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Trophy Hunting Is Unlikely to Affect Evolution

In recent years, there has been growing controversy surrounding the evolutionary effects of trophy hunting in big game animals worldwide.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 12:01 am EDT
"Some writers, both in popular media and the scientific literature, have exaggerated the effects of trophy hunting on the gene pool far beyond what the data show"

In recent years, there has been growing controversy surrounding the evolutionary effects of trophy hunting in big game animals worldwide. An article published in the Journal of Wildlife Management explains why the removal of males possessing large horns and antlers does not inevitably cause harmful artificial selection.

James Heffelfinger, author of the article, notes that there are numerous obstacles that ameliorate, neutralize, or dilute the effects of hunter selection, making it very difficult for hunters to cause population-level changes in the sizes of horns and antlers. 

“Some writers, both in popular media and the scientific literature, have exaggerated the effects of trophy hunting on the gene pool far beyond what the data show,” he said. “The concept of trophy hunters causing harmful evolutionary change to the very species they value has been a flawed, but irresistible, storyline for many reporters and researchers.


Additional Information

Link to Study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.21337/full

About Journal

The Journal of Wildlife Management publishes manuscripts containing information from original research that contributes to basic wildlife science. Suitable topics include investigations into the biology and ecology of wildlife and their habitats that has direct or indirect implications for wildlife management and conservation. This includes basic information on wildlife habitat use, reproduction, genetics, demographics, viability, predator-prey relationships, space-use, movements, behavior, and physiology; but within the context of contemporary management and conservation issues such that the knowledge may ultimately be useful to wildlife practitioners. 

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