Hunting Myths and Facts

What Hunters Don't Want You to Know

Hunter with rifle
Predrag Vuckovic / Getty Images

Hunting and wildlife management in the U.S. are heavily influenced by hunting interests, bent on perpetuating hunting and trying to persuade the public that hunting is not only necessary but noble. Sort out the hunting myths from the hunting facts.

whitetail buck
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"Overabundant" is not a scientific word and does not indicate an overpopulation of deer. The term is used by hunters as well as state wildlife management agencies in an effort to convince the public that deer must be hunted, even though they are not biologically overpopulated and even though the deer population is kept artificially inflated (See #3 below).

If the deer ever do overpopulate an area, their numbers will reduce naturally through starvation, disease and lower fertility. The strong will survive. This is true of all animals, and this is how evolution works. More »

Hunter in the nature
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Hunters in the United States claim that they pay for wild lands, but the truth is that they pay for only a very small portion of it. About 90% of the lands in our National Wildlife Refuges have always been government-owned, so no funds were required to purchase those lands. Hunters have paid for approximately three-tenths of a percent (0.3%) of the lands in our National Wildlife Refuges. State wildlife management lands are partially funded by hunting license sales but also funded by monies from the states' general budgets as well as Pittman-Robertson Act funds, which come from an excise tax on the sales of firearms and ammunition. The Pittman-Robertson funds get distributed to states and may be used for land acquisition, but these funds come mostly from non-hunters because most gun owners do not hunt. More »

Three Deer On Field Seen Through Rifle Sight In Forest
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Because of the way that state wildlife agencies manage deer, hunters keep the deer population high. State wildlife management agencies make some or all of their money from sales of hunting licenses. Many of them have mission statements that explicitly say they are to provide recreational hunting opportunities. In order to keep hunters happy and sell hunting licenses, states artificially boost the deer population by clearcutting forests in order to provide the edge habitat favored by deer and by leasing lands to farmers and requiring that the farmers grow deer-preferred crops. More »

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Hunting Reduces Lyme Disease

Deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, on a fingertip
Lauree Feldman / Getty Images

Hunting does not reduce incidents of Lyme disease, but pesticides targeting deer ticks have proven to be very effective against Lyme disease. Lyme disease is spread to humans by deer ticks, but Lyme disease comes from mice, not deer, and the ticks spread to humans mainly through mice, not deer. Neither the American Lyme Disease Foundation nor the Lyme Disease Foundation recommends hunting to prevent Lyme disease. Furthermore, even if Lyme disease were spread by deer, hunting would not reduce Lyme disease because hunting creates an incentive for state wildlife management agencies to increase the deer population (See #3 above).

Male bow hunter looking through binoculars.
Tyler Stableford / Getty Images

Hunters are very different from natural predators. Because technology gives hunters such an advantage, we do not see hunters targeting the small, sick and old individuals. Hunters seek out the largest, strongest individuals with the largest antlers or the biggest horns. This has led to an evolution in reverse, where the population becomes smaller and weaker. This effect has already been observed in elephants and bighorn sheep.

Hunting also destroys natural predators. Predators like wolves and bears are routinely killed in an attempt to boost populations of prey animals such as elk, moose, and caribou for human hunters. More »

Senior Man Hunter Ready to Shoot a Target
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Hunters like to point out that hunting has a very low fatality rate for non-participants, but one thing they don't consider is that a sport should not have a fatality rate for non-participants. While sports like football or swimming may have a higher injury rate or fatality rate for participants, football and swimming do not endanger innocent bystanders a half mile away. Only hunting endangers the entire community. More »

Man and woman hunting pheasants
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Hunters like to point out that the animals they eat had a fair chance at survival and lived a free and wild life before being killed, unlike their factory farmed counterparts. This argument fails to take into consideration the pheasants and quail who are raised in captivity and then released at pre-announced times and locations just for hunters to shoot. The animals used to stock these state-owned hunting grounds have little chance of survival and were raised in captivity, just as cows, pigs, and chickens are raised in pens and barns. While it is true that a wild deer lives a better life than a pig in a gestation stall, hunting cannot be the solution to factory farming because it cannot be scaled up. The only reason hunters are able to eat wild animals on a regular basis is because of only a very small percentage of the population hunts. If 300 million Americans decided to take up hunting, our wildlife would be decimated in a very short period of time. Furthermore, from an animal rights perspective, regardless of what kind of life the animals led, the killing cannot be humane or justified. The solution to factory farming is veganism.

Doris Lin, Esq. is an animal rights attorney and Director of Legal Affairs for the Animal Protection League of NJ. More »