Pharyngula

Hunters should be allies of conservationists—in the best situations, hunting and wildlife groups have been great advocates of preserving habitat, which is the core issue, I think, in protecting biodiversity. If they’re doing it so they can go in and blow away a few big meaty game animals, well, OK…setting aside that acreage also means a richer array of songbirds and arthropods and plants and fish and lizards and amphibians, which normally aren’t shot up, have a better chance of survival.

Sometimes, though, short-sightedness and denial and a refusal to deal with a minor inconvenience undercut that whole plan. An article on the California condors is a perfect example: the use of lead ammunition is killing the birds indirectly. Wild condors have a ten times greater concentration of lead in their blood compared to captive birds, and the source is the flurry of lead hunters are flinging into the environment.

“The condor food supply is almost completely contaminated,” says Noel Snyder, a retired biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. He adds that Hunt’s research [5.1MB PDF] shows that deer flesh is tainted after the animals are shot; this raises questions about human health as well. “When you look at these X-rays, you have to ask yourself, ‘Why would I eat deer meat?’”

In recent years, California has attempted to limit the use of lead ammunition in the condor range, but introduced legislation continues to get defeated. Kelly Sorenson of the Ventana Wildlife Society says that hunting groups and the National Rifle Association are resisting change but that lawsuits filed in July by environmental groups may force state legislators to act. Although it is costly, ammunition made from other metals is available.

Every fall, I know that lots of my students take off for opening weekend of deer season—I even consult the DNR schedule when putting together my exam calendar—and it’s nice to know now that they’re putting their brains at risk. Chronic Wasting Disease is scary enough, now it’s also a question of lead poisoning. I think I’ll avoid the venison.

Comments

  1. #1 It feels good to be a troll
    August 30, 2006

    Fundies only dream about the end times.

    Scientists make it possible.

  2. #2 It feels good to be a troll
    August 30, 2006

    Fundies only dream about the end times.

    Scientists make it possible.

  3. #3 rrt
    August 30, 2006

    I have a very limited involvement in shotgun hunting here in Illinois. I don’t know the law/regulatory landscape very well, but I do know we sometimes use non-lead shot, even if not required. Amongst the hunters I know it’s treated as a viable alternative for shotguns.

    But the article seems to be talking about big game as well, which (I assume) implies rifles and handguns, and I’m not sure non-lead bullets are as viable for those. I think the barrels would be a lot more sensitive. Of course, bowhunting is popular.

  4. #4 decrepitoldfool
    August 30, 2006

    At least it takes balls to be a bowhunter. What’s sporting about laying off at a distance with a rifle (and polluting the food range with lead at the same time?)

  5. #5 Steve_C
    August 30, 2006

    At least it knows we won’t feed it.

  6. #6 Stogoe
    August 30, 2006

    I just have to ask: how do you hunt with a handgun? It just seems impractical.

  7. #7 Ignignockt
    August 30, 2006

    Non-lead (usually copper) bullets are indeed available for pistols and rifles. In fact, they are in some ways superior in terms of their terminal expansion properties.

  8. #8 rrt
    August 30, 2006

    Wow. So, I did some “reading up” on depleted uranium munitions, wondering if it was actually a useable substitute. Apparently, it is, but is probably worse than lead. Being “depleted,” DU is a lot less radioactive, but as a heavy metal it can similarly be toxic, especially in various compounds. I knew its density made it popular for military anti-armor projectiles, but I didn’t know that it’s also “self-sharpening” and incendiary. Meep. Yet another wonderful way for tank crews to die…

  9. #9 PZ Myers
    August 30, 2006

    Yes, that was the joke. DU would be a worse choice to use than lead.

    Hmmm. Maybe I should suggest using osmium.

  10. #10 rrt
    August 30, 2006

    Really? Out of curiousity, are the bullets entirely copper? Are there any states that require these?

    Stogoe, my guess is that handguns would be (very?) roughly as effective as bows against deer. You can purchase very powerful, large-caliber handguns, and can even mount optical scopes on them. Black-powder muzzleloaders are also used, as are shotguns (generally firing slugs, I think.) I’ve never done any deer hunting myself, so if anyone has opinions on the various merits…

  11. #11 zayzayem
    August 30, 2006

    Venison still ranks the best meat in the world (next is well smoked kangaroo).

    It’s sad when sport hunters don’t realise the long term effect poor environmental behaviour can have on their own activities.

