Based on estimates by the US Fishery and Wildlife Services, there are approximately 50,000 non-native species in the United States today. When humanity spread throughout the globe, so too did several other species. These plants and animals either intentionally migrated or hitched a ride with some of their human counterparts to become inhabitants of new environments around the world. While adding new species to an environment sounds positive, invasive species usually displace native ones. Since they’re the new kid on the block, invasive species tend to lack a natural predator in their new homes; therefore, they destroy habitats and kill off the animals that once lived there. However, hunters and fishermen can help to preserve the environment. Hunting creates a solution to ecosystem invasion and can help save communities from these unwanted invaders.
The White-Tailed Collaborators
Deer are the icons of hunting and it’s definitely for the betterment of environments. The white-tailed deer is a species native to the Americas. However, they work as allies of invasive plant species. These deer prefer to eat native species over non-native plants and therefore allow the foreign plants to dominate. This reduces plant diversity in many areas of the United States and creates a weaker environment. For many states, the solution to prevent this foreign invasion is to regulate the deer populations through hunting or fencing off native plants. This is why there are many designated deer seasons across the country that are used to maintain the deer population to a healthy number. When hunters set up their hunting gear and take aim, they’re working to help maintain the natural order and preserve the area’s delicate ecosystem.
The Growing Lionfish Empire
An invasive species that has been receiving a lot of attention lately is the lionfish. Although lionfish are a popular animal at aquariums, the lionfish are only native to the Indo-Pacific region. However, since the 1989s, these fish have made their way to Florida and are booming in the oceans by the United States. The lionfish are particularly disastrous to marine ecosystems as they prey on many of the native fish and have almost zero predators in the Florida waters. Since they prey on herbivorous fish, the lionfish also allows the algal populations to go unchecked and affect current stocks of commercial fish. Therefore, in 2014, a conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute met in Barbados met to discuss solutions. They decided to promote the price of lionfish in fisheries and food markets, to entice more fishermen to catch this invasive species. By fishing the predators, fishermen are actually preserving the environment and creating a healthy ecosystem off the Florida coast.
The Hogs Are Running Rampant
Sus scrofa is a hybrid of the wild pigs brought to America by early settlers and Eurasian wild boars in the 1900s for sport. Currently, there are estimated to be five to six million of these invaders across at least 35 states in the U.S. Recently, they have even begun to spread to Canada, further increasing their hold. Although these hogs hitched a ride with the settlers, they have become detrimental to the environment and the area’s economy. Due to their heavy appetite, these hogs cost the U.S an estimated $1.5 million a year and provide massive amounts of damage to precious ecosystems. To combat their invasion, states are now establishing long hunting seasons for these animals. They’re even hiring professional hunters to target the animals and are offering rewards for every pig that is taken down.
Hunting is a popular pastime that can actually help preserve and protect Mother Nature. When hunters and fishermen work together to eliminate invasive species, they re-establish the natural order and help protect the environment for years to come.