The very thoughts of a true hunter at heart, Teddy Roosevelt paints such a perfect picture of an important part of hunting, loving and enjoying nature and the wildlife in it.
Hunters and anti-hunters should be able to live in peace and harmony, but sadly that is often not the case. Anti-hunting “extremists” go above and beyond the call of duty they deem as to belittle and bash those of us who choose to hunt. To condemn hunting and hunters as being immoral or unethical is simply absurd to the extreme. Sometimes it goes beyond even that. There are groups that do not approve of fishing, stating that even the practice of catch-and-release is an unacceptable torture for the fish.
Someone please give me a break!
As I began hunting in 2000, and becoming somewhat of a public image, seemingly sometimes a public “target”, I have carefully memorized responses for the questions from people that don’t understand. Just lately I have stated to a friend, in a loving way of course, “don’t make me come to your house and point out all the things you enjoy because some animal somewhere has died!” That line usually puts a lid on it, for a little while anyway.
I admire my fellow hunters that are able to keep their emotions in check, and carefully recite information, facts and statistics that should prove that hunting is beneficial for all animals, and without hunters the animals they want to protect would surely suffer.
There are several major differences between the two groups on the opposite end of the issues. Hunters contribute millions of dollars to wildlife and habitat conservation that benefit all species of wildlife, in addition to those that are hunted. Anti-hunting groups milk people out of millions of dollars with glorified, sensational campaigns with no biological basis or facts in their opposition.
I have defined in my simple mind, that there are two different groups of anti-hunters. They are on the same side of the fence, but have a totally different perspective and agenda, similar only in the fact that they do not like the idea of harvesting their own meat, in any fashion.
I will call the first group “uninformed anti-hunters”. This group would be the people that don’t have all the information. It is expected that they do not understand the process, and the positive impact the sport of hunting has on all wildlife and their habitat. I believe that you could appeal to these people, showing them the facts, supplying them with statistics, eventually helping them to make an informed decision, which is always the better alternative. They may not want to hunt, but they would respect the sport, and may ultimately be thankful for the hunters.
I will call the second group “uninformed anti-hunters by way of willful ignorance”. This group of people don’t appear to have all of the information available, and don’t want to be confused by facts or statistics, therefore leaving them to pursue their goal of taking a firm stand on something that they really don’t understand. Continuing to purchase their meat from the grocery store, and if not meat eaters, possibly missing the opportunity to belittle and bash other people that do. Failing to realize that those nicely packed steaks are the direct result of some animal losing its life by another man’s hands somewhere in the universe. Clearly a person from this group spent their time and money to write and publish this ad:
Below is just one study in 2008 stating the amount of revenue hunting and fishing provide, and this is for only one state. Why would anyone want to discourage this source of funding? Think of the people that would suffer with the trickle down effect.
The establishment of healthy wildlife resources also translates into an economic development. A 2008 report found that the economic impact of hunting in Mississippi was $1,203,742, 401. The economic impact of freshwater fishing was $690,161,178 and the economic benefit of birding and other wildlife watching activities was $791,337,311. This a total impact of $2,685,240,890. The importance of these resources should not be taken lightly.
I have read many well-written articles by experienced, educated hunters that with a level head and steady pen have tried to provide information and inspiration to the antis to think outside of their box. David L. Brown, author of Safari 101 has of late been moved to post a series of five blogs enlightening us to the important role that hunters play in the conservation of wildlife. He has chosen to use statistics and existing circumstances in Africa, of which methods can be applied here in North America as well as the rest of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, and have chosen to share the first two here, with links to the other three (3) for a total of five separate blogs. These short reads have not only provided me with more information that will enable me to speak, and sometimes debate the role of hunters role in the circle of life, but I am certain they will provide everyone with a positive perspective about the hunter, and why it is detrimental to the survival of wildlife across the world. If you have read thus far, you will thoroughly enjoy reading on.
To most non-hunters putting the words hunter and conservationist in the same sentence makes no sense at all. I wanted to do something to change that concept and I hope I have done so in this five part series of writings. Please read it carefully and with an open mind. If you have concerns or questions after reading the post, let me know and I’ll do my best to explain or answer your question.
