Killing for Life: The Unforeseen Benefits of Hunting for the Environment

A common misconception spread by companies like PETA through articles like “Why Sport Hunting is Cruel and Unnecessary”  is that sport hunting today is “cruel and unnecessary” violence. The main argument of the article is that today hunting is “nothing more than a violent form of recreation”, it is unnecessary for hunters to obtain food, and that “hunting has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk.

The latter of those three statements is true, but hunting actually plays a much bigger role in the conservation and protection of natural habitats and wildlife than most people think.

A Common Ground

While there is a lot to disagree about in the pro-hunting anti-hunting debate there is one thing that both parties definitely agree on, poaching animals needs to stop. According to the PETA article, almost 40 percent of hunters bag “millions” of animal on public land every year, and by some estimates, poachers kill just as many animals illegally. Instead of arguing about whether hunters should be allowed to hunt, we should focus our combined efforts on the people who will hunt whether or not its legal to do so, poachers.

One way that hunters combat poaching is trophy hunting. According to articles on CNN, The LA Times, and The Hoover Institution, and countless other sources, banning trophy hunting would do more harm than good. While it may seem counterintuitive to hunt a species that you are trying to protect from poachers, doing so does alot of good for the species. Many will ask, ‘What difference does it make if it is a hunter or a poacher that kills one of the big 5 game species (lion, leopard, rhinoceros (both black and white species) , elephant, and Cape buffalo.) Either way, there is one less of the population of that endangered species.’ The answer to that is when its a huntsman it is only 1 animal, whereas with poaching there is no limit on how many they kill illegally. Also, the hunter isn’t allowed just any animal of the species they are allowed to hunt. They are given the right to kill specific members of the animal population that are considered nuisances. Also, the trophy hunts generate a large amount of money in the areas where the hunts take place and this gives the people living in the areas with these animals to protect them from poachers so that the area can continue to profit from the animals.

“Banning trophy hunting would do more harm than good.”

An example of how trophy hunting benefits the animals being hunted is found in the article “How Hunting Saves Animals” by Terry Anderson on The Hoover Institution website. In 2013 the Dallas Safari Club worked with Namibian wildlife officials to auction a hunt of a black rhino, the most endangered of the rhino species. They expected to raise as much as $1 million from the auction with 100 percent of the proceeds going to rhino conservation efforts. Also, the rhino to be hunted was an old bull that could no longer breed and it had been harassing and even killing other rhinos. In this case and many more just like it, killing this rhino would have helped a great deal in rhino conservation and gotten rid of a nuisance in the area. But animal rights groups “viciously attacked the Dallas Safari Club even to the point of threatening bodily harm to club leaders and anyone who bid on the hunt” causing the bid to fall very short of its $1,000,000 goal, only reaching $350,000.

If the animal rights organizations had focused on the real problem, poaching, then there would have been $650,000 more in animal conservation from just this 1 hunt.

Imagine how much more money there would be for conservation if instead of focusing on legal trophy hunting, animal rights groups focused on poaching alongside hunters. We could actually make a change and fight against poaching, both parties win. The hunt can continue, and poaching would be reduced if not eliminated.

For more information on why trophy hunting can be good for animals refer to the video below.

Hunting is a Profitable Part of Conservation

“Every single day U.S. sportsmen contribute roughly 8 million dollars for conservation.”

According to statistics found on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hunting is very profitable, for both the economy, government, and conservation efforts. One reason that hunting is profitable is that it “supports 680,000 jobs, from game wardens to waitresses, biologists to motel clerks.”

On top of this “every year hunting generates 32 billion dollars in retail sales”  in the United States alone. Along side the retail sale guns, ammo, bows and arrows, items required to hunt all have an 11% tax on them, the tax was “requested by hunters to contribute more to wildlife conservation.” That tax so far “has generated over $8,000,000,000 for conservation” and today it generates roughly “$371 million a year for conservation.” Also every year in order to hunt legally you have to buy licenses and tags to hunt any game animal. Through state fees attached to these licenses “hunters pay $796 million a year for conservation programs.”

