The problem of those who kill what they profess to  love

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As a humane organization promoting wildlife preservation, we are baffled by an announcement that Fayette-based Southern Conservation Trust (SCT) at its fundraiser will auction soon a rifle, a hunting bow, and hunting junkets in Uruguay.

Until now we believed the nonprofit SCT set aside minimally developed land for the peaceful enjoyment of the public and for wildlife preservation. We thought its nature centers were intended to protect wildlife.

Our problem is with those who kill what they profess to love.

“Be a hero for nature. Your support allows us to … protect wildlife,” SCT’s webpage reads. “A premier auction with a focus on wildlife.”

How does that comport with the following captions of auction items?

“You can shoot as much [doves] as the heart desires … before retiring back to the lodge for cocktails and a massage … heaven on earth for the wing shooter looking for an experience that has it all!”

“1 month hunting lease on 357 acres of Murray County, Georgia … unlimited hunters. Must have a Georgia hunting license … bears, deer, turkey, and more!”

“1 month hunting lease … Must have a Tennessee hunting license, there are elk on the property but you must have a Tennessee elk tag … 3,800 acre property in Campbell County, Tennessee – covered in wildlife!”

Hunting is unnecessary. Hunts like these are held, not for wildlife population control, but to dish up living targets to hunters. In national parks where there’s no hunting for example, nature manages wild populations, and animals generally get along fine.

Hunters don’t own wildlife more than any other citizens – until it’s dead.

Preservation and conservation are not the same. The two should not be confused or conflated. Beware the slippery word, “conservation.” Is it always being used in the same sense that you assume it means? Often it may not be.

For instance, conservation equals not killing birds on their nests – in order that next hunting season there will be more birds to shoot.

Archery hunting is particularly cruel. Studies by state wildlife agencies have measured rates of deer wounded and not retrieved (crippling rates) at about 50 percent.

Firearms seasons usually follow archery seasons. The Virginia game department published a pamphlet cautioning gunmen when field dressing deer not to cut their hands on embedded, razor-sharp broadheads [on] broken-off arrows.

The SCT event will feature venison at a “chef prepared field to table wild game dinner.” But why not follow scientists’ advice and skip the risk?

Eating wild meat can raise blood lead levels by 50 percent. Lead is nearly impossible to completely remove from meat, the National Park Service reported in 2011. Bullets do fragment into particles too fine to taste or feel while chewing.

Processors often combine meat from multiple carcasses. A dangerous neurotoxin, lead can harm bodies without noticeable symptoms. No safe threshold of exposure in children exists. The state of California officially recognizes the metal as a reproductive toxin and human carcinogen.

Price tags on animals’ heads. SCT’s cynical bloodshed for a buck betrays the public trust.

Our wish is that the SCT board, staff, and donors will re-examine their mission and priorities, aligning themselves with those who honestly preserve — instead of exploit — wild lives.

John Eberhart

League of Humane Voters – Georgia

Atlanta, Ga.