Hunters are conservationists in the truest sense of the word.
When most people think of hunting, they don’t always associate the term with conservation. But, the truth is hunters are active conservationists in their own way.
Without the involvement of hunters in things like population control and responsible hunting property leasing, conservation of species like deer and turkeys would be far more difficult. While hunters sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to public opinion, they are vital to effective conservation in more ways than one.
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The truth is without ethical hunting practices, there would be a conservation disaster of epic proportions in a number of ways.
Wild animals have a certain number of natural predators to keep their populations in check. Without effective population control, mainly by hunters, these populations would grow to epic proportions and wreak havoc on the health and well being of the overpopulated animals.
Since there are only enough food sources to sustain a certain number of animals in any given area, should the population suddenly explode due to lack of hunting, starvation would begin almost immediately.
This is true for animals including deer, turkeys, elk, and more. Without the involvement of ethical hunters, the populations of these animals would skyrocket. Once that happened, there would be a snowball effect of increased car-and-deer accidents and other unexpected side effects. No responsible hunter wants the animals they hunt to suffer.
In fact, experienced hunters practice their shooting skills religiously to ensure clean, accurate shots so the animals they hunt will not suffer more than necessary. This kind of humane population control is necessary to prevent the horrific side effects that would be brought on by ineffective population management.
Predator and Varmint Control
Not only is it important to remember the benefits of hunting on wildlife populations of traditional game animals, it is also important to think in terms of predator and varmint control. Without humans interfering with the population of coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, and other varmints, their population would skyrocket as well.
An out-of-control population of coyotes can lead to the increased presence of these animals in more urban settings. Coyotes have no natural predators other than humans. If hunters aren’t there to keep their population in check, who will? An uncontrolled coyote population will effectively eliminate a high percentage of game animals in an area and put humans at risk as well.
Raccoons, opossums, and other small varmints are notoriously detrimental to poultry and crops. Without hunting to keep them in check, they would undoubtedly be put in situations where farmers would have to either sacrifice their agricultural assets or take matters into their own hands. Hunting these animals to keep their population in check is a far more humane solution than what might occur.
Through the purchase of permits that allow a hunter to legally take game in a state, conservation efforts receive the financial support they deserve. Habitat restoration, environmental protection and state agency support all source funds through the sale of licenses, as well as hunting and shooting gear.
Without the constant and consistent seasonal license purchases, wildlife would have it far worse than they already do. Some find this confusing; how can you say you’re saving a species when your main objective is to kill them?
The truth is, responsible hunters care about the animals they hunt, often more so than anti-hunters could ever believe.
While population control is of vital importance to conservation, it is equally as important to prevent hunters from over-killing a population. Bag limits and personal ethics from responsible hunters prevent most of the potential for over-hunting an area. Along with controlled hunting areas, the number of hunters and animals taken can be effectively monitored and controlled.
There is a fine balance between killing enough animals to keep the population at healthy levels and over-harvesting in a specific area. It falls to local hunters to become the conservationists of their favorite hunting area in order to keep the sport alive and have a healthy number of animals to hunt each year.
Controlling lease numbers and game management units by allowing only a certain number of hunters to hunt an area makes that task much easier.
On those years when natural food sources are scarce, hunters provide wildlife with an extra source of food when they plant food plots in their hunting area.
Deer, turkeys, and other animals often rely on food plot crops to keep their bellies full when their natural food sources are in short supply.
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For that reason, hunters should again be considered conservationists. Healthy animals need a valid food source. Without the food plots planted by responsible hunters, those same animals might struggle for food for an entire season.
Ethical hunters are some of the most active conservationists you will find. The health and well being of the animals they hunt is of the utmost importance to most hunters.
It’s time the general public sees hunters for what they truly are: responsible stewards of wildlife and conservationists through and through.