Should animals be killed for acting naturally in their own environments?
This answer to this question seems simple enough to me, no. No humans do not and should not have the right to kill animals who were acting on instinct. Actions which have been learned since the dawn of time are not pre meditated; they are not acts of vengeance. Research shows when there are attacks on humans it is usually for one of two reasons, either the animal was provoked or seeking food. How often can humans make the same argument?
When Katy first set this topic she pointed us in the direction of a news story on the BBC website; Australian authorities are currently hunting a shark off the west coast of the continent after three attacks on humans in the area. Beaches have been closed and baited hooks left in the water, despite there being no way of telling which shark (or sharks) is responsible for the attacks.
There are, as always, two sides to this argument. There’s the human rights side, the same side which puts down a dog when it has attacked another dog…or a human, the side which sends people to jail, the argument that bad behaviour should be punished and humanity protected whether premeditated or not. The alternative argument is for animal rights, why should animals be punished when they don’t know any better? Humans have labelled themselves more intelligent than these animals making the attack. You know that if you provoke an animal it will attack you, we have a good idea of when animals have young and will be more protective of their territory, there have been studies which show that sharks are more likely to attack in cloudy waters, so don’t be an idiot and arrogantly ask for trouble!
Of course when these debates occur they’re often about ‘fluffy’ or endangered animals. What about the times most people wouldn’t even think before acting? How many spiders have you killed? How about flies? I’m talking about the harmless ones which don’t really pose you any threat, they’re just annoying. Moths hitting the car at night…I don’t see anyone campaigning for their rights. The hundreds of thousands of fish who are caught, killed, and then thrown back because they don’t meet quotas…well in all fairness there is a campaign against that. Do you eat meat? If yes, why is that ok but killing an animal you don’t intend to eat isn’t? If not, do you agree with animals which have attacked humans being put down? How about the number 1 killer of humans worldwide, the mosquito, would you think twice about killing one of those? Doubt it. When a stingray killed Steve Irwin people actively campaigned against fans seeking revenge on the creatures. They were merely being stingrays, Steve would have understood, they don’t deserve, as a species, to be punished for the death of a daredevil celebrity.
We will never know both sides of the story when it comes to animal attacks. For some reason the legend of Gelert has been in my mind all the way through writing this post, so I’d like to share it with you (there are several versions slightly different versions of this tale, this is the one I know).
Legend has it that a Prince named Llewelyn had a dog called Gelert. Llewelyn was very fond of hunting and in the summer he lived in his hunting lodge at the foot of Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales. Although he had many dogs, Gelert was his favourite. Not only was he fearless in the hunt he was also a loyal friend and companion at home.
One day Llewelyn went hunting, he called for Gelert but the hound didn’t come. On Llewelyns return Gelert came out from the lodge to meet his master, his paws and mouth were covered in blood. The dwelling was in carnage with furniture upturned, including the cot which had contained Llewelyns infant son, the bedding and floor stained with blood. Assuming the worst Llewelyn drew his sword and killed Gelert. As the dog lay dying a baby began to cry from behind the cradle. Llewelyn pulled it aside to revel his son lying unharmed next to the body of a great wolf.
Gelert had been protecting the child, and had come out to greet his master after being the faithful loyal dog he was. Filled with remorse Llewelyn buried his faithful compaion and built a church next to the grave. Over the years a village was born around the church, the village of Beddgelert (Gelerts Grave) in North Wales. The Prince, it is said, never smiled again.
You’re never going to know the true reason for an animals behaviour, at best we can make an educated guess. As a species we humans consider ourselves of superior intelligence. Sometimes I really wish we’d act it.
This post is part of the Twitter Blogathon.
I realise this post ended on a bit of a downer. So here’s a video of a cheeky monkey to cheer you up!