On the EDge: RIP Cecil the lion

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — It was not a pleasant end for Cecil, a 13-year-old Southwest African lion that was recently killed by a dentist from Minnesota with more money than heart just outside of the Hwange National Park in Matabeleland NorthZimbabwe.

Cecil and the other lions in the national park were part of a study by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University that began in 1999.

This magnificent creature was a favorite of tourists to the park, his black-fringed mane easily separating him from the others.

He had been through a lot in establishing his pride in a corner of the park.

He wore a GPS tracking collar so the scientists could more easily track his movements.

He was friendly, well, at least tolerant, allowing tourists to drive within 30 feet of where he would rest.

But, a month ago, Cecil was lured from the park. Once outside the protection of the facility, Cecil was at the mercy of Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who says he paid $50,000 for a permit to kill a lion.

Palmer, who considers himself a big-game hunter, teed up an arrow and let it fly.

The arrow hit Cecil, but Palmer missed the kill zone.

Forty hours later, Palmer and his guides found the wounded Cecil and killed him with a single gunshot. They skinned him, took his head and left his remains for the buzzards.

In the bloody aftermath, the regulating council of the Zimbabwe National Parks said that the proper permits were not acquired by Palmer, his guides and the property owner of where Cecil was shot.

Palmer, meanwhile, was back in the cozy confines of Minnesota when it all went down and two of the guides in the hunting party were arrested by Zimbabwe officials.

Those confines have become a little less cozy for Palmer, who was forced to close his business and lay low since the incident hit the Internet.

In other words, he ran and hid, an option that was not open to Cecil, by the way.

Before you go all wonkie, understand that I have nothing against the good and ethical hunters who take to the field each year in pursuit of game that they intend to use in a productive way.

You want to go after an elk?


But, respect that animal before you drop the hammer.

Make a quick, clean kill.

Ensure you treat it with the dignity it deserves.

If you wish to display the antlers, that’s fine. Just don’t cut the head and cape and leave the remains behind. Feed your family, your friends, but do not waste that animal’s life simply to put a trophy on the wall.

I’ve known a lot of hunters over the years. I’ve been out in the field with some of them. I don’t know of a one who ever took a low-percentage shot that had a higher probability of wounding, rather than killing, their prey.

Believe me, I understand how difficult it can be to hunt. I was, truth be told, a terrible hunter. As I learned, you don’t just go out, pull the truck over, squeeze off a round at Bambi standing just off the road and go home.

It is work, hard work, as it should be.

I also understand that may people are totally turned off by the thought of the hunt.

And, if that is your belief, that is fine.

But, while I can make a sound case for those hunters who are out to put meat on the table in a most traditional way, there is no way I can justify taking an animal’s life to simply put a trophy on the wall.

It is unconscionable.

Now before you get into the whole “thinning of the herd” business, realize that there are only 25,000 to 30,000 lions in Africa.

Thinning that herd is not necessary.

Besides, if that’s the case, the planet is severely over-populated with humans.

Should we thin the human species?

I think not.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding the lion’s killing, according to a CNN report.

“At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Dr. Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful. We ask that Dr. Palmer or his representative contact us immediately,” said Edward Grace, the service’s deputy chief of law enforcement.

Palmer has yet to respond, according to reports.

Cecil’s slaying also prompted the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution it had been working on for two years that calls on all countries to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching.

International response could best be summed up in a statement released by Harald Braun, Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations, who told reporters: “I think, like most people in the world, we are outraged at what happened to this poor lion.”

And, closer to home, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also weighed in.

“I’m just so disgusted with that man,” Dayton said. “Shoot any lion but lure a lion like that out of the preserve and shoot him, how could anybody think that’s sport? Just appalling.”

We are fast coming up on the bow season for elk and deer in Utah.

I am hopeful it is a safe and productive hunt.

I am also hopeful that the hunters who take to the field are mindful of exactly what they are doing and treat the animals they encounter, take aim at and kill, with the respect they deserve.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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  • NotSoFast August 4, 2015 at 8:04 am

    On board with your discuss.

  • htown August 4, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Ed, I appreciated that you showed both sides of the issue far better than usual.

    Anyone who hunts lions obviously has more money than the common Joe, but more money than heart puts your own slant right up front.

    As far as Trophy hunting, that becomes a personal choice, and I do respect your right to your opinion, to many it is not unconscionable. Money and permits and government regulations state otherwise.