    I wouldn’t’ve thought they’d be allowed to buy lead shot at all. Don’t you let small children handle all your guns over there?

  12. #12 Owlmirror
    August 30, 2006

    A while back I was browsing through this excellent element collection site, and found this relevant information under “bismuth”:

    http://www.theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/Elements/083/index.s7.html

    These are pellets from a seven pound bottle of shot sold for “reloading”, which is the process of making your own ammunition by combining cartridge cases (new or refurbished), primer, propellant and shot. Lead shot and bullets have been banned in many areas because they poison the environment. The main substitute materials are steel, bismuth and tungsten. Bismuth is very similar to lead in density, melting point, hardness, etc, so it makes a pretty direct replacement[…]

    Unlike lead, bismuth is highly crystalline and brittle: This means that solid bullets made of bismuth shatter into dust on impact with hard surfaces, which in turn means that bismuth ammunition is sold as safer for use in urban environments or other places where ricochet would be bad.

  13. #13 Stanton
    August 30, 2006

    Though, Owlmirror, is Bismuth toxic?

  14. #14 Carlie
    August 30, 2006

    Isn’t bismuth one of the main ingredients in Pepto-Bismol? Which I will need after thinking about eating lead and prion infested deer meat.

  15. #15 Philip
    August 30, 2006

    I’m neither a hunter nor a shooter, but I wouldn’t think a tungsten bullet would be very effective for hunting. It’s used in pen nibs because it’s hard and resists deformation. I imagine it wouldn’t spread from friction like a lead bullet, so it wouldn’t crush as much tissue and therefore be less likely to quickly incapacitate an animal.

  16. #16 Damien
    August 30, 2006

    Taser. Then knife.

  17. #17 Ignignockt
    August 30, 2006

    rrt, I know of no states that require the use of copper bullets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a requirement in the near future with the concern over lead’s toxicity. Here’s a couple of links that might be of interest…

    http://www.taurususa.com/products/products-ammo.cfm
    http://www.barnesbullets.com/prodx-bullet.php

  18. #18 fwiffo
    August 30, 2006

    Bismuth, despite it’s nasty neighbors in the periodic table, is entirely non-toxic. It’s the last non-radioactive* element in the periodic table, so it’s very dense (about as dense as lead). It’s also brittle, which makes it efficient at dissipating its energy into its target (and not going anywhere else), which is good for ammunition.

    It also makes bitchin’ crystals.

    Tungsten IS very hard (mohs 7.5, which puts it between quartz and garnet, amazingly hard for a metal) but ammunition would be an alloy, which might have substantially different properties. It’s also 70% more dense than lead, which translates to “really freaking heavy”.

    * Actually, bismuth is ever so slightly radioactive. But it has a half-life of 19 quintillion years, so there’s a lot more radioactivity from the carbon-14 in your ham sandwich than there would be in tons of bismuth.

  19. #19 Phanatic
    August 30, 2006

    Speaking up as a godless secular hunter, here.

    Bullets made of a solid metal like copper aren’t practical. If you’re talking about a handgun, they’re not practical for the simple reason that they’re illegal; Federal legislation prohibits the sale of armor-piercing handgun ammunition to civilians, and hard-metal bullets qualify. In fact, the semi-mythical “Teflon-coated bullets” aren’t Teflon-coated because the Teflon helps them slip through armor vests, but to protect the barrel’s rifling from being worn down by the friction with the much harder bullet.

    Go ahead, don’t believe me. Go check 18 USC 921:

    (B) The term ‘armor piercing ammunition’ means-

    (i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

    (ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

    As a legal matter, SecTreas could declare an exception, but as a practical matter, such decisions are always left up to the BATF, and their chances of approving the sale of any such ammunition approximates zero.

    For rifles, the sale of such ammunition isn’t illegal, but still, there’s a reason lead gets used. It’s soft, so the rifling can bite into it and give the bullet spin. It’s dense, so it has good external ballistics. It’s soft (again) so it deforms on impact, expanding and generating a wider primary cavity which helps bring down game. It’s cheap, so it’s inexpensive to manufacture bullets.

    There’s really no good substitute for rifle ammunition. Bismuth shot has become an accepted substitute for *shotgun* shells, which have different design criteria as well as a much different purpose. I’m actually very surprised to see that California hasn’t already banned lead shot for bird hunting. I’m on the East Coast, and such bans at the state level are pretty common; hunters griped about having to use steel shot (much lighter, didn’t have the range or the impact), but when bismuth shells started hitting the shelves most of the griping stopped.

