Social media was invented, I suppose, as a way of connecting people and keeping track of friends and loved ones. But Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets have evolved, at least to some degree, as places to vent frustrations, make political stands, and attack the views of others.
Hunters are a favorite target on these sites, and the irony of wishing death upon people that you accuse of having no respect for life is, I suppose, lost on the most zealous animal rights activists. Nevertheless, you are afforded a few opportunities when confronted with anti-hunter rhetoric. You can ignore it, you can respond with equal vitriol, or you can explain why their assumptions and assaults are factually incorrect.
If you choose a factual rebuttal there’s some good news: the statistics are on your side. Here’s a list of ten key items to remember when talking to anti-hunters. They may respond emotionally, but they can’t ignore these truths.
1: Hunting Generates Revenue
Hunters contribute $2.9 billion dollars to the economy every year, or about $8 million dollars daily, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That revenue funds hundreds of projects annually, but it also provides state wildlife agencies with the funds they need to protect our shared resources against poachers.
2: Hunting Conserves Wildlife Habitat
The most critical element to the conservation of wildlife—all wildlife—for future generations is the availability of habitat. As human populations grow so does our demand for space. When that space is gone, so is the game. Ducks Unlimited members alone have preserved an astounding 11.6 million acres, much of it vital nesting grounds for waterfowl. Without hunters, those lands would not be set aside for wildlife.
3: Hunters Create Jobs
The health of an economy is predicated upon job opportunities, and hunting provides lots of job opportunities. In fact, according to NSSF statistics hunting results in the creation of 600,000 jobs a year. This doesn’t include more remote areas of the world like Africa, where hunting safaris provide good-paying, stable jobs for some of the world’s most depressed people.
4: Hunters Initiated Bag Limits, Limited Seasons, and Funding
Theodore Roosevelt, himself an avid hunter, established the first National Wildlife refuge on Pelican Island, Florida in 1903 to control unchecked market hunting. Roosevelt had seen game on the plains decimated for profit, and like so many other conservation-minded hunters he understood the need to set seasons and regulations. In addition, hunters rallied behind the Pittman-Robertson Excise Tax of 1937, which taxes hunting equipment and has, to date, raised almost $7 billion for wildlife.
5: The American Model of Conservation is One of The Most Successful…Thanks to Hunting
At the turn of the twentieth century wildlife in the United States was fast disappearing. Whitetail deer had been hunted to extinction in some states—a feat that seemed impossible when the first settlers arrived. Today, however, there are an estimated 30 million-plus whitetail deer, and that rise occurred in conjunction with the establishment of hunting seasons. Wild turkeys, elk, pronghorn, and other game species have rebounded similarly when consumptive-based conservation efforts—with hunting a cornerstone—were enacted. It’s known as the North American Model of Conservation, and it is one of the most successful conservation models in the world—thanks to hunters.
6: Sport Hunting and Poaching Are Not The Same
Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: lumping legal hunters and poachers together makes no more sense than saying that bank customers and bank robbers are equal. Current critical threats to wildlife include the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade in Africa and the slaughter of Alaskan bears for their gall bladders—acts that are committed by criminals simply to fund their own lifestyles. No one abhors poachers more than legitimate hunters.
7: Hunting Provides High-Quality Protein
People are becoming more and more aware—and oftentimes concerned—about where their food originates. Most people know very little about the history of the protein sources in their diet, but hunters are a different story. The deer that provided the venison in my freezer was free-ranging and was never injected with hormones or antibiotics. Additionally, I know how the meat was handled from the time the animal died until it reached my family’s dinner table.
8: Hunting Protects the Environment from Livestock
Many environments, especially fragile, arid environments, can be damaged by overgrazing. This is a concern in certain parts of the United States but is a major problem in many areas of the developing world like sub-Saharan Africa, where overgrazing by cattle leads to desertification and the killing of native game and predators. Wildlife populations are better adapted to live in the environment and cause less damage.
9: Hunting is Safe
According to data from the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the National Sporting Goods Association, there are 38 injuries reported per 100,000 hunters. Compare that to mountain biking (161/100,000), tennis (184/100,000) and golf (201/100,000) and you quickly realize that hunters with firearms are not causing harm to themselves or others. Even bowling is statistically more dangerous than hunting. More importantly, this speaks to the care and respect with which the vast majority of hunters treat their firearms.
10: Hatred For Hunting Implies Ignorance To Real Threats To Wildlife
Wildlife faces very real and very imminent threats around the world. Habitat is lost to urban sprawl and mining interests every day. Game is indiscriminately killed for sale on the black market. Invasive plants and animals outcompete native species and upset sensitive ecosystems. These are very real and very urgent problems that need to be addressed. Hunting does not harm wildlife species but rather provides the funding for research, law enforcement, and habitat preservation. The notion that legitimate sport hunting is responsible for the loss of wildlife in this country and abroad is absurd, and it shows and glaring ignorance of real and urgent issues.
For more information about the positive impact of sport hunting on wildlife visit the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s research site at http://www.nssf.org/research/
By Brad Fitzpatrick | GetZone.com Contributor