NAIA policy statement: Wildlife

Hunting and fishing

Once necessary for survival throughout the world, hunting and fishing continue to provide a link to the earth and the cycle of life for many Americans. Today, these pastimes provide opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors together, to learn about wildlife and the environment, and to reconnect with the past. Here fathers and mothers teach sons and daughters respect for nature, wildlife conservation, and survival skills.

Hunting and fishing today take on new meaning as game management tools, providing both dollars and expertise for saving species and habitats and culling excess populations of animals that destroy wildlife habitat and human property, serve as reservoirs for zoonotic diseases, and present a danger to people and pets.

Groups like Safari Club International and Buckmasters promote ethical hunting and fund and administer programs to increase habitat for and understanding of wild animals. Working with universities, state and national natural resources divisions, and other conservation organizations, they donate millions of dollars to grant programs and individual projects that conserve animals and habitat throughout the world. They provide scholarships for students pursuing careers in wildlife management, conduct education classes for hunters and fishermen, and monitor legislation that affects their pastimes. Each year, members of these organizations donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of wild game to food kitchens and other programs to feed needy families.

In spite of these activities and with contempt for the hundreds of millions of dollars that hunters and anglers raise for conservation and the millions more they contribute to local economies, animal activists throughout the US use a variety of means from direct confrontation of hunters in the field to legislative initiatives, public condemnation campaigns, and perversion of regulations to limit hunting, fishing, and related activities such as hunting dog field trials.

NAIA recognizes the contributions of hunters and fishermen to wildlife and habitat conservation, to needy families, to local economies and to education about the natural world. As a result, NAIA supports responsible hunting and fishing practiced in accordance with state and national fish and wildlife laws, advocates scientific management of wildlife resources, and opposes laws and regulations that abandon management or which base management on specious emotional or superficial political arguments.

Suggested reading:


Indigenous people in every culture have trapped animals throughout history for food, pelts, to protect themselves, and to prevent predation on pets and livestock. Trappers were among the first inland explorers, and an active and lucrative trade in furs played a significant role in opening the US and Canadian frontiers. As settlements expanded and human population has grown, the habitat in which many species thrived has been fragmented and developed, and little usable habitat remains in many parts of the country. Thus, in many areas, trapping is essential to protect animals and habitat from the perils of overpopulation and to shield humans and domestic animals from property damage, predation, and transmission of diseases that affect wildlife, humans, and domestic animals.

Surplus populations of animals can also wreak havoc on urban and suburban waterways, dams, and dikes; destroy timber stands; flood farms and roadways; infest hay and grain storage silos; raid chicken coops and yards; serve as reservoirs for tick-borne diseases; and contribute to the elimination of myriad prey species. By managing these species so they do not overpopulate, a healthy number of animals can thrive without significant damage to the environment, to other species, to buildings, storm water drainage systems, canals and other human developments. Therefore, NAIA supports responsible trapping as a necessary wildlife management tool using the most advanced scientific methods and humane equipment and in accordance with state and local laws.

Suggested reading:

Wildlife and wild lands

NAIA recognizes the value of wildlife and wild lands and supports private and public efforts to conserve our natural wealth through incentives, partnerships, voluntary easements, and educational efforts based on sound science, respect for private property and individual rights, and sustainable use of resources. As with all other circumstances in which man and animals interact, NAIA encourages adoption of reasonable laws and rules to protect animals and opposes those that arbitrarily criminalize human behavior, especially if they raise the accidental "taking" of animals or alteration of habitat to a violation of law or result in a loss of property or livelihood.

We believe that the federal Endangered Species Act has become bloated beyond recognition and should be amended to remove it from the realm of politics and placed firmly in the hands of objective scientists who study animal population dynamics and species interactions and consider sustainable use of resources and historical treaties and contracts when writing and implementing species recovery plans.

We believe that endangered animals should be protected but that the needs of humans and human enterprises must be considered when formulating plans to save declining species, especially when populations occur on private property. People should be able to protect their families and properties whether the animals causing the problems are abundant or not. Furthermore, any law that has the potential to increase animal populations to unwieldy numbers should be subjected to scientific scrutiny, not enacted out of political concern or emotional consideration.