  20. #20 Phanatic
    August 30, 2006

    I knew its density made it popular for military anti-armor projectiles, but I didn’t know that it’s also “self-sharpening” and incendiary. Meep. Yet another wonderful way for tank crews to die…

    The self-sharpening is a fairly unique property resulting from its crystal structure, and as I understand it improves penetration against hard targets sufficiently that the various tungsten alloys of similar density aren’t *quite* as good at punching through armor.

    As for “incendiary,” that’s pretty overrated. Most metals are pyrophoric when sufficiently finely divided. Aluminum, magnesium, and so forth, but if you have mag wheels on your car and an aluminum block under the hood, you’re not going to waste time worrying that they’re going to burst into flame and melt into puddles. Uranium filings and shavings can combust spontaneously in air, but so can *iron*.

    Trust me, if you’re in the turret of a tank when an APFSDS projectile forces its way through your armor at 5000+ feet per second and commences to send thousands of shards of metal bouncing in, around, and through you at high velocity, one thing you are most certainly not going to worry about, or even have time to notice, is “Are they on fire?”

  21. #21 Stanton
    August 30, 2006

    In that case, then, “Yay for the environmentally-friendly enhanced killing qualities of bismuth!”

  22. #22 George
    August 30, 2006

    It is futile, but I am going to say it anyway:

    Shooting “big meaty game animals” for “sport” is wrong.

    Shooting “big meaty game animals” with lead shot is even more wrong, given the harm it does to the food chain.

    Arguing with hunters is pointless. The people who do it know they are killing an innocent creature when they stare down the barrel of a gun and pull the trigger. They do it anyway.

    If it’s condoned as a way of managing over-population in some areas, there are more humane ways of doing that.

    I was lucky enough to see a Califoria Condor up close not so long ago. It was beautiful to behold. It happened to be eating the remnants of someone’s “Carl’s Junior” lunch, tossed onto the side of a mountain road. An image I won’t soon forget.

  23. #23 Robster
    August 30, 2006

    As an occaisional hunter (muzzleloading rifle) and target shooter, I would like to see more options. What really bothers me are some stories my brother, Nimrod, has told me about hunting trips to S.America. His trips consisted of going to a farm with tremendous numbers of birds. He talked about shooting countless boxes of shells at the birds, with kids acting as retrievers, pointing out pigeons, as they would provide more meat than the smaller birds. If I had the time, my own lab, etc, it would have been interesting to see how much lead is showing up in the environment.

  24. #24 rrt
    August 30, 2006

    Great info, Phanatic, thanks! Of course, magnesium in cars does have some dangers, at least as it was used in the past:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Mans_1955_disaster

    http://www.ewilkins.com/wilko/lemans.htm

  25. #25 rrt
    August 30, 2006

    Absolutely, Robster:

    http://www.cordobadoves.com.ar/gallery.htm

    http://www.wildwinghunts.com/wingshoot.htm

    That first one seems to take forever to load, but take a look at the trip statistics at the top on the right.

    I’ve heard a lot of justification for these hunts, but I simply can’t get past the shock of 41,000 shells and 25,000 birds. That isn’t the only disturbing thing about these trips, but the others pale next to it.

  26. #26 Krakus
    August 30, 2006

    That conservationsists and hunting/fishing associations have the same agendas is a dillusion. Here in the ‘great white north’, we have powerful hunting/fishing lobbies, and their goals are frequently at odds with conservation. As a catch-and-release (artificial bait only, single hook-barbless) angler I briefly joined the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. After receiving their quarterly updates, I never renewed my membership. Apperently ‘conservation’ to them consists of culling ‘pest’ species (wolves, bears, cormorants, rough fish, northern pike)to improve the stocks of game animals to be shot or fished. I’m not a crzy PETA guy, my M.Sc was earned in a mouse transgenic lab, I even enjoy an occasional shore-lunch; but the hunting/fishing lobby agenda (at least here, in Canada) is short sighted and if implemented (and by the will of our new neo-Con government up hear, trying so hard to please Dubya it will be) will have disastrous consequences on biodiversity.

  27. #27 fwiffo
    August 30, 2006

    The people who do it know they are killing an innocent creature when they stare down the barrel of a gun and pull the trigger.

