The Grizzly Trophy – a dialogue

Is there any any justification for the so-called sport of big game trophy hunting? Philosopher Trudy Govier examines the arguments in dialogue form.

Is there any any justification for the so-called sport of big game trophy hunting? Philosopher Trudy Govier examines the arguments in dialogue form.

Introductory notes from part 1

A discussion of the so-called sport of trophy hunting, presented as a dialogue.

  • Ned, who has killed a grizzly bear in a trophy hunt in British Columbia. He has the skin and is taking it to be cleaned and prepared so that he can hang it on his wall.
  • Gillian: Ned’s neighbour, an environmentalist and activist.
  • Anna: Ned’s 14-year-old granddaughter.

Gillian: Hi Ned. That looks like an awkward bag you’ve got there.

Ned: Well, it is a bit heavy, but it’s going to fit into the trunk.

Gillian: What is it?

Ned: It’s a bearskin. I’m taking it to a taxidermist to be cleaned.

Gillian: What?

Ned: Just what I said, Gill. It’s a grizzly bear skin. Last week I was off at a lodge in northern B.C., just me and some guys, and I got this one, a big one. When this skin is all fixed up it will make a great decoration for our living room.

Gillian: You killed a grizzly? I thought they were an endangered species – protected due to diminishing numbers.

Ned: Not in B.C. There are no trophy hunts for grizzlies in Alberta, but that might be changing soon. There are arguments about the numbers. No, I killed this big one up near Prince George, and I’m going to show it off.

Gillian: God, I can’t believe it. This sort of thing still goes on?

Ned: Why not? If a grizzly bear could kill me, it certainly would. So why shouldn’t I kill it?

Gillian: Come on, Ned. That’s not much of an argument. Would you eat dead flesh because vultures do it?

Ned: Don’t be a killjoy. There’s nothing wrong with killing animals and some of us have a lot of fun hunting. Are you a vegetarian, after all? If not, you’re eating the flesh of killed animals every day. Just because you don’t kill them yourself, that doesn’t make you more virtuous than the hunters.

Gillian: Actually, Ned, I am a vegetarian. People don’t need to eat meat to have a healthy diet and keeping off it really helps with blood pressure and cholesterol control. Many animals people eat are raised in terrible conditions, and growing grain for them takes up land and water that could be used to grow plants for direct human consumption. There are lots of reasons for being a vegetarian – health, animal welfare, environment, economics . . .

Ned: Sure, sure.

Gillian: But that’s not the point right now. What I’m questioning isn’t killing animals for food or even hunting as a sport. It’s hunting for trophies. Hunting so you can brag about it, when you don’t even use the meat. When people kill animals for food, at least they use the flesh of the animal. Animals aren’t killed just for fun, just so somebody can have a skin or antlers on their wall. Really!

Ned: Oh come on, Gill. Human beings have been hunting animals since the beginning of recorded history – and probably much longer. Hunting animals is something people naturally do and taking pride in a successful hunt is just as natural. It’s part of being human, part of being a man.

Gillian: Oh, part of being a man. I’m not going to buy into this. Sure, hunting is traditional. But that doesn’t show it’s right. And just because something is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s morally acceptable. Lots of things that are natural are seriously harmful and profoundly wrong – for example, the lust of old men for young girls whom they can rape at their pleasure. Trophy hunting is wrong.

Ned: Even if men killing animals has been part of human societies for many thousands of years?

Gillian: They killed to get food and shelter. If you’re going to convince me that it’s right to kill a grand old grizzly, native to our land, and scarce due to habitat depletion, you’re going to need a better argument than that. It’s traditional? Part of human nature? Or male human nature? Come on.

Ned: Were the Indians committing environmental or moral wrongs, then, every time they killed a pronghorn or a buffalo?

Gillian: I didn’t say that, and I wouldn’t. In their traditional lifestyle, First Nations people killed to meet their needs. They didn’t waste; they valued the animals and respected them. Some even apologized to the animals to acknowledge their value in the natural order. Anyway, it’s not Indians. It’s First Nations.

