Sustainable Hunting Practices in South Africa

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by One Day..., May 27, 2019.

  1. One Day...

    One Day... GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    This thread has been started by splitting off from another in order that this subject "Sustainable Hunting" can be discussed on its own.
    Instead of focusing on one Outfitter have a look, for education purposes, at the whole picture of an industry.
    Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa ALL have high fence hunting. Don't over generalize and vilify a Game Farming practice that saved many species from extinction.

    @BRICKBURN



    .................


    Take away points
    • "take & put" - It has been discussed what could be valuable questions to ask an outfitter to assess the "take & put" issue. My suggestion, as previously mentioned, is to ask two questions: 1) do you hunt females? 2) do you offer cull hunts? If the answer are no and no, you know that animal quantities are limited. This could be a motivation for "put & take." If the answers are yes and yes, you know that one the outfitter's concerns is to keep pace with natural population growth, hence the financial motivation for "put & take" does not exist.
    • "canned hunt" - It has also been discussed what could be valuable questions to ask an outfitter to assess the "canned hunt" issue. My suggestion is that in most cases basic numbers do not lie. Ask for the size of the contiguous hunting area (not the cumulated size of different properties separated by driving on asphalt). The chances of getting a canned hunt on a few thousand acres, never mind a few hundred acres, are geometrically higher than the chances to get a caned hunt on several tens of thousands of acres, not to mention over a hundred thousand acres.
    • "breeders animals" - As previously mentioned, diversifying, augmenting and improving the gene pool with selected breeders is good population management. Rims of science, whether in stock management or game management support his statement.
    • "high fences" - As previously mentioned, high fencing is a requirement by law in South Africa for outfitters who own enough property to want to manage their animals population and diversify, augment and improve the gene pool.
    • "breeding areas" - Outfitters who own enough property to want to manage their animals population and diversify, augment and improve the gene pool have high fenced breeding areas. These are not "pens" but "areas." Outfitters who own enough land have breeding areas of several thousand acres. Those areas can be large enough in themselves to be larger than other outfitters' entire property, or small farms hunted by other outfitters who do not own land.
    • "high volume, commercialized operation" - Truth be told, unless a hunter wants to be the only one in camp, or the only one on the property, which can be legitimate asks with outfitters who offer limited accommodations and limited land, the real question is whether each client receives personalized accommodation, personalized service by his PH and hunting team, and can enjoy his/her personal hunt undisturbed. This means that the real question is not a question of absolute quantity but proportion. Two hunters are a crowd in a camp with only one guest room and 3,000 acres to hunt. Five or ten hunters are not a crowd in a camp that can accommodate them individually and that offers 120,000 acres on site.
    • "wild animals behavior" - Enough has been posted by other AH members to dispel the notion that wild animals will automatically flee at the first sight of a truck or even man, and that animals that do not flee are therefore automatically "tamed" animals.
    Huntershill
    • Huntershill offers numerous very low cost cull hunts, especially targeted toward females. They do this not because they relish loosing money, but because all well managed large properties in South Africa struggle to keep up with natural population growth. There is no "take & put" at Huntershill. There is no reason for it. Incidentally, this also offers opportunities for hunters who could never afford Africa otherwise. We believe that this is good.
    • Huntershill offers to their hunters 120,000 acres (188 square miles) to hunt. There is no "canned hunt" at Huntershill. There is no need for it.
    • There are tagged breeders in the breeding area at Huntershill. They are generally not for hunting or shooting, but as their name implies they are for breeding. This is the reason why they are tagged, so that they are not shot accidentally.
    • The high-fenced, as required by law, breeding area located in the plain at Huntershill is by my estimation based on Google Earth around 5,000 acres. I apologize, I do not have the exact number. As mentioned above, it is in itself larger than many outfitters property in South Africa, and large enough for true hunting for people who either:
    1. suffer from physical limitations, or
    2. want an animal that only strives in flat plains, or
    3. insist on breeder quality trophies, as indeed, as previously noted, breeders are not eternal and older males will be expelled by younger males taking over, can be killed in the process, or will simply die of old age.
    • Even in the theoretical case of 10 hunters and their spouse being hosted simultaneously at Huntershill, which is a very rare occasion, and generally only happens when large groups are coming together, 10 hunters hunting 120,000 acres would still have in average (for what mathematical averages mean) 12,000 acres each.
    ..............
     
