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Why Hunting Is Bad For the Environment

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As a girl growing up in rural Nebraska, practically everyone I knew was a hunter. The vast majority of hunters I've ever known have been responsible people with a genuine love for nature and respect for hunting ethics and the honor of the chase. Hunters such as Teddy Roosevelt were the world's first conservationists, and the conservation work of hunters continues to this day with great success in many regions.

However, people in groups are greater than the sum of their parts, and no matter how ethical and responsible most individual hunters are, in this article I'm going to argue that hunters as a group generally do more harm than good to the very ecosystems they claim to love and protect.

What I'm Not Going To Talk About

I'm not going to make the claim that hunting is cruel or morally wrong. Though there certainly are hunters who use cruel hunting methods and laugh or even boast about the suffering of their prey, these are recognized within the hunting community as bad apples and often dealt with by hunters themselves when they are caught.

Responsible hunting is, in my opinion, far less cruel than the atrocities committed against livestock in factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses.

I'm also not going to talk about environmental damage caused by irresponsible hunters tearing around pristine landscapes in ATVs and snowmobiles, leaving empty beer bottles scattered in the woods, or similar offenses. Again, these are considered bad apples within the hunting community itself, and generally dealt with within that community if caught.

What I Am Going To Talk About

Instead, I'm going to discuss a far more pervasive problem, one that is encouraged by the hunting community as a whole, not denigrated by it.

That problem is game management policies that encourage the overpopulation of game species, especially deer and elk.

Of Deer and Hunters

Deer are kind of like large, hoofed rodents. After being nearly eradicated across large swaths of the United States by hunters in the 19th century, they have rebounded spectacularly. They are remarkably fecund - a young doe can breed the same year she is born, and may produce as many as four fawns per pregnancy in her prime - and on good range they can double their population in two years.

Their rise has been aided by human activity. Deer are natural edge dwellers that prefer to live in fragmented habitats mixing forest and field. As the wilderness of the United States has been carved into ever smaller pieces by roads, houses, and development, deer populations have exploded.

Though hunters often claim that hunting is necessary to keep deer populations in check, the truth is that hunters are just as likely to be responsible for deer overpopulation as they are for controlling it.

Game management plans for deer often specifically encourage the fragmentation of habitat by clearcutting, favoring deer while pushing out animals that require large areas of intact habitat, and by planting artificial food plots of corn or other crops even in supposedly "natural" wildlife preserves.

State agencies that manage deer populations have a financial incentive to keep deer populations artificially high. They are typically funded primarily by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and in some cases by taxes on gun and ammunition sales.

Hunters have sometimes reacted violently to calls for substantial culling of deer herds. Gary Alt, a Pennsylvania wildlife biologist who recommended culling deer populations by two thirds to protect the health of the forests, received so many death threats from hunters that he started going to work in a bulletproof vest.

As a consequence of the misguided game management policies supported by hunters, deer have unleashed havoc upon native ecosystems and nearby humans alike.

  • Deer damage forest ecosystems by eating and trampling seedlings and saplings, preventing forest regeneration. During periods of extreme overpopulation, they may even kill larger trees by stripping their bark, effectively girdling them.
  • Deer encourage the spread of invasive species by eating more palatable native plants, giving invasive species an opening to establish themselves. Because many invasive species are fellow edge dwellers, deer management policies that encourage the creation of edge habitats, often by clearcutting, also encourage the spread of invasive species. Intact landscapes are much more resistant to invasion than fragmented ones.
  • Deer are one of the favorite foods of deer ticks, the primary vector for lyme disease, the fastest growing infectious disease in the United States. The relationship between deer and lyme disease is complicated - eradicating deer simply encourages the ticks to feed more frequently on rodents, the other main vector for the disease - but the explosion of the deer population encouraged a corresponding explosion in the deer tick population.
  • In the United States, there are an estimated 1.5 million auto collisions with deer every year, causing 150 motorist deaths and $1.1 billion in vehicle damage.
  • Property owners report billions of dollars of property damage, mainly from deer eating or trampling landscaping, every year.

