Monday, December 9, 2013

Hunting - Time Magazine Article Calls for More

America's Pest Problem: It's Time to Cull the Herd 

After nearly wiping out many wildlife species 50 years ago, Americans are once again living close--sometimes uncomfortably so--to all kinds of feral creatures. Why wildlife in the U.S. needs stronger management

As a young Vermont Game Warden in the early '70s I wasn't called on to handle many damage wildlife complaints. Most Vermonters had the means and knowledge to take care of a skunk in the shed or a deer in the garden. That changed as new folks moved in, more land was posted and hunter/trapper numbers declined.
I remember one lady calling me complaining about beaver cutting down her trees. I asked where they were coming from - "Oh from my wildlife pond." I politely informed her that beaver were wildlife. She didn't care, she wanted them removed. I suggested a trapper could help her out, preferably during the open season when the hides were worth selling. She declined, but a month later she wanted some names and phone numbers of area trappers.
As the number of nuisance animals rose I worried that overpopulation would be a greater threat to hunting than anti-hunters or posted land. My thinking was that if deer became horned rats, who would care enough for them to be sure humans wouldn't wipe them out again? In the late 1800's it was hunters who cared, out their money up, became conservationists that lead to the recovery of wildlife in the US.
A Mass Conservation Officer told me about a hearing on overpopulated deer on Martha's Vineyard. A fellow asked why they had so many deer. The CO replied lack of hunting to reduce the numbers and good habitat with plenty of food. The guys reply was to get rid of the habitat by paving it over!
This cover story in Time was interesting to me because the author takes the stance that over populations or wildlife is driving greater hunter access, more hunters and greater knowledge of wildlife and their habitat.
I hope he is right.


  1. Hey Eric, it's a pretty good article that can be read a couple different ways. Conservation success, need for hunting, and disconnect of people from nature. It caught my attention at a time when HSUS is coming after Maine's bear hunt for the 2nd time in 10 years; they're gathering signatures for a referendum in 2014. Word has it that a NJ legislator has proposed market hunting for deer to deal with chronically overabundant deer. This may be needed, but for obvious reasons caution is warranted. Northeast Section of TWS is building a small group of biologists to draft a position statement about how to manage chronically overabundant deer when regulated hunting just doesn't get the job done. In many cases, existing regulated hunting can get deer from 100/sq-mi down to 35-40/sq-mi, but not down to a social carrying capacity of about 10-20/sq-mi. It is a real problem that requires innovative solutions. Stay tuned. Shawn

  2. Thanks Shawn. I'll be interested in what TWS comes up with. This article and an incident in Sula, MT of very poor hunter behavior sparked an interesting discussion among the Orion BOD. It raised the question if we are overly tied into the utilitarian benefits of hunting and failing to explore and articulate the intrinsic good of hunting to hunters and society.
    To quote one board member - "for as long as hunting is framed foremost as a means to an end within the context of wildlife management i.e., the north american model, and not as something of great inherent value and meaning to human well being, then we should not be surprised to hear about stories of hunting gone bad.... ".
    My thought is hunting is a profound way to connect to nature and natural processes that is increasingly important in a digital and disconnected age.

  3. Interesting article from Times. Thanks for sharing.
    My thoughts are there it's not a right or wrong question, but everyone is trying to find a blances for all sides of the views.

  4. "This cover story in Time was interesting to me because the author takes the stance that over populations or wildlife is driving greater hunter access, more hunters and greater knowledge of wildlife and their habitat."

    I'm not all that surprised at this hopeful "turn". Hunters are pretty well informed, and more cohesive, today. Guess we can thank the internet. Also, the recent, and well placed, focus on the human diet from an evolutionary perspective and from its ecological ramifications (books on the Paleo like Omnivores Dilemma and The Mindful Carnivore) are having a major influence on the way informed people view the world. It's downright refreshing.

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