Simply put, hunters are not afraid to put their money where their heart is. Hunters also contribute over $300 million in additional funding to wildlife conservation every year, through such organizations as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
That’s a lot of bucks, a term originating from times when the hide of a male deer was worth one dollar. In fact, market hunting was nearly responsible for the extinction of the species, as the estimated US population of whitetail deer dropped to less than a half million animals in the early 1900’s.
In addition to the conservation funding they provide, hunter’s donations supplied over 11 million meals to the less fortunate last year, when nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made its way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens and onto the plates of those in need.
Today, due to conservation efforts, the nation’s whitetail population consists of nearly 32 million animals. Unfortunately, a vast majority of the traditional predators have been removed from the equation, and the natural balance of prey to predators has been dramatically skewed, in favor of the deer.
The unnatural imbalance has created some unique problems, especially on the highways and in certain suburban areas. Absent the control that predators and hunters provide, deer populations can double every year.
Two does, left alone can produce up to 35 deer in just 7 years, and 25 pairs can become a herd of more than 2000 in a decade if no animals are removed.
According to insurance industry statistics, deer-vehicle collusions are responsible for an estimated 200 human fatalities, 29,000 injuries and over $1.1 billion in property damage annually.
As a nuisance animal, whitetail deer destroy millions of dollars worth of crops annually. Yet even more disturbing is the fact that one out of every twenty deer will be involved in a collision with a vehicle. I never considered the danger that deer pose, until I studied statistics, which indicate they are undeniably, the deadliest animals on earth.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org