Ned: First Nations. Picky, picky. You environmentalists will attack a few guys for going off to have a good time, but you’ll never criticize the Indians. For us white men, it’s another matter.

Gillian: That’s not the point and you know it. Aboriginal people can defend their hunts by pointing to their need for meat and bones and skins, or on the basis of traditional pursuits central to preserving their culture. Your bear hunt doesn’t fit in here at all. You just want the skin to show it off. This kind of killing is just to have ‘fun’ and get a false sense of achievement.

Ned: I admit it. I am proud of my bear skin. I also really like it and I’m going to display it so that I can appreciate it and admire it.

Gillian: Look, Ned, I don’t want to turn this into a fight. We’re neighbours after all. Ken and I still remember all the help you and Carol gave us when our basement flooded that summer. This problem is just one of so many about people and the natural world. Two friends should be able to talk and think about it.

Ned: Gill, you’re right. Ok, nature, as you call it, there are all sorts of issues. Of course, I agree. We could talk about resources, population problems, pollution, the oilsands, factory farming, zoos, whatever . . . It goes on and on.

Gillian: So true.

Ned: We’re talking about one thing: trophy hunting. And I just can’t see what’s wrong with it, taking pride in your kill, showing it off . . . In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big issue. If you’re going to worry about nature, why don’t you spend your energy on wilderness conservation or water or forests? Or climate change – that’s the really big one!

Gillian: Everything counts. Just because you have a big problem, that’s no reason to ignore a smaller problem. And anyway, trophy hunting is not such a small problem. It’s related to the extinction of species, which is a very big problem.

Ned: I don’t see that. Trophy hunting is a small part of a very big picture when it comes to human beings and the natural environment. Look, I went with my buddies on this hunt in northern B.C. We paid for our travel, our license, our lodgings and our guide. He took us out, and I shot a bear. I’ve got my bearskin, I’m getting it cleaned. I like it and I’m proud of it and it’s going to look great on our living room wall.

Anna comes in.

Anna: Hi Grampa.

Ned: Oh Anna, I’m glad to see you. I forgot you were coming over this afternoon. Your gramma’s out because her friend Dorothy isn’t well and needed some help. But perhaps you can come along with me to the taxidermist.

Anna: The what? What’s a taxidermist?

Ned: It’s a person who cleans and sets up furs and skins, or dead birds and animals, so that they can be displayed.

Anna: That sounds awful. You’ve got a skin or something?

Ned: These taxidermists fix up animals for natural history museums and other educational things. Yes, I’ve got a fine grizzly bear hide here in this bag, and I was just setting out to get it cleaned and fixed up so your gramma and I can hang it up over the fire place.

Anna: Right in the living room? Oh no! But how did you get the bear hide? Was the bear found dead on the highway or something?

Ned: I went hunting and killed a bear. I was just telling Mrs Edwards here that we’re planning to display it once we get it back from the taxidermist.

Anna: You killed a bear? That doesn’t sound very nice.

Ned: That’s right, and I want to show off the fur.

Anna: What about Gramma?

Ned: Don’t worry, I’m not planning to hang her up too.

Anna: Grampa, I mean does Gramma want a bearskin in your living room?

Gillian: Living room wall? Oh no — poor Carol. Couldn’t you at least hang it in the basement?

Ned: Are we shifting now to a discussion of interior decorating? Look, here’s the point. It’s ok to kill animals. I killed that bear and I’m proud of it. The fur is beautiful, I got it, and I’m going to show it off. Killing animals is customary and acceptable: human beings have been doing it for a very long time.

Anna: You want to show off killing? You’re proud of it? The poor bear!

Ned: Anna, you’re a soft-hearted girl, but the point is, people kill animals all the time. You support the killing of animals whenever you eat a hamburger!

Gillian: Ok, I get it. But why should you be proud of killing a grand old animal when you don’t need its meat or skin for survival?

