Site visit summary:
Although my group had a meeting with the executive director of the Dallas Safari Club, he was not there when we showed up. Thankfully, a nice guy who worked there named Ben took time out to give us a tour and answer some questions we had for him about the DSC and hunting itself. Ben was an avid hunter himself and had a giant moose head that he had shot himself (the entire animal must have been at least 1500 pounds) hanging above his desk. Ben explained to us that the DSC is not a hunting outfitter, although they do occasionally organize hunting trips. Ben told us that the main focuses of the DSC are ecosystem conservation, political activism and exploring/studying wildlife ecology.
We asked a few not so easy questions, and I was personally surprised with how quickly Ben handled them. To get started, we asked if there was a relevant difference between conservation for the sake of hunting and conservation for the sake of conservation itself. Ben took an anthropocentric stance on this question and told us that hunting gives value to conservation, and this value in turn creates effort more effort for conservation. He talked about how the money raised on big game hunts in Africa (oftentimes $30,000+) goes back into conservation efforts for the animals to keep a steady supply of big game. Ben explained how putting $30,000 towards an ecosystem can easily save more than one large animal, so from a utilitarian standpoint big game hunting doesn't seem so bad (especially since the local villagers would mercilessly hunt lions to preserve their farm animals were the lions not protected by conservation efforts).
We pressed Ben on what "ethical hunting" means to him, as well. He said that humans are on top of the food chain, so he doesn't see anything wrong with hunting as long as it is done painlessly. He did, however, equate fenced hunting to "shopping", which was pretty funny.
Ben also talked about the minimal effect that organizations such as PETA have on the DSC, and that the DSC's main goal is to reach the "middle ground" of people who don't have too much of an opinion on hunting either way.
Ben then had to leave, and he handed us off to a young lady who was not a hunter, but worked on the science and research side of the DSC. She talked to us about a pronghorn restoration project the DSC has been working on, and she also touched on the difference between subsistence hunting and hunting for population control. She claimed that people who hunt wild boar in Texas purely for the sake of population control and not very educated, which I'm not sure if I agree with or not.
To sum it up though, our site visit to the DSC was super educational, and we were presented with a lot more information than we expected.
Site visit notes:
- Hunting gives value to animals/conservation
- Every usable part of the animal is used in hunting and it is illegal to not use every part (want and waste)
- Finances go towards conservation
- Tries to be ethical in hunting and painless (focus of organization)
- Play large role in ecosystem education (major focus), people need to understand the ecosystem when hunting
- There is more of a role the animal plays than just its role, interacts with other animals
- Want to get involved in conservation research
- 30 to 40,000 for trips
- Hunting leads to education about animals and species
- How do you know something is going extinct if you do not know it exists?
- Behavioral ecology