Does hunting have any positive impact on wildlife? If yes, what is the hunter’s role in wildlife conservation? Find answers to these questions and more in our detailed piece.
What is the hunter’s role in wildlife conservation?
Well, when you think of conservation, not many people will view hunting as a wildlife conservation effort.
But the fact is hunting can help conserve our wildlife in many ways than we can think.
Protecting nature and our wildlife is a key factor in humanity’s survival. This is because almost everything we need to survive comes from nature. Whether it’s the food we eat, water, clothes, shelter, or simply clean air, nature is the source – it’s called Mother Nature for a reason.
This means that protecting and preserving wildlife is protecting us.
This article takes a step back to discover and provide the correct information about hunting and conservation. So, how does hunting help in conservation?
Hunting 101: What is the Hunter’s Role in Wildlife Conservation?
Without proper information or understanding of how hunting works, it’s also hard to comprehend how hunting and wildlife conservation relate. Does hunting have a positive role in conservation? The truth is that it does.
Regulated or licensed hunting has both direct and indirect impacts on wildlife protection. When done right, it is undoubtedly one of the most effective wildlife conservation efforts.
So without much ado, let’s dive in and see what a hunter’s role in wildlife conservation is.
1. Maintaining Ecological Balance
Ecological balance is vital for the planet’s survival. If some species are too many or others are too few, the imbalances can lead to more disasters than we can imagine. Remember, each species plays a specific role in nature, and too much of it or too little of it will have negative effects on the other species.
For example, very few predators in an ecosystem mean an increase in the number of grazers. This, on the other hand, will translate to overgrazing, eventually leading to the death of these herbivores due to lack of food. Maintaining the right number of species in certain locations translates to thriving ecosystems.
Licensed hunters work to maintain this balance in our wildlife in various ways. By following regulations from the wildlife departments, hunters remove certain animals from the ecosystems, giving nature much-needed balance.
Note: Endangered or threatened species are protected or excluded from hunting.
2. Creating Wildlife Awareness
Hunters take part in various hunting expeditions, which they also document through wildlife photos and videos. These photos and videos, which comprise of the hunters’ encounters with the wild, offer the public a chance to understand nature through the hunter’s eyes.
Since not all of us will go to the wild or have these first-hand experiences, such documentaries can help us learn more about wildlife. They help the general public understand how wildlife works, appreciate it more and even participate in its conservation.
Creating wildlife awareness leads to more wildlife conservation grants and donations, which plays a major role in maintaining wildlife. For instance, some of these funds go towards biological research, including genetic engineering, which is vital in wildlife conservation.
3. Environmental Preservation
As earlier mentioned, regulated hunting helps to maintain ecological balance. However, through this, it also helps to preserve the environment. If you are wondering how hunters help preserve the environment, here is a simple answer.
By controlling species populations, hunters work to prevent the overuse of natural resources. For instance, too many grazers and browsers like wildebeests, deer, zebras, etc., only increase vegetation consumption.
This can lead to increased soil erosions, as the grass cover is exhausted, reduced soil depth, as well as reduced soil’s organic matter and fertility. All these issues will lead to land degradation and, in severe cases, desertification.
Also, some animals are selective in what they feed. This means that overpopulation of a certain animal species like deer leads to overconsumption of certain plants.
This eventually changes the natural dynamics of the ecosystem or forest and will affect other species.
See Related: What Are The Effects of Overharvesting?
4. Exposing Poaching and Illegal Trade
Since they are licensed and spend a lot of time in the wild hunting, hunters can identify and expose poaching activities and illegal trade of animals and animal parts.
They act as whistleblowers of any illegal activities in the wild, allowing wildlife authorities to act swiftly and on time to protect wildlife.
The good thing is, they see these things well in advance, alerting the authorities to take action.
5. Offering Useful Information through Surveys
The time they spend in the wild allows them to have extensive wildlife experience. This makes them an invaluable resource in wildlife protection ideas.
By answering questionnaires, hunters give crucial information that the necessary authorities and environmental organizations can use in wildlife preservation.
Environmental scientists can also use this information in their research and when creating statistical reports. The samples collected from hunted animals can be used for DNA sequencing, genetic engineering, gene cloning, etc.
6. Funding Conservation
How can a hunter help wildlife conservation efforts? Funding is a major way how!
Firstly, hunters pay for their licenses. This money, in most, goes towards funding various conservation efforts through the concerned department (Department of Fish and Wildlife). The money can be used for scientific research or wildlife protection activities such as protecting endangered species.
