It is our human responsibility, divinely mandated, to maintain the balance of nature. This we have largely failed to do, for example, by destroying habitats through wars and ‘development’ and in eliminating many natural predators. So the responsibility for the welfare of certain wild species falls on us. When they are threatened by disease or over-population, we should, if we can, treat the sick animals and relocate excess numbers. Where we cannot, we have, regrettably, to resort to culling of the weakest and sickest, but only by expert and authorised marksmen.
To destroy any of God’s creatures for ‘sport’ or ‘recreation’ are activities Catholic Concern for Animals utterly abhors. Since AD 830 Catholic clergy have been forbidden to hunt. In the Roman Penitential of Halitgar, published in France, clergy of every rank were banned from hunting, with the penance tariff set for two years for deacons and three for priests.
Organic farming and horticulture is the best way to preserve the balance of nature and reduce our dependence on petrol and other chemicals. It is also, arguably, the most effective in producing sustainable food supplies in developing countries.
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