Photo by tpwmagazine.com
Growing up in Montana, I am familiar with people hunting recreationally. My classmates in high school, my coaches, my neighbors, and my dad all hunt for sport and meat. Although I have never shot an animal myself, I have many memories going along for a hunt with my father when I was younger. After our class discussion about “organic”, “natural”, or “artisan” food last week, it got me questioning which foods are legitimately free of pesticides and free of genetic modification. There are certainly farms that produce this type of authentically natural food, but wild game almost guarantees that the meat will be pesticide free and genetically unmodified. Although wild game comes from nature, is the practice of modern hunting sustainable and practical in modern times?
The American people generally accept hunting wild game, and the approval ratings of hunting have increased in the past few years. Current statistics show that 79% of Americans are in favor of recreational hunting, a number that has gone up 5% since 2011. Yet for how many Americans approve of hunting, only 5% of Americans go hunting every year. With a small percentage of people actively hunting, coupled with strong management from the Fish and Game, wild game populations are typically at a healthy population.
Prior to federal regulation being used to protect wildlife populations, many ecosystems were being overexploited for their resources. It was a classic tragedy of the commons situation, where the ecosystem’s resources seemed endless, when the stark reality is that it was quite the opposite. The fish and game now regulates these fragile ecosystems with a tag system, allowing for the more common game to be hunted more, while the more rare game may be hunted less frequently—or not at all.
The current status of modern hunting in the United States is sustainable. For people looking to acquire meat the way in which our ancestors did, as well as know that the meat will be free of pesticides and other chemicals, hunting provides an alternative to the grocery store. Although hunting is currently sustainable, if more people chose to start hunting we would again face the tragedy of the commons. With the restrictions currently put in place by the Fish and Game it would be difficult for many more people to start hunting. Of course this depends where you live, for example, I was very fortunate to grow in Montana where there are many open spaces where people are able to hunt. In more urban areas there are greater restrictions towards hunting, making it more difficult to acquire a tag for wild game.
Overall, hunting is a sustainable practice to get meat that has been untouched by industry. Obviously the meat was raised in an environmentally friendly manor, as it was raised in the natural world. Hunting also promotes conservation of natural and wild lands. Yet if every was to hunt, the practice would no longer be considered sustainable. Continued progress to manage wildlife effectively is key in keeping the biodiversity of these ecosystems healthy and retaining our ability to hunt.
Here is a video which looks into one man’s ethical reasons behind why he hunts:
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/105686970″>Who We Are</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/sicmanta”>Sicmanta</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>