Policies encouraging overpopulation of deer also hurt the deer themselves and, ultimately, the same hunters calling for larger deer populations. In bad winters, deer starve en masse, and in areas with really severe overpopulation, deer grow weak and stunted, with spindly racks, even in years with plenty of food.

Of Elk and Wolves

But the clearest evidence that hunters do not control overpopulation of deer and other ungulates but actually exacerbate it comes from the bitter fight being waged over the reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park.

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The gray wolf, once the dominant predator across most of the North American continent, was virtually eradicated from its previous range by the early decades of the 20th century, thanks mainly to pressure from farmers, ranchers, and hunters. The last two wolves in Yellowstone were killed in 1926.

Populations of elk exploded in the aftermath, and by 1933, the effects were already showing on the park's rangeland. That year, a team of biologists noted that soils were eroding, unpalatable grasses were spreading, and high quality browse plants were vanishing under the onslaught. They described the condition of range within the park as "deplorable." Rangers started a program of shooting and trapping elk to reduce overpopulation, but no noticeable improvement was achieved for more than 60 years, until January 12, 1995, when eight Canadian wolves were released back into the park.

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Almost immediately, biologists noticed a cascade of effects that affected every level of the park's ecosystem.

  • At the time of the wolves' reintroduction, the youngest aspen tree in the park was more than 50 years old. In the absence of wolves, the voracious elk had eaten every new shoot or sapling. The localized extinction of aspen in Yellowstone was echoed across the Western United States, where more than 90% of aspen groves have disappeared in the last century. Scientists had theorized that aspen regeneration may have been affected by climate change or fire frequency levels, but within a few years of the return of the wolf to Yellowstone, whole groves were sprouting in the park.
  • Like aspens, cottonwoods were also headed for localized extinction within the park prior to the reintroduction of wolves, and like aspen, cottonwood numbers have rebounded dramatically since.
  • In the absence of wolves, elk trampled streambanks and browsed willows to the ground. With no shrubs to shade their banks, the quality of the park's aquatic habitat declined. Now elk avoid streams as much as possible because they are good ambush sites (the oft-mentioned "ecology of fear"), and the willows have rebounded. Along with them, populations of fish, amphibians, and other aquatic animals have increased.
  • The lack of willows also hurt beaver populations in the park, which are dependent on willows for winter food. In 1995, there was just one beaver colony in the park. By 2006, there were nine. Like wolves, beavers are a "keystone species," a species whose presence in the landscape increases biodiversity by benefiting a large number of other plant and animal species. The wetlands created by beavers provide habitat for dozens of species of fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and other wildlife. They also slow the flow of water down, allowing it to spread more widely and evenly across the landscape - an important side benefit in the arid West.
  • Even a fairly large wolf pack is not usually able to finish off a whole adult carcass of an elk or bison by themselves, and dozens of scavengers have benefited from the onslaught of food. A record-breaking 135 ravens was sighted on one wolf kill, and bears and foxes are among the other beneficiaries. Even coyotes, whose numbers declined 50-80% in the aftermath of wolf reintroduction, have been spotted on every single known wolf kill.

Despite the obvious ecological benefits of wolf reintroduction, many hunters remain up in arms over the decline of the elk herds. Anti-wolf organizations such as the Abundant Wildlife Society lobby for the elimination of wolves without regard for the environmental consequences of their actions, or the obvious inadequacy of human hunters to maintain sustainable populations of elk, deer, and other ungulates. A prolonged legal battle has resulted.

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In Sarah Palin's Alaska, the demands of hunters for large game populations sparked a war on predators. Palin expanded the powers of the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife and Board of Game to allow state-operated helicopters to pursue and kill wolves, at a cost to taxpayers of approximately $1000 an hour. The Board of Game also approved a plan to allow sow bears with cubs to be killed, as part of an effort to reduce the black bear population by 60%.

Sarah Palin claimed that her predator control policies were implemented to help Alaska's subsistence hunters and were based on strong science, but in 2007, 172 scientists signed a letter to Palin stating that the state's predator control policies were "inadequately designed" and threatened the long-term health of populations of both the predators and the ungulates the plan was intended to protect. The letter claimed that state officials had set population objectives for moose and caribou that were based on "unattainable, unsustainable historically high populations."