In addition to all of the fees, taxes, and general cost of hunting, hunters “through donations to groups like RMEF” and NWTF “hunters add $440 million a year to conservation efforts”. Through all the cost of hunting combined “hunters pay more than $1.6 billion a year for conservation programs.” So, in other words, with all the cost of hunting combined, every single day U.S. sportsmen contribute roughly 8 million dollars for conservation.

Hunters give more to the conservation fund than any other group or people.

Hunting also helps species that aren’t hunted because “habitat, research and wildlife law enforcement work” are entirely paid for by hunters and this money “helps countless non-hunted species.” Hunting even is profitable for the government because “hunters help manage growing numbers of predators such as cougars, bears, coyotes, and wolves.” Every year the “government spends millions to control predators and varmints while hunters have proven more than willing to pay for that opportunity.” This is why hunting is more than necessary to conserve wildlife.

Hunting Saves Animals

Just as over-hunting has led to the extinction and degradation of many animal populations such as the Tasmanian tiger, the great auk, and many other animals, regulated sport hunting also has caused a dramatic increase in the populations of many animals. For example, according to the article by the “25 Reasons why Hunting is Conservation” on The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s website, in the United States conservation efforts of hunters, and sportsmen and women around the country have greatly improved the numbers of many animals in the United States.

Graph By Author, Statistics from RMEF

According to the RMEF: Rocky Mountain Elk “In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million.” That is a 2339% increase in just 110 years.

In the Petersen’s Hunting article “6 Examples Where Hunting Helped Preserve Wildlife”  by Brad Fitzpatrick, it states that the “decline of the whitetail deer was accompanied by a nationwide call to preserve our wild resources in the face of industrialization.” This led to Theodore Roosevelt helping found the Boone & Crockett Club. Hunters across the nation began to advocate “for the preservation of natural resources”, and that “we would require a balance between consumption and conservation.” The information from Petersen’s hunting complements the information found on the RMEF article. According to the RMEF article “In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Thanks to conservation work spearheaded by hunters” whitetail deer populations have gone up dramatically over the past century, approximately 6300%. Due to this, there is now more than 32,000,000 whitetail in the United States today.

Pronghorn Deer are one animal that was saved by the efforts of hunters. According to the RMEF article “In 1950, only 12,000 pronghorn remained.”  Thanks to conservation efforts of hunters, pronghorn populations have gone up 9067% and “today there are more than 1.1 million.”

Turkey are yet another example of animals saved by the conservation efforts of sportsmen. On the RMEF article it says that “in 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained” but this number quickly grew 6900% from that time and “today there are over 7 million” in the united states. An organization that played a big role in the population explosion of turkeys in the united states was the NWTF: National Wild Turkey Federation. According to the article on Petersen’s Hunting when the NWTF started in 1973 “there were an estimated one million five hundred thousand turkeys in the United States, and thanks to the conservation efforts and the funds generated today there are more than seven million birds. The NWTF also provides education for young hunters through their Jakes program. Also, the increase in turkey populations has made these birds a valuable game species.” The National Wild Turkey Federation attributes its success in raising the numbers of turkeys in the united states to “Standing behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights.”

Hunting Makes Sense

It makes sense for conservation organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and The National Wild Turkey Federation to stand behind hunters and support their rights to hunt the animals they are trying to save. This is because, in general, for the government to protect animals and habitat it has profitable. If hunters weren’t allowed to hunt they would no longer want to protect the game animals because the species is no longer any use to the hunters. And if hunters can’t hunt they won’t generate the $38,000,000,000 through their retail spending to get ready to hunt, this will remove the profitable part of protecting the game animals away from the government. So they would also have no real reason to protect the game animals either. After all, who really cares about what happens to a couple of deer and bird game species? Hunters and Sportsmen, that’s who.

The motto of the National Wild Turkey Federation is “Save the habitat. Save the Hunt.” That statement couldn’t run more true to the reason why hunting IS conservation. In order to hunt a species, their populations have to be stable enough to be hunted. So as a result, hunters fight to protect, conserve, and nurture the species and the habitats of the animals they want to hunt, so that the hunt stays alive. This is so hunters may pass on the gift of hunting to future generations and keep the legacy of the game animals alive. This is why hunting is conservation, why sport hunting isn’t cruel and unnecessary and why we care for the animals we hunt, we do it to save them.

Featured image by Pexles CC0


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