4 invasive species you can hunt
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
People have been moving wildlife to new locations for various reasons over the course of virtually all of human history. Some species have adapted well to their new homes with very few problems. Others have been incredibly destructive and have caused irreparable damage to native flora and fauna.
Regardless of how those species first got there or the sort of impacts they have had on ecosystems, there are lots of opportunities to hunt various non-native species all over the world. Here are a few of the most notable examples of invasive species that may be hunted.
Scientists believe that tens of thousands (possibly many more than that) of Burmese pythons currently inhabit large portions of southern Florida. These snakes are most likely descendants of pythons brought to Florida as pets that either escaped or were released into the wild.
Burmese python grow extremely fast, reproduce very rapidly, and will readily prey upon a wide variety of other animals for food. Combined with the fact that there are very few animals in Florida that can prey upon a grown Burmese python, their numbers have quickly grown in recent years.
Unfortunately, the growth in their numbers has come at the expense of many native species like raccoon and opossum. The state of Florida has struggled with various different methods of controlling their numbers without much success.
However, you’re welcome to try your hand at hunting Burmese python though. There is no closed season on the snakes and no permit is required. Additionally, the state runs the “Python Pickup Program” where those who report Burmese python they have humanely killed on public and private land will be entered in a drawing for the opportunity to win a prize.
Not to be confused with the Sitka blacktail deer of British Columbia and Alaska, sika deer are originally from Asia. Humans have introduced sika deer to New Zealand, the United States, and many countries in Europe like the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, and Russia.
Though they have caused problems due to overpopulation and fears of hybridization with native deer species in some areas, Sika Deer have not caused as much damage to ecosystems as other species on this list.
These diminutive and elusive deer are a popular quarry for hunters in Europe, New Zealand, and the United States. Though they are commonly hunted on exotic ranches in the United States, there is also a thriving wild population on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where they are managed as a game animal.
While every large mammal in New Zealand is technically a non-native species, the Himalayan tahr is one of the more difficult species to manage. Tahr were brought to New Zealand from their native habitat in Nepal and northern India for sport hunting decades ago. Since then, they have thrived in the Southern Alps of New Zealand where they are a popular target for hunters to this day.
Unfortunately, tahr numbers have grown to the point where they are starting to cause damage to the native fauna.
Hunters do harvest thousands of tahr each year, but tahr primarily inhabit country that is incredibly rough and difficult to access. For that reason, helicopters are commonly used as a way for hunters to access difficult to reach country as well as for aerial gunnery.
No list of invasive species that may be hunted would be complete without the ubiquitous feral hog. Though they are most common in the southern portions of the United States (Texas, Georgia, and Florida in particular), biologists estimate that there are over 6 million feral hogs that reside in at least 39 states.
Their population explosion and all of the problems that have come with it have been well documented. Unfortunately, human efforts to curb their numbers using everything from helicopter hunting to poison haven’t been very successful either.
In the meantime, feral hogs are easily the most popular invasive species to hunt. Most states have very liberal hunting seasons, bag limits, and license requirements for feral hogs to encourage hunters to kill as many as possible. While hunters and trappers do indeed harvest a staggering number of feral hogs (an estimated 750,000 hogs annually in Texas alone), their numbers are continuing to grow.
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