Friday, June 23, 2006

Hunting v. Pig Exterminators

I had a little time at lunch today to stroll around the Internet. Hell in a Handbasket linked to Blogonomicon who in turn linked to a story about feral pigs in Texas. Some parts of that huge state, which was once my home, are being overrun by wild oinkers.

Pigs will eat anything that’s even semi-edible and not leave a trace. A rancher mentioned that he was missing a number of goat kids that probably ended up inside pigs. Pigs also dig up land, destroy plants, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

Pigs should be hunted and their numbers controlled, but I have qualms about a pig exterminator as the article describes. Jody Payne kills pigs by having his dogs chase one down and hold it until Payne plunges a knife into its heart. Ironically, the article is located in the newspaper’s Sports section. There’s no sport here. Maybe the article should be in the Business section.

Payne’s kills are probably quick, although the dog thing is not a peaceful way to live your last moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling sorry for the pig, but I do wish more people would hunt so we wouldn’t need pig exterminators—or deer exterminators, or bear exterminators.

That’s where we’re heading. Deer, feral pig, bear, coyote, etc populations are exploding. That’s a mixed blessing because there aren’t enough predators to control populations. People must step into the gap and resume our role as nature’s top predator. Because we’re not doing that, towns hire “sharpshooters” to cull deer herds. And, we see pig exterminators in Texas.

Why aren’t more people hunting if game is so plentiful?

For one thing, people don’t know how to for many reasons. Their parents didn’t hunt. People know it’s time consuming, demanding, messy, difficult, and there’s no guarantee of success. Not like a video game.

Also, having lived in Texas, I can guess another answer. Too many land owners won’t open up their land to hunting unless you pay a significant amount of your hard-earned cash for a hunting lease. In fact, the rancher in the article raises exotic animals for apparently semi-canned hunts. So, instead of inviting hunters to control the pigs, he brings in a pig exterminator.

We need access to good hunting land and in return hunters must respect that land, its owner, and the animals that live on it. Among other duties, that means don’t shoot unless you know what your target is and what’s beyond it. Instead, we end up with pig exterminators. I can’t imagine a more soulless job than shooting deer or stabbing pigs just because there’s too many of them.

You know, I wonder if feral pigs live in New Hampshire. I haven’t heard one way or the other. A nice loin roast from a plump acorn-fed pig sounds mighty tasty right now.

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