Sustainable Hunting: Can it Help with Conservation in 2024? [Quick Guide]

People worldwide are looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint. Some help the planet by improving their homes or purchasing electric vehicles, while others use sustainable hunting to help the Earth.

How can hunting help with conservation? Some may imagine hunting as harmful, but wildlife management is critical to maintaining ecosystems. 

Here are six reasons why hunting supports conservation efforts and why it’s essential for the survival of both humans and animals:

6 Ways Sustainable Hunting Supports Conservation

1. Controlling Populations

One of the top reasons for sustainable hunting is controlling populations. Ecosystems worldwide are delicate, and slightly changing the numbers of a particular species can throw the food chain out of balance. Ecosystem disruptions can quickly lead to a depletion of resources. Animals could go extinct despite their importance to the area. 

Controlling wildlife populations makes hunting sustainable and necessary for humans. There have been a few examples of overpopulation in the last decade. A few years ago, Australia encouraged kangaroo hunting due to the population swelling.

Deer overpopulation is common in the U.S. For example, the Cuyahoga Valley in Ohio has seen a surge in deer. It had about 17,000 in 1965, and the population peaked at around 750,000 in the early 2000s. That number is too high above healthy levels for the environment. Sustainable hunting means controlling populations, even for Bambi and his family.

Sustainable Hunting - Large Herd of Deer

Another example of population control happens in Hawaii. In the Aloha State, Hawaiians have trouble with the number of feral goats. These animals are an invasive species and harmful to the land. They’re herbivores, so they often over-graze the vegetation. Hunters in the area use AR-15s because it’s ideal for hunting smaller game and managing populations.

2. Preventing Disease

Another critical benefit of sustainable hunting is preventing disease. When animal populations become overpopulated, the risk of disease increases. This danger multiplies in the wintertime when animal immune systems become more vulnerable. Food sources, such as vegetation, dwindle in the cold-weather months, so wildlife is more prone to becoming sick.

The disease spreads among others in the population and to different species. Unfortunately, humans can contract diseases, too. For example, imagine you’re hiking through the forest and see a raccoon or skunk. Overpopulation of these animals increases the risk of contracting rabies if they bite you.

Hunting lowers the chances of the disease spreading. Overpopulation of mammals like deer can increase the chances of diseases like Lyme’s Disease, which is caused by bacteria carried by ticks, spreading.

Sustainable Hunting - Deer Tick biting an animal

Sustainable hunting also means collaborating with scientists to improve animal health. In many areas, hunters donate some of their game for research. Using these samples, scientists can research wildlife and find ways to prevent future diseases from spreading. 

3. Saving Endangered Animals

Sustainable hunting can save various endangered species. That sentence may sound contradictory, but it’s true. This notion works in two ways. First, hunting animals conserves endangered animals whose predator population has swelled too high. For example, fox hunting has become integral to ecosystems. The animal often hunts rabbits, which are threatened. In fact, experts deem one-third of the world’s 63 wild rabbit species to be endangered.  

Another way hunting saves endangered species is through funding. Trophy hunting in Africa has become controversial over the years, with some targeting endangered species like elephants. However, this practice has gravitated toward conservation and a source of revenue. Many hunting grounds use trophy hunting to raise money for conservation efforts.

For example, nations like South Africa, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and more have legal trophy hunting. They use the practice to fund conservation goals and improve their economies. Plus, they benefit the environment. Governments designate land for hunting so outside organizations cannot infiltrate the area and use it for agriculture. Growing animals like livestock could contribute negatively to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. 

Take a look at this video by CBS Mornings  for more on how hunting can support wildlife conservation:

4. Reducing Waste

For many, hunting is a sport. You wake up early before sunrise to shoot your first 10-point buck of the season. However, sustainable hunting is more than just a pastime. It’s a lifestyle for people nationwide, especially those living in rural areas. Many participants take it seriously, which means using the entire animal.

Some people hunt buck and other animals for trophy heads and social media pictures, but it’s wasteful if you only take one thing and leave the rest of the carcass to rot. Nearly every part of the animal has a use. It’s time-consuming to butcher and preserve the meat, but you’ll have pounds of food you can use for jerky, steak, and much more. Sustainable hunting means using the whole animal and cleaning up when finished.

