How to Conserve Hunting Habitats

By: Rosalind Jackson

Kenya, Lewa Conservancy, two Impala standing on savannah
Kenya, Lewa Conservancy, two Impala standing on savannah
Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Remember the days when you used to sing these son­g lyrics, "Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play"? As you sang, you pictured large preserves of forests and fields full of wildlife. Maybe you were the kind of kid who knew someday you would be old enough to appreciate the beauty of nature while taking part in the pursuit of that wildlife. The thing is, as several years have passed, you realize the extent of the issue of scarce land. More and more, the country has ever-sprawling suburbs that are cutting into those natural preserves of land where animals make their home. Hunters, big game enthusiasts and admirers of the natural world are directly affected by this ever-shrinking scenery.

Numerous factors have and are continuing to interfere with natural hunting habitats. Some of those factors include city sprawl and construction. Commerce often necessitates the building of roads or harvesting natural resources, such as logs and water. These events, along with some vocal animal rights groups, have affected the places where hunters are able to hunt.

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Thanks to Francis Parkman's personal journal, we have a first-hand account from the 19th century of buffalo hunting. Certain members of the Native American village Parkman observed would choose one of two methods of hunting and catching the buffalo they sought. One method, called "running," involved the gun-toting hunter charging into a pack of buffalo while on horseback. "Approaching" was the second technique, where a hunter would confront its prize on foot [source: Eye Witness to History].

The good thing about this issue of maintaining hunting habitats is that our society seems to be embracing the idea of being green and environmentally friendly these days. Half of the battle of maintaining hunting habitats is ensuring that the general public thinks preserving land in the first place is a positive goal.

Click to the next page to read about ways to conserve hunting habitats.

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Ways to Conserve Hunting Habitats

­At first glance, it may seem like th­e best way to conserve hunting habitats would be to disallow human alterations of the area. It makes sense to let the area just grow wild on its own. It's true, one method of conserving land is by enforcing zoning restrictions and contributing money toward an organization that buys tracts of land for the purpose of wildlife, but it is not in the best interest of all landscapes to be left to their own devices.

It is important to remember that hunters are out in different habitats, searching for different species of animals. Some may be hunting big game while others are seeking to bring home feathers rather than fur. Those interested in conserving habitats will need to be aware of the needs of each area. Because the variety in habitats is great, you will only be able to get a taste of one conservation plan here.

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For an example conservation plan, let's look at attempts to save the American Woodcock's habitat. American Woodcocks depend on early succession forests, meaning they need forests that are not overgrown and not too mature. A popular misconception about forests is that they should be left to their own devices. People seem to fear forest fires and work to prevent them, but in actuality, forest fires are a necessary part of the cycle of tree growth and maintenance of mixed growth forests [source: Ruffed Grouse Society].

A lack of controlled burns has contributed to the maturity of forests, preventing new tree growth and thereby contributing to the decline in woodcocks. Conservation groups, such as the Ruffed Grouse Society, have decided to plant new trees in order to create and maintain early succession forests. This will help build up American Woodcock numbers and preserve good hunting grounds [source: Ruffed Grouse Society].

Read on to learn why it is important to conserve hunting habitats.

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Why We Should Conserve Hunting Habitats

In light of recent events and films such as "An Inconvenient Truth," the general population would agree that it is important to maintain a certain portion of the natural world. No matter how big the Earth's population gets, no matter how many buildings and streets we need to build, it is important to conserve those natural lands­capes. The main reason to keep the natural areas in existence is that they contribute to the overall health of the Earth.

­Though it may seem odd to an animal rights activist who may have a preconceived notion that hunters do not appreciate natural habitats, hunters actually do act as good checks and balances for these habitats.

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First of all, hunters ensure that there are enough animals inhabiting an area where they want to hunt. With the passage of endangered animal protection laws, everyone, including hunters, understands that it is not good for the natural cycle of the world to deplete a species. Hunters know that it is important to keep numbers up enough so that there is a healthy flow in the food chain. Every animal depends on every other living thing, from plant to larger animals. Hunters donate money, through hunting licenses and gifts in kind donations, to projects that maintain habitats [source: Free-Eco.org].

Another check that hunters provide is to make sure populations of animals do not get too large. Deer is a well-known species that seems to overpopulate certain areas of the country, and the sport of hunting is an effective check against that overpopulation. Though the root of the overpopulation problem can be traced back to humans, since we have eliminated the deer's natural predators, hunting is a good replacement check.

It's important to keep in mind, also, that some hunters do make a living or at least supplement their lives off of the sport of hunting. By conserving hunting habitats, we are helping maintain the livelihoods of some men and women.

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Relate­d HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

  • Eye Witness to History. "Buffalo Hunt, 1846." (Accessed 11/30/08)http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/buffalo.htm
  • Free-Eco.org "Hunting Plays a Key Role in Habitat Conservation." (Accessed 11/30/08)http://www.free-eco.org/articleDisplay.php?id=269
  • Ruffed Grouse Society. "American Woodcock Conservation Plan-Spring 2008." (Accessed 11/30/08)http://www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/index.php?env=-news_article:m6--1-4-s:n-451

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