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  2. TokkieM

    TokkieM AH Fanatic

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    So all these animals are born trophy size, my oh my,normally takes a avarage trophy a few years to develop and then the male female ratio as well as specific carrying capacity of browsers and grazers, throw in a couple of dry years and a high mortality rate amongst especially your trophy aged animals.
    Please state the facts in the correct way otherwise it seems even more of a cover up for put and take hunting when you simply throw a population growth number around, have not seen trophy female Impala, Kudu, Bushbuck etc unless HH have that market cornered too.
     

  3. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I didn't take @One Day... to mean by his analysis that they were shooting the "natural increase" as opposed to other, older, animals. I thought he was just showing they had large populations of animals and it would be a challenge to shoot enough animals to keep populations flat.

    I also didn't get the feeling that this would be a cover for essentially a "put and take"operation - given the number of hunters that Huntershill seems to put through there in a year, it would take a massive operation to put even a material portion of the average annual off take. There would be trucks arriving on a daily basis, multiple times a day, to deliver this many animals.

    Please note that I'm not suggesting that there is no put and take here - I have no idea, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some of that. If a hunter is looking for a particular animal or an animal of a particular size, it may be easier to bring that animal on for the hunt. But then again, I think there are lots of South African game ranches who would do that for a client. I've participated in CBL hunts, which are almost by definition put and take.

    Note also that I'm not being critical of what Huntershill is doing. To me, it's a question of disclosure. Given the number of happy hunters we've heard from just on this thread, many hunters must be happy with the disclosure and the reality.

    I will repeat that this form of "hunting" isn't for me, under any circumstances. But it does offer an option, and from what I've read a less expensive one, than the type of places which I tend to prefer.
     
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  4. TokkieM

    TokkieM AH Fanatic

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    Hank, I get your point of view. Even if they are shooting every single trophy the ratios between male and female born every year would bring overpopulation and over grazing to the front within a few years. Genetics are a strange science and not every male animal that is born becomes a trophy. So let's take the avarage starter package for a shoot like this Kudu, Impala, Springbuck, Blesbuck.do you think they can shoot 100-200 trophy Kudu on that property taking into consideration that a good bull takes 8 to 10 years to develop, how about Impala, 30% of the breed never amounts to a proper trophy between 40 and 60 % are female when born and the mortality rate for male animals are higher simply becuase they are male, all other things being equal. How huge must a heed be with the above scenario to shoot 100-200 trophies under a good year, no drought. I for one have no issue with what HH does to justify their "hunting" but when someone tries to tell me that it is all natural and free range they had better come with facts. There are no shortcuts when shooting volumes like these unless you plant them.
     
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  5. RBurg44

    RBurg44 AH Veteran

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    I couldnt agree more. I made sure booking both my trips that they were self sustaining herds i wanted no part of put and take. But ur right those numbers dont lie! Do what you gotta do! But at same time i would have never booked with an outfitter that has 20+ in camp at a time, its very easy to be overlooked and forgotten about. Your just a number at that point with that many “hunters” coming into a camp at a time and let alone a full season. Just like you would be at any big corporation. For me im going to the local hardware store over a big box store. And again this is just me I prefer small camps, i can really get the one on one experience that i feel is a huge part of going over there. Now my next trip itll be 7 of us going a father and son two couples and a solo. Itll be fine bc we all know eachother but if it wasnt for that id wouldnt even want that many in camp at a time. So woth those two things id never book with HH or any other outfit thats run in that manner.
     
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  6. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    I don’t think that what you assert is what has been said in this post. Hank framed it up well.
     

  7. TXhunter65

    TXhunter65 AH Veteran

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    Out of curiosity because we've seen this term used now on numerous occasions how many outfitters have self sustaining herds of huntable animals on their farms, ranches, ect?

    self-sustaining
    1: maintaining or able to maintain oneself or itself by independent effort a self-sustaining community
    2: maintaining or able to maintain itself once commenced

    I would assume by the definition this means they are never supplemental fed, never provided water other than from natural sources, and never under any circumstances are there new genetics introduced for the purposes of improving horn quality or for the animal to be itself hunted as a trophy.

    I'm sure the feed and water restriction eliminates if not all, 99% of outfitters especially in RSA, so lets just go with those who never purchase, or raise themselves, and release animals onto their properties, and if you have a concession that you do not own, but hunt, the animals on that property also fit the above definition.
     

  8. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Under the strictest of definitions I'd say you're right.

    My personal definition though has more gray in it. I view self sustaining as a herd that lives in an area that is bigger in size than the natural home area of a particular animal. So the size is much different for an elephant than a Grysbok. These animals should be able to breed and maintain a stable population, including hunter offtake, without outside help.