By demanding large populations of deer, elk, and other game and by supporting the eradication of large predators viewed as competitors, hunters contribute to the very overpopulation of game animals that they frequently claim to prevent.

Even if hunters could be persuaded to accept lower populations of game, human hunters simply cannot duplicate the effects of the "ecology of fear" on natural ecosystems due to their different hunting methods and the concentration of human hunting activity during certain times of year.

Humans also do not offer the same evolutionary benefits to game animals. Predators such as wolves focus their hunts on the very young, the very old, and the weak or sick, strengthening the herd. Human hunters, on the other hand, often focus their hunts on the big and strong, removing the best genes from the pool. Additionally, human hunting causes more disruption to natural herd structure and breeding practices. For example, in some regions of the country, thanks to restrictions on doe hunting, the pressure on whitetail bucks is so great that only 1 in 100 bucks reaches the age of four.

Hunters would be better served by supporting the conservation and reintroduction of large predators in areas where it is feasible, and by supporting substantial culls in areas where it is not. By doing so, they would be choosing quality over quantity, and returning to the true tradition of hunting conservation.

In the words of big game hunter and conservationist Teddy Roosevelt:

"In utilizing and conserving the natural resources of the Nation, the one characteristic more essential than any other is foresight.... The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life."

"Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the 'the game belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations."

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What We Can Do

Whether you are a hunter or not, you can support science-based, ecologically sustainable wildlife management by:

  • Educating others about the effects of deer and elk overpopulation on the environment, people, and the quality of hunting opportunities.
  • Educating others about the important role predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.
  • Supporting fair chase hunting methods and encouraging realistic expectations about how much time and effort should go into finding, stalking, and making a kill in a region with sustainable game populations.
  • Fighting habitat fragmentation and overdevelopment.
  • Creating natural food plots with native trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs that benefit other wildlife in addition to deer, elk, and other game animals.
  • Supporting the conservation and reintroduction of large predators in appropriate areas, and supporting large-scale culls of deer, elk, and other game animals in regions where reintroduction of predators is not a viable option.
  • Encouraging predator friendly farming and ranching techniques and supporting organizations such as the Get Bear Smart Society working to educate the public about safe methods of cohabiting with large predators.

Agree or Disagree?

Do you agree or disagree? I love a good debate, so share your thoughts in comments below (personal attacks will be deleted), or better yet, share your views in an article of your own! Publishing your opinions on HubPages is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Just sign up to get started now.


George Mamouzellos on May 21, 2020:

I love hunting and i love being an environmentalist, it goes hand in hand. As much as i agree with the author, i can't help but think that maybe these problems are outside of the realm of most peoples training.

For years we have been told by opposing sides how horrible hunting is and on the other side we pay for it all. Environmentalists that feel so self righteous should put there money where their mouth is and carry some of the load. Also more education has to be disseminated in a way that people can understand. Most hunters love what they do and with understanding are more than willing to make concessions.

On the other hand, farmers are always trying to survive and reintroduction of large predators isn't ever going to be in there interest. Complicated issues need well thought out solutions.

John on January 17, 2019:

Kinda sounds bogus to me, Deer and elk eat and trample seeds you say, however they also trasport seeds in there coat to other areas. Also my purpose for hunting is to feed my family, not manage wildlife population. Hunters pay alot of money to DOW to do that. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't bash hunters, free loading, trust fund yuppies riding there bikes on land that hunters payed for are far worse.


benzar ortillano on August 26, 2018:

why hunting is not good for the environment?

Fern Bailey from Michigan on May 09, 2017:

I'm a hunter from a hunting family and I have to agree with some of the other comments that it is the government (be it local or state) that is calling the shots. You can blame hunters but all hunters I know are in disagreement with most DNR ideas.

It's really about money

Braxton on December 19, 2016:

Ok Mark you click and hold while moving your cursor to the right. Then you click and drag the cite to wherever you need to put it.

Example -

Alivia on December 02, 2014:

LOL Mark!!!!! Somebody help Mark!!!!

Mark on October 08, 2013:


Sterling Sage from California on November 20, 2012:

Very informative hub. I didn't realize all the ways an excessive game animal population could damage an ecosystem.

Voted up!

