Saturdays are filled with football, candy corn has returned, and the nights are getting cooler, which all can only mean one thing: hunting season is right around the corner. Soon the boys will be cleaning their rifles and the girls will be tightening their bows, all in hopes to tag the buck they’ve been watching on their trail camera all year.
Unfortunately, it is around this time that the accusatory social media comments start showing up. You know, the ones that accuse hunters of being cruel and inhumane. For many people around the country, hunting is a sensitive topic – they don’t understand how someone could kill an animal, and they definitely don’t understand how they are benefitting from it.
If you have ever spent the day hiking at Chewacla, or bird watching from your kitchen window, you can thank a hunter. In fact, people across the state are impacted on a daily basis by the decisions made by 197 thousand deer hunters every year. The funds raised by the selling of hunting licenses, firearms and other supplies play a large role in the conservation of the state wildlife resources and the animals we love the most.
According to Dr. Mark Smith, hunting licenses and the Pittman Robertson Federal Aid and Restoration Act are the two primary sources for conservation funding within Alabama. “The more licenses we sell and the more firearms we sell, the more money they have to do research, management, disease monitoring, not only for game species, but for all of Alabama’s wildlife species.” explains Dr. Smith.
Not only are we helping conserve the environment, but the economy is heavily boosted by the sport of hunting. “Big game hunting in Alabama has an economic impact of about $618 million per year,” said Smith. When we mention big game hunting in Alabama, deer are the primary animals. Between the firearms, ammunition, came clothing, lodging, gas and much more, the state benefits greatly from the money hunters pour into the economy every year.
Aside from the conservation and economic benefits, hunting helps maintain a healthy deer population. If the population were to go unmonitored, deer would be facing severe overpopulation, resulting in not only significant damage to the ecosystem, but over-browsing of plants, malnutrition and an overall decline in the health and well-being of the animals.
According to Smith, recreational hunting is the most effective method of controlling the deer population. Efforts using contraceptives have been made, but failed due to the expense and the number of deer across the state.
So the next time you spend your afternoon hiking with friends, or bird watching with your kids, remember to thank a hunter. Recreational hunting goes much further than a rack on a wall, or homemade jerky. Hunting continues to help conserve our wildlife, boost our economy, and keep our deer healthy – and that’s something we can all appreciate.
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