For supporters of animal rights, hunting for trophies is one of the worst kinds of violations. The animal rights viewpoint starts with the premise that animals deserve to live out their natural lifespan just like humans. From that standpoint, killing any animal for sport is morally offensive: It deprives animals of their right to life, and their deaths serve no justifiable purpose. The offense is compounded when some of the animals killed by trophy hunters are from rare or endangered species.
Some methods of obtaining exotic or outsized trophies are far from sportsmanlike. Proponents of ethical hunting and animal welfare both condemn the practice of canned hunting -- breeding animals in captivity to be killed by hunters in enclosed spaces. South Africa is one of several countries that have banned the practice, but it still continues [source: Environmental News Service]. Practices like canned hunting are considered by some as abuse of wildlife.
Some scientists say that systematically hunting the most mature members of an animal population can adversely affect its gene pool. This will reduce the average size of future generations and threaten the ability of the species to thrive in its habitat. Researchers claim repeated hunting over many years has gradually diminished the size of the Kodiak bears of Alaska. Furthermore, hunting has altered the bears' behavior in a cause-and-effect manner. Because the bears have grown so frightened of humans, they are more likely to forego their normal salmon runs, thus undermining their own nutrition and health. Killing off the adult males of any species may decrease the survival odds of the surviving young. It may also destabilize the population by creating a shortage of males. If females are also targeted, hunting can mean the loss of the survival knowledge that mother bears pass on to their offspring [source: Nilsson].
Despite the arguments, trophy hunting is sure to continue around the world. How do you feel about it? Is trophy hunting good, bad or somewhere in the middle? Now that you have the facts, you can join in on the debate that is sure to continue for generations to come.
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