What Effect Does Overhunting Have on the Environment?

published May 15, 2021
2 min read


Hunting has been a popular activity for both necessity and recreation for all of recorded history. It’s been the subject of controversy and debate, as hunting can lead to various environmental issues like animal extinction and forest depletion.

Because of this, it’s critical to educate oneself on how hunting impacts the planet. We can only work toward a collective solution with an informed understanding of the problem.

What Does “Overhunting” Mean?

There are various reasons for hunting. Some individuals hunt for sport, competing against others to take down the largest quarry. It can also be a way to collect pelts or furs, which are later used for decoration, clothing, and various other purposes. In certain countries, people still use hunting as a means to obtain resources.

Traditionally, hunting was intended for survival, as natives in areas throughout the world would only gather what they needed to live. During the Antiquity period before the Middle Ages, hunting evolved into a privilege for people in higher societal classes. This practice has contributed to a concept known as “overhunting” over the subsequent centuries.

Essentially, you can think about overhunting as a way in which people exploit natural resources. If you and others continuously hunted in the same area, you’d be killing the animals in that location at higher rates than they could repopulate. This action leads to a host of issues.

How Overhunting Impacts the Planet

Because overhunting depletes species populations, extinction can be a real possibility. Though extinction often transpires due to factors such as habitat loss, hunting still plays a significant role in species reduction. It’s a process that negatively affects the entire ecosystem.

In most cases, animals provide a service that makes the planet habitable. Because we have biodiversity, we in turn can enjoy agriculture systems, water sources, climate stability and clean air. If you consider that each animal has a part in how the Earth operates, you can see that extinction disrupts the entire system, leading to serious implications.

Here’s a quick example. How do trees grow naturally? It’s mainly up to animals, which take seeds from parent plants and distribute them throughout an area. This ecological action results in forests.

Therefore, without the specific wildlife that performs that task, we’d almost certainly have fewer trees in the environment. This scenario shows the ecosystem’s interconnectedness, as our whole biosphere depends on numerous working parts.

Additionally, overhunting affects wildlife on a more concentrated level. Put another way, animals feel overhunting’s effects in their everyday lives. Circumstances such as hibernation and migration are cut short, which forces wildlife to adapt to abnormal situations like finding new environments to avoid hunting grounds. That can impact them for generations to come.

Overhunting has the potential to erode animal populations in a way that damages the environment as a whole. If we don’t pursue solutions, we could continue to see wildlife decrease in numbers, which presents a massive problem for the planet.

Potential Solutions for Overhunting

Keep in mind that hunting, in general, isn’t always an issue, especially given that states impose restrictions such as what specific equipment hunters can use while hunting. It’s only when hunting turns into overhunting that concerns arise.

Fortunately, we can find solutions to prevent overhunting. It’s possible to find a balance between letting people hunt and protecting our wildlife.

1. Increased Regulations

To start, increased regulations are nothing short of essential. Governments need to institute rules to prevent illegal poaching and trades to protect at-risk wildlife. These regulations would help individuals approach the activity in a way that limits environmental damage.

These actions wouldn’t eliminate hunting for sport. Instead, you would be encouraged to hunt in a more sustainable manner.

2. More Awareness and Education

Beyond regulations, it’s a good idea to increase awareness and education. Unless you’re already an advocate for wildlife conservation, you may not realize that overhunting is an issue. Therefore, organizations that champion environmental stewardship should do their best to explain how overhunting and overexploitation as a whole can cause problems for the planet, which ultimately affect us.

Awareness will be key, so platforms like social media are perfect for increased education. Additionally, states could require hunters to learn about problems with overhunting before they get their licenses. These ideas are worthy of being explored.

3. Support for Ethical Products

As consumers, we can put our money toward ethically made products that don’t include animal parts. Each dollar is a kind of vote, in that respect.

Additionally, people should consider donating to environmental organizations that work to protect ecosystems from detrimental actions like overhunting. This way, we can ensure our planet’s environment remains diverse.

Overhunting Causes Numerous Problems for the Planet

While hunting, in general, is subject to debate, we can collectively agree that overhunting causes a vast array of issues. It’s a situation that directly affects our world’s ecosystems, and in turn, us.

Without a diverse environment, we wouldn’t have a habitable planet. Therefore, it’s important and necessary to pursue various solutions to prevent overhunting in what ways we can.