Killing Things

My parents hunted, both of them, birds, deer, elk, rabbits. I had rabbit pelts in my doll house as a child. I still have one of those pelts at home, a bit worse for wear. When they shot game, my parents used as much of the animals as they could, not just the meat but there was something reverent about how they contemplated what would be useful.

Tuesday the Senate passed a bill changing what we define as waste. We loosened the idea of what it means to waste an animal you have hunted and killed. In another bill we allowed out of state hunters to get bonus permission to kill wolves if they do not kill an elk or deer. This is not an animal they will eat or even necessarily be able to take home as a trophy on the plane, but an animal they can legally kill and leave dead where it fell.

A few weeks ago we changed the law as to how we decide what constitutes humane killing of chickens and livestock. A panel of representatives mostly from the livestock industry will soon decide.

I debate how to respectfully say that we seem to have lost our reverence for those things we kill to feed ourselves. Personally I am not one who would ever kill an animal for amusement, for sport. I have killed animals for mercy and would hunt for food. I wonder is there no balance where we admire the beauty of and life of an animal? Its role in relation to the plants and animals around it?

I wonder about all those carcases out there. Does someone take a photo with the dead wolf, the mountain lion or the bear? Cut off a part as a souvenir? Or with an elk or deer do people just walk away from all parts but the now lawfully designated edible portions? At least the eating of an animal is personal and thus somehow reverent. It does not get much more personal than that.

I know the wild has an astounding capacity to absorb the dead. Creatures large and small dissemble carcases. Bugs and birds spread what is left far and wide, until all that remains is a hard, white shadow, the bones.