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Hunters Value Wildlife

+Joe Hosmer is the president of Safari Club International Foundation, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting wildlife conservation through sustainable use.

Hunting is vital to the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife populations. Both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species recognize the importance of hunting in conservation and have special provisions in their regulations to ensure hunting continues. Animal rights and welfare activist groups fail to recognize the value of hunting in conservation and even claim hunting is a leading threat to wildlife. In fact, hunting remains a timeless tradition, a livelihood, and a necessity for conservation.

Hunters pioneered sustainable wildlife management through the creation of North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. After early settlers diminished wildlife populations through unregulated harvesting, hunters and anglers assumed responsibility for the management of wildlife and worked to conserve species through harvest limits and the establishment of conservation organizations. Since its implementation in the 1860s, the North American Model has been responsible for the revival of multiple species, including white-tailed deer, elk, and black bears among others. Deer populations have grown to 32 million since the mid-1900s thanks to the North American Model, where science and sustainability are central. Research is conducted yearly to ensure that harvest is sustainable and adapted to meet the management goals set for the population size. Further, state conservation programs provide groundbreaking research into the most pressing issues facing wildlife management and rely heavily on revenue generated by hunters to remain at the forefront of those issues.

Through legislation such as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, better-known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, excise taxes and fees paid by hunters are directed to restoration programs to be used exclusively by state fish and wildlife agencies. The revenue from an 11 percent tax on long guns, for example, is distributed nationwide and assists with conservation research and project funding. Last year, the US Department of the Interior announced that $1.1 billion of excise tax revenue paid by sportsmen and sportswomen would go toward funding state conservation and recreation projects. Programs like Pittman-Robertson and personal donations to conservation organizations allow sportsmen and sportswomen to contribute billions to conservation annually. In 2011, North American hunters spent $38.3 billion with $3 billion directed exclusively to conservation initiatives. These efforts are the foundation of the conservation funding system.

The practice of funding conservation programs through hunting revenue is not only applicable to North America, but has been shown to be effective internationally. As in the US, hunting revenue from the sale of licenses and tags in Africa and Asia also goes directly to funding wildlife management and other conservation efforts. Many African countries rely on tourism for economic stability; one of the highest grossing forms of tourism in Africa is hunting. Hunting tourism means jobs to local peoples of Africa. According to a 2004 study, in Tanzania hunting tourism employed approximately 3,700 people annually. In turn, those workers supported 88,240 family members.

Many wildlife organizations recognize the benefits hunting tourism brings to African communities. A recent World Wildlife Fund community-based natural resources management report states that the economic benefits of hunting “quickly reinforce the value of a conservancy’s wildlife resource and such community awareness is a powerful anti-poaching stimulus, creating effective internal social pressures against the illegal harvesting of game.”

small excerpt of a poll pageReader OpinionWhat do you think: Is there a place for hunting in conservation?
Vote and be counted.

Creating value for wildlife is a key aspect in ensuring wildlife survival and that is exactly what the presence of hunting accomplishes. Habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict are growing threats to wildlife populations. This is due to land-use change for various human purposes, such as agriculture. As long as wildlife attack livestock and eat or trample crops, local people will continue to indiscriminately kill intruders that they perceive as a threat to their livelihood. Scientifically based, regulated hunting provides value to wildlife for these local communities by showing the profits that can be generated by the legal harvest of a single animal. It is also conducive in creating socially acceptable population numbers, which ultimately decreases the possibility of wildlife conflict and therefore decreases the number of retaliatory killings, further conserving species.

Many opponents of the hunting industry ask: “If hunters love wildlife, why not donate the money instead of using it for hunting?” But no one asks a marathon runner to only write a check instead of actually running in a breast cancer awareness race. It is commonly understood that providing an opportunity for a person to contribute to a cause, while participating in something they love, increases the likelihood that a person will continue to contribute in the future.