    Yeah, and when you eat a PB&J, you’re killing innocent furry mammals too. Little critters get mangled by the millions in crop harvesting equipment.

    I am not a hunter, and I’m probably too squeemish to be one, but unless you’re growing all your own organic food in your own little garden, there are lots of innocent creatures dying just to feed you.

  28. #28 Phanatic
    August 30, 2006

    The people who do it know they are killing an innocent creature when they stare down the barrel of a gun and pull the trigger. They do it anyway.

    Of course we do! That’s pretty much the point.

    Not the only point, of course. The getting up at 3am to go walk around in the woods freezing ass off before the sun even comes up is part of it, as is the stuffing your pockets full of hand-warmers and drinking steaming black coffee out of a thermos while the forest wakes up around you. Heck, that stuff’s more of a constant than is the actual killing of the innocent (and tasty!) animals. But yeah, absent even the potential chance at killing an innocent (and tasty!) animal, I might not bother.

    But I’m not sure whose lifestyle *doesn’t* necessitate the killing of innocent (although not necessarily tasty) animals. If there’s a farmer out there who has cleared a plot of land so he can grow vegetables for *your* self-righteous self to buy and cook up in some canola oil with a sprinkling of sea salt, animals have died, and will continue to die, to provide you with your repast. One difference between you and I is that I’m acknowledging responsibility for the innocent (and tasty!) animals that have died to feed me.

  29. #29 Numad
    August 30, 2006

    “Yeah, and when you eat a PB&J, you’re killing innocent furry mammals too. Little critters get mangled by the millions in crop harvesting equipment.”

    That has always been, and always will be, an asinine line of of argumentation.

    George was objecting about killing for “sport”. There’s an itty bitty distinction you’re missing there in your rush for equivalency.

  30. #30 xebecs
    August 30, 2006

    Can you use unobtainium bullets on a snipe hunt?

  31. #31 fwiffo
    August 30, 2006

    All of the hunters I know personally actually eat the things they kill. Any hunter who kills an animal just to leave it rot in the field or something, is obviously a dick. There are dicks in any group of people (with the possible exception of the set of people who are not dicks), and they don’t necessarily represent the group as a whole. Because of politics, the NRA, etc. probably the dicks among hunters are espescially noisy and visible, but they still don’t represent all hunters.

    If a hunter kills and eats a deer, that’s also one less head of cattle being raised and killed at a factory farm. If they do so responsibly (following safe hunting practices, using environmentally friendly shot, not killing endangered species, etc.) I don’t see why it should matter if they hunt because they enjoy it or because they prefer venison to beef.

  32. #32 Numad
    August 30, 2006

    Don’t get me wrong, fwiffo, my objection (it was out of reflex) was to the too common equivocating arguments related to this kind of issues.

    I didn’t really want to get into a whole thing here (especially considering it’s not really on topic); suffice it to say that I agree, more or less, in full with your last post.

    After all, a hunter who eats what they kill isn’t hunting only for sport. The sport element really comes second in consideration.

  33. #33 RavenT
    August 30, 2006

    All of the hunters I know personally actually eat the things they kill.

    If they’re using lead shot, they can’t possibly know how many birds they kill, since as few as 3-4 lead pellets left lying in a field or marsh can kill a trumpeter swan years later.

    The problem with trumpeter swans in the Pacific NW (including British Columbia) is a huge one, and lead is right up there with rabies in its 100% fatality–although the swan rehab people here will try to save an injured animal, they immediately euthanize a lead-poisoned one. There’s no hope for the animal; they can either euthanize it right away or prolong its suffering. Lead is a nasty way to go.

  34. #34 George
    August 30, 2006

    I am not a hunter, and I’m probably too squeemish to be one, but unless you’re growing all your own organic food in your own little garden, there are lots of innocent creatures dying just to feed you.

    I’m far from perfect, but I eat almost all organic and vegetarian these days. I hope to minimize the damage I do to the environment through my diet.

    There are always trade-offs, but I believe people should opt for consumption alternatives that translate into doing less damage to their surroundings and committing less violence against the animals that share our planet.

    There are many ways to enjoy nature that don’t involve the mindless game of sneaking up on animals and shooting them for the hell of it.

  35. #35 Xanthir
    August 30, 2006

    There are many ways to enjoy nature that don’t involve the mindless game of sneaking up on animals and shooting them for the hell of it.

