Hunting used to be a sport when animals of all shapes and sizes were abundant. Hunting used to be necessary when food was scares. However, the current situation is quite different. Hunting is illegal but it is still done in various parts of Sri Lanka and the world.

Most hunters don’t feel guilty even after they hunt an endangered species. They will however, try and convince you of certain myths that they claim to be facts. This week’s FYI will debunk these myths with the help of solely For Your Information.

MYTH: Deer need to be hunted because they are overabundant.
FACT: ‘Overabundant’ is not a scientific word, and does not indicate an overpopulation of deer. The term is used by hunters as well as state wildlife management agencies in an effort to convince the public that deer must be hunted, even though they are not biologically overpopulated and even though the deer population is kept artificially inflated.

MYTH:  Hunters paid for wild lands.
FACT: Hunters in the United States claim that they pay for wild lands, but the truth is that they pay for only a very small portion of it. About 90 per cent of the lands in our National Wildlife Refuges have always been government-owned, so no funds were required to purchase those lands. Hunters have paid for approximately three-tenths of a per cent (0.3 per cent) of the lands in our National Wildlife Refuges.
State wildlife management lands are partially funded by hunting licence sales, but also funded by monies from the states’ general budgets.

MYTH: Hunters keep the animal population in check.    
FACT: Because of the way that state wildlife agencies manage deer and elephant populations in some African countries, hunters keep the populations high. State wildlife management agencies make some or all of their money from sales of hunting licences in some countries. Many of them have mission statements that explicitly say they are to provide recreational hunting opportunities. In order to keep hunters happy and sell hunting licences, some countries artificially boost the deer and elephant population by clear-cutting forests in order to provide the edge habitat favoured by these animals and by leasing lands to farmers and requiring that the farmers grow crops that attract such animals.

MYTH: Hunting is necessary and takes the place of natural predators.
FACT: Hunters are very different from natural predators. Because technology gives hunters such an advantage, we do not see hunters targeting the small, sick and old individuals. Hunters seek out the largest, strongest individuals with the largest antlers, the longest tusks or biggest horns. This has led to evolution in reverse, where the population becomes smaller and weaker. This effect has already been observed in elephants and bighorn sheep.
Hunting also destroys natural predators. Predators like wolves and bears are routinely killed in an attempt to boost populations of prey animals such as deer, elk, moose and caribou for human hunters.

MYTH: Hunting is safe.
FACT: Hunters like to point out that hunting has a very low fatality rate for non-participants, but one thing they don’t consider is that a sport should not have a fatality rate for non-participants. While sports like football or swimming may have a higher injury rate or fatality rate for participants, football and swimming do not endanger innocent bystanders a half mile away. Only hunting endangers the entire community.

MYTH: Hunting is the solution to factory farming.
FACT: Hunters like to point out that the animals they eat had a fair chance at survival and lived a free and wild life before being killed, unlike their factory farmed counterparts. This argument fails to take into consideration the pheasants and quail who are raised in captivity and then released at pre-announced times and locations just for hunters to shoot. The animals used to stock these state-owned hunting grounds have little chance of survival and were raised in captivity, just as cows, pigs and chickens are raised in pens and barns. While it is true that a wild deer lives a better life than a pig in a gestation stall, hunting cannot be the solution to factory farming because it cannot be scaled up.

The only reason hunters are able to eat wild animals on a regular basis is because only a very small percentage of the population hunts. If 300 million Americans decided to take up hunting, US wildlife would be decimated in a very short period of time. Furthermore, from an animal rights perspective, regardless of what kind of life the animals led, the killing cannot be humane or justified. The solution to factory farming is veganism.