Waste Not, Want Not

Article reference: Conservation 101, July 14, 2022 – Subsistence Hunting

I found your statement on subsistence hunting very confusing, specifically the statement, “subsistence hunters treat wildlife with respect, take only what is needed, waste no part of the animal and do not damage the land.”

Having spent 10 years working with subsistence hunters in northern Alaska as a Special Agent, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, I can assure you that many subsistence hunters in Alaska do not function under those guidelines!

I have witnessed the wasteful take of ducks, geese, whales, walrus, polar bears, caribou, and Salmon by Alaskan Natives under the pretense of subsistence and have prosecuted many of the poachers! When it comes to the “subsistence hunting” of walrus, I would venture to say 75% of the harvest is for ivory not meat! Spring harvest of waterfowl is as much for sport as meat. Polar bear harvest has absolutely nothing to do with meat! It is all about killing!

Is the meat utilized by the villages? Yes, when it is retrieved! The American public has NO idea how much of their wildlife resources are being poached by natives under the disguise of “subsistence hunting”!

In a perfect world, your statement would be correct, but the situation in Alaska is far from perfect. It is a rampant problem that is still occurring today, as many state and federal wildlife managers refuse to address the issue due to political complications.

Mark Webb
Webb’s Wildlife Consultants

Yeah, right—I’ve seen the natives back in with a pickup-truck load of salmon they could not sell and dump them back into river, dead. I guess that’s what we call “no waste.”

Brent Chapman

There are bad eggs everywhere, but in my experience most subsistence hunting is very well done. I made two trips in the past 12 months with subsistence hunters, where I spent eight or nine days with two different groups of Inuit in Canada, and in both cases they were true subsistence hunters who did not waste a thing. I went on a musk ox hunt with Inuit back in the spring, and I can tell you that was the cleanest skeleton I have ever seen anywhere in the world. When they left, they took every single scrap of meat and hide; I have never seen anything like it. That was subsistence hunting in its truest form.

[Name withheld by request]

Editor’s Note: We also have seen both sides of the subsistence hunting issue. In hindsight, we should have written, “Subsistence hunters should treat wildlife with respect, take only what is needed . . . .” See also Alaska’s Hunter Education study guide.

Conservation Frontlines welcomes signed, relevant letters to the editor. Verified names may be withheld upon request. Letters chosen for publication are edited for clarity and brevity. 

Adjusting the Narrative

Article reference: What is ‘Ethical Fair-Chase Hunting’? For starters, it’s a worthy dinner-table topic

Thank you for all the great work you do at Conservation Frontlines! It is a pleasure to read the frequent publications, so comprehensive, well researched and balanced. If this had been in place 10 years ago, possibly many of the nuclear anti-hunting episodes on social media would not have happened. These, among other things, have made it so hard to make wildlife conversation, with hunting as a critical part of it, a dinner table topic. (Which–thank you, again—you also made an article topic recently.)

Many non-hunting scientists have come out of the woods lately to give a much-needed boost to the effort of adjusting and correcting the narrative of ethical hunting in the real world.

[Name withheld by request]
March 27, 2020
Vaud, Switzerland

Conservation Frontlines welcomes signed, relevant letters to the editor. Verified names may be withheld upon request. Letters chosen for publication are edited for clarity and brevity. 

Culling Deer vs. Culling Elephants

Article reference: “Deer overpopulation, meet women who hunt”—Frontline Dispatches, March 2020

I would like to pose a simple question: How come there are absolutely no comments, abuse or threats when sensible women hunters are helping deal with the explosion of deer BUT the world vilifies those who wish to do the same with the explosion of elephants in the greater Kruger Park area and in Botswana? Culling was halted many years ago due to “possible tourists refusing to visit the area” if it did not stop. (Tourism keeps half of our countries alive—we need you.)

We are now at the stage where the majority of large trees are disappearing—there are no new specimens coming up, as they are immediately eaten or pulled out 9by elephants]. It has got to the stage that we have to put up false nests for birds like the ground hornbills as there are very, very few natural large trees left in which they can nest.

I would also like to point out some basic rules of “trophy” hunting: That does not necessarily mean the biggest tusker elephant, but some of the hundreds of lesser males that need to be culled. Please also keep in mind that a very old and great tusker, once his last teeth have gone, is felled by starvation and thirst. He is then eaten alive. The vultures start on his eyes, the hyenas on his rectum and testicles, until the lions come and rip open his belly. It is a horrifying death. Would it not be better to put him down with one bullet—at great price to the hunter, the income offsetting the massive costs we are all bearing to try to save the rhino and other species?

All the meat most of you eat is farmed, culled and sold. The best males are sold or culled as necessary, as are the unproductive females. Are you all saying that as long as you can buy your meat in a supermarket, it is OK to cull? But in the wild, where the wilderness is shrinking due to overpopulation and animals are threatened by poachers, these rules should not apply?

I would dearly love all of you—who sit behind a computer or loudspeaker but who do not come and see what most of Africa is trying to do—to speak up against the half of the world that is decimating our fauna and flora before you open your mouths and criticize.

Get up and get out and call for bans on countries like China and Vietnam and others that are our greatest enemies to the environment!

Timothy Hancock (Mrs!)
March 1, 2020
South Africa

Conservation Frontlines welcomes signed, relevant letters to the editor. Verified names may be withheld upon request. Letters chosen for publication are edited for clarity and brevity.