Duck hunting is defined as “a popular, legal recreational activity” by the Australian state of Victoria, and is an occupation that has been practiced for thousands of years both for sustenance and sport. Deemed morally unacceptable by some, the hunting of ducks in Victoria has continued although it has been banned in three other states and many other places around the world due to practices many believed to be unsustainable or socially antiquated. But why should we care about sustainable duck hunting?
Waterfowl such as ducks have an important role in wetland ecology; they are responsible for many processes including seed dispersal, pollination, cycling of nutrients and soil formation. Waterfowls can input up to 40% of the nitrogen and 75% of the phosphorous in a wetland environment, successfully depositing the nutrients needed to enrich the soil and surrounding plant life. This means that wetlands are dependent on some of the nutrients that waterfowl produce and that any change in waterfowl population density could affect a wetland environment. Likewise, wetlands are important for waterfowl as many use it as breeding and feeding grounds, meaning that you can’t have one without the other.
Hunting is an activity as old as time itself. It has contributed to the rise of mankind and the extinction of many species in the process. As technology improves and less and less people rely on hunting for sustenance, the need for sustainability arose as to not repeat the errors of the past and cause more species to disappear from existence. Whilst the process of sustainable hunting has taken time to implement itself into many global communities, the need for model countries for others to copy their example has never been greater.
Although the practice is often criticised and has many negative connotations, Australia and the State of Victoria have risen to the challenge to create a sustainable hunting program. Many other countries like Denmark have also instigated their own sustainable hunting framework, but multiple others, like Malaysia and the Democratic Republic of Congo lag behind, and struggle to enact sustainable hunting policies.
Whilst there is sustainability in parts of the world, species continue to go extinct or become endangered from hunting and other human factors, and for that reason, hunting is still an unsustainable practice. As long as there is still long-term environmental damage and biodiversity loss caused by hunting around the world, the activity cannot be touted as sustainable.
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