Deer Hunting Has a Significant Impact on the EnvironmentIssue Date: November 21, 2019
This article on the benefits that deer hunting has on the environment was submitted by UW-Whitewater junior and Crivitz Alum Elizabeth Tomaszewski.
As Wisconsin approaches one of the most significant periods in its economic and ecological seasons, it is important to remember the importance the impact white-tail deer hunting has on the local environment. Misconceptions paint hunters as cruel, and destructive to the natural environment, however, they are one of the most advantageous factors in conserving land and habitats. Through deer licenses, beneficial programs, and population control, deer hunting takes a very crucial spot in saving and conserving Wisconsin's land. Population control also plays a huge role in maintaining the natural balance to keep the land healthy and supple. Deer hunting provides opportunities for growth in the physical as well as economical aspects of the environment around us.
In order to hunt in Wisconsin, you must purchase a mandatory hunting license. This license provides not only a direct way of checking for qualifications, but the money in purchasing these licenses goes back into the environment. In order to better understand this, I reached out to a member of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and asked exactly what purchasing a license does for the environment. In response, Ecologist Daniel Adams stated,
Deer hunting in Wisconsin provides funding to many DNR programs; not just the deer program, but also programs that are working directly on conserving, preserving, and restoring natural lands on the Wisconsin landscape. Without revenue generated through deer license fees, many of these programs would have much less funding to accomplish their management needs and goals. This would result in fewer avenues for the public to enjoy the natural resources we all have.
Deer hunters pay their dues, and in turn, money is being put back into the environment in order to maintain habitats, forests, and parks all throughout Wisconsin. Support against deer hunting argue the point of poaching or hunting without a license. While yes, money from licenses directly benefits the environment in terms of funding, it is not just licensing that hunters pay for.
Regulation deer hunting involves the purchase of firearms, archery, and ammunition, all which bring money back into the environment. This can be seen directly through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. This act, established in 1937, requires an eleven percent sales tax on all firearms, archery, and ammunition to distribute among state wild-life projects and agencies. The act itself states, "The Secretary of Agriculture and the State fish and game department of each State accepting the benefits of this Act shall agree upon the wildlife-restoration projects to be aided in such State under the terms of this Act and all projects shall conform to the standards fixed by the Secretary of Agriculture." One great example of these programs is The Wisconsin Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP). This program, according to the DNR website, is a "cooperative effort between the Department of Natural Resources, landowners, and hunters to provide habitat and deer herd management assistance to those interested in managing their property for wildlife." Hunters are continuously supporting the environment by buying these products, consciously or not. While not ideal, this includes hunters who hunt without a license as they too need the ammunition and power to do so. Even with the laws set in place that allow this money to go back to the environment, many hunters donate their own time and money into making sure that the land and habitats that they hunt on stay protected. Aside from these programs, there are also classes in place that educate hunters on the importance of maintaining the environment before they have a chance to buy a license.
As stated in the Wisconsin Hunting Regulations Booklet of 2019, all persons born on, or after January 1st of 1973 must complete a course in hunter education if they wish to purchase a hunting license. Again, proceeds of the cost of this course, in turn, go back to the environment in different ways, however, it is also important to note the education all hunters receive. Daniel Adams also comments on the course itself, and the benefits in which the education received impacts all future hunters by stating, "The hunter education course offered by the WIDNR covers wildlife conservation and the hunter's role in wildlife conservation. It also covers being an ethical and respectful hunter of taking care of the land they're hunting on and respecting other individuals that may also be using the land." Hunters are educated on the importance of keeping the land safe and respecting the property in which they are hunting. This course is mandatory for hunters and provides insights into the benefits of deer hunting. Many hunters are much more motivated and careful with the land they are on and making sure that it is in the best condition it can be in for the deer and other wildlife to thrive.
The most commonly known environmental benefit of deer hunting involves population control. Taught from a young age we are told the basics of population control; limiting the growth of a population in order to provide a balance in our ecological system. The balance in the ecological system goes beyond a simple overpopulation of deer. Claims against deer hunting and the environment argue that hunting deer causes a decline in the population, so much so that it affects vegetation growth in the natural environment, however, Daniel Adams states:
Deer densities above these carrying capacities can result in increased deer-vehicle collisions, agricultural damage, and can inhibit forest regeneration. Specific to forest regeneration, heavy browsing of young seedlings and forbs can prevent them from becoming established on the landscape and provide opportunity for lower-quality browse, many times invasive species to become established, thus changing forest/species composition.
It is necessary that there be some form of population control within our whitetail deer population in order to avoid experiencing any of these negative reactions. Deer hunters provide this control as well as protect the environment, with the bonus of protecting commuters as well. While commonly known, the benefit population control has on the environment far exceeds the typical knowledge of primary school.
With over seven million acres of land, Wisconsin provides a diverse and wide range of options for the thousands of hunters that enter the woods each fall, allowing for a wide range of environmentally benefiting opportunities. Whitetail deer hunting benefits the Wisconsin environment in more ways than one. Many different influences encourage or require a way in which hunters benefit the environment, consciously or not. Hunters spend millions of dollars each year in Wisconsin in order to hunt through licenses, classes, firearms, and ammunition. Each of these things that require purchasing benefit the environment through programs that protect, restore, and create new and old habits, land, and forests. The Department of Natural Resources has also seen a shift in attitudes from deer hunters as they become more engaged in habitat and land restoration projects. Living in Wisconsin it is expected to see whitetail deer in the bed of a truck or strapped to the back of a car. Instead of thinking how cruel and useless this may seem, think of the good that comes from the hunter's time and energy put forth in providing meals for their families and protecting the environment at the same time. Even if every hunter fails in their time in the woods, they are successfully protecting and providing for the environment. The environment needs all the help it can receive, and hunting is one of the most beneficial ways in doing so..
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