Today on the ski lift, my seat mate told me about a hunting club that adjoins his property. The club is comprised of people — all to the manner born — who get together to hunt animals and then not kill them. For example, they “beagle,” which for them involves letting loose hunting beagles to flush and chase rabbits. The humans, though, are just along for the chase. They do not kill the rabbits that get flushed although sometimes “the beagles do get the rabbit.” The club also stages other kinds of hunts none of which have as their aim the death of the animal pursued (despite the occasional casualty).
Both I and my seat mate found these practices very dismaying. Yet, I’ve been thinking all day about why I find this practice at least as troubling as the type of hunting which involves killing. Part of me bristles at the idea of toying with the animal (“if you’re going to hunt it, at least, kill it!”) but I recognize the irrationality of such feelings. Certainly, from the animal’s perspective, it’s better to survive such encounters than the alternative. So, why is this type of hunting so disturbing?
Perhaps it’s because it lacks any telos other than casual torment. With the more typical kind of sport hunting (I here intentionally exclude hunting for food, which in my view requires an entirely different analysis), the purpose is to kill rather than torture. The desire to torture is to my mind more disturbing and anti-social than the desire to kill. So, I am just that much more unsettled by the fact that there are clubs devoted to its practice.
At least that’s my working hypothesis.
Filed under: animal cruelty, animal ethics, Uncategorized Tagged: | animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal suffering, animal welfare, animals, beagling, hunting, hunting clubs, sport hunting, torture