    Yep. However, as a creature evolved to be an omnivore, I can safely say that sneaking up on animals and shooting them is yet another way to enjoy nature. It’s certainly not mindless, and it’s quite fun – ask any wolf (though I prefer bowhunting, because it’s more difficult).

    If you’re still arguing against sport hunting, then be my guest – as others have said, sport hunters are dicks. But killing animals to eat isn’t evil, anymore than eating a farm-bred animal is. Or, as pointed out, eating vegetables that were only obtainable through the slaughter of innocent field animals. It’s quite possible to farm without killing little critters; it’s just not sustainable if you’re trying to feed more than your family.

    Plus, it’s simply quickest to eat things which have already distilled the nutritional energy for you. We don’t use photosynthesis because killing plants is easier. We’re not exclusively herbivores because killing herbivores is easier. We’re not carnivores because mixing our diet is easier. ^_^

  36. #36 Pseudo-Buddhaodiscordo-Pastafarian
    August 30, 2006

    I have seen devestation on forests caused by deer in both europe and north america, and I know that without regulated hunting, Silver Fir, Hemlock, White Cedar and other tree species would be virtually extinct from lack of regeneration. Untill our human populations learn to cope with predators, hunting of deer is a necessity. Whats worse is certain people laying feed piles, causing highly concentrated populations, and provide the perfect conditions for transfer of CWD. And frankly, the DECREASE in deer hunting (thats right, decrease) is not helping matters any.

    Also, if the meat is butchered properly, there is no reason to avoid it. Muscle tissue is uninfected by prions, and as long as one carefully removes brain, central nervous cord and lymph nodes, there is no risk of contamination.

    Just sayin’.

  37. #37 R. A. Wilderson
    August 30, 2006

    Non-lead (usually copper) bullets are indeed available for pistols and rifles. In fact, they are in some ways superior in terms of their terminal expansion properties.

    Not quite. Solid bullets are used on big game because they don’t expand. They’re useful for taking down game where penetration is the over-riding concern in terminal ballistics. I’ve even seen tungsten bullets for use on elephants and the like.

    So, if the pleistocene megafauna were still ambling about California (and I think it reasonable to assume that condors ate a lot of bison antiquis back in the day), switching to non-lead bullets would be no big deal. With smaller game like deer, however, expansion is preferable to overpenetration, thus soft lead bullets, which expand after impact, are used.

    I think this issue will be resolved, though. Waterfowl hunters already use lead-free shotshells in most areas, and just as soon as hornady and other bullet manufacturers get more experience with bismuth, lead bullets will probably be on the way out.

  38. #38 Monson
    August 30, 2006

    Some hunters, Ducks unlimited members, are aware of the need to preserve habitat. Others, such as some in Maine are against habitat preservation by org. like Restore. Yet the hunters themselves don’t do anything.

  39. #39 Phanatic
    August 30, 2006

    Yet the hunters themselves don’t do anything.

    We don’t?

    Let me introduce you to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In addition to regulating hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania, the Game Commission also oversees 1.4 million acres of gameland, which is about 5% of the total area of the entire state.

    That’s land that isn’t going to be turned into tract housing, or gated communities. It’s not going to be plowed under for farmland. It’s not going to be torn up by mountain bikers or people riding around on ATVs or snowmobiles.

    And it’s not funded by the taxpayers, not out of the general fund. It’s funded by hunting and furtaker license sales, and a Federal excise tax on guns and ammunition.

    You know, stuff that hunters buy.

  40. #40 raindogzilla
    August 30, 2006

    There’s not much question that deer need to be hunted, if only to control their numbers. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is calling it a “sport”. Any dumbass with a rifle and the ability to be quiet up in a tree can kill a deer- trust me, I’ve done it(and hated it). Sure, bow hunting is harder but it’s still a friggin’ ambush on an unsuspecting opponent and that just isn’t sportsmanlike. Go run down a deer with nothing but your wits and a Bowie knife and I’ll call it a sport. Until then, call it what it is; fetchin’ dinner- because it ain’t that far removed from heading out to the henhouse to grab a couple fryers.

  41. #41 George
    August 30, 2006

    There’s not much question that deer need to be hunted, if only to control their numbers.

    For what it’s worth, that evil PETA sight has this to say:

    Without hunting, wouldn’t deer and other animals overpopulate and die of starvation?

