Why Hunting Is Beneficial To Nature And Society

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Hunters and anglers are two of the strongest components to wildlife conservation and keeping a healthy ecosystem. There tends to be controversy that surrounds the activity of hunting, but the fact is that it is really a natural human instinct that has evolved to become a vital role in society to this day. When laws and regulations are respected, hunting maintains a balanced environment for species of all kinds and is extremely beneficial for society as well. Humans and wildlife both benefit in many ways from hunting.

Conservation is an extremely important responsibility for those who hunt wild animals. It is important for hunters to think wisely when choosing an area in which they will hunt. Conserving the natural habitat includes picking an area where the hunter will create minimal impact. This means being careful to disturb as little of the surrounding environment as possible, such as settling in a spot where the least amount of vegetation must be removed. (PA Game Commission.) Hunters will manipulate tree branches or plants to create an optimal hiding spot where they can make their shot, all the while remaining concealed. For example, someone setting up a deer stand in a tree must be mindful as to not damage the habitat of birds, squirrels, and other animals that depend on trees for living. Preservation of the natural habitat of wildlife requires extensive efforts; therefore it is necessary for hunters to respect the natural habitat in which their game lives by creating as little damage to the environment as possible.

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Along with enforcing rules in order to preserve wildlife habitats, each state has its own set of laws that protect animal populations by determining which species may be hunted. There is also legislature in some states that prohibit the transportation of certain live game in or out of the state; which also includes regulations on how carcasses may be transported. These regulations are specific to members of the deer family. They require that in order to cross state lines, the carcass must be cleaned and processed to be free of brain matter and the spinal cord. This is due to the fact that these parts of the carcass may potentially carry the infective and contagious pathogens of chronic wasting disease. (Alliance, CWD.) This applies strongly to members of the deer family, including whitetail deer, elk, moose, and caribou. Cleansing the carcass prevents the spread of pathogens or disease to other wildlife or human populations. The prevention of spreading these diseases such as bovine tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease helps maintain healthy populations within wildlife.

Another restriction that conserves wildlife is that of quantity control. There are laws that state how many of a certain animal or bird may be hunted in a set amount of time. Limits may vary between states and even counties, depending on the environment and population. Placing restrictions on the quantity of animals that may be killed prevents over hunting and endangerment of species.

The Duck Stamp Act, historically known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp was established in 1934 on March 16th. This federal act requires anyone wishing to hunt waterfowl to obtain a license to do so. Ninety eight percent of the proceeds from purchasing this stamp go towards the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. This fund manages habitats of migratory species of birds and waterfowl. The conservation commission was established on February 18th, in 1929.

Duck stamps are adhesive collectible stamps that hunters must obtain by purchase before hunting geese, duck, or other wild birds. Different from a collector stamp, a hunter’s stamp contains personal information such as the name and age of the owner. Some include a serial number to distinguish the individual. A collector’s stamp is different, they include artwork that may be commissioned, and the artist signs the stamp for the collector. Common artworks include scenery of nature or wildlife.

The funds that are collected from the population of hunters purchasing Duck Stamps is, for the most part, deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. Working hand in hand with the North American Wetland Conservation Act, these partnerships work to manage and protect wetlands and other habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife that are native to North America. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service states on the official government website that since the year of 1934, the sales of federal Duck Stamps for bird hunters have raised over one billion dollars in efforts to conserve over six million acres of waterfowl habitat. The official website of the Fish and Wildlife Service also confirms that 98% of funds collected from selling Duck Stamps is directed towards conservation of wildlife habitats. This is beneficial to existing species, the natural order and food chain, and future generations of society who will continue to depend on natural resources.

The Duck Stamp overall is extremely beneficial to all aspects of wildlife and to humans as well. Hunters gladly purchase their required stamps because they ensure a healthy habitat for the wildlife they hunt. Many hunters will also purchase the collector’s stamps, because they increase the value of the overall stamp and will in turn contribute even more to conservation.

There are many other aspects to hunting besides The Duck Stamp that are beneficial to the economy. It is also not the only type of license that must be acquired for hunting. Other permits are required by state, depending on the type of animal that is being hunted. Along with waterfowl and deer, many other animals are popular game such as turkey, hogs or small fur-bearing mammals. Hunters are often required to obtain separate permits specific to what animal they are hunting, and laws may vary by state.

