Why Environmentalists Need to Hunt
After reading Sean's great piece about reasons for eating meat, it occurred to me that in many places, hunting isn't just an environmentally sound way to get meat, it's a social and environmental responsibility.
In many places certain species are so over-populated that they are an environmental blight themselves. In some parts of Connecticut, for example, I've heard that there are around 65 white tail deer per square mile. That's immense. Without moderate predation, species like deer can explode in population, and an animal as large as deer can defoliate quite a bit of brush and forest. The massive population, when faced with the effects of the defoliation, tends to develop diseases and experience mass starvation. The only responsible thing to do is respectful and conscious hunting of deer.
There are also the considerations of feeding hungry mouths. Not only does wild meat prove to be a highly nutritious way to feed people of all socio-economic backgrounds, and one that can be procured with minimal cost (as most rural poor have known for a long time), but eating from one's landbase means less dependence on and contribution to multinational corporations. It means less demand for monocropping, and more resources being preserved for those living in the Third World.
Now, this doesn't address the root cause of the overpopulation, at least not entirely. I wouldn't claim that it does. Issues of natural balance and environmental degradation also need to be addressed. But it still needs to be done to preserve the forests now, just as much as wild and feral polycrops need to be cultivated. Indeed, one can simply see this hunting as an extension of polycrops.
It would probably be more accurate to say that environmentalists need to be involved in hunting somehow. We can be involved in other ways than killing, encouraging respectful hunting culture in our communities. We don't all need to actually hunt, but can help in the preparation, butchering, etc.
The same goes for fishing. How about those invasive carp everyone is worried will make it to the Great Lakes? I hear they're not very good eating, but when the health of your entire ecosystem depends on killing them, kill them you will (I hope). I'd say we also need to catch as many rainbow trout as possible to help the brook trout, but the damned DEM people keep putting more in (idiots).
As always, observation and keeping of balance is what is needed, not dogmatic consumer lifestylism or purist moralities. Listen to what your landbase needs. Mine needs me to go hunting.