    Now like I said, I have shades of gray and I'm fine with the following:
    1. Man made bore holes at anytime
    2. Supplemental feed during times of drought - if they have to be fed all the time regardless of weather, I do not consider it to be self sustaining
    3. Occasional addition of animals for genetic diversity, not for overall population "growth." These animals would be both male and female
    To me, the above exceptions are much different than bringing in truckloads of animals to be hunted and maintain the population. Others will not have an issue with it and that's fine, as long as the outfitter is open about what is done. Unfortunately, I believe that some outfitters do say they have self sustaining herds when they truly do not. Even worse, I'm afraid that many clients keep their eyes closed to reality to make them feel better about their experience and likely to save some money as well.
     

  9. TXhunter65

    TXhunter65 AH Veteran

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    @Royal27, I agree with you 100%.

    The major issue I see is we all have our own shades of gray, and as such apply our own bias to the definition of a term that has already been clearly spelled out. When you use a term like "self sustaining" it either is or it isn't, if we're going to add to or subtract from the definition based on our own personal beliefs then maybe we as a group should use different terms.

    As a result of this, conflict between hunters arise when two gray interpretations collide. In addition, as you stated there are those who keep their eye's closed, there are also those who are honestly unaware of the circumstances of the situation in which they are participating. This to me, leads to the most unfortunate aspect of this entire discussion, which is one hunter standing on moral/ethical high ground wagging his finger at another hunter when in actuality they are standing on the same ground either knowingly or unbeknownst to one or both.

    I feel other's views of "I hunt the right way, you hunt the wrong way" will eventually end the sport we love.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019

  10. wesheltonj

    wesheltonj AH Legend

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    So under that definition, water guzzlers and translocating Desert Big Horn Sheep in the West Texas Mountains would not be a free ranging self sustaining herd.
     
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  11. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Pick a target to judge: eg. White Rhino
    These animals are usually held in close to people in order to keep them from being poached.
    Often having their own guards assigned to them.
    Being dehorned, vaccinated, etc.
    How wild are they really?


    Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 13.49.13.png

    https://www.wildlifetrading.co.za/game-for-sale/


    It is a very mature industry in South Africa and well developed in Namibia and coming long nicely in Botswana.

    There are pictures of Zebra being released off a truck on a dirt ramp at Kanana Safaris in Botswana.
    These pictures were taken by a hunter during his hunt.
    Was it restocking for "put and take" or a relocation for conservation?


    Search "Game Capture". Some examples from Limpopo Province.



     

  12. TXhunter65

    TXhunter65 AH Veteran

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    Not sure how this scenario would or wouldn't apply to the free ranging portion of your description but as far as the self-sustaining portion I say if they're translocating sheep to an area on an annual basis with no plans in the near future to stop, then no its not a free ranging herd, now if they relocate some sheep to an area and years later those sheep are reproducing and are not aided by humans there after, then yes its a self sustaining herd, and to answer the next question, no I don't know how many years that would be. As far as the water guzzlers go like I said before that would disqualify most all outfitters, so I guess my answer would be this. Would the sheep survive and self sustain with the guzzlers removed...if the answer is no, then no they herd is not self sustaining. If the answer is yes, then I'd say they herd is self sustaining. As I understand desert big horn need very little to no free standing water to survive and get most of their water from vegetation...but as always I could be wrong about that.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019

  13. TXhunter65

    TXhunter65 AH Veteran

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    Personally Brickburn, I'm in favor of any and all legal means of hunting, conservation, and in general the expansion of animal populations. There are even some means that have been outlawed in the US, that I'd be in favor of if they were reinstated. Even the ranches people call put and take, if the hunter has no issue with it, why should I.

    My reasoning for asking the question to begin with goes back to others taking part in something and being of the impression they are morally or ethically superior to others because they choose to do something a certain way when in some instances they're doing it the exact same way and are just unaware or are in denial.

    I understand animal populations would be nowhere near what they are without breeding/game ranching ect in South Africa, its equal to the success of the United States in bringing species back from the brink of being lost forever and is something that should be modeled by other countries especially when human development encroaches and wipes out native vegetation.

    As you pointed out the rhino is a perfect example, the (as we call them in the US) leftist are going to love them to death by ending hunting, but then you've got other hunters who are against them being raised on a farm and released for hunting, again if the hunter is aware and has no issue with it, I surely don't, especially if it saves the species.
     

