How Hunting is Vital to Wildlife Conservation

October 5, 2023

Hunting Is Not Just A Sport

It’s 1895 on a brisk morning deep in the foothills of the Rockies. Frost has gathered on the fallen leaves. In the distance, you hear the familiar bugle of a bull Elk in rut. He’s not far, just to the southwest. Being careful not to snap any twigs or rustle pinecones, you move to where you heard him from. There he is, just inside a small clearing – 50 yards away. Creeping forward, you knock an arrow, draw, and let loose. Thwack! You got him in the lung. It was a clean shot. As you track your prize down, you think of your family back home… they’ll have meat in their bellies for quite some time.

In today’s day and age, hunting is less of a necessity and more of a tradition fathers teach their sons. However, that hasn’t diminished the impact hunting has had on the ecosystem. With proper regulation, wildlife has made a comeback in force, ecosystems have thrived, and some endangered species no longer have to be protected. Here’s why.

From 50 Thousand to Over a Million – Teddy Roosevelts Achievement

Before the colonial era, the Great Plains of North America teemed with millions of Waapiti, known as ‘White Rump’ in the languages of the Cree and Shawnee peoples. However, as Americans expanded westward, the Waapiti population dwindled steadily. Uncontrolled trapping and hunting drove these herds further west into the Rockies.

By the time Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency in 1901, only around 50 thousand remained. Renamed as Roosevelt Elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), they became a source of inspiration for launching conservation efforts in the United States. Troubled by the declining wildlife in the Dakotas’ badlands, President Roosevelt conceived the National Wildlife Refuge System, establishing protected sanctuaries nationwide.

These sanctuaries offered protection and a safe haven for numerous species to thrive despite the nation’s rapid expansion. The growing awareness and public support for conservation efforts led Congress and states across the Union to enact laws and regulations, including the Fish and Wildlife Act, which granted the Elk the necessary space to flourish. Today, their population has rebounded, with over a million individuals thriving.


Funding the Wild

One of the most significant contributions of hunting to conservation is its financial impact. In many countries, hunters are required to purchase licenses and pay fees for the privilege of hunting specific species. The United States is no different. After passing the Hunter’s Safety Course, you need to buy a license for the animal you want to hunt. Whether you get an elk tag or small game license, these fees go directly into conservation programs, supporting initiatives such as habitat restoration, anti-poaching efforts, and wildlife research.

Population Management

While booming wildlife populations in public lands and National Parks is great, it can get to the point of being destructive to the environment and the animals themselves. As civilization has grown, people have pushed predators like wolves into remote areas of the wilderness, away from herds of herbivores. Without the natural population control wolves provided, Elk and Deer would quickly deplete their food supply and starve. Responsible hunters have filled the void. With tag lotteries, selective harvesting and ethical practices, hunters have largely brought balance to the many ecosystems across the United States.

Hunting is Necessary for the Future

Hunting plays a vital role in wildlife conservation efforts worldwide. The systems and protections Teddy Roosevelt put into place generate funding, managing populations, preserving habitats, and encouraging ethical practices, responsible hunting contributes significantly to the protection and sustainability of our nations ecosystems and the species that inhabit them. As we continue to address the complex challenges of wildlife conservation, it’s essential to recognize hunting as a valuable tool in the larger conservation toolkit. Balancing our love for the outdoors and our commitment to preserving nature is key to a preserving the great outdoors for future generations to come…


Here Are Some Great Resources:

These are just a few organizations working to preserve our wildlife, habitats and freedom to hunt across the USA and Internationally.

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