How much venison do hunters harvest? Every year, some 40 million citizens in the United States and Canada take to the fields, mountains, forests, streams, and lakes, returning with a harvest of wildlife and fish to feed their families and share with friends. Just how much of this natural, organic food do these two nations provide annually? How valuable is it to our societies? At this point, no one really knows.
The Dallas Safari Club is funding a research project and partnering with Conservation Visions, Inc. to begin a five-year initiative to answer this, which is scheduled to begin this year. This study will measure the actual amounts of venison and other wild protein harvested annually in North America. Researchers will assess the nutritional, cultural, and economic values of this harvest, as well as the ecological costs of replacing this food through standard agriculture and domestic livestock production.
DSC is the founding sponsor of the project, pledging $200,000 over the next two years. DSC officials hope other sponsors will come aboard to help advance the study.
“This research isn’t just fascinating. It’s critical to help modern society understand the full scale of hunting on this continent, and of the natural, organic, sustainable food that today’s hunters provide for their families,” said Ben Carter, DSC executive director. “Additionally, this research will help all of us understand the hidden costs when hunting traditions are eroded – or attacked.”
The study, named “Wild Harvest Initiative,” will be conducted under the direction of research biologist Shane Mahoney, founder and CEO of Conservation Visions, Inc. With 40 million citizens in the U.S. and Canada harvesting protein sustainably from natural sources, this study will show just how much wild protein the two nations provide annually, and its real value to our society.
“The harvest and consumption of wildlife has been an integral part of the human story throughout the entirety of our existence. Agricultural and technological progress have certainly altered our direct dependence and engagement in this process, but in many regions of the world, including the U.S. and Canada, human populations continue to rely on wild harvest for a significant part of their diet,” Mahoney said. “We’ve known for well over a century that conservation of the world’s ecosystems is critical to human well being and that the sustainable use of wild resources brings enormous and unique benefits to human beings everywhere.”
Harvest research will enable better understanding of the economic effects of resource management approaches, validate policy and governance structures, and empower best practices for providing sustainable use of wild protein to as many people as possible.
Conservation Visions Inc. (conservationvisions.com) is a private company and global wildlife initiative focused on providing a broad scope of comprehensive services to the international conservation community, and works closely with partners and clients to generate new ideas, achieve goals, and build coalitions designed to advance conservation and the idea of stewardship in the 21st century. An independent organization since 1982, the Dallas Safari Club (biggame.org) has become an international leader in conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters worldwide.
Read more in our August 2015 issue.