Texas Senator Wants To Legalize Death From Above

RECEIVED Thu., April 7, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Texas Sen. Sid Miller wants to pass a law making it legal for people to purchase the ability to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from helicopters. As a hunter, a former lobbyist assistant, and someone concerned about ecological ethics, I find this bill very disturbing. Supporters of House Bill 716 argue that the hogs are a non-native species and cause costly destruction to area ranches. The bill also includes coyotes, a native predator and vital piece of the local food web; however, no rationale for their inclusion has been given.
    I know Miller considers himself to be an advocate for farmers and ranchers, but these industries are inordinately represented by big agribusiness. Those pushing for this legislation are most likely arguing that hogs endanger cattle, spread disease, or damage farmland. While these points may have merit, these financial concerns are not the only thing at stake here.
    It is true that these hogs are not native and that the presence of “imported species” is a significant factor threatening the overall health of the planet, but this proposal’s suggested remedy is shamefully cruel. The bill characterizes its aim as a new form of hunting, but this would be a misnomer. Most likely, animals killed in this fashion would not be eaten but left to rot. Miller’s bill would legalize indiscriminate slayings, not hunting.
    HB 716 addresses one human failure – negligence – with another – a lack of compassion and dignity. It denies these creatures of the respect and honor due any living being. In an age of such ecological turmoil, we need to temper our handling of the environment with greater care. Before we continue this conversation about what, if anything, should be done about the feral hogs, let us first resolve ourselves to approaching the issue with an ethic of respect and compassion.
Jeremiah Griffin
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