Ned: Look Gill, it’s an achievement, a human achievement, a male achievement and a brave one. I want to show off my trophy, and I’m going to do that. It’s pride but it’s not only pride. I really like this bearskin.

Don’t be a killjoy. There’s nothing wrong with killing animals and some of us have a lot of fun hunting. Are you a vegetarian, after all? If not, you’re eating the flesh of killed animals every day.  Just because you don’t kill them yourself, that doesn’t make you more virtuous than the hunters.

Gillian: You can like it, whatever. Frankly – and with all due respect Ned – I just don’t see what you’ve got to be proud of. It’s not as though you stalked that bear and risked your life to kill it with a bow and arrow or anything. Didn’t you pay for a license and have a guide to lead you to it? You probably went out in a vehicle with a paid guide and a powerful gun to shoot. It hardly qualifies as a sport.

Ned: Are you an authority now on the definition of sport? Look, it felt like an adventure, and it was an adventure.

Gillian: I’ve seen ads on the Internet, and some of them guarantee a success rate of 95%. We’re not exactly talking about First Nations braves in the uncharted wilderness or anything like that.

Anna: If you were in wilderness, wandering around on your own trying to find a grizzly bear, Gramma would be really worried about you. And so would we all.

Ned: I was with a guide. That guide was paid, and that’s important. People in isolated areas can make a decent living doing that, and if you care about the native people, that should matter.

Gillian: That bear didn’t have a chance. What you did didn’t take courage; you weren’t risking your life in the wilderness. The hunter is merely a shooter; there is no skill at all. People just reduce the animal to an easy target, and then brag about killing it.

Ned: It’s not so easy to shoot a target to kill. With all due respect, Gill, you’ve never tried it, so you wouldn’t know. We’re not talking about lions in South Africa or what they call canned hunting, where lions are raised just so they can be killed. For hunting in Africa the Big Five are leopards, lions, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. I know there are issues about species there. But come on, I shot this bear in northern B.C.

Gillian: Species extinction is a global problem.

Ned: Just what is the problem, in my case? Is it that I killed a single animal, this particular grizzly bear? Or is it the survival of the species? Or it is that I’m a white man and you don’t like my arguments?

Anna: Grampa, don’t get mad. It’s just that I can’t imagine you wanting to kill a grand old animal to show off the skin.

Gillian: Look, Ned, you can be as male as you want, and as white as you want. I’m just looking for better arguments to defend this trophy hunting. You killed the bear to get the skin to decorate your wall. You didn’t need the bear for food or skin or cultural ceremonies, and it didn’t take skill to kill it.

Ned: I like these animal skins and antlers and so on – and I wanted something like this for our place. So I got one.

Anna: Bears are beautiful in the wild, and in the wild they can move around, find their food, reproduce, and lead a real life. They are living creatures just the way we are. Grampa, I just don’t understand why you don’t take the bear’s life more seriously.

Gillian: Ned, I think Anna’s on the right track here. That animal was a sentient creature, and its life and welfare shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not just a nothing, a commodity that anybody can exploit to provide satisfaction for human desires. You talk about pride where there should be shame. Any pride you’d feel is false pride, I’d say. Killing an animal when you’re protected in a vehicle and armed with a rifle, not at any risk – that’s no real achievement. There’s nothing like fair chase in this situation, and nothing to be proud of here.

Ned: So, Gillian, your concern is my character, not the survival of animals.

Gillian: It’s both, and they’re connected.

Anna: I love you Grampa, but why did you have to kill that bear?

Ned: It doesn’t look as though I’m going to convince you two that hunting shows good character, so let’s talk about the animals. Are you worried about this one grizzly bear, who you think didn’t have a chance to protect itself? Or are you worried about the survival of the species, grizzly bears?

Anna: The one bear, the poor bear that died so you could hang the skin on your wall. Well, and I guess other bears too. It wouldn’t be better if you had killed another bear instead of this one. All the bears are beautiful wild creatures, and none of them should be killed.