–David L. Brown
Hunting as a Conservation Tool, Part 1
After a couple of messages back and forth with a few of my Facebook friends, I have decided the concept of hunting as a conservation tool needs more explanation. It works well in the United States, but it works even more dramatically in Africa so I will use it for my examples.
First off, I need to explain a few things about Africa so we are all on the same page. Number one, rural Africa is poor. Not everyone is necessarily living in a mud hut (although some people still do), but one month’s income in the US is more than a year’s wages to a great many people there. Number two, many Africans are hungry. Africa is one of the most protein-starved places on earth. Number three, Africans (at least the ones I know) are willing to work hard to make things better.
Now let me give a little illustration to help make a point. Suppose I gave two people two quartz-looking pieces of rock and told them they could do as they pleased with it. The first person looks at the rock and thinks, “this will work great in my slingshot to pot a small animal for supper,” and that is exactly what he does with it. He feeds his family for one meal. The second person is a little more thoughtful about what he has been given, and he decides to look at it a little closer. He washes it off and notices a sparkle to it. Upon further inspection, he finds he has a raw diamond. Instead of selling it immediately, he decides to have it cut and polished. After taking care of it (cleaning, cutting, and polishing), he finally sells it for much more money and feeds his family many, many, more meals than the first person. It all boils down to perceived value. The more value something is perceived to have, the better care it is given. I’ll explain two ways perceived value is so important to conserving animal populations in the next two sections.
Hunting as a Conservation Tool, Part 2
How does this translate to animals? I am glad you asked. Let’s look at a Cape buffalo for example. If a poacher kills a buffalo, he may get $25.00 for the bush meat. He gets a little money and the village gets a little food. Not too bad for the hungry villagers. If a hunter comes in and kills the same buffalo, the end result is the same–one dead buffalo. Let’s look a little closer.
The hunter is going to pay somewhere around $1,000 per day for seven days (minimum) just to be there to hunt. If the hunter is successful, there is a trophy fee of $2,500 due. Now, our buffalo is worth $9,500, and the villagers will still get fresh meat after the hunter and hunting camp employees have had their share. Notice that I used the word “employees”? That’s right, jobs for the people of the local villages have been created. A hunting camp needs a cook, a grounds keeper, a housekeeper, a skinner, a tracker, a butcher, and someone to do the laundry, serve meals and clean dishes. When you look at all of the extra good that comes with the hunter-killed buffalo supplying the village with meat over the poacher-supplied meat, the best choice is obvious.
Another positive about hunter-supplied meat is it puts the poacher out of business. In killing one animal, a poacher almost always wounds several more, often leaving them to die a slow painful death, with all of the meat going to waste. A poacher is also an indiscriminate killer. This means he kills the pregnant mothers with their young and the immature of the herd. This practice can and often does lead to the downfall of the entire herd. A hunter should select only mature animals past their breeding prime so that, when taken, it will have no ill effect on the herd. The killing of the old trophy animal often helps the herd by cutting down of fighting between the dominate males. Less fighting means less stress on the herd and better breeding conditions. This, in turn, can mean a lower mortality rate among the newborn calves. Taking out the old bulls allows the new young bulls to come in and keep the gene pool diverse, which leads to a healthy population.
Hunting as a Conservation Tool, Part 3
…In the old days and places where leopard hunting is not legal, or there was no one willing to pay to hunt them, the rancher would shoot any leopard on sight. When a kill was discovered, it was laced with arsenic or some other poison in an attempt to kill the leopard if it came back to finish its meal. The poison would not only kill the leopard but anything else that found the kill, such as jackals, caracals, wild dogs, and buzzards. The poison-laced carcass killed anything that cared to take a bite of it. If the mother made it back to the den with a piece of the poisoned meat, the cubs would have a fairly quick, and probably painful, death. If not, they would die slowly from starvation. One can hardly blame the rancher from protecting his livestock, and thereby his family. If he cannot take care of and feed his family, why work the ranch at all?
Images courtesy Becky Lou and David Brown