Jan 24 2008
An animal-lover friend of mine began to feed the birds and was shocked when a Cooper’s hawk killed a mourning dove at her feeder. My friend is a vegetarian and wanted to know if she could train the Cooper’s hawk 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 Cooper’s hawk is not an efficient hunter — if he does not kill birds — he 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 predators in this 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
Fulfilling themselves without pain”
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.