7 Unlikely Benefits of Hunting for the Environment
Humans have been hunting and gathering since the beginning of their time on the planet. The effort put into finding food was critical, and people often migrated across long stretches of land to follow their prey. Many still hunt for their food nowadays, but doing so can provide more than just nourishment.
Though it may seem like it could potentially harm ecosystems, there are unlikely benefits of hunting that might surprise you. Here are seven ways hunting can actually help the environment.
1. Conserving Wildlife
It’s common to think hunting and conservation contradict one another, but many conservation groups consist of hunters. They care deeply about protecting the beautiful lands of Mother Nature and work hard to ensure the grounds remain sustainable.
Hunters contribute to wildlife conservation by joining nonprofit organizations like the Sierra Club, The Wildlife Conservation Society and more. Even those who aren’t in clubs still make contributions with their wallets. Many organizations that administer hunting licenses or sell gear will donate money to fund conservation research and domestic and international projects. They’ll use these dollars to repair habitats and boost dwindling populations.
2. Removing Invasive Species
Ecosystems thrive on continuity from the same species in their circles of life, so the entire region is in danger when an unwanted animal or plant arrives. Their introduction could be accidental or intentional, but the damage could be devastating. An invasive species will fight other organisms for limited resources. One way conservationists mitigate these problematic animals is by hunting them.
An example of an invasive species is lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean. You can typically find them in the Pacific Ocean, but some migrated to the Atlantic. They have fewer predators here, leading to a swell in their population. They negatively affect the ocean environment, so some people hunt lionfish to save yellowtail snapper and other species. Whether in forests or seas, the benefits of hunting are widespread.
3. Providing More Eco-Friendly Nourishment
You’ve likely heard many statistics about how dangerous the meat industry is for the Earth. Animal-based food products contribute double the amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than plant-based ones do. The necessary housing, feeding, processing and shipping of meat releases far too much CO2, which is why many choose to go vegetarian or vegan.
However, hunting provides a more sustainable opportunity to obtain meat than relying on massive corporations. Instead of picking up a package wrapped in styrofoam and plastic that used fossil fuels to get to the grocery store, you could get meat from a nearby hunting range or hunter selling their wares. Doing so can also help infuse money into the local economy, alongside reducing your carbon footprint.
Sourcing food for yourself has become more popular as people look to become more eco-friendly. Relying on hunting or hunters can help the ecosystem because it decreases dependence on meat from factories. Large processing plants can harm the environment and your health, so hunting for food is an excellent way to streamline the process.
4. Getting People Outside
Industrialization has led to urbanization and the growth of suburban America. People spend a lot of time indoors because of their jobs, technology and more. A pandemic doesn’t help the cause, either. Hunting is a practical way to get outdoors and connect with nature.
The practice is a sport or recreational activity that requires an incredible amount of patience and discipline. You could sit for hours before finally seeing the creature you’ve been waiting for. The pandemic saw a spike in hunters as people sought activities they could do themselves. Additionally, spending more time in nature could increase public interest in conservation because people are now more invested in protecting these landscapes.
The firearms industry is another group reaping the benefits as hunting resurges. With the growing popularity of hunting, certain restrictions have been loosened to allow for greater accessibility.
5. Sustaining Forests
One significant benefit is hunting’s contribution to sustaining forests and other plant life. Biodiversity is critical for the survival of an ecosystem, and people can contribute to the preservation of plants and trees by hunting. The human population is almost 8 billion, so learning how to sustain forests has become essential.
Deer can be more harmful to the environment than the average person might think. This hoofed mammal can deplete the vegetation in a given area and affect the flowering rate of plants. Trees can also suffer stunted growth because deer love to feast on the young saplings.
Sometimes, deer overpopulation can lead to catastrophic environmental changes, such as nitrogen-depleted soil. Nitrogen helps plants grow and is a significant factor in the biodiversity of many ecosystems. Saving plant species is one of the benefits of hunting deer and other herbivorous animals that overpopulate.
6. Mitigating Diseases
Hunting is an excellent way humans can help animals by controlling the population during disease outbreaks. Illness can wreak havoc in the natural world, and many creatures suffer and die as a result of these problems.
Some animals face immune system problems when food becomes scarce in the area. Winter can be dangerous as their illness risk increases and they become a risk to humans. Many states set hunting seasons in the fall so hunters can control diseases before winter’s arrival. People who remove diseased animals from the population help researchers in studies to treat these illnesses and prevent them from being so widespread in the future.
7. Growing a Sustainable Economy
Hunters provide multiple direct benefits to the economy. For example, they can utilize every part of a deer, and others can benefit from their services. A butcher can process the meat, and a taxidermist can create a mount of the animal. Hunters provide a multitude of economic opportunities for these businesses.
Doing so could also help increase sales for these individuals. Up-and-coming generations show an increased interest in buying organic food. What could be more organic than what a hunter provides? Offering their catches to local shops can increase their profits by not having to rely on pollution-filled shipping and increase local intrigue in buying eco-friendly products.
Why Hunting Sustainably Is so Beneficial
Hunting is an activity many see as a pastime that used to be necessary for humans. However, it is still essential for survival in many ways. Ecosystems are delicate, and a slight imbalance can throw everything off.
The practice of hunting can help keep ecosystems in check and prevent diseases from running rampant. Keep these factors in mind to appreciate all hunters are doing to avoid environmental damage.