    Starvation and disease are unfortunate, but they are nature’s way of ensuring that the strong survive. Natural predators help keep prey species strong by killing only the sick and weak. Hunters, on the other hand, kill any animal they come across or any animal whose head they think would look good mounted above the fireplace. Unfortunately, these animals are usually the large, healthy ones needed to keep the population strong.

    Hunting actually creates ideal conditions for overpopulation. After hunting season, the abrupt drop in population leads to less competition among survivors, resulting in a higher birth rate.

    If we were really concerned about keeping animals from starving, we would take steps to reduce their fertility rather than hunting. We would also preserve wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, and other natural predators. Ironically, many deer herds and duck populations are purposely manipulated to produce more and more animals for hunters to kill.

    http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=129

  42. #42 Keith Douglas
    August 30, 2006

    PZ Myers: I think osmium would be nasty for another reason. The chemists can correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think Os + O2 -> OsO4 happens in air pretty easily, and osmium tetroxide is pretty nasty stuff, apparently.

    xebecs: No, because as my colleagues in chem 101 and I determined (by fiat definition :)), unobtanium is the next heavier noble gas after radon. (I.e. element 118) 🙂

  43. #43 Dustin
    August 30, 2006

    Yeah, the hunters here in Colorado got a clue. Back in 2000, there was a big push by “Sportsmen for Bush”. After Bush and Cheney decided to drill the whole damn state up, the “Sportsmen for Bush” vanished altogether by the 2004 elections. I even saw some “Sportsmen for Kerry” bumper stickers around.

  44. #44 complex_field
    August 30, 2006

    George wrote:
    “If it’s condoned as a way of managing over-population in some areas, there are more humane ways of doing that.”

    Please clarify.

    Managed reproduction in the wild does not seem very practical. Getting a doe to swallow birth control pills is not as much fun as it sounds. I also do not recommend trying to show a horny buck how to use a condom (long story). And forget about teaching those pesky deer about abstinance only…

  45. #45 PZ Myers
    August 30, 2006

    I’ve used OsO4 in EM work. It’s very nasty stuff: highly toxic, and just the fumes can fix your eyeballs. We only used it in a hood, with gloves, and the utmost respect — always call it “Sir.”

  46. #46 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2006

    Bismuth, despite it’s nasty neighbors in the periodic table, is entirely non-toxic. It’s the last non-radioactive* element in the periodic table, so it’s very dense (about as dense as lead). It’s also brittle, which makes it efficient at dissipating its energy into its target (and not going anywhere else), which is good for ammunition.

    isn’t bismuth salicyclate the primary active ingredient in Pepto Bismol?

    better not be toxic.

    😉

  47. #47 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2006

    I also do not recommend trying to show a horny buck how to use a condom (long story).

    oh, no WAY do you get off that easy!

    I gotta hear that story, long or not!

  48. #48 Dr. Sartor
    August 30, 2006

    Let’s face it: there are too many hunters pursuing too few animals. The solution: let hunters hunt each other. Now, that would really be a challenging sport. Of course, such hunting would have to be properly regulated to ensure that non-consenting humans and animals don’t get killed. And bring in the TV networks for the ultimate in reality shows. The winners could consume the losers, or give the meat to food banks. So, are you man enough for Ultimate Hunting?

  49. #49 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2006

    [quote]let hunters hunt each other. [/quote]

    but the problem with that is humans taste terrible.

    or have i said too much?

  50. #50 RavenT
    August 30, 2006

    or have i said too much?

    Sounds like you’re not using enough tarragon, Ichthyic.

  51. #51 Millimeter Wave
    August 31, 2006

    Hunters, on the other hand, kill any animal they come across or any animal whose head they think would look good mounted above the fireplace.

    I call bullshit. Hunters need to get licenses for precisely what it is they want to kill, and don’t pick off whatever happens to come their way.

    I only know of a small number of hunters (a couple who hunt with rifles, and one who hunts with a bow). They hunt partly for the sport, but mostly to eat what they kill. Typically they’ll hunt one or two animals a year and fill their freezers with the meat.

    Elk. Mmmmm…

  52. #52 Anton Mates
    August 31, 2006

    Managed reproduction in the wild does not seem very practical. Getting a doe to swallow birth control pills is not as much fun as it sounds.

    It may be feasible in suburban areas, though, which tend to be the worst for sustaining massive deer populations without predators to control them. There’s a project going on in Ithaca right now:

    http://wildlifecontrol.info/chdp/default.htm

  53. #53 Ichthyic
    August 31, 2006

    Sounds like you’re not using enough tarragon, Ichthyic.

    ahh, that might be it.

