Hunting is a sport that many people love and even use as a bonding experience. However, there is question about how a sport that is so involved in the natural world affects the environment.
Many are under the impression that a sport so focused on hunting animals has to be bad for the environment. After all, you aren’t preserving what you hunt. Yet, you might be surprised to learn that your sport can help the environment around that animal more than most people might think.
Important Note: Regulations on Hunting
The first thing that non-hunters need to know is that hunting is heavily regulated. Hunters can’t and largely aren’t hunting constantly to the point of selfishly damaging populations.
As a matter of fact, the last thing that hunters want to do is to decimate a population. If they do that, they won’t be able to hunt in the future. Contrary to the belief of many, hunters value the environment and aren’t simply taking joy in trying to damage it.
This practice’s regulation even helps to create funding for important organizations which we will look at in a moment.
The biggest way that hunting helps the environment is by funding conservation systems and wildlife agencies run by the state.
Any hunter can tell you that their sport isn’t free. For one, you have to buy a hunting license to legally participate in hunting season. In addition, there are taxes on equipment for hunting such as the guns used, the ammunition for them, and equipment for anglers.
Most of us might not think about where this money goes. There are taxes and fees on everything when you get down to it but most people don’t ask where their grocery tax goes either.
These funds go towards those conservation and wildlife agencies mentioned a moment ago. In fact, about 60% of where these organizations get their money is from these costs charged to hunters. This is especially important in an age where conservation is absolutely important and outside funding is declining.
An interesting fact that not many non-hunters know is that this funding from hunters isn’t forced. Much of it comes from the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 which was a self-imposed legislation. This act is estimated to generate as much as $700 million a year which goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This, in turn, is distributed to state agencies that work closely with their locales to conserve the environments.
Why Are These Conservation Funds Important?
If you want to see an example of these funds in action, there are plenty. Particularly, there are many examples of how these funds were used to protect the populations of different species.
In 1907, for instance, there were only around 41,000 elk in North America but today the population is over a million. In 1900, whitetail deer were down to a population of 500,000 and wild turkeys only numbered 100,000. With the funds collected from hunters and funneled into conservation agencies, these species rebounded to more than 32 million and 7 million, respectively.
Hunting and Population Control
Humans are at the top of the food chain. Today, though, we don’t often exercise our position as we once did. Moving to farming our food has changed the system and not completely in a good way.
The best example of this is one of the most commonly hunted game: deer. Once upon a time, Native Americans and others living off the land hunted deer for their food and, in the case of Native Americans especially, use of materials such as pelt and bone. Today, not nearly as many people depend on these animals for food.
The result of this is overpopulation. This is not only a nuisance, it’s awful for the environment including the deer. Once there are too many of any animal, food for them becomes scarce and they are more likely to not only starve but become sick as well. This is worsened by the fact that human building and expansion push these animals out of their natural environment.
When their too many deer, it can be more than just the frustration of seeing the wildlife nibble your garden out of hunger. They are also more likely to flock to new and sometimes dangerous places in search of sustenance. For deer, the best example is the danger of them wandering into the road.
To put it simply, hunters serve as those top of the food chain individuals that help serve the natural role of humans in the ecosystem. This can help preserve deer by keeping their habitats livable. When there are the right amount of deer rather than too many, they have access to all the natural resources they need to prosper.
While humans are at the top of the food chain, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any dangers posed to us. Oftentimes, these predators are also a danger to the population of game as well.
Some hunters decide to help out by taking on animals that pose a danger – especially if their populations are left unchecked. These can include animals such as bears, wolves, coyotes, and cougars.
In some places, this population control is important to make the space safe for humans. Since most humans don’t have the same hunter/gatherer skills we once had, hunters are the one of the main entities that defend our place on the food chain.
To protect the environment, we need to have information about the environment. If we don’t know what’s going on, we don’t have a way to solve problems or regulate what’s necessary.
Hunters often help this by offering what they know about the area they hunt in. The good news is that hunters very rarely go in blind. The information they have on the area they hunt in is usually accurate and detailed. They also use the right equipment, like quality gun optics, to ensure the most humane hunt.
This is done a few ways. A few of the biggest include visiting hunter check stations as well as answering questionnaires and surveys. They sometime also includes providing samples from the game they hunt.