Hunting can also involve the elimination of vermin, as a means of pest control to prevent diseases caused by overpopulation. Hunting advocates state that hunting can be a necessary component of modern wildlife management, for example to help maintain a population of healthy animals within an environment's ecological carrying capacity when natural checks such as predators are absent. In the United States, wildlife managers are frequently part of hunting regulatory and licensing bodies, where they help to set rules on the number, manner and conditions in which game may be hunted.
The pursuit, capture and release, or capture for food of fish is called fishing, which is not commonly categorized as a form of hunting. Trapping is also usually considered a separate activity. Neither is it considered hunting to pursue animals without intent to kill them, as in wildlife photography or birdwatching. The practice of hunting for plants or mushrooms is a colloquial term for foraging or gathering.
National hunting traditions
New Zealand New Zealand has a strong hunting culture. The islands making up New Zealand originally had no land mammals apart from bats. However, once Europeans arrived game animals were introduced by acclimatisation societies to provide New Zealanders with sport and a hunting resource. Deer, pigs, goats, rabbits, Tahr and Chamois all adapted well to the New Zealand terrain and with no natural predators their population exploded. Government agencies view the animals as pests due to their effects on the natural environment and on agricultural production, but hunters view them as a resource.
New Zealand has a strong hunting culture. The islands making up New Zealand originally had no land mammals apart from bats. However, once Europeans arrived game animals were introduced by acclimatisation societies to provide New Zealanders with sport and a hunting resource. Deer, pigs, goats, rabbits, Tahr and Chamois all adapted well to the New Zealand terrain and with no natural predators their population exploded. Government agencies view the animals as pests due to their effects on the natural environment and on agricultural production, but hunters view them as a resource.
During the feudal and colonial epoch on the Indian continent, hunting was a true 'regal sport' in the numerous princely states, as many (Maha)rajas, Nawabs, as well as British officers maintained a whole corps of shikaris, who were native professional hunters. They would be headed by a master of the hunt, who might be styled Mir-shikar. Often these were recruited from the normally low-ranking local tribes because of their traditional knowledge of environment and hunting techniques. Big game, such as Bengal tigers, might be hunted from the back of an elephant.
Indian social norms are generally antagonistic to hunting, while a few sects like the Bishnoi lay special emphasis on the conservation of particular species like the antelope. India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 bans the killing of all wild animals. However, the Chief Wildlife Warden may, if he is satisfied that any wild animal from a specified list has become dangerous to human life or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, permit any person to hunt such animal. In such a case, the body of any wild animal killed or wounded becomes government property.
A safari, from a Swahili word meaning a long journey, is an overland journey (especially in Africa).
Safari as a distinctive way of hunting was popularized by US author Ernest Hemingway and president Theodore Roosevelt. A safari may consist of several days or even weeks-long journey and camping in the bush or jungle, while pursuing big game. Nowadays, it's often used to describe tours through African national parks to watch or hunt wildlife.
Hunters are usually tourists, accompanied by (licensed and highly regulated) professional hunters ("PH"), local guides, skinners and porters in more difficult terrains. A special safari type is the solo-safari where all the license acquiring, stalking, preparation and outfitting is done by the hunter himself.
Photo-safaris were popular even before the advent of ecotourism. The synonym bloodless hunt for hunting with the use of film and a still photo camera was first used by the Polish photographer W³odzimierz Puchalski.
Fox hunting is the type of hunting most closely associated with the United Kingdom. Originally a form of vermin control to protect livestock, it became a popular social activity for newly wealthy upper classes in Victorian times, and a traditional rural activity for riders and foot followers alike. Similar to fox hunting in many ways is the chasing of hare with hounds. Sight hounds such as greyhounds may be used to run down hare in coursing with scent hounds such as beagles. Other sorts of foxhounds may also be used for hunting deer or mink. Hunting deer on foot using stealth without hounds or horses is called deer stalking.
These forms of hunting have been controversial in the UK. Animal welfare supporters believe that hunting causes unnecessary suffering to foxes, horses and hounds. Proponents argue that it is culturally and perhaps economically important. Using dogs to chase wild mammals was made illegal in February 2005 by the Hunting Act 2004. The issues involved are addressed in the article fox hunting legislation.
The shooting of game birds, especially pheasants still exists in the UK, with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation saying that over a million people per year participate in shooting, although this figure includes game shooting, clay pigeon shooting and target shooting. Shooting, as opposed to traditional hunting, requires little questing for game - around 35 million birds are released onto shooting estates every year, some having been factory farmed. Shoots can be elaborate affairs with guns placed in assigned positions with assistants to help load shotguns. When in position, "beaters" move through the areas of cover swinging sticks or flags to drive the game out. Such events are often called "drives". The open season for grouse in the UK begins on August 12, the so-called Glorious Twelfth. The definition of game in the United Kingdom is governed by the Game Act 1831.
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Hunting animals is wrong
The debate about hunting in the Ecology & Place strand of openDemocracy has been mainly focused on human communities and their ways of shaping the landscape. Of course, hunting is partly about those things – but only partly. It is also about animals, and about the ways we should treat them.
Even if we agreed with Roger Scruton’s rose-tinted vision of rural harmony, and of the role played by hunting in bridging the gap between landlord and tenant, squire and farmer, haves and have-nots, this does nothing to justify hunting either then or now. And if there is a proper debate, it is surely about the justification of hunting, not about its history.
Moreover, isn’t all this stuff about class conciliation a bit skewed? The same people who argue this point – Scruton included – also talk of the Labour Party’s opposition to hunting as an expression of ‘class war’. You cannot have it both ways. Either hunting unites the classes or it divides them. It seems to me obvious that it divides them.
The animal’s point of view
Why did a debate about hunting take off in Britain? Essentially, because people have been learning to see hunting from the animal’s point of view. When, like Descartes, people believed that animals were automata, with no feelings but only a kind of invisible clockwork inside, they had no qualms about treating them in whatever way seemed enjoyable or useful.
We human beings have moved on since Descartes’ day. We know not just that we are animals, but that we belong to the same family tree as other mammals, that our physiology and bodily processes are just like theirs, and that our mental processes too are from the same general pattern.
Some people believe that animals have rights. I don’t go that far, since I recognise that rights are a kind of social construct. Rights exist only when there is also law and contract and litigation. But just because the other animals fall short of us in those respects (lucky things) it doesn’t follow that they have a lesser capacity to feel fear, pain, grief, anxiety, distress and all the other emotions that lead us to take pity on each other. You just need to look at a dog with a broken leg, or a mouse caught by a cat, to recognise the symptoms of pain, fear and panic. If you pity people then you will pity these animals too.
This is what the debate over hunting is really about. If I saw a child being pursued across a field by a pack of dogs, I would be horrified: his fear would be my fear, and his pain when caught would be my pain. This is what I feel when I see a fox in the same situation.
This doesn’t mean that I value a fox’s life as I would a child’s; rather that I am an animal with sympathies, and my sympathies go out to those who suffer. When I see the fox running for its life, I take sides against its attackers. I want to stop this cruel and unnecessary thing.
But I have no hope of doing so: it is all happening too fast, I am not an athlete, and besides I don’t know how to call off a pack of dogs. So I stop and think. I remember that this thing is happening only because some human being set it in motion. And human beings are governed by laws, and can be punished for disobeying them.
So naturally I am drawn to seek a legal solution. It would be enough to pass a law forbidding hunting, and this thing need never occur again. So that is what I decide should be done. I begin to lobby for a change in the law. And others do likewise. This is what we have been witnessing, and the process is now, at long last, coming to its rightful conclusion, and the law will, in all probability, be changed