    …and to think, I use tarragon on my fish all the time.

  54. #54 Ichthyic
    August 31, 2006

    Typically they’ll hunt one or two animals a year and fill their freezers with the meat.

    Elk. Mmmmm…

    ever try Mooseburgers or Moose lasagna?

    not bad, really.

  55. #55 Robster
    August 31, 2006

    When hunting deer, I certainly don’t shoot the first animal I come across. Does (often) and yearlings (always) are left alone, but since deer aren’t monogamous, taking a buck won’t hurt the population too much. And really, the PETA bunch, beyond being a PR department with lawyers, are completely useless. They don’t really come out and say what they really want. These guys do [warning, sarcasm].

  56. #56 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2006

    Uh, but we want you to hurt the deer population. They’re rural rats.

  57. #57 Krakus
    August 31, 2006

    Pseudo-Buddhaodiscordo-Pastafarian wrote:I have seen devestation on forests caused by deer in both europe and north america, and I know that without regulated hunting, Silver Fir, Hemlock, White Cedar and other tree species would be virtually extinct from lack of regeneration.

    So I suppose that for millenia prior to the arrival of humans to North America, we had unchecked numbers of ungulates dying from CWD on a completely deforested continent. Last time I checked, Ontario (and some of the north eastern US) was covered in white pine growing over 200 feet tall up until it was selectively cut last century and are now all but extirpated. It’s through anrthopgenic causes that we’ve arrived where we are, through deforestation, habitat loss, and (mis)management of species (i.e. look to the introduction of bass to western Canada and the States and to its effects on indigenous trout populations). As for Europe, they’ve clear-cut that sub-continent ten times over. Just look at England, in pre-Roman times it was covered by oak forests.

    Are deer overpopulated? Perhaps in urban areas where we’ve squeezed out predators, but certainly not in the bush. If that’s the case, why did the OFAH recommend culling wolf populations a number of years ago?

    As for conscientious hunters, of course there are many. I know some personally, and many have posted on this blog, I’ve even been out hunting once. But speaking from experience, there are many who aren’t. More than once I’ve seen a headless deer carcass in the woods, and more than once I’ve met local moose hunters (here in Canada, moose tags are applied for but distributed by lottery, so not all the applicants get to have tags) who beleive it’s their ‘God given right’ to kill a moose and will poach if they have to. How many bears are ‘accidentally’ shot because they were nuisance bears? The town near my summer cottage had a nuisance bear a couple of years ago that resulted in the shooting of up to half a dozen bears. I have difficulty believing these are isolated incidents. One can have licenses and rules and regulations, but in a province that is over one million square km (bigger than Alaska), one can’t enforce these rules adequately.Perhaps enforcement is better on your side of the border, but people are people and will break rules.

    As for the land not being torn up ATVs, I don’t know how people hunt in the south, but I seldom see a hunter setting out on foot. Usually they start into the bush along cart trails with their ATVs or their amphiboius Argos where they then trample though wetlands to get to their destination.

  58. #58 romunov
    August 31, 2006

    I always wondered how would professional hunters with bows look like.

    And DU isn’t that good for you, mmmkay, even though Pentagon insists it’s just fine and dandy.

  59. #59 Robster
    August 31, 2006

    romunov, if only I could find a picture of my other brother (who understands conservation) from back in the ’70s. He isn’t a “pro,” but is damn good. From the records kept by the W. Virginia game authorities, the bear he brought back was the largest that year shot with bow and arrow… And from the skin and head, it was one big bear. But it wasn’t the best tasting bear that I have had. That was from Colorado. Incredible when grilled.

  60. #60 Pseudo-Buddhaodiscordo-pastafarian
    August 31, 2006

    So I suppose that for millenia prior to the arrival of humans to North America, we had unchecked numbers of ungulates dying from CWD on a completely deforested continent. Last time I checked, Ontario (and some of the north eastern US) was covered in white pine growing over 200 feet tall up until it was selectively cut last century and are now all but extirpated. It’s through anrthopgenic causes that we’ve arrived where we are, through deforestation, habitat loss, and (mis)management of species (i.e. look to the introduction of bass to western Canada and the States and to its effects on indigenous trout populations). As for Europe, they’ve clear-cut that sub-continent ten times over. Just look at England, in pre-Roman times it was covered by oak forests.

