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Wild Harvest Initiative (WHI)

Wild Harvest Initiative (WHI)

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Though hunting used to be a normal practice only a few centuries ago, today hunting has turned into a quite controversial subject, throwing one big question into the space – What would happen if all hunting and angling would subside in the future? What exactly would be the consequences?

Conservation Visions Inc. dared to ask this question, and in 2015 the Wild Harvest Initiative started, a 5 year long study that is to achieve a comprehensive evaluation of the economic and social advantages of wild animal harvests in North America. Commercial harvest practices will not be contributing to the study, only the non-commercial harvest of recreational hunters and anglers will be included.

The outcome will provide valuable information, as it is the first study of this kind. The most important result of the study not necessarily being the evaluation of protein that wild game meat provides for North Americans nor the nutritional value of this high-quality meat or the economic value of it; but the percentage it takes of the overall protein intake of Canada and The United States. Assuming that people’s eating behaviours would not change if all hunting and angling would stop, that percentage of the overall protein intake would have to be replaced through other means. Usually this means more livestock on more agricultural land, which in comparison to wild animals eating wild resources and living a natural life, is environmentally (and financially) way less sustainable.

In fact the creation of new large scale agricultural land often has destructive consequences for the land and water system, making wild protein harvest a more environmentally friendly food source.

Throwing a light on these consequences is the most important outcome of the study. It aims to raise the awareness of the public about these issues, hoping to demonstrate the importance of wildlife habitat and the need for the public to get more involved in the protection of wildlife and its habitat. This will not only benefit the so-called umbrella species, who are the main contributors of wild game meat including California Bighorn sheep, mountain goat and Canadian moose, but all species and populations living in that same habitat as well as the wild landscapes that form these habitats.

Awareness will be followed by a higher interest in understanding the economic effects of land management strategies, assessing which practices work and lead to the best results for wildlife and habitats and improving those that don’t. This will not only benefit wildlife but the whole public, as we all know that nature is an important factor for human well being.

On a global scale the WHI is hoping to provide a ‘good practice’ example, demonstrating the potential for the sustainable use of wildlife as a renewable high quality food source while maintaining thriving wildlife populations.

To support Shane Mahoney and Conservation Visons’ study or get more information please visit: www.conservationvisions.com.

References:

  • Wild Harvest Focus of New Initiative – Press Release June 8
  • Wild Harvest Initiative – Project Overview (June 25th)
  • Wild Harvest Initiative – Quick Facts, Biomass, Economic Valuation and Ecological Replacement
  • Costs of Wild Protein Harvest in the United States and Canada