Why is hunting necessary - an addendum

Submitted by cur on 11/29/04 at 8:57 PM. ( )

This thread was posted as a new submission, for fear that the asker might not go back to the previous posting.

I didn't read the previous posts, but I can help you locate some data that would point you in the right direction.

First of all, there is an excellent book:

"Big Game of North America: Ecology and Management"
by John L Schmidt and Douglas L. Gilbert
Stackpole Books, ISBN 0811702448

There re many extracts and research papers referenced in the text footnotes and bibliography. Find it and read.

Current theory pertaining to hunting and wildlife resource management is based on a series of studies done in Tennessee by the TWRA. Those feasibility studies were done to consider the impact of sport hunting on quail flocks in the Volunteer state. UTM, et al. Basically, the studies, done in the 1950's, found that over winter survivability of breeding quail populations were the same with or without sport hunting. Control populations that were not hunted lost many more birds to late winter food scarcity (starvation, weakening and disease) than did flocks which were hunted. The two groups of Quail populations entered the winter in equal numbers. Hunted bird stocks were depleted by hunters, but while the harvest depleted their numbers during the hunting season, fewer remaining birds made less demand on habitat resources.

Birds that were not hunted consumed more food stocks, and by the time food was scarce, many birds died from starvation and related disease. The conclusion was that a given percentage of late Fall Quail stocks were surplus birds which would not survive until the next breeding season. Hunting was a way to utilize those surpluses without impact on the population as a whole. The studies provided a scale on which other species management, with, of course, some modification, was based.

Another study that can be easily researched is that done on the Kaibab Plateau early in the Twentieth Century. I wish I could provide search reference, but this is coming from the top of my head.....I'll let your fingers do the walking. The Kaibab Plateau was closed to hunting as a result of the great conservation movement that took place at the end of the Nineteenth Century. Deer populations blossomed under the hunting ban, until the herd density overcame the environment sustaining capacity. Disease broke out among the Kaibab animals and nearly all the deer died out. Once the deer stocks were returned to acceptable numbers, hunting was once again re-instated and the deer populations have remained stable since.

The lushness of all natural environments are measured by complex studies and formulations which are used to arrive at the kilo calorie potential under average conditions. That is to say, a given environment will produce a given amount of energy resource (food) for the resident species, from the simplest life forms to the apex predator. All environments are capable of maintaining a given number of each species adapted to dwell in the specific zones within the environment. Normally the amount of individual animals of each species a habitat will sustain is expressed numerically by complex formulas. The end result of the math is a parameter termed, "The Load Carrying Factor" or LCF. For instance, a lush and calorie rich environment may provide sustinence for a certain number of a given species. Poorer or less rich environments will support fewer animals, and so on. Where deer are concerned, that number may range from a few animals to the square mile to a hundred or so if soy bean and other acricultural fields are available for forage in addition to natural food stuffs. When conditions are favorable, the resident population grows, when not, the herd shrinks.

Game birds and animals are surveyed annually to provide biologists with an estimate of the herd or flock size. The biologists know, or should know, how many animals can survive through the winter to represent the breeding population extant the following spring. If "A" equals fall stocks, and "B" equals over winter survivors, then, "A-B" equals the surplus animals that will either die of natural causes or may be harvested by hunters. Season lengths and individual possession limits are set which, all things being ideal, will insure that wild game populations are managed at levels consistant with a habitat's ability to sustain them.

There are flies in that ointment, for sure. One is hunter success percentages. Many hunters do not collect deer, in fact, in most states, hunter harvest success is below fifty percent. Other factors also may enter the equation, especially where deer populations are concerned. For instance, much land is not open to hunting. Still other land is leased by individuals or private clubs and the annual harvest is far below what is recommended for herd maintenance. As fields in many areas grow feral, deer populations are often offered land for habituation at a greater rate than are lands opened to or made available for hunting. Add in other factors like mild winters and the like, and all those equations may become worthless on a given year. Add in folks who feed deer each winter. While their intentions are good, such artificial feeding usually results in environmental impact that will take a greater toll in future seasons than would winter kill by allowing too many animals to survive to reproduce the following spring.

Good or bad, the system we have is the system we use. The bottom line is that most herd management, census study and game propagation and preservation programs are paid for by hunters in one form or another. In a more perfect world, natural predators, which include man, would control herd and flock populations. Unfortunately, man has driven most predators away from the prey, leaving man alone to harvest surpluses - especially where the whitetail deer is concerned. Man's agricultural practices, use of pesticides, and wanton disregard for the environment in general, impose far greater impact on wildlife species than does hunting. Unfortunately, it is the hunter and not the industrialist or farmer who pays the dues to repair the damage and maintain the status quo.

There are many books and tens of thousands of papers available that document and define what I have typed here, in far more depth and with eloquence. I would suggest you begin by inquiring with your State Department of Fish and Game for guidance which would be more pertinent to your case than the ramblings of this old man.

I apologise for the long thread and for the doubtless spelling errors and typos, but this was a verbatim discourse, and time just isn't available for me to read and edit the dang thang.

Hope this is of help.

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Maybe Aldo Leopold said it best

This response submitted by George on 11/30/04 at 10:24 AM. ( georoof@aol.com )

"..wildlife once fed us and shaped our culture. It still yields us pleasure for leisure hours, but we try to reap that pleasure from modern machinery and thus destroy part of its value. Reaping it by modern mentality would yield not only pleasure, but wisdom as well." A Sand County Almanac

Good reading for anyone needing to reinforce the basics of life and conservation.


This response submitted by cur on 11/30/04 at 11:00 AM. ( )

That was mandatory reading in my home. My kids got that before Superman comics. How dare you bring up an aesthetic's view of nature on here?....LOL Next thing I know it will be Walden's Pond, or Night Comes to the Cumberlands, or some drivel by Rachael Carson.

Good man thou art, George Roof. I give the book as a Christmas Gift to at least one person every year. You know it is available on tape and CD too now?

Thank you very much Cur.

This response submitted by Todd B on 11/30/04 at 12:53 PM. ( )

I really appreciate the time you took to prepare that for me. It is for my Speech class. Thanks to everyone else who responded also. Also Cur could you send me your e-mail address? I have a question to ask about elk.

Todd B


This response submitted by cur on 11/30/04 at 10:41 PM. ( )

It is wildart@prodigy.net. Glad I could be of help. email away and I will see what I can do.

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