Jan 24 2008
An animal-lover friend of mine began to feed the birds and was shocked when a coopers hawk killed a mourning dove at her feeder. She does not eat meat and wanted to know if she could train the coopers not to eat meat either. “If I put out more corn, will he eat the corn and not the doves?”
“No,” I said, “he will not eat corn. He’s a carnivore. That’s just how it is.”
Because humans are omnivores and we grow our own food, we find it hard to imagine the lives of creatures who must hunt to live. If a coopers hawk is not an efficient hunter, if it does not kill birds, it will die. It would be cruel to the hawk if it could not hunt.
But what about the prey species? Is it cruel to them that they are hunted?
There is a beautiful poem by James Dickey in which he describes the heaven where wild animals go. Called The Heaven of Animals he describes the predators in their heaven crouched on the limbs of trees and writes,
“And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk
Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.”
The universe is structured so that everything is eaten by something – in the grave, if not before. What an amazing cycle.
That’s just how it is.