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hunting for population control

What do you think about hunting animals in order to prevent overpopulation thus causing starvation? 
I'm not trying to debate any common hunting practices such as hanging a deer head above the fire place.
Just looking for some different points of view I myself do not hunt have never hunted nor do I ever want to hunt.   

The concern with most animal populations is that they're declining due to human encroachment.  Planned communities, corridors, and open space would be a sustainable alternative to killing animals.

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Well the problem is that we've effectively eliminated most natural predators, because they need such large tracts of contiguous land to hunt effectively. Since there aren't any natural predators, humans have taken it upon themselves to fill in for the lack of predators. Organizations like the Fish and Wildlife service (public) and Ducks Unlimited (private) spend most of their time doing studies on animal populations to determine how many  deer/ducks/ etc. will die during the winter due to starvation (populations explode to temporarily unsustainable level without natural predators). These numbers and the onset of winter determine hunting seasons. This is certainly not an ideal situation, but it is extremely well regulated. I personally live in Massachusetts which has very restrictive gun laws. When combined with our even stricter hunting laws, I am reasonably sure that wildlife is being hunted sustainably.

I did say this wasn't ideal though didn't I? While there are alternatives (see humboldt honey), but they just won't work. The reason is much simpler: cost. Hunters pay are willing to pay large sums to pursue their hobby, and as a result hunters provide the VAST majority of money towards land conservation efforts. (note: it is way too early to look up numbers on this, but if you do, you'll see what I'm talking about). After all hikers, bikers, bird watchers, etc. don't really put a lot money into their sports, so it is not surprising that they don't contribute to conservation efforts. What is more troubling is that the only people that are really lobbying and pushing your politicians to move towards conservation are people representing hunters. What's more in the case of population such as deer, lack of hunters does not only contribute to lack of conservation  (the money thing) but can contribute to active degradation. Since deer are very active browsers, they eat all of the low lying seedlings and shrubs, usually towards the forests' edge (or in your McMansion development if you choose). This leads ultimately leads to an all old-growth forest which is much less sustainable than a mixed growth forest. This effects not only the forest itself, but the watershed, etc. The Quabbin reservoir in Massachusetts debated the benefits of deer hunting for a long time, but having allowed it again, most are in agreement that it has benefited the watershed and forest. Again, this is not ideal, but we have few alternatives.

The most troubling thing is that there is really nothing in place to ensure that hunters are skilled enough to kill effectively. Ethical hunting runs on the premise that one should only shoot a deer,bird, etc. if they can ensure that they can kill it with a single shot. This takes a lot of practice though, and is falling to the wayside. What happens is that animals are maimed instead of killed. Whats more people seem more likely now to not pursue those animals, which means they may go on to just maim more animals. These are only regulated by ethics, not law, and present a much more difficult problem to the hunting question.

Sorry for the diatribe, I've got to get to work.

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Well, does it sound like an effective and ethical way to control the human population to you? If you wouldn't do it to humans, why would you think it's alright to do it to animals?

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ljette, where you live sounds gorgeous.  I live in SoCal, so we have rolling hills of dead grass most of the year - certainly not old-growth forests.  Where I used to live in Northern California had old-growth forests and it was gorgeous there.  Off track, I embroidered a handbag with "Stop sacrificing virgins Protect our old-growth forests".  I think that should be on bumper and bike stickers.

From my non-forested urban landscape, we don't have "commercial" wildlife, like deer and bear.  Well, we do, but not many.  What we have to protect are "non-commercial" animals, like coyotes.  That can be semi-accomplished through General Plans that designate certain areas as open space and by holding agencies accountable during CEQA / NEPA, 401 / 404 processes.

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thanks for the the reply's

humboldt_honey I would vote for animal communities although as ljette pointed out (with some very good info I might add) that's just not going to happen. At least not right now.

Minke to your point about ethics, I think theirs definitely room for debate on that one. Although not ideal hunting may be our most ethical solution at the moment.
No, we don't use it to control the human population instead we let them die of starvation and disease. In both situations their are people working hard to improve the situation, but unfortunately they are in the minority.
I think in general as a society we've established that at least people are equal, and yet we let them starve. The point being we are not going to invest time and money to come up with any large scale ethical solution for any other species. Especially when we won't do it for our own.
However I would love to be proved wrong.

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There's no single approach that works.  Liette is right in that hunters are allies of environmentalists in some regards.  I read an article about how ranchers and environmentalists teamed up in Montana or Idaho to protest a proposed urban sprawl project.  It takes a village.

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Not to sound like an ass but I don't see a better piratical solution.
Some good hypothetical ones, but as of now to stop hunting would make it worse.

I have heard of something like the hunting organizations stacking the deck to keep it necessary to keep hunting. I don't remember where i read that at. anyone know anything about that?

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There are certainly other solutions, but nothing is currently ideal. I really don't like the idea of hunting, but I'm terrified of the lost income for conservation should it ever go away. My GF attends Tufts Veterinary school, and works in their wildlife clinic. They do deer sterilization there, which should be highly effective in the long term, but not as effective in the short term. It also eliminates all the revenue towards conservation efforts, and as evil as hunting is, I want my children to grow up in a world with at least a few open spaces left.

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It sounds like it's state-dependent.  For example, California's department that issues fishing licenses brings in about $62 million a year.  One-third of the revenue goes to hatcheries and two-thirds goes to fisheries management.  It's a bit of a closed circle.  Only a small portion of the entire revenue goes to anything remotely considered conservation.

How's it done in other states?

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Nature balances itself. It is only where humankind has upset the balance that is culling necessary.

We should refrain from harming all sentient beings but if culling needs to be done then logic would dictate that is should be done to those beings upsetting the balance.

