The Importance of Perception
Fair chase. It’s a phrase used in the hunting industry that’s meant to bring a positive perception to hunting. It’s a way of hunting many hunters are extremely proud of because we are in their habitat and they have the upper hand. Unfortunately there’s a way to hunt that isn’t seen as fair chase. It happens behind high fences. It’s a part of the hunting industry many hunters look down on but it continues to grow. At face value the high fence hunting experience seems to be about the killing and not the hunt. To have a game animal put in an oversized pen then “hunted” burns many hunters and anti-hunters alike. Yep, this may be an issue that anti’s and some hunters agree on but the problem is that the anti’s are using high fence hunting as ammunition in the battle to put an end to hunting. They use it to bias public perception that hunters are just killers and not about experience, fair chase, and conservation. It makes hunting look more like a sport than a hunt. In a world where perception becomes reality to the public at large this is important. If we want our hunting heritage to continue we need the public to understand that it’s about the experience, providing food, fair chase, and wildlife conservation. High fence hunting degrades the value, need, importance and what it means to be a hunter and what hunting really is. Anti-hunters are using the model of high fence hunts to sway perception that hunting is unnecessary, cruel and not needed in a time when we need to show that hunting is a worthwhile, needed activity.
It’s also argued that game ranches are petri dishes for disease, and it’s not a bad argument either. Congregating animals is always risky business when it comes to disease transmission and spread. In fact, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first seen in captive mule deer and elk before making it’s way into wild populations. CWD poses a major threat to wild deer and elk populations in the West and has been spreading for decades. There’s also the threat of genetically inferior ranch raised big game escaping into wild populations and it’s happened on several occasions. In 2006, about 160 domestic elk escaped a high fence hunting operation in Chief Joseph, Idaho near Yellowstone National Park. Scenarios like this raise serious concerns about spreading disease and bring up questions of genetic health when genetically inferior domestic elk mix with the wild population. Many wildlife managers and hunters believe these operations are a train wreck waiting to happen.
The topic of high fence game hunting can stir strong emotions with both non-hunters and hunters alike. Where do you stand on the topic as a hunter? Should we be worried about others perception of hunting and the potential health risk of these operations?