Hunting for the Controversy
You can help students deepen their understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of hunting animals with these lessons and activities.
By Lynsey Peterson
The hunting and killing of other animals for human use has been practiced as long as our species has been on the planet. Teaching about hunting, however, is not straightforward. Some students are very sensitive to the ethical implications of hunting and find the subject troubling. You can use the controversial nature of the topic to your advantage, since you will undoubtedly have your students’ attention, whatever their view.
There are definitely troublesome problems associated with hunting. Unregulated hunting has a history of decimating wildlife populations. Some examples include the extinctions of the Great Auk, Atlas Bear, and Passenger Pigeon. Even today, poaching is a cause of extinction, though habitat destruction and introduced species are even greater problems.
Regulated hunting has a better track record. The survival and large population increases of sport game such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and elk are a direct result of management plans that include hunting seasons and limits. Hunting and fishing regulation provides revenues and popular support for ecosystem and wildlife protections. Plus, eating meat from a game animal that has had a healthy life and quick death could be considered more humane than eating meat of animals raised in many factory farm conditions. There is still ample controversy surrounding regulated hunting, since sometimes the science is sidelined by other interests. The hunting of predators and threatened species is still occurring and causing issues today.
I teach the science and controversy related to hunting as part of a wildlife management unit in Conservation Biology. Students research wildlife management of various game species and the extinctions that have occurred due to unregulated hunting. We debate the advantages and disadvantages of hunting. Students also learn about the role of predators through research and class simulations. Students can play “Oh, Deer” or other simulations to show the population dynamics of a wildlife species. You can try adding predators to the simulation or use these other lesson plan ideas to increase students’ understanding of hunting and wildlife management.
Hunting and Wildlife Management:
Students, in groups, view video clips, conduct research and develop presentations on the Atlantic Seal Hunt. They explore their own feelings and discuss the subject's controversial nature.
Students examine the effects of various management strategies on the size of wildlife populations. Each student simulates the management of an animal population in a card game, graphs the results of the wildlife game, and participates in a class discussion of the game results.
Students do research on human population growth and land use practices as they relate to the environment and wildlife of regions in this science lesson for the high school classroom. The lesson includes resource links and emphasizes independent and group research.
Students estimate the deer population in a given area over a five-year period. They suggest possible management tools to prevent overpopulation. They discuss the PA Game Commission's management procedure in which not only buck but also doe must be harvested.