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What Does It Mean to ‘Kill Humanely’?

Some say predators, such as wolves, kill cruelly, whereas human hunters kill swiftly and painlessly — but neither notion is fair nor accurate.

| October/November 2011

  • Mama Wolf With Pups On Grass
    Do wolves have any less right to hunt to feed their families than human hunters do to feed their families?
  • Mountain Lion On The Hunt
    Keystone predators, such as mountain lions, support diversity.
  • Raccoon Glancing Around Tree
    Farmers use dogs and barn cats to scare away poultry-loving predators such as raccoons.

  • Mama Wolf With Pups On Grass
  • Mountain Lion On The Hunt
  • Raccoon Glancing Around Tree

Lately, I often find myself grasping for a noun to represent the word “humane.” According to the dictionary, that word is “humaneness.” But that’s hard to say, looks strange on paper and just sounds weird. So, by instinct, I usually grab the word “humanity.”

That also sounds wrong.

I need the word when I say something like, “The humaneness of concentrated feedlot operations is questionable.” Or, “Consumers today judge farmers more and more on their humaneness.”

Wouldn’t it sound better to say we are judged on our humanity?

But “humanity” is a dubious choice, not only because the dictionary says it’s wrong, but also because it has another meaning: “of or pertaining to human beings.”

That other meaning is, possibly, contradictory.

Doug Gregory
10/27/2011 1:05:29 AM

Mr Welch, thank you for your article and thanks to 5 comments posted so far. We live in one of the Rocky Mountian states that has a booming wolf population and growing grizzly bear population. My wife and I both come from homesteading/farming/ranching families, some of whom are still struggling to make a living from the land, so we understand both sides of this coin to a degree. We are also hunters and fisherpersons who firmly believe in a swift and merciful end as possible to the animals we take to feed our family. We are very interested to hear from the rest of the country on their thoughts on this article.

10/25/2011 7:30:03 PM

Thanks for the feedback! It's great to hear your perspectives.

10/25/2011 1:47:35 PM

Bravo!I came to read expecting to find some limp-wristed apology or indictment of people and or predators. What I found was a reasoned and reasonable article. Well done!

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