Sport Hunting's Impacts
The impacts of sport hunting are complex and vary depending on the socio-political and ecological context in which hunting occurs.
From an ecological perspective the impacts of sport hunting are unclear, and it is an area that needs further exploration. In brief: by placing an economic value on preserving wildlife (in particular game animals), some have argued that hunting can and has resulted in increased habitat protection and biodiversity, so long as an ecosystem approach is taken to land management.
When a habitat is managed with one particular species in mind, it can reduce habitat diversity, which can adversely affect other species and overall biodiversity. For example, red deer populations in the Scottish Highlands have been maintained at high levels to the detriment of native woodland regeneration. Grouse moorlands also highlight the dangers of focusing on one species. (Grouse moorland land-management practices have had a negative impact on hen harrier populations and increase the risk of flooding downstream.)
Grouse Moorlands, photo credit: Flickr
However, if sport hunting is well regulated and managed under the guidance of ecologists with knowledge of the game species in question, many commentators argue that it can have minimal impacts on wildlife population dynamics and the broader ecosystem. Whether this situation is realistic is questionable – especially where corruption acts as a barrier to effective management and the hunting lobby puts pressure on wildlife managers to take a species-oriented approach to conservation rather than an ecosystem approach.
Even if well managed, the long term impacts of sport hunting on the evolution of species is still poorly understood, suggesting further research is needed and a precautionary principle should be taken until then. In short, sport hunting quotas should, at the very least, be limited.
And even under a quota system, selective harvesting (used commonly by trophy hunters to target mature males with distinctive features such as antlers) may be used, which potentially may:
- Adversely affect migration routes of animals such as grizzly bears, puma and elk.
- Result in fewer mature males, and a reduced willingness of females to mate in some species.
- Lead to the death of cubs (fathered by the dead), as can occur with lions and brown bears.
- Reduce a group’s knowledge and ability to interact with other groups and animals, as has been observed in elephant populations when elders are killed.
To better understand the long term impacts of hunting, and to enforce ‘optimum’ quotas and recommend shooting targets, detailed monitoring is needed, which has a financial cost (and barrier) associated with it. Hunters also need to be willing to cooperate and change habits in order to support broader conservation goals. This is a challenging task, especially when sport hunting continues to be glamorised and trophy hunting promoted (US optics companies being no exception).
Even if the impacts of hunting could be reduced at a local level, local hunting activities may still have global impacts through sending mixed political messages. For example, what are the impacts associated with auctioning a hunt of an endangered species, such as a black rhino, on global conservation efforts?
If finances are the main argument used to justify the sport hunting industry, it seems that other less lucrative forms of wildlife management may be preferable, eco-tourism potentially being one such alternative.
Which Brands Support the Hunting Industry?
The recommended companies are highlighted.
(Click on table to enlarge)
What to buy
Recommended companies are:
- Canon Inc.
- Fujifilm Holdings Corporation
- Olympus Corporation
- KenkoTokina Co
- Viking Optical (RSPB own brand)
These were the only companies covered that could not be directly linked with the sport hunting industry.
Ethical consumers who hold animal rights’ issues close to heart should avoid: Nikon, Bushnell, Vortex, Meopta, Minox, Leica, Steiner, Burris, Swarovski, Leupold, Vanguard, Zeiss, Hawke, Bresser, Explore Scientific, National Geographic, Acuter, Barr and Stroud, Barska, Vision King, Bosma and Alpen.
You may also want to avoid the following companies as they mention that their binoculars and spotting scopes are also great for use when hunting (although they do not make hunting accessories specifically): Celestron, Opticron, Kowa, Pentax, Visionary, Carson and Eschenbach.
If environmental issues guide your purchasing choices, then you may wish to avoid companies that glamorise trophy hunting particularly of animals such as lions and bears where the potential negative impacts of selective hunting have started to be evidenced. These include Alpen, Steiner, Swarovski, Burris, Bresser, National Geographic, Zeiss, Leica, Minox, Vanguard and Vortex optics.
If you’re going to change what you buy because of this report, remember to tell the company about it and let them know why!
Read the full report now: Shooting Wildlife? Who makes your binoculars, cameras and spotting scopes?