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Something to Think About

Like a lot of you I remember when wildlife management was viewed much differently than it is today. Wildlife management meant planting a specific food source for a specific type of wildlife. Wildlife management also meant containing and controlling an animal’s habitat. Farms providing both food and habitat provided sport and food at the appropriate time periods.

Wildlife management means controlling the number of both wanted and unwanted animals within the habitat. Control measures generally consisted of either or both hunting and trapping. Unfortunately there was an era when both hunting and trapping came under attack. Laws were created to regulate and restrict some valuable management practices.

Today things are changing. People who once questioned hunting and trapping are seeing the importance of these practices. Communities nationwide are learning that wildlife management is a complex science – a science that in 2002 resulted in state and federal wildlife management agencies receiving $847 million via hunting and trapping licenses and excise taxes. Hunters and trappers also contributed another estimated $5.2 billion to local economies just for travel related items such as hotels and restaurants. It is these 

revenues that are used to fund wildlife management programs throughout the nation.

Wildlife managers say budgets could not be increased enough to recoup the loss of hunting and trapping as management tools. State and local taxes would have to be raised significantly to cover the loss of revenue provided by the hunter and trapper. So view how losing hunting and trapping could affect us.


According to national statistics in 2001, deer-automobile accidents result in over $1 billion annually. If we should lose hunting and trapping, an additional 50,000 injuries per year would result from wildlife-auto collisions. This would result in $3.8 billion in auto repair after such collisions. In addition, reports show an estimated 200 lives are lost annually to animal related accidents.


People living in our nation’s suburban and urban regions generally do not think of problems faced by the farmer. These people never think how negative impacts to farmers directly affect prices paid by everyone.

In 2001, the USDA estimated, based on 12,000 agriculture producers, wildlife destroyed $619 million in field crops. Losses to livestock and poultry totaled $178 million. Producers of vegetables, fruits and nuts within this margin received loss of $146 million. When we add these figures, we see an economic loss of $944 million.

State wildlife agencies estimate if the loss of hunting and trapping should occur, wildlife damage to agricultural would increase on average by 221 percent. This increase would occur during the course of a few years. Therefore, based on this increase, we would find the loss reaching over $3 billion. This loss could put many marginal producers out of business.


According to research conducted by the Utah State University during the mid-1990s, metropolitan households nationally incurred over $4 billion dollars in wildlife related damages. In most instances, these damages occurred in suburban and urban neighborhoods.

Findings state almost half the homes incurring damage spent an average of $38 in often unsuccessful attempts to ameliorate the problem. Often as not, the damage was being created by a non-game status animal such as woodpeckers that could not be legally harmed. Therefore, the homeowner is suddenly faced with a dilemma. The culprit must be halted without harming it. In most situations like this, the use of a live trap is applied and the culprit is relocated. However, if hunting and trapping does not exist as a management tool, what then? How is a homeowner going to protect his or her home from unwanted guests? Speaking of unwanted guests, many people are discovering their homelands are being greatly affected by one, the beaver.

The beaver is a natural engineer and its numbers are growing. Beaver populations are healthy and well established across North America.

State wildlife agencies are also discovering as beaver populations increase so does the number of complaints from farmers, home-owners, and communities – all of which report some degree of economic loss due to the beaver.

Beaver damage to roads has become a widespread problem through much of the nation. When beavers occupy roadside areas they often plug culverts or construct dams that can result in flooding the road. Beavers also cause millions of dollars in other types of infrastructure such as dams, water drainage systems and railroad lines.

Southerners are finding the beaver is the primary critter that causes an estimated $1.1 billion loss annually to the southern economy. This is due to not only flooding hundreds of thousands of acres but also gnawing on valuable commercial and residential trees.

Homeowner pocketbooks are being affected not only by the beaver cutting trees, but also by stopping up sewer systems. This in turn can result in flooding cellars, basements and driveways. Trapping has proven the most effective means as a management tool for beaver control. According to Alabama Department of Conservation the beaver is winning the population growth race compared to deer and bear. Beaver populations have increased by 10 percent over the past five years. Wonder what the numbers will be three or four years from 

now. What will these numbers cost the consumer? What will the consumer pay annually if we lose the right to hunt and trap? Just think about it and check out www.predatorand preymag.com for more information.

Bill Bynum is one of the first people in the eastern U.S. to become serious about predator calling. He has written extensive articles and has published a book, "Predator Hunting," on the subject.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006