Jared on November 14, 2012:

Hunting is not bad for the environment. I am a farmer and deer are always destroying my crops. i am a hunter myself, and if you hunt right, the deer dont suffer. if all you city slickers dont like hunting, then dont but quit bitching when you hit them on roads and your cars get destroyed. its our way of living, we use the meat from the harvest. i have never wnet to the store and bought that shit they call meat on the shelves.

nancy on May 16, 2012:

its bad for people to kill animals

Anonymous Me on December 06, 2011:

The title of your article is deceiving. I thought it would be something written by some city-slicker vegetarian who hates hunters. I'm glad it wasn't, even though it's sort of funny to me how a few people will argue that some animals eat other animals because they don't know any better. I'm not generalizing about all people, but most of the non-hunters I know don't spend half of the time out conserving and enjoying nature as the hunters I know. I'll use my sister as an example. She isn't against hunting or fishing. She's just not interested in it. She spends a lot more of her time inside and I know that she doesn't have near the same respect and admiration toward nature.

Anyway, back to the title. Hunting is bad for the environment, huh? You just went on about how it's the game management plans that are the problem. The average hunter has nothing to do with those. At least no hunter that I know has a say in that. Don't get me wrong, I agree with most of what you wrote. But blaming all hunters? I didn't kill the wolves 100 years ago. I'm not sitting in a helicopter hunting predators. And, I certainly didn't decide or agree that people should do so.

Seriously, that's like blaming the soldiers for the war when it's the big-wigs and their foreign policy that is to be blamed.

I personally don't know any irresponsible hunters that I'm aware of, but my dad did chew out a guy who was road hunting pheasants. We also donate to multiple environmental conservation organizations.

I think we as humans should worry about our own population. Now that's the problem that creates the other problems.

Anonymous on November 17, 2011:

Your assertion that game managers manage for maximum deer numbers is just flat-out wrong. I happen to work for a state wildlife agency. I personally know the guys who manage our state's deer hunting. They are continually trying to get hunters to kill more deer in order to control our enormous deer populations. Our bag limits are essentially limitless, and we still don't have enough deer being killed - it's a huge problem. Most states also try to reduce populations by encouraging taking of does over bucks. You couldn't be further from the truth! I suggest taking a comprehensive look at state bag limits before offering generalizations based on one or two anecdotes.

Introducing wolves to the eastern US is not an option. It is political suicide, plain and simple.

Moreover - would you rather that hunters kill and eat their own sustainable, organic, free-range, healthy source of meat? Or would you rather that they buy some factory-farmed beef from the store? Please don't tell me that these dudes should become vegetarians. They'd shoot you on the spot if you suggested it. (actually, they would probably snicker politely and then laugh at you later over some beers)

SportsAgencyblog from Los Angeles, California on October 01, 2011:

Very informative hub. Yes, hunting is really bad, aside from what you have listed here, animals are also significant for ecological balance. We're not just aware of it but that's maybe one of the reason why they exist on earth. I learn this idea from news on television. Thank you so much for sharing this information.

UNDERCOVER.. on September 22, 2011:


Larry Fields from Northern California on September 09, 2011:

Hi, kerryg. Great hub! Judging by the title, a part of me was expecting an I-love-Bambi type of hub. And I was pleasantly surprised.

I'd never considered the riparian-zone ecology-of-fear angle before. And now, I'm rethinking a few other things.

I remember reading that elk in Colorado have a high incidence of a prion disease, similar to Mad Cow. And hunters need to get their kills checked out, in order to be certain that they're safe for their families to eat. Could that be related to artificially high population densities of elk in that state?

Many years ago, I voted for the Mountain Lion Initiative here in California. At the time, my primary motivation was the inhumane killing method.

A pack of hunting dogs would tree a cougar. The trophy hunter would shoot the big cat with a .22. Then the mountain lion would slowly bleed to death, while half a dozen hounds directly underneath were barking their heads off.

It would be considerably less cruel to get a clean one-shot kill with a .30-30. But then the mighty hunter would risk an unsightly exit wound on his precious trophy.

In light of your comments on deer population dynamics, I may have voted the right way for the wrong reason! I still think that a better initiative would have been to allow the cougar hunts to continue, but with two restrictions.