Along with licenses, many other things affect the economy, and directly translate back to wildlife and habitat conservation. Equipment such as guns, bows, traps, and other weapons may be used to harvest wild game. Hunters must also take into account their budget for gear, bait, vehicles, and travel or lodging expenses for their hunting trips. All of these aspects help keep the economy moving in respect to wildlife management. People who hunt have a special interest in wildlife, and want to maintain healthy habitats in which to do so. As long as there are hunters, there will be equipment that must be purchased. The need for weaponry and other equipment will provide jobs for those who produce these materials.

Another way hunting can be beneficial to wildlife is the use of population control. One of the most popular species to be hunted in the United States is deer. With the increase of availability to grocery store meat, less people rely on deer as a food source. (Ferguson; USFWS). While many people still enjoy hunting their own food, deer populations have increased significantly, and overpopulation can have troublesome effects on the environment for humans and other animals.

Overpopulation of a species often results in a shortage of food supply for those animals in the area. Deer are a very common species susceptible to overpopulation. When deer are hungry, they may venture into a neighborhood in search of food, and in the process may hurt themselves or other humans. Deer are also notorious for causing car accidents in areas that they are overpopulated in, mostly in the process of searching for food. They often find themselves in suburban neighborhoods or on highways and roads. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety states that West Virginia, Montana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa are the top five states in reference to collisions with deer and related species. (Insurance Information Institute). Hunting for population control balances out the ratio of animals to resources. Similar to deer, alligators are another species that tend to easily overflow if not managed. (Woodward and David). An extremely positive result of population control is not only maintaining balance, (Congressional Sportsmen Foundation) but the surplus of meat can be sold or donated to feed hungry or less fortunate people as well. The hides of some animals may also be treated for human use, such as clothing. This is a common practice in many other countries of the world, where hunters will utilize every bit of an animal they can.

Another reason to utilize population control is for farmlands and crops. Several different species such as whitetail deer, wild hogs, or turkeys have been known to invade corn or wheat crops. While abiding by all necessary laws and the wishes of the farmer, hunters may eliminate the invading animals and put the meat and hides to good use. This practice balances out populations, maintains the crops and keeps them thriving, and provides nourishing meat, thus benefiting humans all at the same time.

Another way that hunting benefits humans is that the entire process of hunting and environmental conservation provides a wide array of available careers for people who love the outdoors, or are simply passionate about nature and wildlife. Some of these careers include game hunters, farmers, zoologists, and conservationists. Similar conservatory jobs include educational ones, such as a wildlife park rangers, teachers, or researchers. Even for people who may not want to get outdoors and do the hunting themselves, there are many jobs involving gear or weapon development that allow hunters to practice what they do.

Along with the many benefits that the environment receives from hunting, there are several reasons why it is a great activity for humans. First and foremost, it provides the hunter with fresh, unprocessed, natural meat. Mostly everyone has access to a grocery store these days, but many people in the United States make the personal choice to continue this natural practice. Hunting is also great physical exercise from scouting out prey, traveling along woodlands, setting and collecting traps, and using firearms or bows.

Some people make the choice to live far enough away from civilization, or “off the grid.” In this instance, hunting for meat is a necessity. For a person who does everything manually and is self sustaining, the nutrients and calories that come from meat are required for the human body. As well as the physical benefits that are received from hunting, it can also be beneficial to a person’s social and emotional health. Getting outdoors in the fresh air, and either spending quality time with a friend or family member, or enjoying peaceful time alone with nature can boost a person’s happiness.

Although there are several reasons as to why hunting is beneficial to both humans and wildlife, there are valid arguments and concerns that some people have against the activity. Some of these concerns may be due to a lack of understanding, or a misconception about the type of hunting.

Some people may confuse hunting with poaching. Poaching is the illegal killing or capturing of wild animals. However, federal laws regulate legal hunting so that it may benefit both nature and society. Regulation controls the amount of animals killed and sets restrictions on certain times when they may be hunted. (US Fish and Wildlife Service). The reason that there are so many laws and regulations on hunting is to avoid this practice. Poaching is usually done to show off the animal as a prize, or to utilize parts of the animal for money such as hides, skins, horns, or tusks. This practice is often seen in Asian and African countries with animals such as elephants, rhinos, tigers, and bears. (WWF) However, poaching can be seen in the United States involving black bears, sheep, sharks, and even deer. Poachers usually kill the animal because they are seen as extremely valuable. For example, a poacher may kill too many deer at a time, or in the wrong area. A common reason for this is to collect the antlers and head as a trophy. Overhunting of any species, especially endangered ones, can have detrimental effects on the environment. Luckily, there are organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, (WWF,) that work to prevent the act of poaching. This is a federal crime which is punishable by fine, conviction, and a lifetime revocation of hunting privileges.