We believe that decisions affecting wildlife should be made by wildlife experts, not desk jockeys, inexperienced political appointees, politicians eager for re-election, or activists who favor any solution to a problem except hunting and trapping and are willing to sacrifice farmers, loggers, and others to save a species, subspecies, or population of non-domestic animals. NAIA opposes the use of the courts to expand the scope of the ESA and abhors the bullying strategy embraced by extreme environmental groups who sue the federal government for decisions to place ever more species and land under the aegis of the federal government.

NAIA supports multiple uses of state and federal parklands and other natural areas and believes that game management, reauthorization of the federal Endangered Species Act, and disbursement of Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson sportsmen's conservation funds should depend on scientific study, not politics, emotion, or public pressure. We encourage the use of habitat conservation plans and support federal and state "safe harbor" and "no surprises" policies that maintain the right of landowners to use their property even though endangered species are present.

Suggested reading:


While reintroduction of predators to their former ranges in national parks and wilderness areas may be appropriate if substantiated by scientific study conducted by wildlife biologists, NAIA believes that such reintroductions should not be attempted without full consideration of species impact on private property owners in lands adjacent to the selected area.

When predators are reinstated in an area, farmers, ranchers, and pet owners should be allowed to protect their families and livestock if conflicts arise between human interests and predator activity. In addition, the impact of the introduced species on the existing flora and fauna of the region and the likelihood that an introduced population will survive without interference by man should be considered, and a plan for ongoing study of the introduced population should be implemented.

NAIA believes that laws that increase predator populations by limiting hunting should be passed only when scientific evidence clearly indicates that such limits are necessary. Predator impact on protected prey species should be considered, hunting limits should be reviewed periodically to see if restrictions should be lifted, and predator control should be accomplished by licensed hunters from the general population, not sharpshooters hired at taxpayer expense.

Suggested reading:

Marine mammals

NAIA recognizes the need to protect rare and endangered marine mammals and supports these efforts when they are backed by ongoing assessments of species populations and environmental health. NAIA favors rewriting the Marine Mammal Protection Act to accommodate sustainable hunting of marine mammals and sale of marine mammal products by indigenous people such as the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic and by communities that depend on the meat and skins for survival. NAIA also supports sustainable hunting of whales and the international sale of whale products by coastal and island communities throughout the world.

Dolphins, killer whales, and manatees in zoos and aquaria give millions of families chances to see these magnificent animals, appreciate the relationships forged between them and their trainers, and learn about the oceans and their creatures. These displays also provide scientists with opportunities to study the biology and behavior of these species and develop reproductive strategies to aid in saving endangered species. NAIA values the organizations that present these opportunities while providing for the well-being of the animals involved and educating the public about their habits and their ocean environments.

For more information about marine mammals and indigenous people, see the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada and the High North Alliance

Suggested reading:

Wild birds

Migratory birds - including songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, gamebirds, and raptors - are protected by federal law, and possession of these birds or their feathers, nests, or eggs is forbidden except while engaged in lawful hunting. However, increased numbers and large non-migrating populations of some species of migratory birds - Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, and snow geese, for example - may necessitate management plans that allow culling. NAIA therefore supports well-devised and implemented plans to reduce the numbers of birds when habitat destruction and property damage result from overpopulation. These plans may range from the use of herding dogs to drive birds from airport runways, golf courses, parks, and other areas to limited hunts or other methods to kill the birds. NAIA believes that each community should devise its own solution based on local considerations, not on emotion or politics.

NAIA encourages the use of habitat conservation plans that serve migratory birds along the flyways and supports "safe harbor" and "no surprises" policies that maintain the rights of landowners to use their property even though protected birds are present. NAIA especially supports the use of wetlands mitigation policies that provide for land use with no net loss of valuable wetlands habitat.

Suggested reading:

Be sure to see these additional NAIA policy statements
Pet Ownership / Dogs / Pets and the Community / Guardianship / Animals in Entertainment
Animal husbandry / Animal Careers / Agriculture / Research / Wildlife / Mandatory Spay/Neuter Legislation