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Logic fail:

1) deer (& other 'sport') species overpopulate BECAUSE hunters have systematically annihilated their natural predators-- often quite deliberately for the specific purpose of preserving sport hunting (example: recent unlimited slaughter of barely un-endangered gray wolves in Idaho, specifically to ensure overpopulation of elk/ deer for recreational hunting by humans).

2) if population control was actually the goal, we'd shoot the mommies-- shooting males doesn't reduce the birthrate, and has much less effect on the total population growth than reducing the number of breeding females (interestingly enough, this is done with wolves but not deer! gee, why is that, do you suppose??!!)... But female deer don't have the big pretty antlers, and we want them to overpopulate again by next season, so...

3) last but not least: SERIOUSLY??! humans are so totally overpopulated right now, it's queasy-making when you look at the actual resources we have on this planet... i think we're the very *last* bunch of creatures that should presume expertise in 'population control'! the irony here boggles the mind (if you're bold enough to consider it before drinking).

And don't even get me started on the 'hunters' who (i see this all the time, in rural AR) feed the species they're protecting us from the overpopulation of, for 3/4 of the year, encouraging overpopulation with artificially inflated food resources... then blast 'em to oblivion in the very same feeding field, during hunting season...

People hunt 'cause they like to kill stuff. The end. All that other crap is rationalization. IF that's where an omni gets ALL their meat, at least it's a marginally more honest approach than that of the CAFO-burger-chompin' "animal lover"... still tho... TOTAL bullshit.

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thanks hotcooknmama
that made me feel a shit load better. I keep running into this debate and I've never had anything to derail the population control argument.
I knew there was a legitimate reason to oppose hunting I just didn't know what they were.

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Deer populations in the US and Canada have been declining and scientists have been working on how to stabilize the populations.  Hunting deer as population control is a non-issue.

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idk about that, hh... on a national level, maybe, but regionally there are areas of (carefully orchestrated) overpopulation of 'sport' species... if we kill off all the predators and expand human habitat into the living space of their prey, there are going to be 'too many' deer in some places... b/c we have arranged it so. Side note: no turkey season in AR last year; populations were WAY low... MAJOR uproar from hunters: "we want to shoot 'em anyway!" So much for the 'we must help them not overpopulate' defense... (assholes!)

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Yeah.  It's more general.  I was tofu-piggy-backing on your list of reasons why.

Side note:  I think "top predator" is an interesting concept.  I argue with my co-workers that top predators are bacteria and viruses.  Microbiology and bac-t never fit into my schedule.  I took other classes that covered the subjects, but I would have liked to have studied it in detail.  It's fascinating how the smallest among us can wreak the greatest havoc.

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Side note:  I think "top predator" is an interesting concept.  I argue with my co-workers that top predators are bacteria and viruses.  Microbiology and bac-t never fit into my schedule.  I took other classes that covered the subjects, but I would have liked to have studied it in detail.  It's fascinating how the smallest among us can wreak the greatest havoc.

Agreed!... wonder if MRSA has discussions like this, maybe with AIDS & MDR-TB, about how they're just killing humans to help save us from the dangers of overpopulation?!  ::)

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Killing in the name of "population control" is nothing more than a convenient excuse. How many "population control" participants would there be if, instead of killing the animals, they were given darts loaded with birth control medication? The answer to that question uncovers exactly the real intent of the participants. They have NO interest in the welfare of the animals, only in hunting and killing at their own selfish convenience.
Next time someone argues that they are killing for the sake of the animals just offer to pay for the dart ( they should only need one or two ) and offer to go along with the hunter. I'd love to know how quickly they take you up on the offer.

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"Population control" for animals is the just about dumbest thing I've ever heard. Humans are one of the most overpopulated species on the planet, so really, someone should be advocating hunting THEM.

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Deer populations in the US and Canada have been declining and scientists have been working on how to stabilize the populations.  Hunting deer as population control is a non-issue.

Not sure where you are getting your inaccurate data from, but to the contrary, deer populations in a significant portion of the US have been continually on the rise for the past 30 years or more. One of the main reasons is due to lack of natural predators, as was previously mentioned. And among other reasons, it's also due to conservation efforts by made by various groups, agencies and sportsmen.

If people really want to make a significant contribution to benefit wildlife and the Eco system in general, and want to ensure their money is being applied to that cause, one of the best things they could do would be to purchase a hunting or fishing license. Regardless if they intended to use it or not.

I'm sure many here will take issue with that, but the fact of the matter is, that these licenses generate millions of dollars each year at local, state and federal levels, of which the majority of that money is applied directly to; the improvement of wildlife populations where needed, improvement of existing and the creation of new wildlife habitat. It is also used to procure lands that will never again be able to be developed, planting of food sources for animals, selective timber harvesting and controlled burning of undergrowth which regenerates forrests and plantlife which benefits not only game animals, but the entire Eco system as a whole. These monies are also spent on our waters and waterways. They're applied to keeping them clean and free of pollutants, restoring rivers and streams back to their original states after damages caused by floods and erosion, keeping the rivers free of obstructions allowing Salmon to complete their entire Spawning Runs, raising and stocking of fish, monitoring and protecting endangered and protected species, etc, etc. 

This is just a sampling of what those funds are applied to.

And what financial, or other significant contributions are made on behalf of wildlife by organizations such PETA, who do nothing more than stir the pot, and bask in the limelight of their own ignorance ...? Oh yeah, I almost forgot, activism, and of course harassing the hunters and fisherman who pay for all of the above.  That certainly accomplishes a lot  ;)b, PETA!

As for me, I'll continue to buy my Hunting and Fishing licenses each year for the benefit of all fish and wildlife.

YB

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