Gillian: Am I concerned about this one grizzly bear? Or the survival of the species, grizzly bear? The answer is both. It’s not an either/or.

Ned: You have to do better than that. Now as to the individual, surely you’re not going to wax sentimental about just one animal, this particular bear, now dead. What matters environmentally is not individual animals, surely. What matters environmentally is the survival of the species. That requires the survival of the habitats these animals need. They need land to roam in and get the food they require.

Gillian: Ok, Ned, I’m with you so far.

Ned: Anyway, that bear could have died in the wild for all kinds of reasons. If there are imbalances in populations of grizzly bears and other animals, Nature will do its job and correct them.

Anna: Does nature correct every imbalance? Even when people interfere?

Gillian: Nature will do its job? This is pretty vague, and whatever it means, it seems rashly overconfident, given the rate at which species are becoming extinct these days.

Ned: Just a minute, Gill. Extinction itself is a natural process. Many, many species have gone extinct in the course of history.

Anna: Is it still natural if human beings are part of the cause? We learned about the killing of the buffalo by white explorers and tourists. There were millions of them, and people just shot and shot so there were hardly any left. How could you say that was natural?

Ned: It’s natural for people to kill animals, Anna.

Gillian: At least the buffalo didn’t become extinct, only almost extinct. But getting back to the grizzly bear, I think Ned is saying that somehow an individual bear is going to die, and its individual life doesn’t matter so much. So that bear might just as well have die to satisfy male pride as for any other reason.

Anna: It shouldn’t have to die.

Gillian: Ned’s reasoning seems to go like this: man is the greatest creature, and here is a large grand animal. The great man can assert his superior position and domination by killing the grand animal. Russian president Vladimir Putin loves to show off his kills of animals like the Siberian tiger. His conquest is greater, and more befitting to him, as the animal is grander. And that’s why rich men are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to kill lions and elephants, and rhinos and so on.

Anna: Elephants? That’s really awful.

Ned: Look, Gill, let’s get back to the point. We aren’t talking about elephants and lions in Africa. It’s a bearskin I’ve got. It’s not a lion head, or ivory tusks, or a rhinoceros horn. I was hunting in North America, where the hunted animals are bears, wolves, cougars, and coyotes. In case you’re interested, they also have trophy hunting in Greenland – for reindeer.

Anna: For the antlers?

Ned: I guess so. Look Gill, I’m not trying to be a philosopher here, constructing a big theory about the position of great men in nature, and who is a great man, and what species dominates what other one, and so on. I just wanted to hunt, and I paid for the trip and went hunting, had an adventure and got a bearskin.

Anna: And you’ve got one right in that bag? Yuck. Grampa, that’s awful.

Ned: I’ve got the skin in this bag, that’s right, Anna. Look, the point is, conservation is about species and habitat, not individuals. In B.C., grizzly bears are not a protected species and hunting them is permitted. There are areas of wilderness and semi-wilderness where guides take hunters out; you can pay a fee and go there, hunt with a team, and get a bear.

Gillian: We’re talking about trophy hunting in particular, right? Not hunting in general.

Ned: Right.

Gillian: My argument is that in trophy hunting, animals are killed for no good reason. They’re killed out of male pride, which is a bad reason.

Ned: Look, that’s unfair. Male pride isn’t the only thing. People really like these things, skins and antlers, and so on. And you have to remember, women could hunt trophies and some do.

Gillian: Not very many. Well, Sarah Palin hunts moose and caribou. She would be an exception, I guess.

Anna: I’d never want to do that. I can’t see how it could be adventure or fun to go out and kill something.

Ned: Let’s get away from pride and adventure and whether people like skins or not. There are good environmental and economic reasons for allowing and sponsoring trophy hunts.

Gillian: Do tell.

