How Hunting Helps (WSJCANC)

Summary:

Participants will see the importance of hunting, both to wildlife biologists and as a way of life. Participants will learn that hunting is a part of nature and one of the more important tools for wildlife biologists. Hunting can be a species management tool, as seen with the white-tailed deer.

Grade Level:

4 - 8

Recommended Setting:

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Witt Stephens Junior Central Arkansas Nature Center, Little Rock

Contact:

Education Coordinator, 501-907-0636

Duration:

45 - 60 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

10 - 30

Objectives:

  • Understand the critical role hunting plays in wildlife management.
  • Recognize the historical and social importance of hunting as well as hunters’ economic contributions.
  • Recognize how hunters have restored many threatened and endangered species, including nongame species.

Key Terms*:

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC)

Amendment 75 of 1996

Carrying capacity

Central Arkansas Nature Center (CANC)

Habitat

Harvest

Hunters

Hunting license revenue

Management tool

Pittman - Robertson Act

Scientific management

White-tailed deer

Wildlife biologist

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

  • Arkansas Deer Season Summary handouts (charts and graphs)
  • Arkansas strategic deer management plan
  • Copies of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s article on urban hunts
  • Power Point: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) wildlife biologists collecting data from white-tailed deer
  • The Hunter in Conservation booklet
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey on hunting’s economic value to Arkansas
  • Wildlife Management database model on deer populations

Background:

AGFC estimated that only 500 white-tailed deer remained in Arkansas in 1930. Several animal species in the United States were extinct by that time and more were endangered. Decades of overharvest converged with the Great Depression, higher human population and wildlife habitat destruction to cause this crisis. Fortunately, true hunters stepped forward to lead the conservation movement that continues today. Thanks to the foresight of those hunters, wildlife populations have reached record levels across the country. There are around one million white-tailed deer in Arkansas now, for example. Hunters and anglers began America’s first environmental movement, lobbying for self-imposed fees and regulations to fund fish and wildlife restoration. Hunters have paid some $20 billion for conservation through excise taxes, licenses and permits that benefit all species of fish and wildlife, not simply game or sport species.

Procedure:

  1. Introduce yourself and the CANC. Explain that it is owned and operated by AGFC and showcases the agency’s mission. Also tell how Amendment 75 of 1996 funds paid for the facility and allow free admission.
  2. Ask participants’ impression of the white-tailed deer population in their area. Does the population seem low, moderate or high? Where do they get their impressions? Ask how many of them deer hunt and describe how hunters worked with AGFC to bring the white-tailed deer population from about 500 in 1930 to more than one million today. Stress the role that hunters play in wildlife conservation.
  3. Give a brief history and biology of white-tailed deer in Arkansas. Distribute the handouts from the Arkansas deer season summary. Emphasize the historical harvest statistics and reinforce that hunters combined with AGFC to restore the population. Explain that U.S. hunters lobbied Congress to enact the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937 to impose a 10 percent excise tax on purchases of firearms and ammunition (since amended to include archery items). This was a financial sacrifice in the midst of the Great Depression, but it benefitted all species of wildlife, not merely game species.Today’s wildlife owe their existence to hunters who have funded wildlife conservation through this legislation. Share the latest U.S. Fish and Wildlife statistics on the Pittman-Robertson funds and economic impact of hunting in Arkansas.
  4. Show the Power Point presentation on white-tailed deer management. Point out the scientific management used by AGFC wildlife biologists and how decisions are based on evidence from the deer herd.
  5. Use the deer database model from Wildlife Management so participants can project deer populations from several variables.
  6. Discuss limiting factors and the role of hunting in wildlife management, including urban archery hunts. Discuss possible deer/human conflicts along with automobile collisions, crop damage and urban deer conflicts. Distribute copies of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article on urban hunting in Cherokee Village, and ask participants for solutions to deer management issues. Summarize the pros and cons of their ideas, and bring up any ideas they omitted. Point out that hunting is the primary means of remedying deer/human conflicts.
  7. Optional: Present Oh, Deer! from Project WILD and have them create a fluctuation graph at the end.
  8. Optional: Continue Oh, Deer! by changing limiting factors and habitat scenarios. Participants should create additional population graphs.

Modifications:

  • Use the historical harvest statistics that show dramatic increases in population numbers to create math lessons.
  • Have participants write reports on how hunting is necessary for scientific wildlife management. Participants should contrast the populations of the past with today’s and report on how hunting contributes to management for all wildlife species, not just game animals. They should also reason why management principles must be based on documented scientific facts, not opinions. Provide additional resources including articles from Arkansas Wildlife magazine such as “March Snowstorms” on snow geese from March/April 2008.
  • Research the history of the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and write reports on how it has funded wildlife restoration and research. Participants should note that hunters pay the excise tax on firearm and archery purchases, but it benefits all people and wildlife, not just hunters and game species. More information is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at: www.fws.gov/southeast/federalaid/pittmanrobertson.html.
  • The above can be included in a post-visit teacher packet.

Review:

  • What is the major reason animals become extinct? (habitat loss)
  • How are hunting license revenues and sales of hunting gear and ammunition used to restore and manage wildlife populations? (Money is returned to state wildlife agencies for wildlife management and land purchases.)
  • Which group of people is largely responsible for the success of wildlife management in the United States? (hunters) Why? (They are active in population control by hunting, take part in management decisions by wildlife agencies and fund the work through hunting license purchases and hunting equipment excise taxes.)
  • Do bag limits and season dates manage wildlife or people? (both) Which is most important to manage? (both) Which is easier to manage? (wildlife)
  • How would you respond to someone who thinks hunting should be outlawed? What would you say and why? Is it better to make decisions on correct information or feelings and emotions? Why?

Glossary:

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) – the state agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife populations

Carrying capacity – the amount of wildlife a given area of land can sustain; varies with amount of food, water and shelter available

Habitat – living place for wild animals that includes available food, water and space

Harvest – to take wildlife during legal hunting or trapping seasons; wildlife biologists incorporate game and furbearer harvest forecasts into population management strategies

Hunters – sportsmen who pursue game species during legal hunting season, thereby providing population control and funds for all wildlife management work through hunting license purchases and hunting equipment excise taxes

Hunting license revenue – funds generated from hunting license sales that support wildlife management work for all species

Management tool – a method used by wildlife biologists to reach a goal in a species management plan

Pittman–Robertson Act – federal legislation enacted in 1937 at the request of hunters that collects a 10% excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment to fund management work that benefits all wildlife species
 
Scientific management – the practice of researching and applying professional, biological standards to ensure wildlife species remain at healthy levels balanced with available habitat

White-tailed deer – the most popular big-game species in Arkansas that has rebounded from a low of around 500 specimens in 1930 to about one million now due to AGFC management practices and valuable contributions from hunters

Wildlife biologist – a scientist who studies and manages wild animals