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Hunting and Wildlife Management  

White-tailed DeerHunting and wildlife management have a long association.  Organized hunters lobbied governments to regulate hunting in the early 1900s, when many species of game had been driven nearly to extinction.  It was also hunters who supplied the support and funding for the development of the science of wildlife biology.  Today, hunters through their license fees, donations and volunteer efforts still make a significant contribution to the support of wildlife conservation.

Hunting plays an important role in the management of game species.  Each year, populations of game animals produce more offspring than their habitats can support.  The result is an annual surplus of animals that will die from predation, disease or starvation.  Regulated hunting helps reduce this surplus before the winter when food resources for these animals are at their lowest levels.

Regulated hunting also helps control the numbers of species that may be causing problems for farmers, ranchers and indeed, city residents.  For example, each year Alberta Environment receives complaints from ranchers about deer and elk feeding on stored hay.  Hunting seasons and bag limits in many of our agricultural areas are set to reduce this damage without threatening the viability of the deer or elk population.

Collisions between vehicles and deer, elk, and moose cause thousands of dollars worth of damage and injuries to motorists each year.  Hunting helps reduce these occurrences.  As well, hunted animals are wary of humans and human habitation and are less likely to cause problems.

Wildlife biologists often call upon hunters to provide biological samples (for example, teeth or specific organs) of the animals they bag.  The information gleaned from these samples helps the biologists determine the age, health and reproductive capability of game populations.

Hunting is a traditional human activity that reconnects people with the land and the natural environment.  Because of their experiences in the outdoors, hunters have strong commitments to environmental conservation.

Reprinted from Focus On Wildlife Management  (1999) with permission of Alberta Environment.

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