Hunters respect wildlife and seek to conserve the wildlife that they hunt to ensure sustainable populations for the future. It is a lucrative form of tourism that not only creates value for wildlife, but also supports conservation programs, feeds local communities, provides jobs, and funds anti-poaching efforts. And, hunters also write checks for conservation, in addition to hunting.

Hunting is indisputably an effective form of conservation recognized by governments and wildlife organizations throughout the world. It generates revenue and provides tremendous opportunities for communities reliant on wildlife. Science dictates harvest numbers and research showcases its positive effects. Year after year, sportsmen and sportswomen demonstrate their impactful role in conservation and their efforts should not be stifled by the futile emotional arguments of those who harbor a moral grudge against the hunting industry.

For an opposing view, read what Teresa M. Telecky has to say.

photo of lions resting in a meadowphoto David Berkowitz


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Sorry, Cliff, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Non-hunters contribute 94% of the money that goes towards true conservation (of ALL species necessary for the health of an entire ecosystem, not just profitable game species). Only 1 in 5 gun owners hunt, yet we contribute to the same P-R excise tax hunters do. It’s simple math. Same with recreational boaters who far outnumber anglers contributing to D-J. The US FWS has had to redefine the term “sportsman” to include anyone who keeps a gun in their nightstand in the event of a break-in to make it appear that hunting is still a strong industry when in fact it’s going the way of the Dodo (which ironically was hunted to extinction).

Non-hunters are also the ones buying the land that YOU get to trample with your guns and six-packs in hand.

Hunters do NOT want to see more wildlife, as you claim. Sustenance hunting is the #2 reason (after ranching) that predators are exterminated—to eliminate competition for hunters’ preferred game species. This is NOT true conservation.

And those additional license and harvest tag fees imposed on hunters are the ones that you cry and whine the loudest about about in your private forums and Facebook posts.

Coming from a family that hunted and having worked for a wildlife agency (until I could no longer look myself in the mirror), I can assure you that hunters only care about the species they want to kill. The food plots they plant are for DEER (and the other ungulates hunters kill) ONLY. Prescribed burning is performed by state DNRs to the detriment of every other species to promote the growth of DEER food. They kill off predators to the point of extinction in many cases to increase DEER herds. They even use proprietary software to manipulate and predict birthrates and fawn recruitment. This is why you used to see a deer with one or two fawns, but no regularly see them with three, four, even five. Meanwhile, deer-vehicle collisions now number in the millions; because hunters want even more DEER. Enough!

Maybe it’s time hunters accept that the public is increasingly aware of these facts and no longer support the unnecessary killing for fun and profit.

By Wendy Jenks on Thu, August 31, 2017 at 7:31 am

Hunters do respect the animals they are Hunting. They go out and sit in a tree stand, sit on the ground, or walk for miles with the hope that they will see something. That something could be anything, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the animal they are hunting. The feeling of nature is deeply enrooted in a hunter’s blood. Nothing on Earth compares the excitement of interacting with it. They admire the animal they are hunting and feel remorse after killing it, but ultimately know that this is the way the world works and the animal will help provide for their family.

By Ema Nekaf on Sun, January 22, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Why is it that hunters provide the vast majority of the funding for habitat and conservation?

Is it because of the many additional taxes imposed on hunters and the items used by sportsmen. Where those additional tax dollars are spent on habitat and conservation?

Is it because the hunters form organizations to actively promote habitat preservation and restoration of habitat for wildlife?

Is it because of the additional license and harvest tag fees imposed on hunters to be used to fund the wildlife management offices and wildlife law enforcement?

Is it because hunters want to see and have more wildlife to enjoy while they are active in their activities and do not mind donating to further such causes?

Is it because hunters buy large tracts of land to preserve for wildlife habitat so that they have a place to hunt filled with wildlife?

Is it because hunters plant vast food plots to assist in feeding many wildlife species?

Is it because hunters provide the revenue for landowners to change from domestic stock over to wildlife, thus providing millions of acres more habitat for wildlife and millions more wild animals?

