Friday, May 11, 2012

Torturing Animals

This Saturday is the official opening of sport game fishing season in Minnesota's inland lakes and rivers. Thousands will hook a boat trailer to the back of a pick-up and haul the boat and outboard to places like Mille Lacs Lake, Leech Lake, Rainy Lake or one of 9,997 other bodies of water hoping to lure, hook and land a limit of fish, hopefully a large specimen of Sander vitreus, commonly known as the "Walleye". This schooling fish is the object of such an intensive effort not because it's an enthusiastic fighter, like the acrobatic smallmouth bass but because of all the indigenous fish, it's regarded as the most flavorful. People like to eat them. They're not easy to catch. And when they are caught, it's sometimes difficult to tell if there's a fish on the end of the line or a weed. And after the fish is landed and admired, it's often, especially if it's large but not too large, returned to the water, to hopefully reproduce more walleyes. This is weird.
Catching a fish to eat makes perfect sense. It's the result of what might have been a pleasant day outdoors and ends in a good meal. But catching a fish and then fighting it and then returning it to the water? That's fish torture. That's making a fun experience out of being mean to a dumb animal. Cock fighting and bull fighting are deplored for just this reason. But it's OK to torture a fish, why? Because its little fish screams can't be heard by human ears? Because its blood quickly disperses in the water? Because it's not too high on the brain scale? None of those reasons are good enough. Imagine that you're walking down the sidewalk on a sunny afternoon, minding your own business, maybe on your way to the poolroom. Suddenly you spy floating in the air ahead of you a hundred dollar bill. There's no resisting that, You reach out and grab it and IT GRABS YOU! You try to pull away but you can't escape, you run and are dragged back, then you're yanked into the sky, screaming and panting, pulled into another dimension. Giant aliens scoop you into a net and then fondle you, take your picture, jabber incoherently and then fling you back down to earth. You run home and tell your wife and kids about the whole episode. They call a psychiatrist who arrives in an ambulance. Anyway, that's what's happening to the poor fish. And people that call themselves civilized are doing it.

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