Hunting and the War on Wildlife


Over 200 million animals are killed, maimed and injured by hunters every year in the U.S., with many dying slow, painful deaths. There are many reasons why hunting is cruel, destructive, and unnecessary. Most foundationally, it is morally wrong to kill animals for sport, pleasure, entertainment or fun. Not only does hunting cause suffering to individual animals, animal families are also destroyed and baby animals are abandoned and orphaned. Hunting also disrupts the balance of ecosystems and animal behaviors such as migration and hibernation. For those who fool themselves into thinking hunting is a sport, it is a completely unfair and one-sided one, as no animal can defend themselves from today’s military style weapons and killing devices.

Hunting is not conservation or population control

The leading pro-hunting argument is that hunting reduces the overpopulation of certain species and is good for conservation. This reasoning for killing animals is reinforced time and again by pro-hunting organizations, gun clubs and hunting lobbying groups.

Hunters pose with a dead elk. Image credit gavinrobinson, CC BY-SA 2.0.

According to best public policy, scientific research and wildlife biology, hunting is not considered a viable or effective solution for controlling wildlife or keeping nature in balance. In fact, wildlife biologists affirm that hunting does far more damage than good. Scientific studies indicate that hunting throws entire ecosystems completely out of balance for both prey and predator animals. Hunting can cause the destruction and decimation of animal species as well as the overpopulation of specific species—both leading to ecological disruption.

To justify sport hunting, hunters must ignore the numerous ethical solutions to wildlife overpopulation that have been advanced by scientists. Not to mention that hunting causes unnecessary injury and suffering to all the animals in its cross-hairs.

Anti-predator hunting rhetoric

Hunting has become a hot political issue, supported by the NRA (National Rifle Association) and Safari Club International, firearm and gun clubs, hunting organizations, and sport hunting lobby groups. State wildlife agencies are partially funded by pro-hunting groups whose mission is to intentionally increase “game” populations like deer, while disregarding non-game species, so there are more to kill. Under the guise of habitat and wildlife conservation, federal and state agencies like U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) manipulate prey species like deer, elk, and moose to give hunters more to hunt.

Federal and state legislation to kill large numbers of predator animals in order to bolster the population of prey or “game” animals such as deer create bigger herds for sport hunters to kill. This legislation is also enacted to protect free-range and grazing livestock and cattle ranchers, even though according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, less than 5 percent of livestock are attacked by predator animals. Nationwide, predators of all types account for just 5.5 percent of cattle and calf losses. Because hunters and federal and state legislation together have sought to destroy predator animals, prey animals like deer are overpopulated in many areas across the U.S.

Predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, wolves and bears, are being exterminated across the U.S. Hunters and federal agencies call this “population control” and “wildlife management” but it’s specifically for the benefit of hunting organizations. This is not based on science, it is purely self-serving for hunters and special interest groups, all with the support of federal and state governments and agencies that wish to sell more hunting licenses to generate higher state revenues.

Politicians have even planned coyote, wolf or bear “killing contests” where hunters are paid to kill as many predator animals as they can. Prizes are given away to winners, and young people are encouraged to participate. These contests are designed to virtually exterminate wolves, coyotes, bears and other predator animals in local areas. But the fact is, if allowed to live and thrive, predators are the true ecosystem managers, and they increase biodiversity and habitat recovery and balance nature all by themselves.

Coyotes are often targets of state-sanctioned “population control” killings. Image credit Heather Paul, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The damage hunting causes to wildlife species

Hunting has been responsible for contributing to the extinction of species all around the world. Numerous studies demonstrate how killing one predator animal can often produce greater populations of that same animal through their increased breeding, or can lead to severely decreased survival and reproduction rates, social disruption and a reversal from population growth to decline. Scientific research also indicates that by killing high numbers of one species, such as coyotes, it causes a significant rise in another species like jackrabbits, throwing the ecosystem balance completely off.

Wildlife and predator-control experts agree that eliminating the “problem” animal only causes further and deeper problems for that and other species. For example, as we have killed wolves in the U.S., the coyote population has dramatically increased. Pro hunting groups have the financial power to manipulate legislative policy in support of their own special interest in hunting and killing animals, but it is not about effective conservation.

The solution is not hunting. Instead, we need to create new wildlife management policies and practices that do not include hunting and killing, but that instead incorporate the intrinsic value and interests of individual animals, species populations, and entire ecosystems.

What You Can Do

  1. Learn to coexist with wildlife. Accept that wildlife is part of your ecosystem, in urban, suburban and rural areas alike.
  2. Vote for humane legislators. Support legislation at the federal and state level that is based on sound science and ethical consideration.
  3. Write letters to the editor of local and national newspapers and/or to political officials and legislators. Here are some tips.
  4. Attend the public meetings of your state wildlife agency. Voice your opinion against hunting in their public commenting process
  5. Get educated. Become familiar with non-lethal solutions to human/wildlife conflict. Here are some resources.
  6. Join and support anti-hunting nonprofit and organizations and support their efforts. Avoid wildlife or conservation groups that support or don’t oppose hunting.
  7. Volunteer to protect and preserve wildlife. Sign up to teach, advocate, do community education and outreach, administrative support, social media, research etc.
  8. Contact your state’s governor and wildlife agency, and demand equal consideration of non-hunters in employment and decision-making processes.
  9. Support the federal Endangered Species Act. Read about the Endangered Species Act and the 280 groups opposing the weakening of the Act.
  10. Call 1-800-628-7275 to report poachers in national parks to the National Parks and Conservation Association.

This information originally appeared on the Humane Decisions website.

Featured image: hunters pose with dead deer killed during a Florida Fish and Wildlife “Youth Hunt.” Image credit Florida Fish and Wildlife / Terri Card, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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About Author

Humane Decisions is devoted to ending the suffering, domination, exploitation, abuse, enslavement and use of animals worldwide for reasons of food, pleasure, convenience, entertainment and all other unnecessary reasons, by providing resources and information to shift both individual and collective consciousness to one that recognizes animal sentience and inclusion in our moral community. Click to see author's profile.

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