Recreational Hunting Position Statement
Sentient, The Veterinary Institute of Animal Ethics, opposes recreational hunting.
Hunting results in immense suffering through injury and prolonged death of target and non-target species as well as disturbance to their habitats.
The majority of hunters are amateurs whose shooting competency, and skills in identifying ‘legal’ species, cannot be guaranteed.
Data collected by veterinarians, the RSPCA and others involved in the rescue and treatment of mammals and birds injured through hunting activities provide ample evidence of the nature and level of suffering that occurs. A significant number of animals shot are not killed outright and not all injured animals are retrieved, resulting in many suffering a prolonged death. Even worse is the impact of bow hunting, which is legally used by a minority of hunters. This causes extensive soft tissue and organ damage, severe pain and can lead to either non-fatal injury or a slow, inhumane death.
In addition, many hunters use dogs when hunting feral pigs. This is also inhumane as it results in fear and intense suffering of pigs due to frenzied chasing and savaging. Furthermore, it risks significant injury to the dogs themselves, who can suffer deep wounds and injury. It is not uncommon for owners to treat such injuries themselves, in preference to veterinary treatment. Treatment may also be delayed, leading to further suffering, due to these activities occurring in remote locations where immediate veterinary treatment is not available.
Pro-hunting lobby groups attempt to legitimise hunting as a form of feral animal control. There is no evidence that it has any significant effect on reducing feral animal populations or their adverse impacts. Feral animal culling must only be undertaken as part of strategically developed programs by professional shooters under strict codes of conduct and welfare guidelines, where welfare and environmental impacts can be controlled. Allowing amateur shooters or archers to kill feral animals is not acceptable.
Hunting cannot be supported on ethical grounds. Hunting for sport where target animals are not used for human consumption is not justified in that animals are killed purely to fulfil human gratification. Even where hunted animals are consumed, food can be obtained through alternative sources where the welfare of all animals can be controlled and monitored.