The primary purpose any discussion of conservation in the context of training new hunters is to help your participants understand the role of hunting and hunters play in wildlife management.
Remember, motivations for food-motivated participants to become involved in hunting may include:
- reducing the ecological footprint associated with meat consumption
- a desire to gather/forage food from the land in a sustainable manner
- a desire to consume only “free range” meat, particularly from an animal who has had an opportunity to live its life in a “natural state”
For additional information see: Multiple potential motivations related to food.
In addition, hunters, by reducing deer herds, can improve or maintain the biological diversity, particularly for plant communities in an area. The adverse impacts of an overabundant deer herd can have cascading effects throughout the plant and animal communities.
While hunters generally resist being considered a “tool” for conservation, they perform these functions, as well as pay for their implementation.
Depending on the group, discussing these issues may require a facilitated discussion. Providing additional resources for these topics as “homework” is also recommended.
It is also important to remember that some participants may harbor stereotypical, often negative, attitudes and beliefs about current hunters or an past aversion to firearms. As a result, discussions about the role of hunters and hunting should be open, tolerant of dissenting views, and represent hunting and hunters in the best possible light.