Ned: People who pay to hunt trophies provide resources to governments, and those resources can provide salaries for rangers, fire fighters, guides, surveillance against poachers, and all sorts of things. Salaries make it possible for people to live in these areas, support families, and have a decent life. In Africa especially, there are really poor communities. People on the verge of starvation can’t be persuaded to stay away from poaching and farming. Funds from trophy hunting go to salaries, communities do better, and governments get the resources to enforce laws against poaching.

Gillian: Now you’re the one talking about Africa.

Ned: Ok, ok. But the point is, money from hunters can be used to support wilderness and make its preservation economically viable. When it makes economical sense to protect a natural habitat for wild animals, we’re more likely to do it. So hunters like me are helping to protect the environment and the species that live there. Hunting and conservation go together. We may kill some individuals, but we’re saving the species. And that’s what counts.

Anna: Are you saying that it’s ok to kill one grizzly bear for a trophy because by doing that you help protect other grizzly bears?

Ned: Something like that, but it’s not other individual grizzly bears. It’s the species that counts.

Gillian: Really? Now you’re saying you care about saving species?

Ned: I assumed you would care.

Gillian: I do. Still, I have to admit, it’s a puzzling problem. It’s hard to understand why a species, distinct from all of its individual members, would have value would be worth preserving. The value of an individual animal and the value of its species must somehow be related. I mean, an individual grizzly bear as a living entity has beauty and value both in itself and for the people who see it. Because individuals have value, the species does too. After all, if there were no individual grizzly bears left, the species would have no future either. It would be gone forever.

Anna: More and more animal species are becoming extinct. It’s awful. When they teach us about that in school, it’s really depressing.

Ned: I was using species preservation in my argument because I thought that you environmentalists would approve of it. It thought it would give me a starting point that I could get you people to accept. When you consider other species like mosquitoes or the smallpox virus, the whole idea of species value is much harder to grasp than it is for grizzly bears. Ok, so we want a world that has grizzly bears and elephants and lions and such. But the smallpox virus? Rats? Mosquitoes? Why should we want to preserve them?

Gillian: Now we are into philosophy, whether you want to go there or not.

Anna: I don’t need philosophy, I just need my feelings. It’s disgusting to kill a grand animal just so you can display the skin and admire it and be proud of it.

Gillian: About species preservation, let me tell you just quickly the two best arguments I’ve come across. One is that we don’t know what species will prove to be useful in the future, for human beings and for the preservation of habitat in which other, valued species live. So we should try to preserve them all. Even the humble mosquito may be food for birds or frogs or something else that is essential for life.

Ned: Even a smallpox virus?

Gillian: Keep it in a jar in a lab.

Anna: Just in case someone might need it for something, some day?

Gillian: That’s the idea.

Ned: You’re basically saying ‘we don’t know what the functions of a species are, so we should preserve it just in case.’ In other words, ‘we don’t know X, so we should do Y.’ Hey, it’s a well-known fallacy, and it has a name: appeal to ignorance. If we don’t know something, then we lack knowledge. Period. That doesn’t give us reason to do something else.

Gillian: It’s not quite that simple. Beneath our ignorance, there may be good reasons for what we should do, just in case. Scientists call it the precautionary principle. The idea is quite commonsensical really, sort of like “better safe than sorry”.

Anna: How does this precautionary principle work? Is it in our laws?

Gillian: In some interpretation, yes it is. The basic idea is this. People who think an action could cause harm don’t have to prove that. Instead, people who think some action will not cause harm have the burden of proof to support their case. You have to take special precautions. It’s called the precautionary principle, and it’s not just a matter of logical inferences from ignorance.

Ned: Well, it sounds like that to me. Just giving the appeal to ignorance a fancier name won’t make it less of a fallacy. So what’s your other argument?

Gillian. It’s based on what they call biodiversity. We have so many distinct species in the world, and greater variety in the world makes the world a greater place. Even a small element, like mosquitoes, that we might judge to be ‘bad’ in its own right, contributes to the greater variety of the whole. It helps to make the whole more wonderful. When a species goes extinct, there is a permanent decrease in the diversity of the world. The world is a lesser world because of it.

