Hunting a tradition in environmentalism

The leaves are falling, midterms are approaching and the weather is turning cool. For many, this is a sign that winter will soon return. However, for 10 percent of Wisconsin residents, this means hunting season is upon us.

The tradition of hunting has been ingrained in American culture for hundreds of years. People from presidents to celebrities to the average person have used hunting to provide food for their families and become more in touch with the natural world.

Despite what some people believe, a hunter’s main goal is not to shoot Bambi’s mom; it is to protect nature and the world we live in.

Hunting provides many benefits for hunters, the environment, and anyone who enjoys nature. It gives hunters an exciting way to enjoy the outdoors, inexpensive food, an incentive to exercise and a way to help the environment.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), money collected from fishing and hunting licenses and stamps provides about 67 percent of the $103 million in the Fish and Wildlife Account. This money is used to manage, improve and expand fish and wildlife habitat, provide education programs, and collect information on both game and non-game species, to name only a few things. Without this funding, the DNR would have a much more difficult time protecting the state’s natural resources.

The close regulation of hunting keeps animal populations at healthy levels. Every year, the DNR studies the number and condition of a game species in an area to determine how many can safely be harvested. The number of a certain species a hunter is allowed to harvest (the bag limit) ensures that the species will not be over-hunted. Hunters obey bag limits to ensure game will remain plentiful in future years. Sportsmen respect the regulation and know that bag limits are enforced to protect both the animals and the future of hunting.

Without hunting, species would exceed the carrying capacity of the land with devastating results. Over-populated animals would exhaust their food supply and succumb to diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The spread of this neurological disease increases in deer and elk as the numbers of the species increases in an area.

The lack of land and food would also force the species onto farmland and more human-populated areas. While trying to avoid starvation, the animals would destroy crops. Also, increased numbers of animals in cities and towns ultimately results in a rise in vehicle accidents.

Many hunters will tell you, “Leave the forest cleaner than you found it.” If we find trash in the areas where we hunt, we pick it up. Hunting organizations like Pheasants Forever regularly hold clean up days where members pick up trash on roadsides, riverbanks and in parks.

Ducks Unlimited (DU), another hunting organization, works in the United States, Canada and Mexico preserving habitat like forests, watersheds and grasslands. According to the DU website, their habitat conservation programs cover 12,693,635 acres in North America – 4,531,563 of those acres are in the United States. Members support DU by volunteering their time and money for the good of nature.

True sportsmen love nature and strive to preserve it for generations to come. Hunters are, before anything else, environmentalists.