    First of all, that is ridiculous statement. Before human arival, which would have been 10,000 year ago or so, predator populations were more than high enough to regulate prey species populations. As I said, until humans can learn to live with other predators, we must act as predators. Too many people forget what leopold saw and wrote about occuring in the southwest less than a century ago, when a large area had been denuded of vegitation caused by a highly concentrated deer population,caused by bad deer managment and a lack of predators. Yes, I’m one of those conservationist “pushers” who supports doe hunting, and an extended deer season, and illegalization of baiting and feeding, pushing directly against the very reasons the deer populations are so high in the first place. And this whole “don’t kill” additude, I don’t understand. You don’t get upset over wolves or other large predators; what part of “human omnivores” is missunderstood? Certainly, my choice is to use a bow, traditional style, bringing me closer to the methods other predators use. This issolation from what we eat, from our carnivorous sides, can’t be healthy. To go to the store, and pick up a steak, it completly lacks the responsibility of taking life. To say I don’t like the idea of hunting but to eat pork chops, it is lacting respect for life in the first place. And the whole vegitarian cause you don’t want to take life thing; when did members of the kingdom plantae become non-living? This lacks respect as well.

    That said, gun-toting beer drinkers in blaze orange sitting up on opening morning, judging their sucess by the number of points are just as bad.

  61. #61 Krakus
    September 1, 2006

    Pseudo-Buddhaodiscordo-pastafarian wrote:
    First of all, that is ridiculous statement. Before human arival, which would have been 10,000 year ago or so, predator populations were more than high enough to regulate prey species populations.

    Indeed, my first sentence was hyperbole. And yes you’re right, it just shows that there are too many Homo sapiens. As for living closer to the Earth, I’m all for it. Everyone should know where their food comes from and how it got to the table. I’m not against hunting, per se but I believe the hunting lobby is misrepresenting its agenda. Hunting is foremost a big business in North America. According to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, hunting generates 25 billion dollars in sales a year in the US and employs over half a million Americans. I can only guess that hunting lobbies are trying to keep their industry alive by promoting ‘species management’ and ‘conservation’. However, natural predators are an obstacle to this goal and so systematic extermination is carried out. As a result, the deer become ‘over-populated’ and need to be controlled. In 2004 in Alaska, 900 wolves were shot from helicopter in order to improve the big game numbers. As for hunters using the whole animal, I’m not so certain that after each kill airborne marksmen landed their choppers to skin and gut the lupine beasties. The OFAH recently pressured the Ontario government to scrap a proposed wolf hunting ban. Instead, the resource is now being managed with hunting seasons, licenses, etc. Previously anyone could kill wolves and coyotes at anytime of the year. The major complaint from Gord Ellis, an editor of Ontario Outdoors magazine, is that wolves shouldn’t be managed (i.e. there should be an open season) because the “moose herd is listing badly”. Perhaps less shooting of moose would allow the herd to recover and a more natural solution, i.e. permitting wolves to bring the ecology into balance would strengthen the moose herd in the long run. The hunting lobby is less interested in conservation than it is at improving hunting opportunities, aka keeping their business alive. It’s all economics. It’s people like you and I who enjoy hunting or fishing who get caught in the cross fire between legitimate conservation efforts and merely big business under the guise of conservation.

  62. #62 R. A. Wilderson
    September 29, 2006

    Back on topic, FN is offering lead-free factory loads for 5.7x28mm caliber. It’s not a deer round by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a start.

  63. #63 Jim Thomerson
    September 4, 2007

    My wife has a Menard County TX Chamber of Commerce pamplet from @ 1920. It states that there are no deer in the county. In the ’40’s and ’50’s, there were deer; not many, and killing a buck was a big deal. Today, there are deer all over the place, and leases for deer hunting are a major part of the county’s economy.

    What happened? We removed the major native predator on deer, the screwworm fly. In the 50’s ranchers in the area funded a successful sterile fly raising and release program. Before then we always had ‘wormies’ penned up for treatment.

    Fact of the matter is that whitetail are an “edge species” which thrives in a mosaic habit. Human activities have created a considerable amount of mosaic habitat, and there are no doubt many more deer in North America than there were in 1492. We have also introduced a number of tasty exotic plants to suppliment the pre-1492 bland deer diet of native plants. We have created essentially predator-free surburban and urban areas where deer thrive. They are beginning to look both ways before crossing the road, so the effectiveness of killing them with automobiles is probably going to decrease.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.