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Here’s a fascinating story in the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper about a report on the current state of Britain’s wildlife (hat tip to Terrierman.com for the find). The report has some interesting findings concerning hunting’s role in the environment.

From the story:
It has been called the “Domesday book of British wildlife” – a new publication, compiled by 40 of Britain’s leading scientists, provides a complete picture of the state of the country’s wild animals and plants. The book, called Silent Summer, makes for some grim reading. Farmland birds, brown hares, water voles and many butterflies and other insects are in decline because of changing farming practices and loss of habitat, it says

But here’s where it gets interesting…

And, controversially, the book credits field sports with helping to conserve several species, saying activities like hunting and shooting are “almost universally good” for the hunted species and many other species living in the same habitats.

The book highlights the importance of field sports to the wellbeing of wildlife. Robin Sharp, Chair Emeritus of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, says that “field sports … have been almost universally good for the hunted species and the non-hunted, non-predators that thrive in the same habitat”. Prof Sharp praises foxhunting and reveals that 86 per cent of woodland managed for hunting had vegetation cover ˆ important for other species ˆ compared with just 64 per cent in unmanaged woodland. Managed areas also had an average of four more plant species, greater plant diversity and more butterfly species than unmanaged areas. Prof Sharp also reports on a study of three areas in central England which found that all owners of land used for hunting and shooting had planted new woodland, compared with only 30 per cent of landowners who did not host hunts or shoots. “This suggests that those who hunt and / or shoot provide significant conservation benefits,” he said. Prof Sharp calls on hunters and shooters to make more effort to explain the benefits of their activities to conservationists, policy-makers and the public. “Overwhelmingly the target species for field sports have fared well over the last century … More game-keeping, game crops and habitat management would undoubtedly achieve even more.”

Ironic that in a country where many forms of hunting are banned that one of the few bright spots in a nationwide environmental assessment turns out to be…the environmental benefit of hunting!

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