I bristle when news reporters or documentary narrators use the words “poacher” and “hunter” interchangeably. There is a huge difference between the two. A hunter is a person who follows the laws governing the take of wild game, and holds himself or herself to the even higher standards of ethics, as well.
A poacher doesn’t care about the laws, the future of the animals he kills, or the damage he does to the ecosystem, the reputation of law-abiding hunters, or anything else.
In some parts of the world, poachers kill for money. They shoot rhinoceros and elephants and take the horns and tusks, or they strip the hides off of leopards and panthers. They then sell these items on the black market, and then go out and kill more animals.
Last week, there was even a report of poachers breaking into a zoo in Paris, killing a rhino, and cutting off its horn with a chainsaw.
Closer to home, poachers often kill for the thrill, more than money. I’m sure there is a black market for parts from animals we have in Wyoming, but it’s not as well publicized. But whether those people are killing animals for money or just to make themselves feel cool for a few minutes, they’re still poaching. And it needs to stop.
Poaching damages more than the animals killed. It also causes nonhunters to think poorly of lawful hunters. This is evident by news reports of poachers, where reporters use the word “hunter” when they are talking about the poachers. Poachers are not hunters. They’re criminals. They’re assassins. They’re scum.
Let’s all do what we can to curtail poaching. Don’t hunt with people who break the law, and turn in those you see doing it. The future of hunting may depend on it.