another species. Subjectively, I have determined that it would be a good developmental pastime for my children to engage in an activity which includes: Nature, strategy, discipline (in the form of marksmanship), planning, teamwork, thinking about safety, exercise, fresh air and even a healthy bit of misery in the form of icy winds, etc. Subjectively, I, as a parent, have also decided that I want to counteract the disturbing trend of devaluing human beings by placing them as equals with animals.

        So . . . me and my boys are going to shoot us a coyote. Maybe we’ll skin it; maybe we won’t; even if we did, I can tell you that I don’t NEED a coyote pelt nor the money for which I could sell it. And when it’s done, I’ll tell my boys: “We did this because it was fun. This coyote died (in as little pain as possible, but maybe in a lot of pain) so that we could have a good time and learn something. And that’s okay, because we are people, and this coyote was a thing.”


        • I would call your scenario immoral. Many people including me would call you a psychopath for killing for fun. Killing an animal because you need to or to teach your kids about skinning, harvesting it etc is not.

          And in my opinion a life is a life. I don’t see much difference between people and animals, only difference is an animal is logical (treat it well and it treats you well). Just because of that dont mistake me for some “weakling” liberal. Probably slaughtered more sheep than you have with my father in the old country.

          What I am trying to say is to never enjoy killing because thats something unstable people do. I have talked to people who have killed people for really good reasons and while they are glad they did it, they neevr thought it was fun to pull the trigger.

        • Animals rank between things and people. Blow a watermelon to chunks, no foul. Go around harming or killing animals just for fun, foul. Have respect for creation, and do not do violence wantonly.

        • In the case you describe, I think that whether it has any actual ecological benefit (whether you’re actually aware of it or not), rather than “why” you do it, is more determinative of whether or not it is correct from a stewardship standpoint. Since your hypothetical did not mention any of ecological impacts, e.g., reducing excess predation, etc., then the answer to your question is I don’t know whether it’s moral.

        • Hmm . . .

          I’d like to reply to lolinsky but I don’t see why he would engage in a thoughtful conversation with a psychopath. I certainly wouldn’t. I do wonder how in his mind a psychopath manages to hold down two jobs, an officer’s commission, a TS clearance, a doctorate degree, and own his own business, all while raising four kids, coaching youth sports, and sitting on the Salvation Army Board. Hm. I guess I’ll never know.

          So, Paelorian, would it change your answer if we assumed (as I do) that

          1.) there are no other predators of the coyote in my area, and
          2.) that there are enough coyotes off of my property that if I killed every coyote on my property, they would be replaced by other coyotes.
          3.) that each coyote I shoot would die eventually if I did not shoot it.
          4.) that said death; by car, trap, starvation, disease, accident or other coyote (after being injured by car, trap, starvation, accident or disease) would be just as likely to be painful as being shot by me. I wouldn’t have to look at that death through my scope, but it would be brutal and/or sad.

          So by shooting a coyote every now and then, I am allowing a greater number of coyotes over time, to have enjoyed living on my property and instilling in them a healthy fear of man which, I think is good for coyotes. But to be clear, I’m not doing it for their good. I’m doing it because I like it.

          Your thoughts?

        • I keep an open mind. I have talked to scarier people. Killing for fun and culling is two different things.

          Being a psychopath doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have a family or work in the Salvation Army. There were some poeple like you in the war, they ended their lives messily. They were normal people or at least people thought they were normal. Sometimes people don’t know what they are capable of till they actually do it. I hope you don’t have to find out.

          But honestly? I dont care, live and let live. You aren’t creating problems for me, neither will I for you.

        • lolinsky,
          Thank you for engaging. Since this site is about exploring the morality of guns, I’ll give you further insight into mine: I think waste is sinful, if I derived no benefit from the death of a creature, it could be considered a waste and sinful. However, writing of a human being as a “psychopath” and refusing to evaluate their reasoning on that basis would also be wasteful–a waste of your human potential as well as the putative “psychopath’s” human potential. Moreover, waste of human reasoning is a far greater sin that the waste of a coyote.
          And as it happens, I’ve been in two wars. I was decorated and came home no worse for wear. Much of my success in those wars, and preparing others for those wars, was a direct result of what I learned as a boy hunting. That being said, my ability do adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict (a law which I currently enforce in one of my jobs) was greatly aided by my ability to differentiate between appropriate treatment of humans and animals. While the basic principles where the same, the morality was different. If I made no distinction between humans and animals . . . well . . . then I would have been a psychopath.
          As for your ultimate point: “But honestly? I dont care, live and let live. You aren’t creating problems for me, neither will I for you.” That is mine as well. I can understand disagreeing with the rhino hunt, but to turn out and verbally attack someone for engaging in it, that is just wrong.

