Conservation of animals and their habitats are of utmost importance to conservation hunting ranchers. The entrepreneurs involved in the business contribute to these efforts in many ways. Even the people that come to conservation hunting ranches help preserve the environment. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the licenses, permits and other taxes paid by outdoorsmen across the country generate $100,000 every 30 minutes. That adds up to $1.75 billion per year! These funds help to support the national habitats outside of the privately-owned ranches as well.
Throughout the world, wildlife management is a growing concern. While some animals are overpopulating areas, other animals are being severely affected by disease, predators, and development. Animals in the wild face growing external pressures and stresses.
Animals found on conservation hunting ranches live longer and are healthier than their brethren in the wild (if there are even others of their species in the wild any more). In many cases, animals will not be hunted on conservation ranches until they are older. In the wild, that is not the case, as hunters would be unaware of the age of the animals that they come upon. Furthermore, animals on the ranch live peaceful lives. They do not need to worry about getting food or water, as that is provided by the rancher.
The perimeter fencing used on these hundreds, if not thousands of acres-wide ranches helps to protect the animals from several threats. Predators cannot attack the animals. No one can build on their habitat, because it is owned by a conservation rancher. If there is a disease outbreak, conservation hunting ranches are better equipped to control it because of the wildlife management practices and regular testing.
Endangered species recovery
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums started a breeding program in the 1970s in order to maintain the genetic diversity of African antelope called the scimitar-horned oryx. The oryx, along with the addax and the dama gazelle, are now extinct or nearly extinct in the wild. However, their numbers are thriving in America thanks to conservation ranches.
The numbers don’t lie. The scimitar-horned oryx population increased from 32 animals in 1979 to more than 11,000 today. The Addax population increased from 2 animals in 1971 to more than 5,000. Dama gazelles have increased from nine animals in 1979 to close to 1,000 today.
How does it work? Ranchers provide an environment for the animals to grow their populations. In order to fund the effort, every year ranches allow a small percentage of the population to be hunted. In this way, hunting helps conserve the species.
If you want to learn more, you can watch the following 60 Minutes report on how conservation hunting has brought a species back from the brink of extinction in Texas.
The conservation that takes place on ranches helps maintain the ecosystems of ranches’ home regions. Conservation ranches are not just about the animals; the land also benefits from the sweat and hard work of the ranchers.
Conservation ranchers understand the importance of land conservation and management. Many ranchers came to own property that had been abused in the past—whether it was over-grazed or had been damaged by wildfires. In many cases, the land was victim of what scientists and social-scientists call the “tragedy of the commons.” When no one is there to tend to the land and it is all open for public consumption, individuals will only think about their own self-interest. This leads to over-use of the land.
Instead of allowing this unfortunate state of affairs to continue, conservation ranchers have developed a way to encourage sustainability in the ecosystem where the ranches are located. Rather than permitting the land to be overrun by herds of animals or improperly developed by people, ranchers have learned how to maintain the land, often working hand-in-hand with local experts from wildlife agencies in order to keep the land in pristine form for generations. Tens of thousands of acres have been preserved thanks to conservation hunting, as shown in the statistics from two Texas A&M studies on exotic animal farms and cervid farming. This concern over land use and the need to manage the environment is one of the main reasons for perimeter fences.