The killing of wild animals for food used to be a part of everyday life.
Today, hunting is a controversial issue because it is frequently regarded as
a recreational activity, residents are concerned about safety issues, and
society’s attitudes towards animals are changing. At the heart of the
hunting debate in the United States is one species: white-tailed deer.
In many areas of the United States, white-tailed deer flourish because of
the lack of natural predators and the abundance of deer-friendly habitat. As
pockets of green space shrink and
disappear in our suburbs, the species has become the center of the debate
over hunting, and many who consider themselves neither hunters nor animal
activists find themselves drawn into the debate. The debate centers on
practical and ethical issues including deer management, human/deer
conflicts, non-lethal solutions and safety.
Hunting proponents argue that hunting is safe, effective, necessary, and
inexpensive to taxpayers.
The injury rate for hunting is lower than that
of some other forms of physical recreation, such as football and bicycling.
Proponents argue that hunting is an effective form of deer
management because it will remove a number of individual deer from a
population and prevent those individuals from reproducing. Since natural
deer predators have been eliminated in many areas, hunters argue that
hunting is necessary to perform the function of wolves or cougars in keeping
the deer population in check. Hunting proponents also argue that reducing
the deer population will reduce human/deer conflicts, such as car/deer
Lyme disease and landscaping damage.
sharpshooters and immunocontraception, hunting is inexpensive to taxpayers
because hunters will kill the deer for free. Also, hunting permits are sold
by state wildlife management agencies, which are partially or fully
supported by the sales of permits.
Hunters argue that killing the
deer is better than letting them starve to death.
that hunting is a tradition, a ritual or a bonding experience.
ethics, hunting proponents argue that killing a deer for food cannot be
worse than killing a cow or a chicken. Furthermore, unlike the cow or the
chicken, the deer lived a free and wild life before being killed and had a
chance to escape. Hunters also argue that killing a number of deer benefits
the ecosystem as a whole. Some hunters also oppose certain practices they
consider unethical, such as baiting, canned hunting, trophy hunting, and
hunting of stocked animals.
Hunting opponents argue that hunting is unsafe,
ineffective, unnecessary and unfair to taxpayers.
out that compared to other forms of recreation, hunting injuries are far
more likely to be fatalities. Approximately 100 people die in hunting
accidents in the United States every year, and unlike other forms of
recreation, hunting endangers the entire community, and not just the willing
Opponents also argue that hunting is ineffective
for solving human/deer conflicts. Studies show that car/deer collisions
increase during hunting season because hunters frighten the deer out of the
woods and onto roads. Contrary to popular belief, hunting
does not address Lyme disease because the ticks are usually spread to
humans by mice, not deer. And as long as suburban landscaping includes
deer-preferred plants such as tulips and rhododendrons, that landscaping
will attract hungry deer, no matter how many deer there are. Opponents also
argue that hunting does not reduce the deer population because removing some
individuals from the population results in more food per deer, which leads
to the births of more twins and triplets. This also means that hunting is
unnecessary because the deer will self-regulate and give birth to fewer
fawns when food is scarce. If the deer population needs to be further
reduced, immunocontraception can be used.
Hunting is ineffective
because state wildlife management agencies
intentionally keep the deer population high, for hunters.
Lands managed for hunting are sometimes purchased and maintained with tax
dollars, even though 95% of Americans do not hunt.
also find hunting unethical on a number of grounds. From a pure animal
rights standpoint, killing any animal for food is morally objectionable,
whether that animal is a deer, a cow or a chicken. Many find hunting to be
unethical because the killing is recreational. Also, many argue that
human/deer conflicts are not the fault of the deer, but are the fault of
humans who take habitat from the deer. Some hunting opponents also believe
that modern technology has erased any chance of fairness in hunting. Certain
practices are also considered especially objectionable, such as canned
hunting, trophy hunting, baiting, and hunting of stocked animals.
The hunting debate may never be resolved. The two sides
will continue to debate safety, effectiveness and cost, but will probably
never agree on the ethics of killing wild animals for food, trophies or