    This is one of those situations where we need to know all the facts before we start judging the action. Animals are collared and studied in nearly every state, most allow them to be photographed, named, or numbered, and legally harvested.

    I would like to know definitively just what laws were broken, as there are over 100 Lions killed legally by license per year in Zimbabwe.

    My questions: Were he and his guides legally permitted, Did they ever cross into the Park, Was baiting outside the Park a legal activity, Were they allowed to use a cross bow or bow, Were they required to remove the carcass, Was the Lion quota available for them to hunt, Were they in a legal area,…etc ?

    If they broke they law, then they will be judged in a court of law, if they didn’t then they need to be exonerated legally. Either way, the court of public opinion will take it’s own course.

  • Real Life August 4, 2015 at 8:08 am

    This is gonna be good.

    • REAL LIFES MOMMY August 4, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Oh wow another Aww inspiring eye opening jaw dropping comment from the local blowhard. come sit in mommies lap and tell me all about it my little huggy wuggies

      • Real Life August 4, 2015 at 5:27 pm

        Alright! Guess who’s parking mommy. Missed you. Where have you been?

        • REAL LIFES MOMMY August 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm

          Aww you poor little thing come sit in mommies lap and tell me all about it. I bought a pork chop to hang your neck. now maybe the dog will play with you.

          • Free Parking August 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm

            The only thing the dog cares for is the pork chop

          • Real Life August 5, 2015 at 7:04 am

            Guess who’s parking mommy, get off the dope son, it’s making you stupid.

  • sagemoon August 4, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Good article, Ed.

  • JOSH DALTON August 4, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Here is an idea. Lets give a name all the deer, elk, and other woodland creatures in Utah. Then all of the real hardcore people of social media and Bob Barker will put a bounty on tag holders this season. We can have respect for what we kill. Lets talk about the people who are upset. Do they have the same feeling for the chicken, fish and that full rack of ribs from they eat Texas Roadhouse. Maybe restaurants include the animals name next to the chicken salad. Lions are killed everyday in Africa and from what I understand the meat was offered to a local village. it was the shady way he lured “Cecil” to his final death that was wrong. We as Americans should stay out of the debate. Maybe we should treat Americans with just as much empathy when a little girl, boy or even a grown adult is lured into a situation and then murdered. We as a society are focusing and wasting a lot of intelligent resources of social media. It can be used as a tool for world peace. Not trying to bring down a dentist. He will get his just deserts. Maybe he will get eaten by a lion on his next hunting trip. Maybe if the dentist comes to Utah he will fall off of Angels Landing into the jaws of a waiting mountain lion. lets leave it up to Mother Nature to get her revenge. GO FALCONS!

    • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 11:00 am

      blah blah blah…

      • Guess who August 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm

        hey FUN BAG you left out 3 blah blah blahs. LOL.!

    • mesaman August 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      You are definitely on the right track, Josh. This is one of Mr Ed’s more egregious articles, with catch lines like, “he was a favorite of all the tourists”, because he had a huge name tag? Or “tolerant to allow tourists within 30 feet”, right Ed, I get your slant. “Lured from the park”. Holy matusi, Ed, you write like this was a TV script for a new program on TrueTV. And lastly, you want a quick, clean kill with an arrow. Sorry, Ed, not likely. I personally despise archery hunting for the reason that the probability of a quick death is very unlikely. But alas, even with your mostly biased objectivity, deer hunting and elk hunting will go on this fall and your article will have done nothing more than stir up the PETA-ers.

  • Brian August 4, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I agree shooting this lion was a cowardly act. But most people that would condemn him think nothing of having shoes, clothes, and luxury car seats and furniture made of leather. This guys actions got lots of attention because the lion had a name and posed for pictures. Just because we don’t pull the proverbial trigger ourselves doesn’t mean we’re are less guilty. Our motives are different (style, favorite foods, etc), and our actions are less apparent, but the truth is, it’s very, very difficult to have truly clean hands in the consumer driven society we live in. I’m not saying the dentist gets a pass (not in the least), I’m just saying this is a good chance for us all to look in the mirror, too.

  • NotSoFast August 4, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Just wondering– How many of you have been to the Rosenbruck Wild Life Museum at the St. George Dixie Center complex?
    A lot (but not all), of the stuffed animals displayed there, (Lions & Tigers O’ My) were bagged by Rosenbruck himself all over the world. Some were hunted & killed by other larger and faster animals.
    It was an experience for me to visit. One side of my mind was in aw. My heart however, was telling me something else. ( I get the same feeling when I run over a rabbit on the road).
    I won’t get into abortion. That’s a different subject.

