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A Lion, Babies, and a Black Bear: Oh My | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

A Lion, Babies, and a Black Bear: Oh My

For the past week social media has been overrun by news of Cecil the Lion. If you do not know who this animal is by now, you’ve either been living under a rock or mercifully disconnected from all forms of news, be it cable, internet, or otherwise. For the unenlightened, a quick Cecil Recap.

It actually took place on July 1, 2015, but somehow the events surrounding Cecil’s death have caused a more recent surge in United States media. On the day in question, a dentist from Minnesota by the name of Walter Palmer was hunting in Zimbabwe, and his target was a lion. This lion. Palmer paid $55,000 for this hunt – that wouldn’t be terribly surprising considering it was an African safari – and is a big game hunter, both overseas and here at home in the States. Here’s where things get a bit murky, and due to the significant level of confusion surrounding the “facts” we can only do our best to piece together what happened by considering the most likely scenario from the many being flung about.

Some sources say Palmer’s guides lured Cecil out of Hwange National Park, which is located in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, in Southwest Africa. Cecil was collared; his movements were being monitored by the Wildlife Coalition Research Unit at Oxford University as part of a research project that has been underway since 1999. Cecil himself has been monitored since 2008, which is when he was first noticed and immediately prior to he and his brother battling it out with an established pride in the park. His brother was killed in the fight, but Cecil survived, retreating to a different location in the same park where he started his own pride. A number of changes took place over the years as they are known to do in nature, and although he was known to have started yet another pride in 2013 with another male, Jericho, his exact whereabouts in 2015 have yet to be made crystal clear. Either way, on July 1, 2015, Cecil found himself outside the park’s borders, and he became the focus of a hunt.

The basics of the hunt are as follows: Walter Palmer shot Cecil with a bow, Cecil apparently took off, and according to multiple sources it took Palmer and his guides 40 hours to track the lion down and finish him off. Chaos ensued not long after as the realization that an American big game hunter had killed Cecil, a lion many at the park said was a favorite; Cecil had been in the park so long he’d grown quite accustomed to visitors and was willing to get closer to vehicles than most of the other lions were. After all, he was 13 years old, and he’d been monitored and living in the park for more than half his life.

Other accusations surfaced aside from the apparent anger of a park favorite being killed. Among those accusations are some saying Palmer did not have the proper licensing, that his lion hunt was poaching. An uproar was raised regarding the lion’s being skinned and beheaded – an issue we’ll address shortly – with many saying Cecil was tortured to death and mutilated. This big game hunt quickly went from lion trophy hunt to a hunting nightmare, and Palmer’s history has done nothing to help matters.

LionWalter Palmer has had brushes with the law before when it comes to his hunting practices. In 2008 Palmer was charged with poaching a black bear 40 miles outside the legal hunting area in his home state of Minnesota; after poaching the animal, Palmer apparently then transported it back to the legal hunting area in an attempt to claim it had been hunted there. His bad behavior wasn’t limited to his hunting practices, either. In 2009 one of his employees at his dental practice accused him of sexual harassment, both verbal and physical. She alleged the harassment went on for six years, and informed the court she was fired when she told Palmer she was going to report him. One of these incidents on its own would be damning enough; both incidents combined aren’t just the final nail in the coffin, they’re the dirt being shoveled on top of the lowered casket.

Despite the obvious problems here – Palmer’s history of poaching, the fact that Cecil was, indeed, a collared lion, and the alleged 40 hour gap between his first being shot and finally being killed – there are also issues with the allegations. No legitimate hunter worth the price of a cheap steel-cased round would stand up and say he stands behind Palmer and his blatantly shady actions, myself included, however, there are enough problematic statements being made to warrant a few remarks be made to clarify a few things.

First and foremost is the issue of Cecil’s “torture” and “mutilation.” Once a game animal has been taken, they’re field dressed. Not only is the head removed, but so is the tail, among other things. It is not a matter of mutilation, and the mental images being created of an evil-doing, big, bad hunter dancing around an African field with a blood-smeared face and Cecil the Lion’s head most likely mounted atop a pointy stick clasped in one hand are absolutely ludicrous. Yes, it sounds atrocious when it’s phrased a certain way, and there’s absolutely no doubt journalists and the anti-hunting crowd know exactly what they’re doing when they stir up the general public by stating the lion was beheaded. The fact that beheading game – after it’s dead – is a normal, necessary part of hunting has been conveniently left out of all these colorful reports. So please put down the pitchforks and torches; Cecil was not hideously tortured in a style more commonly associated with Middle Eastern terrorists, he was simply field dressed after his death. In the expected way. End of story, no drama, unnecessary gore, or mutilation to see here.

