In recent years, there has been growing controversy surrounding the evolutionary effects of trophy hunting in big game animals worldwide. Hunting animals with specific traits has led some to argue that such selection can cause evolutionary change that may be detrimental to the species, especially if those traits are related positively to individual fitness. An article published on 4 October 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.
James Heffelfinger, author, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
“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,” Heffelfinger added.
(Source: Wiley press releases, 04.10.2017)