Hunting is either an activity that you enjoy, or you don’t. People hunt for different reasons and different intentions. Some people are against the activity in its entirety and actively make their displeasure known against those who do enjoy hunting. If, however, we put the ethical and moral debates aside and approach it from a practical point of view, would hunting be considered an important part of agriculture, or is it just a bloodthirsty hobby?
Hunting is considered to be an agricultural activity, and in most places, it is governed by the Agricultural department. Hunting is still an important means of feeding families in many places. It is also an important conservation control measure in efforts to preserve wildlife and wilderness habitats.
Hunting has been a part of man’s survival strategy since time began, and as such, it has become ingrained in our makeup as part of our culture, tradition, and heritage. Given that we do not necessarily need to hunt anymore for survival, does hunting have a necessary place in both agriculture and nature conservation?
Is Hunting Agriculture
Man has been a hunter-gatherer since time immemorial, and the drive to hunt has become part of our nature. It is a primal instinct that calls to many men and drives them to pursue hunting in some form to satisfy the instinct.
Many people would disagree and argue that we have evolved to be able to control our primal instincts, and there is no longer a need for it. To be honest, most of the people with this type of opinion are probably city dwellers who get all their food from the supermarket shelf.
Many people who live in a more rural type of setting have differing opinions and see the benefit that hunting can offer, not only as a food source but also from an agricultural point of view.
According to the US Labor Department, fishermen, hunters, forest managers, and even loggers are all considered to be part of the agricultural sector. This is because they are classified as being food producers or producers of natural materials for the manufacturing industry. So, if you ask the US government if hunting is agriculture, the answer would be yes, it is.
If, however, we look at it from a practical standpoint because, let’s face it, governments are seldom practical, is there a valid case that hunting is agricultural?
Most people who think of agriculture picture growing crops or raising livestock on farms for food. Where I live, in Africa, there are farms that are dedicated to hunting, which we term game farms. These are farms where natural wildlife is given a secure, safe environment where they can thrive but are farmed, so to speak, for the benefit of the economy.
These game farms are carefully managed, and only certain animals can be hunted at certain times of the year. This is to make sure that the numbers of the wild game are kept at certain levels to maintain healthy breeding herds.
In many cases where the game that is hunted is antelope, the meat is sold to local populations, and often at a lower price than what domestic livestock meat is sold for in the supermarkets. This is especially true if the hunters are foreign and cannot take the meat out of the country.
Foreign tourists pay exorbitant sums of money to hunt on these farms, and it brings much-needed revenue into countries where this practice is allowed.
The type of hunting I don’t agree with is the hunts, where the only goal is to gain a trophy to take home and hang on your wall. However, if the hunting is for meat, then logically, there is no difference between farming domestic livestock and farming wildlife for hunting.
In many rural parts of most countries, access to fresh meat is a necessity, and store-bought meat is not as accessible as it is to people who live in cities.
For people in these locations, hunting is still a necessary part of life and being able to feed their families. Most of these people value the wildlife and see it as a valuable resource that needs management and protection so that it can be a continued food source for them for years to come.
For these reasons, hunting in most countries is considered to be an agricultural practice, and any laws around the activity are governed by the agricultural sector of the government.
Is Hunting Conservation?
Most wildlife populations around the world are victims of habitat destruction as a result of encroaching civilization and the expansion of agricultural regions to feed the growing human population.
As a result, the remaining wildlife is being forced into smaller and smaller pockets of natural countryside. This poses a problem for the wildlife in that if they are left to increase their populations, the animals would soon overgraze the region, the herd would become unhealthy and succumb to sickness and disease and die out.
Therefore, in order to conserve the wildlife, the areas where they live need to be managed, and their numbers need to be carefully controlled to make sure that their population size does not outstrip the available natural resources of the area.
Hunting is a means to control the wildlife numbers and ensure their survival. This also brings in much-needed revenue into the conservation sector so that other aspects of wildlife conservation can be funded.
For these reasons, hunting is a crucial and much-needed aspect of wildlife conservation. If you speak to any conservationist, who by the very nature of their job, is a nature lover, they will agree that hunting is a necessary part of the conservation effort, except where the animal is an endangered species.
Reasons People Hunt
There are many reasons that people continue hunting as an activity. For some, it is simply the fact that they enjoy it; for others, it is to put food on the table. For others, it is a business and brings in an income for them and their families, and for others, it is part of their conservation efforts to preserve wildlife populations for generations to come.
Of all these reasons to hunt, I think the most unsavory is just hunting for the sake of the thrill of killing something. I think that this reason is a disrespect to the animal you are hunting. Hunting needs to serve a purpose other than satisfying a bloodlust.
Many of these types of hunts are incorporated into hunting for other reasons, and the opportunity to hunt is given to those who hunt for pleasure. In this case, the hunt is serving multiple purposes and is acceptable.
Hunting responsibly for food, agriculture, and conservation purposes are, in my opinion, both necessary and acceptable. Hunting for food in this manner is normally a quicker and less stressful end for the wild animal than many livestock animals face before they become a steak on a plate.
You will generally find that most hunters have a genuine care and love of the wildlife they hunt but also consider them a resource that needs to be managed in order to ensure their survival.
Wild meat is also a healthier and more environmentally responsible way to eat meat. As such, venison has gained popularity among more and more people as a healthier protein source than commercial livestock that are pumped full of antibiotics, fed bulking agents, and kept in unhealthy conditions.
Hunting is definitely considered an agricultural activity in most places. It is also a necessary part of conservation and wildlife management to preserve wild animals in ever-dwindling wilderness areas.
For these reasons, hunting will be a part of our culture and a necessary part of our conservation effort for the foreseeable future.
If hunting is done for the right reasons and it is managed correctly, then I feel it is an acceptable activity and a preferable method of putting food on the table than buying supermarket meat that has been farmed in unethical ways.