Hunting as Conservation? | eePRO @ NAAEE
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Hunting as Conservation?

Hi, all!

I recently saw that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries created a page specifically for new women hunters, "to help the next generation of women hunters learn to hunt." I'm delighted to see efforts to expand the demographic, but am curious for your expert thought on hunting re: conservation. Having spent some time in the countryside, I know well how beneficial hunting can be to a balanced ecosystem, but of course there are cultural aspects that can be antithetical to conservation values.

What's your stance on hunting as conservation? Do you work with hunters in your EE work? What resources (books, articles, documentaries) have you appreciated? Are their orgs working on a balanced approach to this?

Thank you!

Hi Elise and thanks for sharing. I have been at the nexus of hunting and environmental education for twenty years in three states. Here in the northeastern US, deer overabundance has had major impacts on forest regeneration and indigenous wildflower populations. Pennsylvania (where I live) has the 3rd highest deer collision rate in the US. This all highlights the missing role of large herbivore predators (puma and wolf, in particular) in our forests. My experience, as a hunter and through meeting others, is that many hunters have a strong connection to the land and other wildlife and are often involved in conservation work. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a newer organization focused on habitat scale conservation, not species specific. They also advocated for wildlife corridors. I'd also encourage everyone to promote the use on non-lead ammunition for hunting as unintentional poisoning of wildlife, especially raptors - a major limiting factor in California Condor recovery.

Good question, Elisa. As someone who has spent years studying the decline of hunting and potential consequences for conservation, I totally agree with Jason. In a nutshell, I'd say hunting is important for three main reasons: 1) cultural heritage (and in some cases subsistence), 2) wildlife and ecosystem management (in the absence of "natural" predators), and 3) conservation funding. The first link below will take you to a paper we recently published that explores the critical role of hunting in conservation funding - and the need to integrate more innovative funding mechanisms. As diversification of hunting and motivations for hunting becomes more important, we have also been studying new pathways into the activity. The second link below summarizes a recent student examining the changing face of hunting and the role that college students might play. Hopefully these insights help.

Hello all,
Just thought I'd add my two cents on the topic. On a personal level, I am no fan of trophy and/or sport hunting. Full stop. However, I do agree with Jason and Lincoln above, referencing addressing the loss of large predators...species overpopulation...subsistence hunting.

But one form of hunting I think is quite important, is the hunting of invasive species. Particularly here in FL where I live...we have invasive pythons, lion fish, wild boar. As we all know, invasive species can be severely detrimental to the native populations. I also think there is an educational opportunity here, along with raising the importance and value of conservation.

Anyway, there's my two cents...okay, maybe a penny. ;-)
Have a good day everyone.

Thanks for sharing Lincoln. Having lived in Delaware with its vast National Wildlife Refuges and now in Pennsylvania, with our Game Lands, I and non-hunters (birders, photographers, cyclists, etc.) benefit from hunting-based habitat conservation. Non-hunters can support habitat conservation in these areas by purchasing a "Duck Stamp" (see link below) as .98/$1.00 goes to habitat or easement purchases.

Great points Dana on invasive species hunting. I visited Roatan, Honduras in 2014 and the impact of non-native Lionfish on indigenous reef species impacts the human communities that depend on the fishery. Residents and diving guides were actively hunting Lionfish (to eat) and encouraging others to do the same.