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Is recreational hunting humane?

Recreational hunting poses many welfare risks associated with shooting as well as stalking or chasing animals. In addition, there is limited legal protection for hunted animals who are injured due to minimal standards and lack of monitoring of hunters to safeguard animal welfare. The RSPCA opposes recreational hunting, or the act of stalking or pursuing an animal and then killing it for sport, due to the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.

Hunting has the potential to result in animals suffering significantly including being;

  • chased to the point of exhaustion;
  • killed with methods that do not cause a quick and painless death;
  • injured and left to die a slow, painful death.

Thus distress, injury and suffering are highly likely, if not inevitable.

In the best case scenario;

  • a hunted animal would be shot by an experienced, skilled and responsible shooter;
  • shooting would not occur during the breeding season;
  • the animal would be clearly seen and within range to ensure a lactating female is not shot;
  • the correct firearm, ammunition and shot placement would be used;
  • the animal would not be chased at all or if necessary stalked quietly without being alarmed prior to shooting;
  • the death of the animal would be confirmed as quickly as possible and prior to shooting any other animals;
  • if the animal was wounded, it would be located and killed as quickly and humanely as possible;
  • death of the target animal is confirmed before shooting another animal;
  • if an error was made and a lactating female was shot, dependent young would be found and killed as quickly and humanely as possible and
  • relevant best practice guidelines would be understood and adhered to.

Hunters are not required to undergo competency assessment for shooting accuracy before obtaining a licence or permit.

Hunting involves more than just ‘shooting’. Hunted animals are often chased long distances, sometimes by dogs as well as people; arrows and knives are sometimes used to kill animals rather than firearms; other parts of the body are aimed at rather than the head; wounded animals escape without being followed up and dependent young are often left to fend for themselves. The skill level of hunters is highly variable and some are not motivated or required to follow standard procedures or best practice. The consequences of these practices are that many animals will endure significant suffering and a protracted death.

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Updated on August 19, 2019
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