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Sportsmanship or bloodlust slaughter?

September 24, 2021

A flock of migrating geese see hundreds of birds (decoys) in the middle of a beautiful field flapping to mimic real birds. The flock gently floats down to rest in a safe place. Seven hunters pop up from under camo blankets 30 feet below the birds and release a wall of thousands of lead pellets. Most of the birds are blown to bits with an explosion of feathers while others fall hard to the ground wounded and flailing in agony. 

The hunters casually walk out to the closest suffering birds and wring their necks by hand. The less-wounded birds attempting to get away are dispatched with another round and the dog is sent to fetch. In three hours, hundreds of shotgun shells are fired, each with hundreds of pellets that create a spray 5 feet wide at close range. Instant death for any bird needing to rest.

In 1992, I watched countless thousands of birds lift off the same field with a roar of wings. Now the fields are silent mostly except for small bands flying over occasionally. With more and more subdivisions there are less places for geese to land, and the remaining areas between subdivisions have become killing fields.

When confronted, the bird hunters informed me they had an arrangement with the farmland owner. Wildlife protection was called and arrived to check quotas and hunting licenses. It seems the wholesale massacre of birds is legal, allowing for 15 birds per hunter using the honor system. Seven people each killing 15 birds in one morning but here for two days.

Two mornings in a row hundreds of rounds were discharged at helpless birds in less than two hours each day. Waking each day to the sound of death as loud as cannon fire. Having watched a few hundred feet away the warlike horror of over a hundred geese being slaughtered, one cannot un-remember having witnessed this. Point, squeeze, and pump out rounds in rapid succession. Ducks unlimited? I think not!

If we stop the carnage now, there may be a few geese for our grandchildren to watch fly over or they can go see them stuffed in the Lewes museum for extinct wildlife in Sussex County. Thank god young children were not present to see this horror. Do we have the will to stop this wanton destruction of nature and beautiful wildlife?  I doubt it!

James Riordan
35 year resident of Lewes and lifeguard in 1969 (Rehoboth)
Katherine Ware
Vacationer since 1956, resident since 2018
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