By Mountain Pursuit
A report completed this week by Mountain Pursuit, Anti-Hunting Groups, Arguments and Tactics analyzes eighteen anti-hunting groups, and breaks them into two categories:
(1) Total Anti-Hunting - Against hunting all animals for any reason including food, sport, or trophy.
(2) Anti-Predator Hunting - Against predator hunting, especially charismatic predators such as grizzly bears and wolves. Not against Fair Chase hunting of ungulates for food.
The report further identifies and explains the arguments and tactics for each group.
Arguments are a set of reasons that explain why something is right or wrong. Tactics actions planned or taken to achieve a goal.
Mountain Pursuit is a western-state hunting advocacy nonprofit which represents resident big game hunters who believe forcefully in Fair Chase, wildlife conservation and subsistence-based hunting. Key to Mountain Pursuit's mission is protecting and preserving western big game hunting into the future. Identifying influential anti-hunting groups, and understanding anti-hunting arguments and tactics is fundamental to this hunting advocacy mission.
The most threatening long term argument to big game hunting is “Animals are sentient beings and suffer when hunted,” the report’s authors conclude.
The corresponding tactic anti-hunting groups pursue in support of this argument is fighting for legal representation for wildlife under the current legal system. Five of the seven “Total Anti-Hunting” groups analyzed in the report advocated for animals being represented in the law and deserving more rights. Groups differ on how far legal representation for game animals should go, however each makes this legal argument.
The most threatening near term to big game hunting is “Many hunted animals are noble and charismatic - and shouldn't be hunted for this reason.”
This argument was forcefully made for grizzlies to a national audience during the fight over the 2018 planned Wyoming grizzly bear hunt.
The group, Shoot ‘em With a Camera, led the campaign against the hunt, and organized the corresponding tactic where non-hunters applied for purchased several of the available 24 grizzly bear hunting licenses.
Shoot ‘em With a Camera’s image-based social and national media campaign arguably shifted the broader public perception of grizzly bears from being dangerous predators to noble, charismatic species, worthy of protection from hunting.
The ultimate decision to shut down the Wyoming grizzly hunting season was a legal one based on the Endangered Species Act, and perhaps temporary, but Shoot ‘em With a Camera’s argument and tactics proved to have currency, and could be easily pivoted and applied to any western big game ungulate - bull elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, moose, etc.
The report’s authors make four specific recommendations to defend hunting against anti-hunting arguments and tactics:
1. Distinguish and separate hunting ungulates for food from predator hunting.
2. Vigorously support Fair Chase and subsistence-based big game hunting.
3. Avoid labeling hunting as a "sport" or "recreation." Anti-Hunting groups use this language to argue animals are being killed unnecessarily for entertainment.
4. Avoid social media/internet/marketing posting of photos, movies, video clips, etc. which show kill shots, dead animals, trophy shots, and blood and gore of any kind. This insensitive media is used by anti-hunting groups as proof that animals suffer when hunted, and that hunters don't respect life they are taking.
5. Closely monitor anti-predator hunting organizations, their arguments and tactics. Watch for defend against messaging and position pivots from anti-predator hunting to anti-ungulate hunting.
“The findings in this report should be eye-opening to all subsistence-based big game hunters, and those who support western big game hunting,” said Rob Shaul, the Mountain Pursuit founder and one of the report’s authors.
“Anti-hunting groups, messaging and political efforts are expanding rapidly,” he continued. “These are smart, dedicated people, with powerful messaging, and sophisticated tactical campaigns. Big game hunters, and the hunting industry must to wake up to this threat, clean up the gore from social media and advertising, and forcefully advocate Fair Chase and subsistence-based hunting.”
“The anti-hunting forces are using 2019 messaging and tactics,” he continued, “while much of the hunting industry messaging and marketing is stuck in 1979. Times have changed and the future of hunting is in jeopardy.”
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