5. Supporting Conservation

Hunting directly supports conservation efforts nationwide because your money helps fund organizations. These purchases could be a hunting license, guns, clothing, and more. Federal legislation has helped hunters and non-hunters by supporting conservation efforts.

For example, Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson Act during the Great Depression in 1937. The legislation created a tax for buying guns, ammunition, bows, arrows, and related equipment. The 11% tax generates revenue to fund wildlife agencies in states nationwide. The Pittman-Robertson Act, or the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, has raised billions of dollars since its passing 86 years ago.

Another consequential piece of legislation passed a few years prior. In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Duck Stamp Act. The official term is the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act. The law requires anybody hunting waterfowl, such as ducks, to purchase an official waterfowl stamp. The federal government uses the money to support habitats with the National Wildlife Refuge System. 

Sustainable Hunting - Duck Stamp
Image: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services

6. Spurring Economic Growth

One of the primary benefits of sustainable hunting is its economic effects. Hunting is a large industry, with people regularly spending money on new firearms, clothing, and various supplies necessary for their trips. Americans spend over $800 million annually on gear for hunting and trapping. Federal legislation taxes some of these purchases and helps wildlife agencies.

However, hunting has an additional benefit indirectly. People who travel domestically or abroad contribute to the economy. They may stop and eat at a local restaurant or patronize a hunting supplies store. A portion of the purchase goes to the local and state government as revenue. Business from hunters and non-hunters helps local economies grow, and hunting grounds stay open.

Sustainable Hunting Contributes to Conservation

Hunting contributes to conservation. It requires firearms to kill particular animals, but science and logic are behind it.

In the old days, humans weren’t as knowledgeable about sustainable hunting. In the late 1800s, Americans nearly made bison extinct due to overhunting. Better practices nowadays keep animal populations at a healthy level.

Population control is critical to maintaining stable ecosystems. Hunters contribute to conservation efforts by hunting and buying gear from stores or duck stamps from the post office. Though it may seem counterintuitive, hunting is critical to conservation worldwide.

About the Author

About the Author - Image of Oscar Collins from ModdedOscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about cars, auto news, and similar topics. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do People Still Hunt?

Hunting is still prevalent worldwide out of necessity and for sport. People hunt as a hobby to get closer to nature and help with conservation efforts. They also use it for self-sustainability because it means they don’t have to rely on meat from the store. Some hunters take what they don’t need and give it to friends and family. Done right, hunting can be an ethical, healthy and sustainable way to procure meat that has not been mass farmed or inhumanely slaughtered. Read the full guide to learn more about how hunting can be sustainable and support conservation.

Why Do People Hunt for Sport?

QHunting is a solitary hobby for some, but for others, it’s a social activity they can enjoy with friends. Many start young and still see it as a thrilling adventure. Hunting is often a bonding time for families that go back many generations. After all, humans have been doing this for thousands of years. Read the full guide to learn about how hunting for sport can be good for conservation efforts.

What Would Happen if We Stopped Hunting?

Hunting plays different roles in different locations, in some places it would be beneficial if people stopped hunting and would allow animal populations to recover if they have been over-hunted. However, in many areas where hunting is properly regulated and managed, it would not be beneficial for people to stop hunting. Animal populations like deer can quickly rise to dangerous levels, which can exceed the carrying capacity of the land they're inhabiting. Wildlife would overgraze vegetation and reduce resources for other animals. Plus, they pose a danger to humans because some carry ticks and Lyme disease, and can spread diseases to domestic animals.

What Is the Most Ethical Way to Hunt?

Hunting varies by species, but there are still ways to do it ethically. For example, many argue that it is better for animals like deer to live free and wild and die instantly from a well-aimed shot than it is for animals like cows to be farmed and traumatized by transportation and inhumane slaughtering practices. You should also use the entire animal, not just the meat and trophy head. Another ethical practice is to respect animal habitats, which are integral for their survival in non-hunting seasons. In some areas, trophy hunting funds conservation efforts in the area.

References and Useful Sources

NC State University: The Role of Hunting in Wildlife Conservation, Explained

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Hunters as Conservationists

PERC: The Role of Hunting in Conserving African Wildlife

Statista: US Hunting and Trapping Sector Market Size, 2013 – 2022 & 2023 Forecast

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