Decelerate. Before you call PETA to request that they send a hit man, hear me out. Most people eat meat, so why is agriculture a better source of meat than hunting? Turns out it’s not, at least in terms of their respective “green” scores. When it is done for sustenance and not alone for sport, hunting can be an environmentally friendly activity.
Let’s be clear: this statement only applies if you are following a specific set of guidelines. You are consuming or using every part of the animal that you kill, to the best of your ability, and you don’t just kill to kill. The population of animals you are hunting is one that really requires control, and that control is managed in a professional and / or appropriate manner. He is also doing his best to ensure that the animal is humanely killed and that the weapon he uses to do so is efficient.
Think of Jake from Avatar, not Uncle Jimbo from South Park.
With all of that in mind, consider that hunting has been a part of human history for countless generations. It is an ancient source of food that connects us with our wildest selves and with nature. It may be surprising, but here are 5 ways hunting is truly environmentally friendly.
1. Maintains and controls animal populations
In the US at least, hunting is a highly regulated activity. There are laws at the local, state and federal levels that control the number of prey animals. These efforts help us do things like reduce deer-car collisions and protect our agricultural products from wildlife grazing, helping us coexist. At the same time, the general health of the species is also protected in most places due to conservation laws that limit which animals can be hunted, when and where they can be hunted, and how many can be caught.
The process has and will always need constant management, so animal populations that are popular with hunters may have an advantage, as they will be more closely monitored for conservation, as well as to preserve the sport.
2. Avoid livestock practices
Entire books have been written about the environmental debacle of large-scale ranching. Let’s cover the basics. We use 30% of the land on earth to grow vegetables that are used to feed livestock such as cattle, chickens, and pigs. We only use 10% to feed ourselves directly. We also use one third of fresh water from the Earth that hydrates our farm animals. Not to mention that methane emissions from livestock, produced as a by-product of digestion, account for at least one-third of all agriculture-related greenhouse gases.
Like any other mass-produced food, commercially grown meat is often wasted. Supermarkets, restaurants and consumers buy more than they need and end up wasting too much. And unlike animal habitats in the wild, livestock has already required the destruction of millions of acres of carbon-absorbing forests around the world, accounting for up to 15% of global carbon emissions.
While small-scale and “backyard” farms are excellent alternatives to large-scale commercial sources of meat, hunting is also a viable option. Deer, elk, wild boar, ducks, and rabbits are good substitutes for traditional livestock.
3. No added ingredients
One of the best things about eating bushmeat is knowing that it tastes exactly the way nature intended. And you might be surprised to learn that much of our commercially raised livestock actually has added ingredients.
Farm livestock animals are often given small doses of antibiotics. Not to prevent infection, as you might think, but to promote growth, an accidental side effect discovered in the 1940s. This is a problem because the practice leads to the emergence of bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics. Although the potential impact on human health has yet to be quantified, there is certainly the possibility of a future outbreak.
US farmers often give cattle steroid hormones or synthetic equivalents to promote growth and metabolism of the meat feed. The FDA states that these chemicals are safe for human consumption, but studies have shown that they are excreted in feces, where they can get into water systems, causing endocrine disruption for fish and other wildlife, and possibly finding their way to us.
Unless you’re buying organic or grass-fed food, the meat you buy at the store was likely raised on GMO foods. Genetically modified animal feed is made from plants that produce pesticides on their own or are bred to withstand intense applications of nasty chemicals designed to kill insects. Those chemicals are not removed from plants before they are administered to livestock. Instead, they are accumulating fat from animals, which we then cook and eat, exposing us to substances that cause cancer, reproductive problems, and many other health problems.
As long as you’re not hunting in an area with known environmental contamination, you won’t have to worry if your game meat is full of nasty things whose names you can’t even spell. No, just pure, natural, chemical-free cuts of delicious goodness.
4. Sport stays wild
Hunters are among the most active conservationists. It is logical: to enjoy hunting as a sport, the land must remain wild. Without a well-preserved habitat, game species simply will not thrive and access to them will be limited.
People who buy hunting equipment also make a large financial contribution to the protection of hunting habitats. In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Pittman-Robertson Act, which allows an 11% tax on firearms, ammunition, bows and arrows. The ingenious piece of legislation has been a constant and uninterrupted source of funding for conservation ever since, amassing more than $ 18 billion in total. The money is distributed annually to the states to spend as they choose: education, research, restoration or whatever they see fit. The results, such as the resurgence of bighorn sheep populations in the southern Rocky Mountains, have paid off.
Fees paid to obtain a hunting license or tag also aid conservation efforts. The states use the proceeds to lease land for hunters to access, keeping it at least temporarily undeveloped. They also use it to manage fish hatcheries, combat invasive species, keep wildlife populations healthy, and offer special programs and education. In Colorado, the Department of Parks and Wildlife estimates that 62% of its funds dedicated to wildlife efforts come from license fees, and all taxes and grants combined only contribute 34% (donations and sales direct make up the remainder).
In short, a hunting country in itself. Hunters, as a group, give back more than they receive by paying higher taxes and fees on products and services associated with hunting, and by promoting land use that requires it to remain as is.
5. Create a lifelong appreciation of nature
Learning to hunt skillfully can give you a strong appreciation for both animal behavior and the rules of nature. It teaches you to respect the land and animals, the cycle of life and death, our dependence on other life forms to survive.
Hunting a deer is an all-day effort, to say the least. It is simply not possible to spend so much time in nature and not connect deeply with it. Hunters learn to work with the land, rather than against it, to achieve their goals, and the enjoyment of their time outdoors leads to a naturalistic passion that knows no bounds.
Are you a hunter? Has hunting brought you closer to nature? In what other ways do you think hunting can be environmentally friendly?