“Hunting is wildlife conservation”. This statement can seem very confusing and contradictory to some folks. In reality it's true, most of the conservation that happens in the United States is actually funded by hunting. The license sales, taxes on sporting goods and other forms of sportsmen’s groups make up the majority of each state's budget to pay for wildlife conservation. If we didn’t take stewardship over the animals and wild creatures there would be a severe balance swing and economic burden on humans in various communities.
2 places come to mine to sew up the idea of how hunting and management work hand in hand to keep nature in check. If you look at Texas for example. Texas has an enormous agricultural business. In 2017 Texas farms sold $24.9 billion in agricultural products compared to 25.4 billion in 2012. Texas leads the nation in number of farms and ranches, with 248,416 farms and ranches covering 127 million acres. (source, https://www.texasagriculture.gov/About/TexasAgStats.aspx ). We as taxpayers buy the goods produced from their effort.
Wild pigs explode in some areas. Now you might think, how does that impact the cost of corn to me as a consumer. It falls in the supply chain and what it affects. If we didn’t manage the wild pig population, who can have 2 liters a year with anywhere from 1-12 piglets. The states farming community would be overrun in a matter of a few years. How do these two blend together from a conservation standpoint? Cattle need food to grow and maintain a healthy diet so we can enjoy their byproducts.
Cattle is the #1 source of agriculture in Texas.
If the pigs could range free, they would consume an enormous amount of feed the cattle need and they also cause damage to fence lines, eat crops meant for us and rooting in the soil ruins crop acreage. They cost the ranchers money to fix fences and replant the ground with food for the cattle and humans. That cost is added into the balance when the cattle and agriculture products are purchased through the supply chain. Consumers end up with the final bill for this process. If hunting was not involved in Pigs vs Texas problem the money required to keep wild pig populations in a sustainable yet healthy number, yet healthy would fall to all taxpayers. Hunting license sales, taxes on sporting goods, and other conservation efforts help fund the biology and means required to maintain the pigs for a balance we all can live with. By keeping pig numbers low help keeps the cost of agriculture products to a lower price point.
The next example is car insurance. Most people think of car insurance cost dealing mainly with vehicle to vehicle. While this is a big expense the average cost of hitting a deer in the USA with your vehicle has a price tag of around $4000. Deer collision’s raise insurance cost for everyone driving a vehicle and that pays for motor vehicle insurance. Unmanaged deer populations can grow very quickly. Deer have biological patterns inherited from generations. Meaning they must forage and follow paths their ancestors carved out long ago. The cost to build fencing and maintain healthy population cost millions of dollars across North America. Again, License sales fund the majority of these projects. It’s a needed pollination for sportsmen to help improve the interaction between wild animals and a growing commerce. The Midwest has very few natural predators for whitetail deer. If the deer can reproduce without any natural maintenance to keep the population in viable numbers. The collision rate would skyrocket in some areas. Hunting helps thin down the herd enough to keep numbers respectable but also allows manageable growth.
The next part of conservation has to do with natures food supply. Wild animals can actually over feed themselves if population numbers are out of balance. If there is not enough food for the amount of mouths eating, then major problems occur. This applies to all living species. It costs the state to pay employees to manage the wildlife in their own fashion. The expense mainly funded by hunting license sales. The money brought in from license sales helps pay for new tech and forward thinking in helping us co-exist with these animals. Sometimes I feel that non hunters have a stereo type of us that love to hunt our dinner to feed our families. They seem to think we run around in a loin cloth with a spear and killing everything in sight with total disregard for the wild animals. In fact, without hunters buying licenses and doing conservation projects to help protect and properly manage these animals.
They would be either overrun with too many animals or none at all. Utah leads the front on conservation with a program called dedicated hunter. The license and tag are more than a normal tag fee. If successful in the lottery a person can hunt a specific area for 3 consecutive years. With this prestigious tag there is a duty and requirement that each person complete 32 hours of conservation projects across the state with sweat labor in exchange for the tag. This is teaching our youth and keeping us in check with understanding we have to put our best foot forward to maintaining the specie we love to pursue in balance.
License sales also helps procure state land that no one can hunt but all can enjoy for future generations. By doing this the animals in that area will always have some land to call home. Habitat loss is the number reason there is a decline in deer number across the Rockies. As more construction takes up winter and summer ranges, some areas will see a severe decrease in sheer numbers of wildlife. We all must help and understand each other’s passion for man and animal to coexist effectively.