October 19, 2021
Hunting has contributed to the recovery and the increase of biodiversity around the world, but especially in North America and Africa. Hunting as a conservation tool provides incentives, resources, and management of species to ensure healthy populations in the ecosystem. Contrary to popular opinion, hunting is not the destructive practice of overhunting by the early colonialists and settlers. In fact, hunters were key to the creation of protected areas around the world. Hunting is vital to species recovery, ecosystem management, and human-wildlife coexistence.
In order to hunt, there must be adequate habitat, population size, and ecosystem health. This all takes resources because maintaining habitat, conducting animal population surveys, and monitoring biodiversity are all extensive operations. Hunters often foot the bill for this vast undertaking, with extraordinary results for species.
In the United States, state conservation programs are funded by the Pittman-Robertson Fund, or Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, which is generated by a tax of 10 to 11 percent on firearms, ammunition, and other sporting equipment. The Pittman-Robertson Act passed in 1937 with strong support from hunters, and as of last week, it has generated more than $14.1 billion for conservation from participation in hunting and other outdoor sports.
By the numbers, species across the board have benefitted from hunting. Whitetail deer have risen from 500,000 to 32,000,000 today. Their population is doing so well that hunters are now used to manage deer populations to prevent habitat and community degradation. This management of deer has an extensive ripple effect, which benefits other species in the shared habitat.
Looking forward, the hunting and conservation model should be extended to other animals in the United States and around the world. Imagine the possibilities for North American predators, bison, and other threatened species. Hunting not only increases biodiversity, but also manages it at sustainable levels for wildlife and human populations alike. Through the harvesting of a small number of individual animals, hunters benefit all species, maintain pristine habitat, and bring communities into coexistence with wildlife. SCI will always proudly stand First for Hunters as they continue their conservation work around the globe.