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The Effects Of Hunting On The Environment

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Today in America there is a growing distain for the hunting community. Many people see the act of hunting as immoral, cruel, and bad for the environment and would rather spend their time in the great outdoors hiking, bird watching, or taking photography. Since the early 1990’s there has been a drastic drop in the number of hunters in America, according to a survey done by the US Fish and Wildlife Service there has been a decline from 14.1 million hunters in 1991 to 11.5 million hunters in 2016. Statistics show that hunting was most popular during the “baby boomer” era and as people from that era start to decline so did the number of hunters also start to decline, and soon the age-old sport of hunting could go extinct. Because of this decline in hunting there has been a change in the landscape of the nature and wildlife we see in America today.

Generally, when we go on a nature walk, we assume that the ground we are walking on has been funded by our tax money, and this is true if you happen to be walking in a national park. But if you are in a state park that is free for public use, most of the time it has been funded by hunters. When a hiker goes to a state park, the only money that they would need to spend is the gas money it took to drive there, other than that they could donate to their local wildlife reservation but are not forced too. Hunters on the other hand must pay for a hunting license as well as an excise tax on their guns and ammunition, fishing equipment, and lodging, generating nearly $70 billion anually, which is money that directly funds wildlife conservation efforts and other state wildlife agencies. The money generated from these hunters provide nearly 60 percent of funding to these wildlife agencies, which manages most of the wildlife found in America. With the decline in hunting many state departments have been underfunded and has left many staff jobs unfilled and has had to cut back on other services normally provided. Without a change in how wildlife agencies are being funded we can expect the growing list of endangered species to raise from nearly 1,600 species today to thousands more very soon. With the decline of hunting in recent years there has been talk of other ways the government can fund these state parks and wildlife agencies. So far congress has been looking at using the oil and gas revenues, while some states have added general sales taxes to help fund these parks. Others have suggested to charge people to visit state parks so if you are someone who enjoys a regular walk through nature and believe it should be free for anyone to use, you should thank a hunter next time you see one.

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Another benefit for hunting is to control populations of invasive species. An invasive species is any living organisms that is not native to an ecosystem that can cause harm. When a new species is introduced into an ecosystem it may not have any natural predators to control its population. They will in turn start to breed more and naturally start using up resources that other organisms that are natural to the environment rely on. Invasive species causes a halt in the biodiversity in many environments which is essential for any ecosystem to flourish. Here in America the white-tailed deer is synonyms with the imagery of a forest, but those cute creatures may be a threat to the wildlife we have here. When an invasive plant comes into a new environment it takes resources such as sunlight, water, and nutrients away from other native plants. But the white-tailed deer have continuously chosen to eat the native plants dwindling their numbers and allows the invasive species to spread out of control. In recent years Dr. Janet Morrison of the Department of Biology at the College of New Jersey conducted a study of what the effects of the invasive species of Microstegium vimineum and white-tailed deer had on an environment. She accessed the herb layer in 223 different plots of land over 2.5 years and compared the effects of the plots that were fenced off from deer and plots that allowed deer to roam freely. She found that the areas that were fenced off from the deer had a higher percentage of biodiversity to those not fenced off which were almost completely taken over by the Microstegium vimineum plant. Here in Massachusetts deer hunting season starts on October 31st and end on December 31st. These times help to control the population of deer in certain areas and allow the time for the plants that are natural to the environment to repopulate and grow. Hunters understand the importance of biodiversity and there are many regulations set to ensure that no species will be hunted to extinction. Such regulations include specific times people can hunt, zones hunters are restricted to be in, and seasons regulating which animals can be hunted during different times of the year. These regulations are enforced with strict penalties to all who do not comply with the regulations which could go up to $10,000.

Throughout human evolution hunting has been a big part of why humans became the most dominant creatures on Earth. The first signs of hunting were from our predecessors the Homo Erectus approximately 1.8 million years ago. Humans and more specifically Americans love our meat, according to an article by The Seattle Times the average American consumer will eat 22 pounds of red meat and poultry a year. But if these consumers understood the impact that eating so much meat has on the environment and the ways these factory grown animals have been treated, they might think twice the next time they pick up package of beef at the super market. According to report published by The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock farming contributes approximately 18 percent of the global CO2 gas emissions and other greenhouse gasses. Not only do these livestock contribute to the overgrowing global warming crisis they also contribute to the overgrowing water crisis. In an article posted by the Los Angeles Times it is estimated that in order to produce a one pound of beef it requires 1,799 gallons of water. This is estimated by adding the amount of water it took for irrigation of the grains and grass for feed as well as the water for drinking and processing.

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