        • I didn’t mean for it to come out as an attack, for that I apologize. In my defense, I am a bit tired and didn’t get the whole picture.

          And you make a good point, regarding human potential. Sorry if I came off as hostile, I have met some nasty individuals who had the “killing stuff is fun” mindset. You seem like a smart person, surviving two wars in one piece ain’t easy so congrats.

        • And for my part, I did not mean that you were verbally attacking me; only that the protestants in the article were. Thanks for the discussion.

        • Likewise.

          It isn’t pretty but you must do what you have to do for the greater good of the species.

        • So you have to kill something to prove to yourself your “dominance” over Nature? I’d hate to imagine what happens in the bedroom.

        • If you hold the title to the land, then morally you can do anything you damn well please except hurt another human. We ARE the apex predator, and I hesitate to say it, because it sounds like Bible-thumping, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” — Genesis 1:26

          So go for it with a clear conscience.

        • LATE EDIT:

          “morally you can do anything you damn well please except hurt another human.”
          should be:
          “morally you can do anything you damn well please except hurt another human, which you wouldn’t do anyway because it’s an inherently immoral thing to do.”

  4. Some very good but long posts above.

    Let me summarize if I can: farmed animal species generally aren’t endangered. Examples? Cows, chickens, horses.

    Why? Because the profits from harvesting represent a renewable stream of cash.

    Farming a species – for instance, rhinos like this – provides a strong tangible incentive to preserve the species.

  5. I’m not a big fan of sport or trophy hunting, though I understand that in many cases it can play a role in wildlife conservation/management. It is one of those things that strikes an emotional chord but the facts sometimes dictate otherwise. The fact is that for many species, particularly those that are hunted in North America like deer, antelope and elk, the health of the species can be dependent upon natural predation. The problem is that most natural predators were hunted out, though some like wolves have been reintroduced. Even so, simply re-introducing a natural predator is only part of the solution because it is easy for them to then run rampant and wipe out a local population of prey. They’ll kill as long as there is prey and once the prey is gone, they’ll starve to death. The balance of nature is not a pretty thing.

    Prey and predators, over the long haul, tend to work out a balance in nature. If the predators are gone, then we – if we want to truly function as stewards – have to fill that role. Years ago I spent a happy afternoon pawing through old hunting and shooting magazines that were being sold at a garage sale. Some of them dated back to the end of WWII. I remember reading how people were concerned that the pronghorn antelope, elk, and mule deer – and even the whitetail deer – could end up extinct as their numbers had dropped so low that their future was dire. Rational wildlife management and conservation – which included humans functioning as the apex predator – saved the day and now some of those species survived so successfully that they are a nuisance even on the borders of cities like Washington DC.

    It is not a simple thing and is deeply complex. It is good to discuss it, but there is no easy answer, no simple equation, that ticks all the boxes. Nature herself is nasty and brutal. And if we are to be stewards, sometimes that means we have to be the same. I would hope the killing is done with respect and gratitude, with recognition of our role as stewards, but who the hell am I to judge someone’s motives if the result is the same.

    • I’d like to see some data on the growth of user names in the comment section. Seems to me the number of names has exploded in the last 6 months. Also, I think we have a lot of people checking the site out for a few days, making a ton of comments, and then moving on. Not that that’s a bad thing, I’m just curious as to what the data would show.

      I think it would be a good indication of to what extent the non gun community is taking notice of the site.

      Moderator, you listening?

  6. This is no different than deer or duck hunting. You buy a license, that money goes to the DNR who spend it on managing habitat and game populations. In this case, there is only one license available for a very high price, but that money will go for the same purpose.

    Personally, I think its wasteful to not eat what I kill, but there lots of ‘sport’ hunters who are only concerned with bagging their limit or filling a tag. Do I agree with it? No. Do the means justify the ends? Yes.


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