People who are unfamiliar with the practice of hunting may feel that killing an animal in its natural habitat is cruel. To feel a wide range of emotions at the thought of taking any sort of life is a perfectly reasonable reaction. However, it may be considered that it is more humane to capture an animal that has lived a free life in the wild, than an animal that likely was raised in tight spaces, or injected with antibiotics and steroids to stimulate muscle growth. (Hofer) Hunting for food is a natural human instinct, and is simply a part of the food chain that dates back before modern civilization.

Another common argument against hunting is that it is unnecessary in modern times, where society has access to meat just about everywhere. Oftentimes, the area and culture in which a person lives can affect their personal beliefs. Hunting is popular in southern areas of the United States, as well as less populated and more natural areas such as mountains or woodland areas. The availability and quality of food in a certain area affects a person’s diet and health choices. Hunting for food supplies many nutritional and financial benefits for humans.

Both human and wildlife populations rely on each other in order to maintain stability within the shared environments. Humans hunt for various reasons including harvesting for food, population control to maintain neighborhoods and farm crops, and as an outdoor hobby. Aside from hunting for meat, the practice plays a large role in preserving wildlife, especially due to the fact that the majority of funds that go into hunting are returned into conservation efforts. The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was also the founder of the National Wildlife Refuge System, which conserves America’s plants and wildlife to this day.

In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen,” the 26th president of the United States said years ago. “The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination. (Theodore Roosevelt).

Works Cited

  1. Abram, Tracie. “Health Benefits of Hunting.” Native Plants and Ecosystem Services, Michigan State University | College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, 4 Oct. 2018, www.canr.msu.edu/news/health_benefits_of_hunting.
  2. Alliance, CWD. “Carcass Transportation Regulations in the United States and Canada.” CWD Alliance, 2018, cwd-info.org/carcass-transportation-regulations-in-the-united-states-and-canada/.
  3. “Duck Stamp Dollars at Work.” Official Web Page of the U S Fish and Wildlife Service, 2018, www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/duck-stamp-dollars-at-work.php.
  4. “11 Facts About Poaching Animals.” DoSomething.org www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-poaching-animals.
  5. “Facts + Statistics: Deer Vehicle Collisions.” III, www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-deer-vehicle-collisions.
  6. Ferguson, Travis. “The Great Decline: How to Solve Hunter Participation.” The Revolution with Jim & Trav, 7 June 2018, outdoortrailsnetwork.com/expert-advice/the-great-decline-how-to-solve-hunter-participation.
  7. Good, Kate. “5 Types of Poaching Happening Right Here in the U.S.” One Green Planet, 11 Apr. 2014, www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/5-types-of-poaching-happening-right-here-in-the-u-s/.
  8. Hofer, Jake. “Top 3 Anti-Hunting Arguments and How to Counter Them.” Wide Open Spaces, Wide Open Spaces, 22 Nov. 2016, www.wideopenspaces.com/what-you-can-actually-do-to-dampen-anti-hunter-impact/.
  9. “Hunting for Tree Stand Regulations?” From the Field, 20 Nov. 2017, pagamecommission.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/hunting-for-tree-stand-regulations/.
  10. “Hunting.” Official Web Page of the U S Fish and Wildlife Service, 12 Feb. 2018, www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/hunters-as-conservationists/.
  11. “Illegal Wildlife Trade.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/threats/illegal-wildlife-trade.
  12. “Index W.” Brief Biography - Theodore Roosevelt Association, www.theodoreroosevelt.org/site/c.elKSIdOWIiJ8H/b.9294927/k.CAA7/Index_W.htm.
  13. Randhawa, Kenny. “Effects on the Environment.” Hunting, regulatehunting.blogspot.com/p/huntings-affect-on-world.html.
  14. Wagner, Greg. “Why Hunting Is Important” NEBRASKALand Magazine, 23 Aug. 2017, magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2017/08/109097/.
  15. “White-Tailed Deer Management: Hunting as a Preferred Management Tool.” CSF, congressionalsportsmen.org/policies/state/white-tailed-deer-management.
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