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Is recreational hunting humane?

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;
  • 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.

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.

Is hunting using shooting a humane way to kill pest animals?

Animal welfare experts agree that shooting can be a humane method of killing animals when the following requirements are met:

  • it is carried out by experienced, skilled and responsible shooters
  • the animal can be clearly seen and is within range to achieve an instantly fatal shot and to ensure it is not a lactating female 
  • the correct firearm, ammunition and shot placement is used
  • target animals are not chased (but stalked as not to alarm the animal) prior to shooting
  • wounded animals are located and killed as quickly and humanely as possible
  • death of the target animal is confirmed before shooting another animal
  • if a lactating female is accidentally shot, efforts are made to find dependent young and kill them quickly and humanely
  • all other conditions, as stated in relevant best practice guidelines, are understood and adhered to.

However ‘hunting’ does not always satisfy these requirements. Therefore although shooting using best practice is considered humane, the variable nature of ‘hunting’ means that some degree of animal suffering is likely. The main concern with hunting is that there is no mandatory requirement for hunters to undergo a shooting competency assessment which means there are likely to be many hunters who lack the necessary skills to kill animals humanely. 

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.

Also Read

Updated on May 2, 2019
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https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/is-recreational-hunting-humane/

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