    • Brian August 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      That’s the great irony of this story, isn’t it? Many people care far more for this lion than for all of the unborn children aborted throughout history, combined. But they were killed for money and convenience, not sport, so it’s OK.

      • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm

        now Bri is showing off his tactfulness. pure genius here…

        • Brian August 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm

          Do you disagree with the validity, or just think it lacks tact? Frankly, tact means less and less to me as our society declines. Maybe that’s why the average German never stood up to Hitler, they couldn’t think of a tactful way to do it. I believe abortion is murder. How am I supposed to soft pedal that?

          • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm

            Ur comparing abortions to nazis tho. That would be like saying every Jew had the choice to be gassed in the camps. The comparison just fails from every angle. Last I checked them Jews didn’t get to choose…

  • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    We all know how sporty and manly it is to point a high power rifle or compound bow at some poor dumb animal and have it meet a slow, painful, prolonged death. Let’s give the dentist the ‘manly man of the year’ award, and right after that we can open hunting season on wealthy minnisota dentists…

    • mesaman August 4, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Now be honest, Fung. You have no idea how sporty or manly it is to point a high power rifle. . . .”a slow, painful, prolonged death”. Your bent to lather up in an emotional sweat just thinking about those “poor dumb animals” is enough to make one wonder if you are one of the local PETA-ers. Have you ever hunted in your ife?

      • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm

        who is Fung?

        • mesaman August 5, 2015 at 1:54 pm

          Sorry, I though you could figure it out. It’s your new nickname; “fungus”. Fung is a more friendly way of calling you out. PS, if you catch 42 and a little bit scratching his name on the toilet walls, be sure to encourage him.

      • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm

        Anyways, i’ve got a few guns, and i’ve shot a few animals, and no, it was much to easy to be considered a “sport”. And from what I understand a compound bow takes the ‘sport’ out of bow hunting. now go back to your corner and cry and rage some more…

      • native born new mexican August 4, 2015 at 9:01 pm

        If you get a good shot with a high powered rifle it is not a long slow painful death. That is the point of using a high powered rifle. I have elk meat in my freezer right now and it is tasty. Dad, my grandfather and us kids went hunting together often in my growing up years and always put something in the freezer. I agree this lion should not have been killed by being lured out of the park. Trophy hunting is different then hunting to put some meat in the freezer and food on the table. My family was good friends with a big game hunter while I was growing up. Many of the animals he killed were man killers and he was actually asked to hunt these animals because they were dangerous. There are many reasons for hunting. Some good; some not so good. Dad always made a clean kill because he was a good shot and then we kids helped him get the animal out of the woods and finally into the freezer. We ate the deer instead of it starving to death in the cold New Mexico winter. I have no problem with the hunting we did. I don’t think I would like to hunt just to get a trophy animal. Dad also insisted that anything we killed we took out of the woods and ate every bite of including the rocky mountain oysters. My grandfather liked those and the heart. Hunting is not cruel if it is done correctly and for a good reason. Yes I read Bambi but I got over it because the roast in the oven smelled so good.

      • Real Life August 4, 2015 at 11:43 pm

        There is a HUGE difference between hunting for fun, and hunting for NEED.

        • Guess who August 5, 2015 at 5:11 am

          Oh wow another brilliant statement from the neighborhood blowhard. he is absolutely amazing. he actually came up with the statement of week.! Wow I am so impressed. Did anyone else on this entire planet not know the difference between hunting for fun and food.? Unbelievable this guy is absolutely brilliant. what a magnificent statement to make. absolutely incredible. his statement should be sent to the editor of every single gun and hunting magazine in the country.

          • native born new mexican August 5, 2015 at 8:58 am

            Guess who many people have a problem with any kind of hunting or gun owning. You know that or you would not be attacking my post. Making a point about legitimate reasons for hunting is very relevant to this article. Every gun owning hunter should not be painted with the same brush as the lion hunter dentist which extremists (you and Ed?) are quick to do. People kill animals and eat them whether you hunt them yourself or buy their meat in the store; it is the same thing. We raised, killed and butchered animals in my growing up years – even bunny rabbits! Humane killing of animals so people can eat is part of life.

          • Real Life August 5, 2015 at 12:15 pm

            Guess who’s parking mommy, you mad bro? I think all of your different screen names are getting the best of you. At least you stopped agreeing with yourself. LOL!