Then there’s the 40 hour tracking of a wounded lion. Possible, yes. Odd? Absolutely. This is just one of many details about Cecil the Lion’s death that bears further investigation and quite a bit more information.

Although there are other details that are rather suspect, the other point currently in need of further commentary is the way Walter Palmer’s life has been dissected. It’s true that facts have surfaced to support the allegations of poaching, true there are obviously serious questions being raced about his morals, and, yes, true his character appears to be less than stellar. However, the key word there is “appears.” Palmer has been raked over the coals, his background dug into by reporters with all the ruthless zeal of an investigation into a serial killer or child molester when what he is, is a dentist and a hunter. Regardless of the dark details they’ve discovered, their methods are unsavory, to say the least. There are too many unknowns, too many gaps, and a laundry list of inconsistencies, and yet, here we are, laying every negative aspect of Palmer’s life bare for all the world to see – and judge. It’s a distasteful business, and in a country where we’re meant to be innocent until proven guilty, a man accused of poaching a collared lion is being treated like a two-bit criminal – a guilty one.

Cecil the LionHunting done legally is a wonderful sport, but it isn’t just a sport. It’s a great way to supply meat for our families; many hunters take to the woods to fill their freezers with game meat that’s healthier, cheaper, and better tasting than the chemical-laden fare found in the local grocery store. There are many aspects of hunting that are quite enjoyable, from the patience required to wait for the right game to come along – because, unlike the portrayals given by the media and those against hunting, hunters do not simply shoot whatever comes along – to the thrill of a successful spot-and-stalk, to the camaraderie with friends and family, and all these things, and more, make hunting the kind of wholesome outdoor pastime I am proud to participate in. Yes, there are those out there who poach and are careless, but they are the exception, not the rule. There are far more hunters out there who pause to say a prayer after a successful hunt than there are those who blatantly ignore laws or shoot irresponsibly. Hunting done right is a wonderful thing, and it’s disappointing, and frustrating, when one bad example overshadows the entire community.

Of course, there is one other aspect to consider, and that is the fact that the death of a lion has caused a nationwide frenzy while the deaths of human beings have gone unnoticed. Video evidence of Planned Parenthood doctors chatting with their staffs about the best ways to sell aborted fetuses have taken a backseat to a lion in another country, a lion most “fans” couldn’t pick out of a lineup, a lion from a country most people couldn’t find on a map. This is the nation we have become: a nation where a young woman murdered by an illegal alien and abortion clinics selling off pieces of babies are deemed far less important than a lion. A nation where the uproar over a lion has reached a fever pitch while the horror over dead humans is quite literally nonexistent. This is America today. This is what we have become.

There are many questions yet to be answered regarding the hunting of Cecil the Lion. But even if he was poached, and even if his cubs end up being killed by an encroaching male, he is still an animal. Although animals are amazing creatures and there is no excuse for poaching, and it is the ethical, moral responsibility of all hunters to get a clean kill, he is a lion. Lions are majestic, yes, but they are still not people, and the plight of people in need of help whether in the form of justice for the dead or help for the barely surviving is being ignored in favor of outrage over a dead lion. How is that right? How is it just? Take a quick glance at your Facebook news feed. You’ll see an endless stream of Cecil posts, and the media is inundated with it as well. It’s past time the people of this nation took stock of what really matters. If Americans spent one quarter of the energy they’ve put into Cecil’s death on doing something to help others in some way, whether large or small, the change in this country would be evident practically overnight. It would be a monumental event, and it wouldn’t take much. Just a moment here and there, just a bit of effort. What matters more, a lion’s life, or a human’s?

I’ll give you a hint: the answer is not “a lion.”

Wake up, America. The media is baiting and leading you in unbelievable ways, and you are letting it happen. Not just letting it happen, but welcoming it. Take stock of what really matters. It’s been time for a change for longer than any of us care to admit, so let’s get to it. Make that change, and do it now, before it’s too late.

What matters most in your life?

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.
Katherine Ainsworth
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