Impact of Hunting on Wildlife and Human Health

  • Updated November 23, 2021
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Animals across the nation are being hunted and killed to be consumed, butchered, used as medicine, collected by trophy hunters, kept as pets, or traded among wildlife markets in Africa, Peruvian Amazon, China, and many other markets around the world. With this brings overhunting which is described as “any hunting activity that has an adverse impact on the total continuing population of a species” (Overhunting 1). Bushmeat hunting is also at a commercial increase because of this.

According to Deirdre S. Blanchfield a renowned author of the Environmental Encyclopedia, “Humans have always hunted wild animals for food, commonly known as bush meat (or bushmeat). However, during the 1990s, bushmeat harvesting, particularly in Africa, was transformed from a local subsistence activity into a profitable commercial enterprise” (Bush meat/market 1). In addition to this, Sagan Friant with a Ph.D. in anthropology, ecology, and epidemiology. Agrees with Blanchfield but also adds that, “Bushmeat hunting threatens biodiversity and increases the risk of zoonotic pathogen transmission”(1). These zoonotic pathogens could give you HIV, malaria, tumbu flies, flu, gonorrhea, body pain, sleeping sickness, typhoid, fever, and many other ones. Nevertheless, hunting impacts wildlife and human health.

Hunting may seem like an unharming sport to wildlife populations to many people, but Stanely Anderson a leader of the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming disagrees with this statement. According to Anderson, “State wildlife agencies attempt to regulate hunting so that the removal of animals will not decrease the population to a level at which it cannot sustain itself” (177). Anderson also adds that “hunting can alter predator-prey relationships. In the 1970s, the interrelationships of wolves, moose, caribou, and humans were studied in interior Alaska. Biologists found that mortality from severe winters, hunting, and wolf Predation was largely additive on ungulate populations” (177).

This shows how hunting can add up with many other things to affect a wildlife population dangerously to even the levels of extinction. Andersons study also ties to Wendy Francesconi’s, and her colleague’s research. Wendy Francesconi an environmental scientist and other renowned researchers conducted a study where they interviewed 230 heads of households with fifteen questions about hunting activity in the community to nine different villages in the Peruvian Amazon area. The results indicated that “estimated hunting rates suggest overharvesting of wildlife. 80% indicated that wildlife was exclusively used for food.

Most hunters collected between one and five animals per month. Yet, there were two hunters who estimated harvesting between 18 and 30 animals per month each” (Francesconi 5). These results ultimately led to the conclusion that, “ Under this forest loss/degradation wildlife decline treadmill pattern, hunting could further exacerbate the deterioration of remaining wildlife populations, resulting in the so-called ‘empty forest’” (Francesconi 7). This leads to the lower availability of animals to hunt which in turn leads to hunters traveling further so they spend more time looking for game to kill. This further highlights the fact that hunting impacts the population of wildlife.

Equally important, bushmeat hunting has an adverse impact on wildlife. Bushmeat hunting (which is illegal) is the killing of endangered species such as chimpanzees, gorillas, pandas, elephants, wild boar, crocodiles, porcupines, and many other megafauna and creatures are endangered and are all killed for bushmeat. According to Blanchfield, “Overhunting and illegal poaching also threaten many large cat species, because the economic incentive to poach these animals far outweighs the risks of being caught and fined. For example, a Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris) fur coat sells for more than $100,000” (1). With prices nearing $100,000, hunters can’t resist seeking for this bushmeat. With these hefty amounts of money and easy access to animals through bushmeat hunting there comes a price of catching a zoonotic disease. A zoonotic disease is spread between animals and people.

The animals can be alive or fresh dead and can contain over 36 significant zoonotic pathogens including HIV, malaria, tumbu flies, flu, gonorrhea, body pain, sleeping sickness, typhoid, fever, rash and many more. In a study conducted by Sagan Friant who has a Ph.D. in integrates anthropology, ecology and epidemiology, and other renowned researchers, they interviewed “five rural hunting communities near the Oban Division of Cross River National Park in Cross River State, Nigeria”(3). They interviewed 327 participants between August and December in 2012. They had a four-part questionnaire to obtain basic demographic information, information on exposure to animals, and views on the zoonotic risk.

The initial results indicated that, “Participants described 21 diseases that they believed came from wild animals: HIV (55%), cough (11%), malaria (5%), poison (5%), tumbu flies (Cordylobia anthropophaga, a parasitic fly; 4%), flu, gonorrhea, body pain, sleeping sickness (2% each)” (Friant 9). In addition to this Friant also says that “wild animals believed to be responsible to zoonotic infections included: monkey (55%), python (12%), red-river hog (10%), chimpanzee (7%), leopard (5%) and duiker (4%)” (9). This extensively explains the link between bushmeat hunting and zoonotic disease risk through bushmeat hunting.

Although many researchers agree that hunting impacts the wildlife negatively, Gerry Lynch and other researchers argue that hunting can even help a wildlife population. In a study conducted by Gerry Lynch and other researchers, Moose population dynamics were examined in 3 study areas (WMUs 346,350, and 358) where 358 was the First Nations hunting and the others were limited hunting. Survey blocks were flown in a WMU (Wildlife management units) until the confidence limits on population reached 20 % or less. Also, GPS and GIS helped with the logistics of the survey.

The results indicated that “six of 7 deaths in WMU 346 were due to being shot and 1 to predation. In WMU 350, the wilderness area, a total of 11 radio-collared moose died during the study. In WMU 358, where hunting by First Nations’ hunters was common, 21 of 44 cow moose died. Ninety-five percent of those that died were shot (20)” (Lycnh 28). This concluded to the fact that, “Numbers in WMU 358 actually suggested a trend toward increasing, not decreasing moose numbers. Moose densities in WMU 358 sustained themselves at 50-75 % higher levels compared to the other 2 study areas.”(30).

This shows how hunting impacts a wildlife population positively and can incease wildlife population levels. In a survey conducted by Elizabeth Byrd and colleagues were 825 U.S. residents in an online questionnaire were surveyed about their views of hunting, hunters, and hunting practices. The study showed that “respondents who were 45 or more years old were more likely to agree that hunting helps control wildlife diseases, reduces agricultural damage, reduces vehicle collisions, and every hunter should have taken a hunters’ safety course”(4). This was ultimately 51% of those age 45 and over that agreed with the statement ‘hunting helps keep nature in balance’. This extensive research confirmed the theory that hunting helps keep nature in balance.

After analyzing how hunting can impact a wildlife population negatively through overhunting, how bushmeat hunting can lead to zoonotic pathogens through the spread of animals, and how hunting can help out a wildlife population, it is obvious that even though Animals will be hunted across the nation, hunting can impact the wildlife and human health.

Cite this paper

Impact of Hunting on Wildlife and Human Health. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/impact-of-hunting-on-wildlife-and-human-health/

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