  • 42214 August 4, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I’ve personally known a couple trophy hunters through business dealings and can say with certainty that not one animal was taken in a brave or honorable manner by them. No different than a tourist killing a large marlin just for a picture at the scales. I have no problem with hunting or fishing, just with some people’s selfish egotistical motives.

    • mesaman August 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Tell me what is missing in your first sentence, 1/2.? You’ve known a couple of trophy hunters, so far okay. And can say with certainty (only if you were with them in every kill you are referring to) that not one animal was taken ……..by them. Come now. Either you were present in every case or you are prevaricating a nice comment that appeals to the animal lovers.

      • fun bag August 4, 2015 at 8:41 pm

        prevaricating? LOL’d

      • 42214 August 4, 2015 at 9:29 pm

        Oedipus, I knew from their bragging accounts and their character that they killed helpless animals that were staged for them to execute. So go read some bathroom walls or comment on somebody’s mommy. Better yet go smack a baby and get no satisfaction out of it. So how is that for prevaricating.

      • 42214 August 4, 2015 at 9:35 pm

        I love animals, medium rare. You use terms like animal lover or liberal as a slur. Explain or shut up. You’re just an as angry old man that still thinks he is relevant. You’re not.

        • 42214 August 4, 2015 at 9:43 pm

          I know you’ll see this mesaman. Speak up or shut up

      • 42214 August 4, 2015 at 10:04 pm

        Mesaboy you critique a comment like you’re a professor grading a paper. You couldn’t be a janitor at my alma mater so go back to your JC and dream on.

        • mesaman August 5, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          And you comment like you are the scrub boy in a toilet cleaning detail. Sad, your mother thought you would amount to something. I guess now she’ll settle for anything.

          • 42214 August 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm

            You never disappoint. Best you can do is mommy or public bathrooms slurs. Very weak. Why is being an animal lover something to be ashamed of. You use it as a derogatory slur. Go ahead, insult my mother again but then answer the question.

          • fun bag August 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm

            I’d guess mesa is a man in his 40s or 50s maybe even 60s, but his mind is that of an 11 year old…

          • 42214 August 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm

            He really has “issues”.

          • mesaman August 5, 2015 at 7:28 pm

            I am so happy you enjoyed it 42 and climbing. I hope your mother is just as elated as you’ve made me. Now, when you see fungus sitting in the gutter, tell him to go home early tonight. He needs his beauty sleep. Won’t help but at least he’ll be more awake than usual.

      • Free Parking August 4, 2015 at 11:04 pm

        LOL! Yeah you tell ’em MESAMORON

        • mesaman August 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm

          Go count your marbles, freebie, this is all over your head.

          • 42214 August 5, 2015 at 4:58 pm

            Did you teach at Eaglegate Mesa?

  • Harold S. August 4, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Very well written article Ed. One of the best articles I have read since this incident took place. Well thought out and put together. Very good journalism and excellent comments made. Thank you

  • Roy J August 5, 2015 at 1:30 am

    I wonder if anybody else caught the dinner menu for the president of Zimbabwe’s birthday from back in February. Here it is. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/robert-mugabes-91st-birthday-elephant-5251295

  • NotSoFast August 5, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Hey, I got an idea!
    Why not appoint a czar to the white house staff to rule if a kill was clean or not. A million dollar fine if the czar was in a cranky mood. This same czar could be assigned to determine if a private enterprise was under- cutting Planned Parenthood business model in selling baby parts. Now tell me there’s not shovel- ready jobs out there .

  • beacon August 5, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Don’t want to get into the debate on the pros and cons of trophy hunting, just want to say that for the dentist to blame this on his guide when the dentist himself was supposed to be such an experienced hunter and know the rules, he should have known what the situation was with this particular lion, and if he didn’t, then he’s not the man he thinks he is.

  • Lastdays August 5, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Wow, that’s all I can say right now.
    We have an article about a taxpayer funded Planned Parenthood organization and the evil practice of selling baby parts for research and study and it has received 12 comments.
    Then we have a story about a lion in another country on a far away continent that has it’s own laws and regulations to deal with this situation and this story gets 46 comments !
    Wow, what a country we have here.

    • fun bag August 5, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      well, when i look it says 54 not 12, so …?

      • fun bag August 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

        oh disregurd that. he’s talking about the Senator Simpleton (Lee) article…

  • anyonemouse August 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    “What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?”

    – Hillary Clinton

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