Should we manage wild animal populations?

Andy Haden here, MA International Journalism student at UCF. I’m helping out with the WHYS show today, and animal population control is a topic that interests me. I was wondering what the views on it from around the world are.

You may have heard that the Scottish deer population at risk because of the harsh winter. Hunters are being advised to continue to cull animals which are unlikely to survive until spring. The deer hunting industry is worth £240m to the Scottish economy, so population management is a popular method of ensuring deer populations survive.

Australia also try to control the number of kangaroos, with thousands shot each year. Kangaroos are blamed for consuming grazing land meant for  livestock, as well as contributing to a large amount of road accidents (11,000 in 2001).

Badgers in the UK are also the subject of a potential cull. The spread of TB amongst cattle is often blamed on badgers, but whether a cull would be effective is the topic of much scientific debate at the moment.

One argument for control is that since humans have killed off the majority of natural predators, such as wolves, for wild animal populations, then it is our responsibility to control the subsequent steps in the food chain. However, some do argue that hunting should not occur, not matter what the situation.

So, should we control the populations of wild animals, for both conservation, safety & farming reasons, or should we let them get on with it unmonitored?

16 Responses to “Should we manage wild animal populations?”

  1. 1 JanB
    February 25, 2010 at 13:09

    In areas that are large enough to sustain viable populations no human interference should be necessary, natural predators should be reintroduced as often as possible and smaller areas should be linked. Sometimes the hunt is necessary when populations are not viable and there are no predators to control numbers (though the question arises if large wild animals should be kept in small areas at all), but in other cases the prevention of “animal suffering” is just an excuse for hunters who really don’t care. The kangaroo for example is native to Australia (so their numbers are controlled by some sort of natural mechanism and I imagine human-introduced dingo’s will also play a part here) and the outback is a big place, this means nature will take its course and no hunting should be necessary.

  2. 2 Andrew in Australia
    February 25, 2010 at 13:52

    I know my comments are treated with contempt and humanity will always reagrd itself as the superior species, but we shouldn’t have to manage wild populations of.. let’s call them what they are.. non human animals.

    We should live side by side and afford them the respect and right to life and land as we seem to have a greedy desire for to the detriment of all other life forms on our planet.

    We should be taking a more positive and proactive approach to mananaging the human population. Sadly anyone who seriously raises this is shouted down as a crank or simply ignored. But we cannot expand across the globe unchecked, exponentially. Especially as we all require an affluent first world lifestyle.

    But the reality is that we push non humans animals into ever smaller pockets of the globe while we expand unhindered and take over precious land that other life has used for time long before we arrived. A sad reality that we “have” to “manage” while we simply go on our way consuming all in front of us as we have a privileged right to do so and do so without any thought to the consequences as long as we put our paper out with our bottles on recycle night.

  3. 3 Subhash C Mehta
    February 25, 2010 at 13:59

    What is the use of modern technology, if we cannot monitor and control/rectify the animal-species imbalances, and allow the known unhealthy and disproportionate growth of certain species; Over the eras, some flaws have definitely occurred in the ecological balances, therefore, any abnormal, unchecked and unabated growth of any dangerous/unhealthy species can cause irreparable damage to the humans’ as well as the earth’s environments.

  4. 4 James Loudermilk
    February 25, 2010 at 14:27

    I live in the country and I have deer come up in my yard and eat my plant material that has cost me several hunder dollars, if I catch one of the little farts doing it it will be his last meal. Now with that said I don’t hunt for a sport and think sport hunting is wrong. Hunting for food or defending ones life or property is another story though.

  5. 5 patti in cape coral
    February 25, 2010 at 15:37

    Having been brought up in the city, if a deer came up and ate my plants, I would be thrilled and taking pictures!

    I don’t know if we should manage wild animal populations. Everytime we (humans) try to solve a problem we create another, then we try to solve those problems and create even more. It’s hard to tell if leaving well enough alone would be any better, though. I think the real basis of the problem is that there are so many of us (humans), and we are just crowding everything else out.

    @ Andrew in Australia- I may not always agree with your comments, but definitely no contempt from me.

    • 6 James Loudermilk
      February 26, 2010 at 14:18

      Hey Patti, if I take a picture in stead of sooting them would you buy the pictures? The I will take that money and build a fence around my yard, problem solved.

      • 7 patti in cape coral
        February 26, 2010 at 14:53

        Hi James – I probably would, depending on cost, but you would need to sell to more people than me to get enough for a fence!

  6. 8 jens
    February 25, 2010 at 15:54

    i am not a hunter myself, but have no issues with hunting per se, as long as the meat and skin if possible is being used afterwards. in fact i would like to learn how to hunt, since game is a much healthier meat than “factory” raised cattle.

  7. 9 John in Salem
    February 25, 2010 at 15:58

    Badgers and kangaroos are outside my experience but deer I understand.
    The way you have framed the question is deliberately provocative and misleading – that hunting is worth so much money to them that the government is encouraging it as the means of stabilizing the population, which implies that there is a better alternative that could have been chosen but they went for the money instead.
    Allowing thousands of deer to die from starvation – which WILL happen – is grossly cruel and unacceptable. Would you prefer using poison instead? The law doesn’t permit people to simply shoot them and leave them to rot – they have to be tagged and used.
    I myself gave up hunting 40 years ago but that’s just my personal choice. The sad fact is that WE are ones who turned the natural balance upside down and it is OUR responsibility to deal with the consequences no matter how distasteful that may be to some.

  8. 10 teej
    February 25, 2010 at 18:04

    Yes, but only if we start managing
    human population levels in the same way.

  9. 11 Tracy in Portland
    February 25, 2010 at 18:51

    Human population has impacted the natural environment too greatly to leave it to nature to regulated animal populations. With the exception of isolated populations like Isle Royale in Lake Superior, we absolutely should manage animal populations. Even if that means reintroducing predators. Having said that most predators require large geographic ranges to have a stable population. In most places that is not possible. It would require large green space “gateways” connecting the larger natural preserves. And an understaning that to do that, Timmy or Fido may become a cougar’s snack.

  10. 12 fmog
    February 25, 2010 at 21:36

    No, we should manage the human one.

  11. 13 JanB
    February 26, 2010 at 09:53

    “James Loudermilk
    February 25, 2010 at 14:27

    I live in the country and I have deer come up in my yard and eat my plant material that has cost me several hunder dollars, if I catch one of the little farts doing it it will be his last meal. Now with that said I don’t hunt for a sport and think sport hunting is wrong. Hunting for food or defending ones life or property is another story though.”

    Ever thought about the fact that it may not be a good idea to start growing valuable plants in an area full of large, hungry wildlife? At least build a fence, but don’t expect nature to accommodate you, you moved to nature’s territory, not the other way around. If you want to live in/near the woods than deer will be part of the experience.

  12. 14 K.Balendra
    February 26, 2010 at 12:31

    Unfortunately the human population think that the world space belongs to them totally and the animals may share , only if there is space left over. Animals encroach into our area because we have made their area smaller by our greediness and encroachment.
    Hence it is our duty to ensure that animals are not at our mercy for their exixtence.

  13. 15 Brian Bevan
    February 26, 2010 at 17:03

    Lots of for’s and againsts?
    A difficult decision to make.
    There are certain situations when there must be some control.
    But also we need to control the humans also when they kill breeds that are under threat of extinction

  14. 16 teej
    February 26, 2010 at 19:21

    The gentleman from Africa currently talking has made an interesting point.
    In this age of widespread media, is it any longer justified to us the excuse of education to see animals in captivity?

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