Conservationists claim that hunting of animals for sports disrupts their social networks and threatens their existence. Importation of trophy animals is especially rampant in the US, and the Humane Society estimates the number to be 126,000 animals annually. Approximately 1.26 million animals were imported between 2005 and 2014. American hunters argue that the sport promotes conservation and boosts the local economy while conservationists claim it endangers species and disrupts the ecosystem. Major origin countries of trophy animals are Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Argentina, and Tanzania. Coveted animals include Snow goose, Mallard duck, Canada goose, American black bear, Impala, Common Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, and Bontebok. Lions, Buffalo, Rhinos, Leopards, Elephants, commonly referred as the big five are also highly coveted. Top animals species imported by the US from 2005 to 2014 are discussed below:
Top Animal Species Imported By The US As Trophies
The major birds imported and their numbers are Snow Goose (111,366), Mallard Duck (104,067), and Canada goose (70,585). The majority of these birds were imported from Canada. These birds provide an opportunity for waterfowl hunting done in water bodies. Hunters approach the duck or geese party with a boat and use hunting blinds to hide while employing a decoy to lead the birds to the shooting range. Rapid shooting ensues, mostly with a shotgun to shoot as many of the bird as possible before they are scared away. The birds can be prepared for consumption while parts of them are imported in the US as trophies.
American Black Bear
69,072 American Black Bears were imported in the US. The bulk of this number was imported from Canada. Canada has large populations of the American Black Bear spread over a large geographical area. Hunting American Black Bear is legal in Canada through licenses. The bears are, however, also poached illegally. The hunting of the American Black Bear is mostly done by a skilled and precise group of hunters. The methods used to lure black bears are majorly baiting, using hunting dogs. Shooting is the most common way used to kill the bear. Parts of the American Black Bear such as the hide and the head are widely used for display or as decor.
Antelopes imported in the US and their numbers are: Impala (58,423), Common Wildebeest (52,473), Greater Kudu (50,759), Gemsbok (40,664), Springbok (34,023) and Bontebok (32,771). The majority of these antelopes are hunted in the Southern part of Africa especially South Africa. Due to their enormous population, there exist several hunting grounds for legal hunting of the antelopes. Hunters use rifles or bows to impale the antelopes. The antelopes are widely consumed as meat. Parts of the antelopes especially coveted are horns, tusks, and heads used as décor or display.
Animal Welfare And Wildlife Conservation Concerns
Trophy hunting has raised environmental concerns all over the world. Wildlife experts, conservationists, and animal welfare organizations have been especially vocal about the adverse effects of trophy hunting. The significant effect is seen as the dwindling of some hunted species to near extinction. Wildlife experts point out that trophy hunters endeavor to kill the fittest of a particular species who are crucial to the species’ reproduction and hence survival. In some cases, the behavior and patterns of animals are altered as they try to avoid hunters. Loud shooting sounds have been suggested to cause disturbance and stress to animals, causing them to run away and leave young ones exposed to predators. The animal cruelty involved in hunting has been an extensive debate, especially the common occurrence where the hunter shoots an animal but does not succeed in killing it. Animals killed and not captured are crippled by prolonged pain and starvation. An increasing practice has been to conserve animals in a protected area for hunting. Wildlife experts believe that removing animals from their natural habitat alters the ecosystem as each animal has a role to play to maintain the fragile balance of the environment.