First, the mountain lions could only be taken with firearms that are legal to use on deer. Second, the cougar hunts could only take place in areas near small towns. That would benefit public safety.

Miss Married on July 13, 2011:

wow, good debate. I enjoyed this hub very much. I am not an expert on this subject so I have little to add. I am not a hunter except in the fact I like to fish out of the lake. I don't think bull-head catfish is on the extinction list. I do think mankind is part of nature and being such we should not leave trash everywhere nor concrete over everything. I would like to think we could leave some spots on earth untouched. Someplace where "wild" animals can have their homes. We should all be able to co-exist.

Good hub, I am voting up.

kerryg (author) from USA on March 04, 2011:

??? Where in the Rockies do you live, exactly? There are only about 6000 wolves in the entire continental US, and 2/3 are in the Great Lakes. Moreover, the GYA elk population declined by about 2/3 in the first decade of wolf reintroduction, but has since stabilized, and elk populations in most other regions of the Rockies are increasing.

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on March 03, 2011:

I am going to take your word on this. I have no idea what its like to have more deer and elk than hunters can control. We have so many wolves we are lucky to even see a deer or elk during anytime of the year, let alone hunting season.

Our deer and elk herds are down 85% and our wolf population is over 5000 wolves. The wolves are protected here. I'd be glad to send you a few if you think it would help.

Thank you for the great discussion. I learned that other states struggle with game management options as do we.

- Harlan

kerryg (author) from USA on March 03, 2011:

I haven't said anything about giving to charity. My primary suggestion in this hub is to cull 1/2 to 2/3 of deer populations in most states, and keep them there, preferably by reintroducing predators, but where that's not feasible human hunters will do if they can be prevailed upon to support science-based management instead of complaining about how much time it takes them to find a deer when populations are actually kept at healthy levels.

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on March 03, 2011:

No, my attitude is I don't believe their efforts are about fixing the problem. I believe their efforts are about fleecing you out of your money so they can be rich and "pretend to be working on the problem."

Have you ever considered why it is a charity that fights for a cause, never reaches its goal?

Because they know that the day they win the fight, cure the disease, or reach their goal, they put themselves out of a job.

I never said do nothing, just make sure the sky is really falling before you give Henny-Penny all your money.

I think we're saying close to the same thing, but from different sides of the fence.

- Best wishes

- Harlan

kerryg (author) from USA on March 03, 2011:

So your attitude is, we're helpless to stop the death and destruction of millions, perhaps billions, of our fellow human beings - not to mention 50% of the other lifeforms we share the planet with - so we shouldn't even try to do anything about it, even though we know exactly what we're doing wrong and what we need to do to fix it. Okay.

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on March 02, 2011:

I agree, it won't be pleasant, but nature often is not pleasant.

One time I was riding my horse down a trail on a hillside. A dead tree was sticking up about eye level to the side of the trail. As I approached, a hawk landed on the tree, right in front me and couldn't care less I was there. In his right talon he had a squirrel. He held the squirrel like one holds a beer.

The hawk looked at me, then the squirrel, then at me again for awhile. The squirrel was alive. He was fine. He was looking around, curious of his situation.

Then the hawk tilted his head, leaned down, looked close at the squirrel and began snipping the skin off the back of his neck. The squirrel wiggled frantically. In my mind I could hear him, " Whoa wait! Hold on a second. WAIT! NO WAIT!" But the hawk could care less. He kept right on snipping away at the squirrel with his beak. He peeled him alive like a banana, and ate him on the spot. He tossed the fur and such to the side and flew away.

I am sure such critters like deer, elk, chipmunks, hippies shoving video cameras at grizzly bears, etc, being eaten alive, do not find it pleasant.

I just find too many of these so-called scientists conveniently appear out of thin air to support some one who stands to make a lot of money off whatever they are backing. It is all about presentation, content politics and believability. Truth too often has no part of it. Al Gore's stuff is falling apart at the seams. He has become very scarce. I am sure he could care less. He is making millions off his green video series, and he is still making millions off his holdings in... big oil.

If you want to restore gorilla populations, lions, tigers, whatever, turn them over to the hunters to form groups like Duck's Unlimited. Can you imagine... Gorilla's Unlimited?