Also, the money can be used to buy new land for reserves, as well as in conserving the already existing areas where hunting is allowed.
The donations and grants made as a result of the hunters’ documentaries and photos are also quite useful in making numerous conservation efforts successful.
Therefore, hunting is an effective wildlife conservation tool because it not only acts to maintain a balance in the ecosystem but also helps fund other conservation efforts.
Why is Regulated Hunting Important?
Regulated hunting can also be regarded as wildlife conservation hunting. This is because the whole idea of hunting for sports, leisure, or food, while following the set rules, assists significantly in wildlife preservation and conservation.
Regulated hunting is crucial because hunters are bound to follow specific rules and regulations, ensuring that they leave the wild better than they found it.
For instance, licensed hunters follow these hunting rules:
- Zero hunting of endangered animals – either for money or personal consumption
- Always be ready to offer information through surveys to assist the government and other organizations in wildlife conservation.
- Never kill for no reason, and offer samples from your kills as requested.
- Always provide accurate information about wildlife as required.
- Never collect seeds and eggs without a valid reason.
With these guidelines, hunters conduct their hunting activities in a way that doesn’t harm the environment or the inhabitants. So, when answering the question – what is the hunter’s role in wildlife conservation? All these factors come into play.
What Happens when we Overhunt?
Overhunting is the relentless killing or catching of wild animals, either for food, money, or sports, more than the population can sustain. In essence, overhunting brings about a severe reduction in the numbers of certain species, which can harm the entire population and even the ecosystem at large. In other words, it can be seen as the overexploitation of wildlife resources.
But what are its effects?
1. Increase in Endangered and Extinct Species
Since time immemorial, too much hunting has been one of the major causes of several animal species extinction. According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), excessive hunting causes over 23% of extinctions.
For instance, overhunting of the African Elephant in South Africa, exotic birds in Madagascar, or the Amur Leopard, has led to these animals being listed as endangered.
Even worse, species like the elephant birds and giant lemurs in Madagascar, New Zealand’s Moas, kangaroos in Australia, and Ghana’s Colobus monkey, have gone extinct.
Very low populations or extinction of a particular species can be detrimental to the ecosystem.
See related: 10 Best Books on Endangered Species
2. Disruptions of the Food Chain
Each animal or plant species is important in a certain environment or ecosystem. This means that a steep decrease in their numbers will affect the entire food chain.
For instance, what happens when lions are overhunted for their mane and skin? Deer populations increase.
This increase in grazers’ population leads to overgrazing, reducing soil fertility and quality in the area, which can disrupt the entire ecosystem.
3. Disrupts Nature’s Interconnectedness
Each species is interconnected to the rest of the ecosystem. Complete removal of a certain species then means endangering the survival of another species.
For instance, if you eliminate wildebeest from Savanna, Mara crocodiles will certainly starve to death.
Also, if there is overhunting of bison in Yellowstone, grizzly bears will have a hard time surviving.
What Happens when we don’t Hunt?
This is an excellent way to answer our main question: What is the hunter’s role in wildlife conservation? For starters, while many people would think that banning hunting would help conserve wildlife, the opposite is true. Not hunting brings more problems than solutions.
If the prey population is not checked, there will be a surge in their numbers. This will, in return, mean overgrazing and over-browsing, especially where the predators are fewer. This certainly has a direct negative effect on the vegetation and the land.
Also, with increased prey animal populations, the predator populations would flourish due to the abundance of food. Subsequently, if these animals move from their natural habitats and near to human settlements, attacks of humans by these animals would increase. Now, this isn’t a good thing at all.
If you also look at it critically, banning hunting activities means zero contributions and donations from hunters. This means that funds to keep national and state parks functional will also reduce.
So, how does hunting help wildlife conservation? I think we all have an answer by now.
See related: Call from the Wild
What Happens when we Hunt Out of Season?
In regulated hunting, hunters adhere to certain rules and regulations. If these are not followed, devastating effects will be seen. For instance, hunting out of season is mostly discouraged.
When we hunt out of season, it means that we haven’t given the government and wildlife conservation agencies time to spell out hunting requirements for the season. For example, when a certain species, such as a deer population, needs to be regulated, the government might give way forward on how to hunt and harvest animals.
Hunters might be required to hunt a certain kind of deer to ensure continuity in its population. But, if hunting occurs out of season, regulations will certainly be violated. This might cause detrimental impacts on the species.