Does Hunting make Animals Smaller?

Newsweek had an article claiming that culling out large animals for trophy hunting makes the average size of the species smaller.

When hunting is severe enough to outstrip other threats to survival, the unsought, middling individuals make out better than the alpha animals, and the species changes. "Survival of the fittest" is still the rule, but the "fit" begin to look unlike what you might expect. And looks aren't the only things changing: behavior adapts too, from how hunted animals act to how they reproduce. There's nothing wrong with a species getting molded over time by new kinds of risk. But some experts believe problems arise when these changes make no evolutionary sense. . . .

With hunters valuing larger animals, there is money to be made in providing it to them. As Frank Miniter wrote me recently:

Trophy hunting is now making the opposite true. Deer breeding for big antlers (stud deer with huge racks are worth millions) and for African game on the big ranches is big business. But little has been written about it. There just isn't a market for that kind of writing. Hunters shoot "spikes" and older deer with small antlers as "cull deer." The practice is common on any land big enough to be managed. On public lands nearly every buck gets killed, so it's hardly a selection process.



Blogger Rob K said...

You should read up on what happened to pheasant in England. The low flyers survive and the best, high flying ones get shot, since those make for impressive shots.

1/25/2009 3:17 PM  
Blogger tmaster said...

Sorry this story is true. When I was small in the 70s deer were very large because they closed hunting season every other year and only the locals hunted. Now that its open every year and out of town people hunt the deer are only a year or 2 old.

Thats is not a anti gun nut talking I live in the woods and the deer come up to my back door every night I know what size they are. And I know what size they used to be.

Over hunting by out of towners is a problem.

webmaster guncontrolkills.com

1/26/2009 12:51 AM  
OpenID DougHuffman said...

It is a relief to think that Darwinism (the epithet, not the religion) is so well understood as his 200th birthday anniversary approaches.

The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.

1/26/2009 7:57 AM  
OpenID DougHuffman said...

For the scientifically and numerically literate, I remember from my undergraduate biology that the 'Hardy Weinberg Principle' illustrates the rate of large genetic changes.

I'm amused by the Captcha word selection coincidence with topics. At the moment it is REMOL. Yes, it is unlikely that many know the word 'mol'.

The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.

1/27/2009 6:04 AM  

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