IMAGINING A WORLD with no hunters. A place where animals roam free. Imagine seeing a wilderness filled with Roosevelt elk, mule deer and black-tailed jackrabbits. To come face to face with a lynx, to be close enough to smell the breath of a coyote, to follow the tracks of a woodland caribou. Imagine sharing a forest path with a mountain lion, a rocky outcropping with a herd of bighorn sheep, spotting a timberwolf across the lake.
Let us hold dear the lives of all species. We need all other creatures with which we share this earth. We are all mammals. How can we kill without wondering what extreme suffering that creature feels? What its death will mean for its mate or offspring? This is my painted prayer for mercy, love and compassion for all animals.
The painting below is called How dare you. Her braids surround the wild animals and hunters lie in coffins below, with vultures hovering nearby.
The painting below is called Caribou’s Revenge and I painted it when Sarah Palin was on the ticket for VP . I didn’t know who she was and when I googled her, the first picture I saw of her she was proudly holding the caribou she had just shot. I recently saw her latest photo crouching over a dead bear.
I love living in Oregon surrounded by national forest and wild animals but this time of year brings out the fire in me. Cougar, elk ,mule deer and sage grouse populations are low and yet the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife continues to encourage hunting, eagerly selling tags; hunters are lurking around in their camouflage costumes with their rifles and semi automatics ready to kill.
I just can’t contain myself when I see hunters on our road so I stop and try to discourage them. It takes a certain courage that I don’t always have so sometimes I just lay on the horn to scare away the animals away as I zoom by. This happens every year during hunting season but the recent encounters were sparked by something too devastating to describe so lately I’m confronting every hunter I see. (I know, as if it will really stop them…)
If the hunters I see appeared to be in need of food, desperate to feed their families, I would not try to discourage them but with their big new trucks, special secret scopes and shiny weapons, its pretty clear they are not hungry. And in my heart it’s not right that their “sport” involves killing our wild animals, especially when the populations are down. I know my paintings won’t stop hunters and trappers but when I am struck down by sadness I have to paint about it or I’ll go crazy. I’m working on better ways to try to paint about my feelings and my next one is going to be The Lament of the Trapper, inspired by a beautiful article about a trapper who -in one extraordinary moment- experienced deep agonizing sorrow and remorse when seeing the last flash of life in a dying bobcat’s eyes. He never killed another animal.
Above: Photos I took of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) behind our house recently
Two groups which are doing great work to help wild animals:
TrapFree Oregon http://trapfreeoregon.com
Predator Defense http://www.predatordefense.org/about.htm
Half of the proceeds from my new book will be going to these and other organizations working to help wild animals.
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