Ned: My God! This sounds like speculative – what do you call it – metaphysics.

Anna: It’s beautiful – the idea that the more kinds of thing there are in the world, the more wonderful the world is. Is that a religious idea?

Gillian: Not exactly. It’s really more metaphysical. In the eighteenth century the philosopher Leibniz argued in this way. His theory was not about the effects of different species; it was about the fact of their existence. But look, even if these ideas are speculative metaphysics, that doesn’t make them wrong.

Ned: Or right, for that matter.

Anna: Was this Leibniz the same one who discovered calculus at about the same time as Newton? I think we learned about him in social studies.

Gillian: Right.

Ned: Wasn’t this Leibniz the same chap who claimed to prove this is the best of all possible worlds? Anyone who would seriously say that, I don’t know…

Obviously, he was wrong about something.

Gillian: He could be wrong about one thing without being wrong about everything.

Anna: He wasn’t wrong about the calculus.

Ned: Ok, ok. But we’re getting off the track here. Leaving this metaphysics, and going back to trophy hunting and my bearskin, let me temporarily agree with you environmentalists that the preservation of endangered species is valuable. And let’s assume, at least for the sake of argument, that the grizzly bear is an endangered species. What I want to say is this: trophy hunting can serve to protect endangered species.

Anna: You kill grizzly bears to save the species, grizzly bears? How does that work?

Ned: What endangered species need most of all is habitat – a place to live, feed, roam, and reproduce. When you permit trophy hunting, the habitat is saved. People profit from these animals and they have an interest in keeping the land safe from logging and other things. These people you disapprove of – the trophy hunters — pay hefty fees to do that. They pay for the animal, they pay for guides and accommodations, and travel; then their fees support the conservation of habitats.

Gillian: Trophy hunting generates money.

Ned: That’s my point. So it turns out to be a positive thing. You people should support it, instead of going on about false male pride, rich white men, the domination of nature, philosophy and metaphysics, and all.

Gillian: There’s a big gap in your line of argument here. And it really matters. Let’s suppose that for the reasons you’ve just explained, trophy hunting could provide a way to preserve some endangered species – those ones that can provide trophies for rich white men. Lions and bears and elephants and so on — not snails or other humble creatures. Nobody is going to trophy hunt a snail.

Anna: That’s for sure.

Gillian: As you say, Ned, this sort of argument could be a way of justifying trophy hunting. But I see a big pitfall in your argument. We need to ask whether trophy hunting is really the best way of preserving threatened species. I doubt it. I really doubt it. Some African countries doubt it too – Kenya and Botswana have banned trophy hunting. There’s a better way: what they call eco-tourism.

Anna: What’s eco-tourism?

Gillian: People can be taken in by guides to see the animals, take pictures, draw pictures, get inspiration from seeing the wild, and so on. An animal that is shot and killed dies. It’s not there to be shot again. Yet an individual animal can be photographed hundreds or even thousands of times.

Anna: That makes sense.

Ned: I don’t see how you get support for habitat out of this.

Gillian: People who go on environmental safaris will also pay guides, buy accommodations, meals, souvenirs, and so on. There will be ordinary people doing these things – not just rich white men. The eco-tourists will pay and generate employment for people who are guides, cooks, craftspeople, and so on. They pay for those privileges on these trips. One African study estimated there is 15 times as much economic benefit from eco-tourism as from trophy hunting.

Ned: Is this realistic?

Gillian: There’s evidence to support it. Eco-tourism is quite well-established in some parts of Africa. And the healthiest most beautiful male animals don’t have to die for it.

Ned: We just can’t get out of Africa, can we? But look, for eco-tourism, wouldn’t you need more infrastructure – roads, and lodges, and even airports? You have to disturb the habitat just to get all these eco-tourists in there, and that threatens the very same animals you’re trying to protect… Isn’t this a problem?

Gillian: Infrastructure can be kept modest, and anyway in many areas of North America, much of it is already there. Anyway, that’s a detail that would have to be worked out.

