Hunting Articles

March 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

IS TROPHY HUNTING

DRAINING OUR GENE POOL?

BY JIM HEFFELFINGER

Hunters in the U.S. and Canada are the driving force behind the most amazing system of wildlife conservation ever developed. Because of its resounding success, this North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is now being applied in other countries. Unfortunately, this is a largely untold story as most of the public thinks their government takes care of wildlife using their tax dollars. There is a serious lack of understanding and appreciation for the true history of wildlife conservation. Even after learning about this fantastic story, some cannot reconcile the benefits of this system with their emotional qualms about wildlife being killed. Not everyone needs to be a hunter, but the superiority of this conservation model is undeniable. 

weeks-2007-11

With emotions come criticisms. Critics of hunting try desperately to find any information that can be played to their favor. A single action of an inconsiderate or unethical hunter is portrayed as the norm. Likewise, any scientific finding that shows any negative effect of hunting is paraded in the popular press with all sorts of far-reaching generalizations and poetic license. Trophy hunting is one of their most frequent targets. Let’s explore the charge that hunters are negatively affecting the gene pool of the very species they strive to conserve.

Three factors are necessary to produce animals with qualities (such as antler size) far above average for their species. Age, nutrition, and genetics all work together to determine whether an animal is a trophy.  Age is the most obvious and easily understood portion of the equation; we learned long ago that antler, tusk, and horn size increases with age. Likewise, the European game keepers in the 14th century were already writing about the importance of goodnutrition to antler size. These are not new ideas. But the third factor, genetics, is where our knowledge has increased exponentially in recent decades. Read more

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