  14. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I have a different perspective on the shades of gray. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion of exactly what "sustainable use" is. We all have those opinions and they differ. What's right for me may not be right for you and vice versa. My personal ethics are not your personal ethics. Where things can get sideways is when I try and say you're wrong for not believing in my way as the right way. I don't believe I've done this here. I simply gave my personal definition and the one that as I've gained experience in Africa that I will use to help guide what and where I hunt.

    If someone wants to slaughter an animal in a pen and it's LEGAL to do so I will support their right to do so even though I have no interest in doing so myself. Where I have issue is when people, either outfitters or clients, try and to make that into something it isn't. Simply call it what it is. That's it.

    That often doesn't happen though.... Animals in high demand are often brought in to a game farm to support that demand. It's absolutely the right thing to do from a business standpoint but it does not make for a sustainable herd and is often hidden as "genetic diversity." The outfitter lies to the client in order to make money and the client is either naïve, purposely blind, or both. And that same outfitter very likely does have some sustainable herds, but not all are. So he brings in Kudu bulls but never a duiker as he doesn't need to. Then he touts his free range area and sustainable use. Talk about gray area....

    Have you ever wondered why a breeding area is even needed within a farm if the only purpose for bring in outside animals is for genetic diversity? Why not just let them all loose with no internal fences? Hmmm... Maybe there is more to it.... Maybe there is another reason that all the Springbok are separated by color and don't intermingle.... Maybe all isn't exactly as promised and as we wish it to be..... Something to think about.
     
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  15. TokkieM

    TokkieM AH Fanatic

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    There are hunter, there are shooters and there are killers, all conveniently grouped together as hunters. Everyone gets to choose which one they want to be and in South Africa you will get Outfitters that cater for each of these.
     
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  16. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Somewhere in the other thread it was posed how many RSA outfits could claim "free range". I suspect from the narrowest of definitions, almost no one could (no stocking, no feed, no water etc). As with a few other replies, I don't think the issue is that black and white either. I also agree some hunters have been unknowingly hunting operations that do supplement in some matter or the other. In hindsight over the totality of my hunting career, I have been one of those hunters and I consider myself to be knowledgeable about these matters.
    I don't think the average hunter cares much about the supplement part, insert your x here (breeding, feeding, restocking etc) as long as the hunt doesn't feel like a pigeon shoot. And here lies the rub for most I suspect. The avg Joe didn't travel half way around the world to have a 10 day adventure and NOT be successful. Most can say oh they absolutely would, but few mean it. How many guys do you think would rebook with an outfit if they went for x days and weren't successful?
    AH is a special group of hunters- probably more knowledgeable than the avg African hunter- so we do have members like that here BUT even those are few and far between and probably have the financial assets to be Ok with having a blank trip. For the record, I'm not one of those guys.
    I don't think the business model of being totally upfront as an outfitter in RSA would sustain itself as most guys wouldn't agree to those terms up front (but they want to be successful) NOR would be totally free range as there's not enough money to be made to stay afloat. The market has produced the varying degrees of Grey !!!
    I wish I had more to offer in terms of solutions, but alas this isn't going to be solved overnight. The similar counter arguments have been made in CBL (there I said it :) )
     

  17. TXhunter65

    TXhunter65 AH Veteran

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    @Royal27 thank you for your reply! Again I think we’re seeing pretty much eye to eye. I also don’t think you’ve forced your personal ethics on anyone. You’re example with the kudu/duiker is what I’m referring to. The kudu are managed as a sustainable use herd (augmenting male population for genetic diversity/hunting); however, I’d argue they are not self sustaining, while the duiker may be both a self sustaining and sustainable use herd.

    So while it is possible to be both a sustainable use and self sustaining herd, not all sustainable use herds are self sustaining.
     
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  18. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    BINGO!!!!

    So an outfitter can be both telling the truth and not within the same farm and same for the client. There are those silly shades of grey again! :)
     
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  19. One Day...

    One Day... GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    No TokkieM, all these animals are not born trophy size. Nor do the numbers I shared mean that the annual fawns crop are the animals hunted.

