To the Editor:

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), in partnership with The Light Foundation, is offering a Youth Wild Turkey Hunt in Rhode Island this spring and it is open to youths ages 12 to 15.

The Rhode Island Department of Wildlife should exist to benefit all citizens, but they have become decidedly pro-hunter in practice.

The promotion by a state agency sends the message to children that it is acceptable and even fun to kill and maim other living beings.

However, killing non-human animals desensitizes children to the suffering of other creatures.

Encouraging young children to hunt communicates to them that they have the right to exercise their power over others violently simply because they have the weapons to do so.

One must ask the question: What does the witnessing an animal take its last breath do for a child?

We should be encouraging children of all ages to behave compassionately toward animals not to glorify killing defenseless animals.

There is an inconsistency in our message to children. We have educators teaching and conveying compassion in our schools while we have a state agency encouraging children as young as 12 years old to kill animals.

Having a juvenile pick up a weapon and aim it at another living being and fire must deaden a piece of a young person’s heart.

In addition, the experts will tell you that the prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in impulse control, is still immature, and can develop an impulse control disorder in which a person has trouble controlling emotions or behaviors.

We don’t want our children watching violent movies or playing violent games; yet, we are willing to look the other way when the state sanctions the killing of animals by 12-year old children.

When we allow children to participate in the killing of animals, are we really attempting the desensitizing a child to violence because it happened in the field and not in our streets?  

Do we take our children to a slaughterhouse to subject them to that experience?

How do we justify the lack of compassion, lack of remorse or empathy, by intentionally harming animals for sport?

One doesn’t have to be an animal-rights activist to find a problem with a state agency promoting 12-year-old children participating in the killing of animals.

Dennis Tabella

Director

Defenders of Animals, Inc. 

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