Anna: Nature is beautiful and people could come to appreciate the beauty.

People could see beautiful animals in the wilderness and take pictures, and they wouldn’t have to kill the animals or have them skinned or anything. That sounds a lot better.

Ned: Just this winter, someone paid $350,000.00 US at an auction in Dallas, for a license to kill a black rhino in Namibia. It was in the news. The auction was held by the Dallas Safari Club.

Gillian: The Dallas Safari Club is a notorious lobby group for hunting. No less than George W. Bush is a prominent member, and we’ve got plenty of evidence about his moral standards. Let’s not look to these people for guidance!

Ned: Well, George W. Bush, ok, that’s a bit of a problem. But let’s stay away from guilt by association arguments, all right? It’s true that many male political leaders have liked trophy hunting. There was that famous photo of Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, when they hunted wild boars. I’ll admit that these people aren’t exactly morally admirable characters. But that’s not the point here.

Gillian: It takes us back to the pride idea. You try to prove your strength and greatness by showing that you killed a great animal. It’s awful.

Anna: If you want to prove you’re great, aren’t there other things you could do?

Ned: We’re going off the topic. I’m not trying to defend the moral virtues of these political leaders, whether it’s the U.S., or Canada, or Russia. My point with this black rhino example is to consider the vast amount of money that was raised from auctioning off the permit. It’s going to take an awful lot of this eco-tourism to raise anything close to $350,000.00. And remember, that $350,000.00 is going to conservation causes.

Gillian: I read that story about the black rhinos. We checked it out at work. There are about 5000 black rhinos presently in existence, whereas in the 1960s there were 70,000 of them. Given that result, this hunting/conservation strategy certainly isn’t working! And there’s lots of evidence that eco-tourism is more sound, from an economic point of view. But this can’t be the whole story. We’re really missing something if we just think about economics and leave out biology and ethics.

Anna: If you love something and admire it, you shouldn’t kill it.

Gillian: We shouldn’t be destroying animals with the rationalization that what we’re really doing is preserving them. These animals are leading their own lives, and their lives have value, whether we are thinking of individuals or of species. These animals are beautiful – they have aesthetic value too, and it shouldn’t be destroyed.

Anna: I really like the idea of this eco-tourism. Maybe I could go on a trip like that some day. Grampa, you’re a good photographer, maybe you could take me.

You could get a lot of beautiful pictures and come and show them at my school.

Ned: I’m not sure. Yeah, I like taking pictures, but I wouldn’t like to substitute that for the adventure of hunting. And as for beauty … look Gillian, how beautiful is a black rhino? Have you looked at a picture of one of these things lately? Or a grizzly bear, for that matter? Ethics, animal rights, beauty? Metaphysics? Look, you’ve got to be practical. Trophy hunting is quite all right, and it can resolve a lot of problems.

Gillian: Ned, I’m afraid your so-called practicality is not really that. Your focus is just too narrow, and the benefits you are claiming would be short-term. When the animals are gone, there will be no trophies left, whereas eco-tourism is sustainable.

Ned: I don’t know, given the habitat risks. But look, I’ve got to get going here. The taxidermist closes his place at about four. Are you coming with me, Anna?

Anna: Grampa, I don’t want to go there. It’s sounds awful and I’d be scared to see all the dead animals and birds. I still hope you could take me on a photo safari some day. I’ll save up for it. Anyway, since Gramma isn’t home, can you drop me off at Katie’s house?

Ned: Sure thing. Gillian, we don’ t agree, but maybe we can talk about this some more.

Gillian: Anna, I’ve got some information on a photo safari, I think. Maybe I can show it to you and your mum some day soon. Ned, see you soon. But please do me at least one favour and put that skin in your basement so I won’t have to look at it when Carol and I are having coffee.

Ned: I’ll think about it.

Anna: And the photo safari?

Ned: Perhaps. Anyway, we have to go. Bye for now, Gillian. Come on, Anna, let’s go.