I've always loved animals. Always will.
Here are some thoughts about what role animals play in our lives and what role we should play in theirs:
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
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Michigan has lifted its ban on deer baiting. Too bad. This relatively new hunting habit should be banned for good in Michigan and in every other state. Currently, 28 states ban deer baiting, 8 others limit the practice.
Baiting is the practice of placing carrots or sugar beets or some other food product in piles in the woods to attract deer (or bear) to the food source. Hunters set up nearby and wait for deer, conditioned after a few days of finding food in this spot, walk into range of hunters’ firepower.
Deer baiting seems to me to remove much of the challenge or sport of hunting deer. Unsuspecting deer become ducks in a barrel. The hunter doesn’t have to take time learning deer’s habits, tracking them, or finding the place to stand that most probably will offer a shot opportunity later in the day. Apparently my view is shared by some who support baiting because one of their arguments is that they “don’t have time” to do “real hunting.” No, with baiting, hunters simply bait-and-wait. Doesn’t seem like much of a sport to me.
Banning deer baiting helps reduce the possibility of the spread of disease like bovine TB or chronic wasting disease, which is why Michigan banned the practice for the past few years. Baiting increases likelihood of disease because animals are eating in one place rather than multiple places across the landscape. Now, though, because of political pressure, baiting is back.
Deer baiting is generally not supported by natural resource scientists or their scientific studies. It’s not supported by environmentalists or conservationists. It’s not even supported by most hunters, just a minority who apparently believe they cannot hunt deer in any other way.
I’m not against hunting. Actually, I think baiting harms hunting because it removes much of the need for hunters to spend time in the craft and improve their hunting skills. To put it bluntly, about anyone can sit with a gun and shoot when a target comes in view. That’s not hunting. It’s a carnival shooting gallery.
Baiting should be banned for hunting of any and all animals in all states. Banning baiting for good would be better for not just the animals, or for the sensibilities of the modern public, but for hunters and hunting too. What’s not to like about that?
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
Cats are a lot like people. You never know what they’re going to do next. And like people, they come in all shapes and sizes, varied personalities, and capacities for mischief.
A cat can be lying perfectly still and with a shocking suddenness bolt with lightning speed to another part of the house. Just like that, faster than a speeding bullet. How do they do that?
But this trick is not the cat specie’s most impressive. No way. Cats are at their finest when they demonstrate their talent for indifference. Cats can sleep, lounge, or practice the art of snootiness in a room stuffed with 25 people. You can stand on your head, whistle, or recite the Gettysburg Address in front of a cat, and if it’s so inclined, the cat will ignore you with an insouciance James Bond couldn’t match. Yes, cats “do apathy” with enthusiasm—ah, an oxymoron, enthusiastic apathy. But that’s cat behavior.
I had a relative—won’t tell you what kind for the relative was a good person—who didn’t like cats. Fair enough. It’s a free country. But the relative periodically told tales of men or boys in the relative’s childhood hometown who liked to kill cats. I don’t know whether the relative ever did this, but even as a wee lad, these stories didn’t engage me.
I, thankfully, had a father who grew up on the farm. And the farm was still five minutes away throughout my childhood. So not only did my father love and respect animals of all kinds, so did I. Even cats like the ones on the farm that would sit patiently near my grandmother as she hand-milked a cow, waiting for her to aim a part of the cow’s anatomy at them and squirt milk into their eager mouths. If you’ve never seen or participated in this trick you haven’t lived.
I remember, I don’t know why, Dad holding kittens once. I think we were somewhere other than home. But the point is I remember him intervening to protect these kittens from I can’t remember what and then gently petting and talking kindly to them. It’s just a blip from childhood, but it is a powerful memory, one that helped form my love for animals and later interest in wildlife preservation and “the outdoors,” what we now call the environment. I'm glad for Dad's example.
I admit cats are not my favorite domestic animal. Dogs hold that position. But cats are endlessly creative, energetic, and interesting animals. To me they’re fun to watch while dogs are fun to physically enjoy, i.e. wrestle and roughhouse.
I know all the arguments about feral cats and too many cats and why do we need cats and cats kill small game animals. But those are people issues, not cat issues. If people took proper care of cats we wouldn’t have cat problems.
So here’s to cats: one minute calm the next minute over the moon. Cats are a lot like people.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011