Hunters are conservationists

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Editors,

As a hunter and a wildlife biology grad student, I found Beth Mendenhall’s March 8 column, “Reasons for hunting not justified,” not only offensive, but downright wrong. Unless you are a hardcore vegan, the suffering imposed on animals by eating purchased meat is higher than the suffering of a deer that lived a free life in the wild and was shot by a hunter. I know not a single hunter that likes to see animals suffer and, believe me, I know a lot.

In the past three years, I have not purchased beef, pork or chicken from a store or market. In that same span of time, I have shot two deer. How many animals does the average American kill per year, indirectly, by purchasing meat? I’d bet a million dollars it’s more than two. How much environmental damage is caused each year by the livestock industry? Hunting deer for food is better for the environment and better for animal welfare.

Hunters are conservationists. The Pittman-Robertson Act imposes an 11 percent tax on hunting-related items, such as guns and ammunition. This tax money is used by state wildlife agencies for research and conservation efforts. In fact, my study on grassland songbirds is funded by this PR tax, so the money isn’t just used for game species. This is what I meant when I said that “hunters are conservationists”. Each year they contribute millions of dollars for wildlife conservation.

I’m a heterosexual female. I’m not attempting to reassure myself of my own masculinity by hunting. But according to Mendenhall, we hunters are just a bunch of bloodthirsty male rednecks shooting anything that comes our way and laughing as animals die.

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