This week, I’ve been busy taking exams and gearing up for next semester, but the most interesting part of my week has been my upcoming debate for one of my wildlife classes. My professors picked some controversial topics facing the world of wildlife management and assigned us to teams to debate them. The topic I get assigned to? Hunting: essential to wildlife management and conservation or an outdated blood sport? My classmates would be in for a very informative debate had I been assigned to the pro team, but sadly I have had to form an argument against something that I hold very dear to my heart.
I know. I know. They’re trying to expand our horizons and make us look at things from a different perspective, but you know what? It’s getting close to finals. I don’t have the time or energy to completely upheave my entire moral philosophy. However, the responsible side of my brain kicked in and forced me to research the topic a little further. I know it’s beneficial and wise to educate yourself about the opinions of the other side. Failing to do so is evident in the hatred being spewed right now about the Presidential election, but let’s just say I did it begrudgingly.
The first study I stumbled upon came from The Journal of Wildlife Management and was entitled “Is Hunting an Effective Tool to Control Overabundant Deer? A Test Using an Experimental Approach.” I found this to be an interesting experiment, and it wasn’t laden with anti-hunting bias which was a definite plus. I am by no means a certified wildlife biologist who can explain the results in great detail, but I’ll try my best.
The researchers took Anticosti Island, Canada and divided the land into different sections. In each section, they determined control zones that would receive normal hunting pressure and others that would have increased pressure. Their goal was to harvest 50% of the herd the first year and 30% each remaining year to determine forest regeneration rates and whether or not the populations would extirpate from those areas. Although they succeeded in reaching their harvest goals, deer density didn’t decrease. Instead, it varied stochastically. If you’re interested, you can read the whole paper here. This paper took an objective approach to a question many of us just assume we know the answer to, and I enjoyed reexamining my argument from that point of view.
The next articles I read really just appeared to strengthen my preconceived point of view. Especially when it comes to Intensive Deer Management. I expected that, which means my argument for the debate is going to be flaky. Nevertheless, my outlook on hunting from a conservation and wildlife management perspective has been forever changed. Exposing myself to a new way of thinking and the evidence for that train of thought has helped me to find answers for questions I didn’t even realize I had. It allowed me to look at hunting from a different point of view, and even though I will never truly believe that hunting is an outdated blood sport, maybe thinking like someone who does will provide me with a better platform to educate the ignorant on the benefits hunting provides individuals, families, and society as a whole.