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Analysis: Why hunting is important

By Christine Pick
On November 20, 2012

As deer hunting season continues in full swing, many local hunters are reaping the benefits. However, hunting continues to be in the minority for outdoor recreation. Since 2006, only 5 percent of the population in the United States hunts regularly. Why is this so? As the human population grows, natural areas become more fragmented, and thus, we tend to grow more distant from these places. This is unfortunate, for not only does hunting provide many personal benefits, but it also provides many environmental ones as well.

Hunting is not only a time honored tradition, but also a sport that is personally rewarding, providing an exciting challenge for the hunter. The hunter is able to watch wildlife in its native habitat, which can bring a certain sense of participation and camaraderie with nature and fellow hunters, as well as strengthen the bond between families and whole communities. Certain hunting cooperatives for instance, such as Hunters for the Hungry, donate almost 11 million meals a year to those less fortunate, where one deer can feed up to 200 people. Although it is understandable that many non-hunters view deer hunting as "anti-environmental", studies find the opposite to be the case.

As people who actively engage in nature, hunters tend to support efforts to conserve the diversity of native habitats and reduce habitat disturbances and fragmentation. Additionally, the hunting licenses and equipment bought by hunters provide a vital source of subsidy to state and federal governments to maintain and acquire parks, refuges, and the staff necessary to provide a safe environment for both game and non-game species, which has the net effect of increasing wildlife diversity and quality of life throughout the country.

In addition to this, hunting also allows for population control. Due to the loss or reduction of natural predators such as wolves, many deer populations are overpopulated, which can lead to malnutrition, disease or resource depletion, which in turn may have negative consequences on animal or human populations in the area. It has been shown that in areas of large deer populations, the number of animal-caused car accidents increases, as well as decreased crop yield due to herbivory damage, both of which can be controlled by hunting.

With so many benefits to both deer and man, deer hunting is a practice that deserves to be better understood. Well-meaning individuals who only want what's best for the environment frequently do more harm than good by protesting hunting. Efficiently utilized, deer themselves can represent a valuable resource that is made more precious in our current economic climate, and is also a wholesome hobby that brings friends and families together. We can honor our inheritance of natural majesty and wealth by carefully safeguarding our environments as well as our hunting traditions to pass on to the next generation.

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