No, I can't either. Scratch that. We can't be shooting Gorilla's. I guess I have some green in this old heart after-all.

- Best wishes

- Harlan

kerryg (author) from USA on March 02, 2011:

Harlan Colt, thanks for your comment.

"That is like saying... nature, is hurting nature."


"And you know what nature is also really good at?

Correcting its own imbalance."

This is precisely what concerns me.

It surprises a lot of non-environmentalists to learn, but most environmentalists don't really give a crap what happens to the Earth in the long run. Short of blowing the whole planet to bits through massive nuclear war, the Earth will survive anything we humans throw at her.

The problem is that we're rendering the Earth uninhabitable for *ourselves*. A few species here and there going extinct is one thing - 50% of all species currently living on the planet, as some scientists are currently predicting within the next couple hundred years, is another thing entirely.

Extinction on that scale would lead to massive collapse of ecosystems all over the world - ecosystems that humans rely on for everything from pollinating our food to flood mitigation to purifying our air and water.

Nature will indeed "correct its own imbalance" but the outcome for the human race is not likely to be a pleasant one.

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on March 02, 2011:

You talk about the environment and how nature works... and I agree with much of it... I do... but what really drives me crazy is the predominate underlying premise that fundamentally mankind is like some form of alien from somewhere besides earth, and everything he endeavors is un-natural and evil.

But, that's impossible. We are every bit as much a part of nature as any other animal on the earth, but I have yet to read any writing by a so-called environmentalist /nature lover - who understands that they too are part of nature. Their whole writing is based on the assumption that they are some kind of evil presence within this poor victimized delicate balance of life and how much better off earth would be if we all just died and disappeared.

Mankind has every bit as much right to exist and be a part of life on this earth as any other animal. I am sorry, its not our fault we are intelligent and all the other animals are not. Yes we must be good stewards - but lets not forget WE matter too. I have as much right to hunt, kill and eat as does a wolf, a tiger, or an eagle.

You claim that hunters as a group do more harm than good to the very ecosystems they claim to love and protect.

1. Foremost, so what? That is like saying... nature, is hurting nature. And you know what nature is also really good at? Correcting its own imbalance. Millions of species of animals went extinct long before mankind was any kind of force upon this earth. Yes today some animals are endangered because of mankind. Many are also endangered because of diseases (nature) or a natural loss of habitat, etc.

MAN IS PART OF NATURE. Everything he does... IS NATURAL. In fact, I would argue that 90% of what we do, in the name of preserving nature... is actually UN-NATURAL.

You have written a very good hub. I just happen to disagree with the underlying premise. Regardless, I am going to vote it up. I don't have to agree with your position, to know that you did a good job.

- Best Wishes

- Harlan

johnny2 from Dover, Arkansas on February 25, 2011:

Good Points here! As a hunter AND a tree-hugger I think changes to policy need to be made... That being said, exactly "what" and "how" eludes me.

You are correct in stating that state wildlife agencies are motivated by whatever sells more permits and a proclamation of "one million deer in our state" sells more than saying we are working towards the best for the animals and the environment.

The current "outdoor television" craze only makes the problems worse as it is in direct contrast to what hunting should really be.

sir slave from Trinity county CA. on January 20, 2011:

so your saying that man-made over population for the express purpose of hunting is not a good policy...for some of the reasons you cited, I agree!

but you didn't offer any solutions for the deer. do we abandon all wildlife manegment policies?? or do we modify them?? you didn't talk much about public policy in general In your sermon...I would love to read a follow up hub!

superwags from UK on January 19, 2011:

Thanks for a great post. I'm coming at this from a British point of view, but we have huge problems with deer being far beyond a natural carrying capacity because of our lack of natural predators (we killed off our last wolf 400 years ago).

Unfortunately because of this lack of predators, the rifle is the only way of controlling deer in the UK - and in fact hunting here is relatively unpopular compared to the US and so it costs a hell of a lot of money in gamekeepers' fees to make little impact on the numbers.

The only answer to allowing our forests to regenerate (particularly in Scotland), in my view, is the selective reintroduction of top predators (wolves, lynx and bears) which were driven to extinction by humans in the past. However the opposition to these reintroductions, done time and again in other countries, will probably prevent this from happening for many years.