Maybe they do all these things because of the enjoyment of being in the outdoors and to be with nature and wildlife is part of why they hunt. 
The actual killing of an animal is only a part of what the hunting experience is about, while providing protection of habitat for biodiversity and allowing a place for more wildlife is the intended result.

It is interesting to see a poll of the public that demonstrates their ignorance of the fact that hunting provides by far the most benefit and revenue for preservation of wildlife habitat and conservation. 
It also shows that the majority of hunters providing the vast majority of conservation benefit and revenue do so without blowing their horn to the media, as some celebrities do when they make any donations.

By Cliff on Mon, July 25, 2016 at 8:34 am

I will start by saying that, in most cases, I loathe the idea of trophy hunting, especially the “canned hunts”, where animals are bred to be shot in cages.

BUT, unfortunately, the world is not black-and-white, and I do believe there are a few instances, like this one, where hunting, carefully managed, can have a huge benefit to the species as a whole. But in order to truly understand this issue, we need to know the specifics of this permit auction. It isn’t just “shoot a random rhino for fun” like so many news outlets are making it to be.

In this case, there is a specific, individual rhino to be hunted. Wildlife officials will accompany the hunter to make sure he gets the right one. The animal is a post-breeding male, and he’s causing problems in the herd. He can no longer reproduce, but he still attacks (and could quite possibly kill) any younger, fertile males that enter his harem. So, to help protect the fertile males and get new genes into the herd, this particular rhino was scheduled to be culled anyway, with or without the permit auction. It’s a normal wildlife management technique usually done by the game officials.

Now, from my point of view, it’s less humane to allow one aggressive rhino to gore and kill the others. Ending an animal’s life is sad, but the bedrock of conservation is the fact that populations are more important than individuals. This has to be done either way. So, if some trophy hunter, as sordid as his hobby may be, wants to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to pull the trigger, money that will be put to good use protecting other rhinos, I really can’t complain. The rhino has had his day, fathered his offspring, and served his biological purpose. Now it is time for new rhinos to take his place.

Whenever I bring this up, I usually get comments like “Africa is so corrupt, the cull must be a conspiracy to kill rhinos for profit!” But before we jump to conclusions, let’s look at the data:  Namibia is one of the only African nations to have an INCREASE in rhino populations, not a decrease, as the naysayers claim. Clearly, Namibia must be doing something right.

By Mary on Thu, June 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Hunters do it for pleasure and greed. How can this be conservation?

By Hennie Bezuidenhout on Thu, June 19, 2014 at 2:36 am

“Hunters respect wildlife” this argument is false and Joe Hosmer and all the people he represents are members of a patriarchal death cult protecting themselves and their own interests. Trophy Hunting is a selfish pursuit, based on individual self-satisfaction and a total lack of respect and care for anyone but themselves. Trophy Hunting is not respect its meting out death to a being who just wants to live their own life, for nothing more than self-glory. It is contemptuous, dominance, control and by definition nothing more than killing for fun.
A lesson in respect, Mr Hosmer is as close as the dictionary.

a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
“the conservationist had a lot of respect for elephants as successful individuals in a social & familial relationship structure”
synonyms:  esteem, regard, high regard, high opinion, acclaim, admiration, approbation, approval, appreciation, estimation, favour, popularity, recognition, veneration, awe, reverence, deference, honour, praise, homage
antonyms:  contempt
the state of being admired or respected.

due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.
“hunter’s lack of respect for their targets”
synonyms:  due regard, consideration, thoughtfulness, attentiveness, politeness, courtesy, civility, deference

By Mission Truth on Tue, June 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Absolutely agree. Furthermore, in many instances a reduction in population is neccesary in order to preserve habitat and reduce stress (areas of over population of elephants). Also scientists have realized that in the case of black rhino, too many males leads to excess fighting/reduced breeding.

By simon Williamson on Tue, June 03, 2014 at 11:38 pm

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