Hunting as Preferred Management Tool

Summary

Alternative methods to hunting for population control, such as sterilization and contraception, are costly and to date have not been proven effective for managing free ranging populations. Hunting continues to be the most effective, cost efficient and socially acceptable method of population control. As such, hunting should be codified as the preferred wildlife management tool for the states.

Introduction
Through effective conservation efforts, species once in decline, such as the white-tailed deer, have been able to recover to sustainable populations. However, some of these recovery efforts have led to unsustainable populations above and beyond the carrying capacity of some species’ habitat. Additionally, some non-native species introduced into new habitat are able to adapt and increase in population, to the detriment of the native flora and fauna. Many of these occurrences of unsustainably high wildlife populations (whether native or introduced) occur in areas where hunting has historically either been heavily restricted or banned entirely such as in parks and in suburban or exurban communities. 

Issue
Alternative methods for population control, such as sterilization and contraception, are costly and to date have not been proven effective for managing free ranging populations. In communities where contraception is used to control white-tailed deer populations the average annual cost for the programs is $40,940. The initial cost for capture and vaccination in one program was found to be $513/ deer with an additional cost of $103/deer for a booster injection, where the initial vaccine is good for approximately 2 years and the booster provides sterility for an additional year. Conversely, hunting generates revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies, as well as the economy as a whole. 

Historically, hunting has been the most cost effective, socially acceptable method of population control. In most areas of the United States, hunter numbers have been on the decline in recent years. Two of the factors associated with increasing hunters’ satisfaction with the sport (and thereby encouraging them to continue to participate and invite new hunters to join them) concern access and opportunity. Encouraging the use of hunting as a first priority wildlife management tool will increase both of these key factors which determine satisfaction and help to ensure that hunting as we know it will continue into the future. 

Language 
By incorporating the views of our partners, we recommend that any language dealing with contraception preemption consider the following factors:

• Hunting should be designated as the preferred wildlife management tool for the state, as state agencies already consider it to be the most effective method of regulating populations of game species.

• Hunting has a huge economic impact on the United States economy each year. In fact, hunting contributes more than $24 billion annually and supports over 600,000 jobs. 

• The sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes collected from the sale of sporting equipment such as firearms and ammunition are two of the primary funding streams for state fish and wildlife agencies (through the American System of Conservation Funding). Hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation are generated in this way each year. No one demographic has ever done more for wildlife conservation than hunters. 

• Opening up new areas to hunting will increase satisfaction with the sport through providing additional access and opportunity and will encourage recruitment and retention. 

• In areas of high human densities, archery hunting should be considered a viable management tool. The use of archery equipment is a viable method for population control in areas with high human density and is generally supported by hunters and homeowners alike.

• Increased contraception use will be used to advance the arguments of anti-hunting organizations that hunting should be severely restricted, if not eliminated. 

• A type of pre-emption law is already in place in South Carolina, where localities must have the approval of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources before implementing any contraception program. 


Contact
For more information regarding this issue, please contact:
Brent Miller (202) 543-6850 x 13; brent@sportsmenslink.org

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