If you're interested, I have a hub regarding this issue in a UK context at

ahorseback on December 19, 2010:

Half of the problem with hunting and animal control , game or non-game animals , Is the oversight by state and federal biologists, The animal world,is a natural resource! It is protected and ABUSED by the very system of oversight as is mining for precious metals and timber. More habitat for the animal world is detroyed by timber and mining companies and farming and ranch interests ,than hunters. Anti - hunters need to get their head out of their emotionally motivated sands and look at the economics of the situation, extremely high amounts of money for the actual oversight of the wilderness and the wildlife comes from hunters. The heritage of hunting stopped at any time would mean the instant increase of numbers in game that would over populate an already compromised feed and habitat situation. Great hub for the dialog.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on December 19, 2010:

A very good hub on some interesting points. However, my belief has to do with animal rights. We have no right to kill any animal unless it be to protect ourselves or family from harm. I don't approve of hunting at all. These animals are defenseless. I do not eat meat and am against destroying these beautiful creatures. Thank you for your well written hub. Voted up!

ahorseback on December 11, 2010:

Wheeeww, Interesting hub , though I'm torn between environmentalists and hunting , you see I am both ! Even the purist greenie burns up tires and drinks from a plastic bottle , walks on the lawn killing everything beneath his Jesus scandles, and the unappologistic killer drops his doo doo in the pit and buys a gallon of gas. We both have to be carefull when riding high horses!

kerryg (author) from USA on December 04, 2010:

There are around 1 million caribou and 200,000 moose in Alaska. They are not exactly in dire straits.

In a natural state, wolves and their prey live in equilibrium - if the prey population gets too high, the wolf population increases to bring it down; if the wolf population gets too high, they starve or leave the area in search of meatier pastures. Wolves are extremely territorial, so any wolf that leaves its own territory has a very good chance of being killed by another pack.

Humans are the complicating factor, because unlike wolves, we don't generally starve to death if we over-hunt. If you are so worried about the health of moose and caribou populations in Alaska, it's human hunting you should be curtailing, not wolves and bears. The wolves and bears will sort themselves out on their own. By killing them off, you're only encouraging the prey populations to explode, which may sound great in the short run, but wait until you have a moose collision rate to equal the deer collision rate in the lower 48. In Maine, moose make up only 15% of animal collisions, but account for 50% of animal collision related injuries and 82% of fatalities.

Or wait until your forests are eaten to death and the only animals in your sights are starving and stunted. Pennsylvania eradicated both deer and their predators in the 19th century and started re-releasing the deer in 1899. By 1925, there were so many that hunters were complaining that the deer they were taking were stunted, or in many cases too small to be taken at all. By 1926, deer starved to death en masse. More recent studies have discovered that when deer populations go above 20 per square mile, you start losing native songbirds. By 64 per square mile, the forests are so devastated that they can't even support robins.

I'm not saying that hunting should be outlawed or something, just that we need science-based management policies, not policies designed to make hunting easy. That means reintroducing natural predators where possible, conserving them where they already survive, and substantially increasing bag limits where they don't. Across most of the Eastern US, deer populations need to be reduced by 50% or more, and more importantly, *kept* that way. Yet instead of supporting sound ecological management, you have hunters howling about how long it takes them to find a deer.

Marcus Teague on December 04, 2010:

One thing that is clear, even you said so yourself, human activity is important to the environment. We can both destroy and build it up. Simply by instilling laws and releasing wolves into a specific area is human influence.

The problem I think with the deer hunting and overpopulation is mainly that animals are used less and less for things we need and more for simply sport. Even so, there's also a growing hate movement against hunting which further decreases the hunter population.

If Garry Alt is going to work in a bulletproof vest to protect himself from hunters, then he's not educated enough to realize exactly what's going on. I'd prefer to see some actual data rather than some 172 scientists sending Sarah Palin letters against it. Having a license or degree doesn't do anything for you except show that you have a piece of paper stating you paid people to give you tests. Those 172 scientists could've been anyone (I suspect environmentalists).

There's also a lot of distortion on the facts. You can't simply go up and fly a plane with someone and shoot wolves where ever you see them.

