How Hunting Helps (FLWCRNC)

Summary:

How Hunting Helps shows the importance of hunting, both to wildlife biologists and as a way of life. Hunting is a part of nature and an important management tool for wildlife biologists. The history of white-tailed deer illustrates the effectiveness of hunting as a species management tool.

Grade Level:

4 -12 (Program can be modified to suit the audience)

Recommended Setting:

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, Jonesboro

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-933-6787

Duration:

25 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

5 - 120

Special Conditions:

Must have a minimum of 25 students

Objectives:

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

Key Terms*:

Carrying capacity

Dinghell-Johnson Act

Habitat

Harvest

Hunter

Hunting license revenue

Management tool

Pittman-Robertson Act

Scientific management

White-tailed deer

Wildlife biologist

 

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

“How Hunting Helps” PowerPoint presentation

White-tailed deer hide

Background:

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission estimated that only 500 white-tailed deer remained in Arkansas in 1930. Several animal species in the United States were extinct by that period, and more were endangered. Decades of overharvest converged with the Great Depression, higher human population and wildlife habitat destruction to start this crisis. At that critical time, hunters led the conservation movement that continues today. Thanks to their foresight, wildlife populations have reached record levels across the country. For example, there are around one million white-tailed deer in Arkansas now. Hunters and anglers began America’s first environmental movement, successfully 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 those classified as game or sport species.

Procedure:

  1. Open with the “How Hunting Helps” PowerPoint presentation. Ask participants to describe 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 are hunters and transition into how hunters combined with AGFC to conserve Arkansas’ wildlife. Stress the role hunters play in wildlife conservation.
  2. Give a brief history of Arkansas wildlife. Emphasize the historical harvest statistics and reinforce that hunters worked with AGFC to restore populations. 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. (This was amended to include archery items). Not only was this a  financial sacrifice in the midst of the Great Depression, it benefited all species of wildlife and not merely game species. Be sure participants recognize that today’s wildlife populations owe their existence to hunters who have funded wildlife conservation through this legislation.
  3. Share the latest U.S. Fish and Wildlife statistics on the Pittman-Robertson funds and economic impact of hunting in Arkansas.
  4. Discuss bag limits and seasons and how wildlife biologists consider carrying capacity, birth rates, mortality rates and limiting factors to determine them. Discuss possible deer/human conflicts. Discuss automobile collisions, crop damage and urban deer conflicts. Ask participants to share solutions for deer management issues, discussing the pros and cons of their ideas or any ideas they omitted. Point out that hunting is the primary means of remedying deer/human conflicts.

 

Modifications:

  • Use the historical harvest statistics of game species to create math lessons.
  • Ask participants to write reports on why hunting is necessary for scientific wildlife management. They should contrast the declining populations of the past with today and report on how hunting helps manage wildlife species and game animals. They should also reason why management principles must be based on facts, not opinions.
  • Have participants research 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 and 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.
    Present “Oh, Deer!” from Project WILD. Have them create a fluctuation graph at the end.
    Continue “Oh, Deer!” by changing limiting factors and habitat scenarios. Participants should create additional population graphs.
    This program is suitable for many grade levels. Use age-appropriate vocabulary.

 

Review:

  • 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 is largely responsible for successful wildlife management in the United States? (hunters) Why? (They are active in population control via 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 exist to manage wildlife or people? (both) Which is more important to manage? (both) Which is easier to manage? (wildlife)
  • How would you respond to someone who thinks hunting should be outlawed? Is it better to make decisions on correct information or feelings and emotions? Why?

Resources:

Wilson, Steven N. (1998). Arkansas Wildlife: A History. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press.

 

Glossary:

Carrying capacity – amount of wildlife or fish an area of land or water can sustain which may be affected by available food, water and space

Dinghell-Johnson Act – also called the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act; provides financial assistance for state fish restoration and management projects

Habitat – an arrangement of food, water, shelter or cover, and space suitable to animals’ needs

Harvest – to take wildlife during legal hunting or trapping seasons

Hunter – sportsman who pursues game during legal hunting season, providing population control and funds for all wildlife management by paying for hunting licenses and hunting equipment excise taxes

Hunting license revenue – money from selling hunting licenses used to fund conservation-related programs

Management tool – an object, idea or method wildlife biologists use to reach a goal in a species management plan

Pittman-Robertson Act – Federal legislation of 1937 that collects a 10 percent excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment and funds wildlife management

Scientific management – applying biological standards to ensure wildlife species remain at healthy levels and are balanced with available habitat

White-tailed deer – a common North American deer, Odocoileus virginianus, having a tail with a white underside; the most popular game animal in Arkansas

Wildlife biologist – scientist who studies and manages wild animals and their habitats