    When I say (summarized):
    - 120,000 contiguous acres (188 square miles);
    - typical density at Huntershill in good habitat devoid of top predators (Lions, Hyenas, Leopard, Cheetah, etc.) of 2 to 3 animals per 10 hectares (25 acres);
    - game population in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 animals;
    - annual recruitment of 80 fawns per 100 does in good habitat devoid of top predators;
    - annual population growth at Huntershill in the range of 4,000 to 6,000 animals per year;
    - annual hunting season of about 8 months, 34 weeks, 240 days;
    - 200 hunters/year;
    - 10 animals per hunter in average;

    What is means is the following:
    - 2,000 animals are collected every year;
    - the 2,000 animals collected are obviously the older animals ("trophy size" to use your words);
    - the 2,000 animals collected at the top of the pyramid age are replaced at the bottom of the pyramid by the 4,000 to 6.000 animals born every year;
    -------> there is not only no financial incentive for "put & take", there is actually a need for culling.

    Regarding "trophy size", I think that the above explains that Huntershill obviously does not hunt annually the annual fawns, and obviously annual fawns are indeed not born trophy sizes, but there is one more point to the "trophy" question. What is a trophy? If you mean SCI Gold Medals, you are obviously right, not every animal will reach this size, but the reality is that most African hunters (exception duly acknowledged of the experienced repeat African hunters, who are a relative minority) consider their animals "trophies" even though they may not be SCI medal material. To many, many African hunters, a "standard" size animal is a trophy. See for proof of this 80+% of trophy photos posted on AH by members who hunted all over Africa.
    -------> there are plenty enough "trophies" for everyone, even though not medal material, and not everyone can afford Kudu, Waterbuck, etc.

    Sex ratio is another interesting question, here is why: many of the classic plains game females are also horned: Blue Wildebeest, Black Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Eland, Gemsbok, Blesbok, etc. Female Gemsbok are actually in some hunters' judgement better trophies than male; the world record Buffalo is actually a female (although I personally prefer old big boss, deep curl males), etc. so it would be a mistake to expect that only males are hunted.
    -------> discriminating hunters may want a male Blue Wildebeest, but many less discriminating hunters are perfectly happy with a nice female Wildebeest.

    As a side note regarding the "commercialization" addressed otherwise, the challenge is that many outfitters hunt fairly small properties (5,000 to 10,000 acres) on which just 2 or 3 hunters can be a crowd, and on which there are not enough animals to support many hunters. Conversely, even though Huntershill welcomes 200 hunters per year (97% of whom come back, so we can assume that they are reasonably satisfied enough to come back) the reality is that:
    -------> 200 hunters/year represent 6 hunters per week in average over the 8 months/34 week hunting season (even less if you consider a 52 week year);
    -------> 6 hunters on 120,000 acres is hardly a crowd;
    -------> 200 hunters who shoot 10 animals each collect 2,000 animals/year, which is not even half the natural population growth, so herd sustainability is not an issue.

    Yes, there are more or less productive years, there is natural mortality (old age) and some depredation mortality (for example, baboons prey on fawns, Caracal and Jackal prey on small antelopes), etc. but as previously mentioned, there is a good reason why Huntershill offers cull hunts specifically targeted toward females: one of their land and game population management challenges is not to truck in animals to be shoot, but to cull the herds sufficiently for them not to exceed carrying capacity.

    One of the key concept to keep in mind, might be that there are a fair number of wealthy hunters who can afford the Caprivi Strip, the Okavango Delta, the Selous, Tanzania northern blocks, buffalo & elephant hunts on a million acre concession in Botswana, etc. but truth be told these hunters are the minority. The vast majority of hunters headed to Africa seem to be saving for a few years before going and will never hunt the Selous or the northern blocks. They can still enjoy a wonderful hunt of truly wild animals in true Africa, on large private hunting properties in South Africa, Namibia, etc. Maybe we should not be applying $20,000 or $40,000 safari criteria to $8,000 safaris...

    I hope this helps. If you believe that the facts are not stated in the correct way, please share specific feedback. The Huntershill managers are always interested in better game and land management practices. Their approach seems to have been working reasonably well for almost 20 years, but if you have specific suggestions, they are valued.
     
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  20. Newboomer

    Newboomer GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2016
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Nevada
    Member of:
    NRA, SCI, American Legion, Freemasons
    Hunted:
    RSA, Maine, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Alaska, California.
    Well said. I think supply and demand plays a big part in how outfitters manage their herds. If demand outpaces supply they have to augment herds by bringing in more heads. Good management can foresee this, bring in more heads for future hunting after a few years to let the imports "acclimate" and become "wild". In these intervening years, the imports can be protected (tagged), pass along genes, thereby increasing the overall quality of the herds. As the imports age and pass breeding stage they can become huntable trophies. It can become a sustainable resource even if manmade.
     

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