You have to be a government agent working with controlled, reported hunts. You have to know what's going on and you are very restricted on where you can hunt.

And this has to do with the Moose and Caribou population. The idea is that by hunting the wolves in those areas, it will help build up the population of entire endangered species.

And these hunters aren't paid a dime for their duties. Zero taxpaying dollars are going to them. All they can do is sell the fur for a bit of money. There's also going to be a lot of paperwork involved in that type of job.

The point is that this isn't working because there aren't enough volunteers for the job. I even suspect that most of the volunteers aren't professional or good hunters, or that they are but don't realize how drastically hard it is to shoot something from the air. Sarah Palin suggested at least $150 for every wolf killed. The request has been denied.

I support her. She's helping to control species of animals that, unlike Elk and Deer, will become easily extinct without these measures. But I suppose it's ok to support the extinction of the entire ecosystem because we can starve the entire wolf population.

Hello, no caribou or moose, no food for the wolves.

That leaves the hunting process. A shotgun is your best bet without using military-grade machine guns. Because the shooter is so far away from the target that's moving away from the shooter, you get a spray of led that hits the animal in multiple locations, causing wounds instead of kills.

And no, they can't shoot an animal, land and shoot it again. There's a 3 day waiting period or minimum distance away from the plane you can shoot. It's part of Alaska's sport hunting policies that make it harder to kill entire groups of the animal easily.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 01, 2010:

Thank you for a very interesting read and an eye opener. I have learned so much. That Palin how did she get where she is? She hasn't knowledge or any idea.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on November 30, 2010:

Hunting is not bad for the environment; the environment, unnaturally managed as you describe so well in this informative Hub, is bad for hunting.

I agree, it's policy, not the responsible hunter, that's on the butcher block here.

My family has been hunting deer for generations. They live in the rural areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Canada, and they know the score from those who came before them. They are masters of conservation in their environments, letting natural prey take their toll and valuing the preservation of the deer that will ensure the best survival.

Our family doesn't care too much for licensing and conservation efforts. Why should they? They've been managing their own woods for centuries. However, they also understand that human encroachment into natural areas tips the balance out of their favor and the deer's.

We're going about conservation in the wrong way. As Teddy Roosevelt said, we are short-sighted. We've seen this short-sightedness by the collapse of our economy, a collapse that was driven by over-valuing quarterly reports that must show gains as opposed to a responsible 5, 10, or 20 year plan. For as long as we are looking for instant gratification, the environment will pay the price and all of us with it.

Eiddwen from Wales on November 27, 2010:

I loved this hub and thank you so much for sharing. i love anything to do with nature and wildlife.

Here in Wales we have a problem with drivers running over badgers and they are then just left in the middle of the road.

An up/awesome for this one

take care.

BobbiRant from New York on November 26, 2010:

I'll catch flack for this one, but if they hunted deer to extinction, I'd not care because on a dark and stormy night, they are nothing but car killers. God hub.

TheListLady from New York City on November 25, 2010:

We forget that absolutely everything we have done for human benefit has destroyed the environment. We have encroached on the environment of other animals. We are animals ourselves but have this sense of entitlement - that the land is ours to do as we please - with no regard to the other animals we share the US with.

We need to take responsibility for our devastating actions - but we won't and don't. It starts with us.

Rated up for raising this topic.

JOE BARNETT on November 24, 2010:

i think deer hunters are not hunters at all.they are wanna be tough guys. i hunted as a kid then after the service i will never hunt something that is not bothering me and is unarmed, for FUN again!

now they have begun to feed the deer everyday for a year then when the season opens these trusting deer are not hunted at all. because they know where they,ll be. it's different if someone is hunting you too, that is a serious and deadly game(war). anything else is cowardly and killing your pets!

India Arnold from Northern, California on November 24, 2010:

I had a very difficult time watching the Palin video. My heart raced and my eyes welled with can you gun down this beautiful beast we know as wolf? I was made ill at the sight of all the fur wearing, and so ashamed to be of the species as these killers of majesty. You have reached me on a level i have long feared, as the reality of these actions is undeniable...

You have done a good thing here.

~Always Choose Love~


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