Outdoor sports bring many benefits to Indiana wildlife

To the editor:

Lack of suitable wildlife habitat, not hunting, causes scarcity of wildlife. Indiana’s monoculture of corn, soybeans and dense hardwood forests do not provide the diverse resources and clean water wild animals need for denning, nesting and feeding.

Higher crop and land prices create incentives to drain wetlands and cut brushy fence lines and woodlots that would otherwise provide wildlife habitat.

Despite these challenges, over the past 100 years, Indiana’s wildlife has been much improved by the efforts of sportsmen, conservationists and natural resource management agencies. The efforts of sportsmen and state agencies have produced the recovery of beaver, otter, whitetail deer and bobcat populations.

Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources employs botanists, as well as fisheries, wildlife and furbearer biologists who monitor our wildlife and habitat. They use scientific methods to support Indiana’s wildlife by setting seasons and bag limits. By allowing the collection of nature’s abundance of wildlife, state biologists can manage the limited available habitat to ensure healthy wildlife populations.

Reducing the natural annual surplus of animals provides better access to food and habitat for the animals that remain, thereby leading to a healthier population, less disease, less stress and better reproduction rates. Hunting, trapping and fishing are important tools used by professional biologists to help Indiana’s wildlife thrive.

The benefits of the outdoor sports are many. In a state fighting obesity and sedentary lifestyles as a public health concern, hunting, trapping and fishing provide healthy outdoor recreation and exercise for hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers.

Sales of recreational hunting, trapping and fishing licenses provide tens of millions of dollars annually for habitat improvement and management of game and non-game species alike. Wild caught fish and game are a healthy, organic alternative to modern industrial food production practices.

Hunting is arguably more humane to animals than some factory meat production systems. Wild-caught fur is a renewable resource providing a valuable product not derived from petrochemicals.

Exposing our children to hunting, fishing and trapping generates understanding of and reverence for nature that is grossly lacking in today’s increasingly metropolitan society.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”

The outdoor sports of hunting, trapping and fishing, provide healthy outdoor exercise, make use of the natural bounty of land and water and provide an effective tool used for the welfare of Indiana’s wildlife. Outdoor sportsmanship is of great benefit to our society and natural world and should be promoted rather than scorned.

Jeff Tice