“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” (Aristotle). Animals are affected by their own environment in many ways, whether it is of their own doing, or from outside their way of living, such as mankind’s impact on the overall environment. Our way of living plays a big part on other species, whether it is good or bad; it is mostly bad though. This can really consist of anything; hunting for sport, industrialization and pollution, and animals adapting to their habitat. Animals that do not adapt can result in endangerment and possibly extinction of the species.
No matter the viewpoint, hunting animals can potentially have a huge negative impact on a population of a species. Whether it is being out in the woods with a rifle, setting traps on the ground for animals to step in, or on a boat using a net to catch fish, hunting can cause a change in a habitat. This means that some important roles, like pest control, germination, and predation may not be performed, or at least not at the appropriate rate. (“Potential Effects From Hunting and Trapping” 2018).
The most common viewpoint for people that are pro-hunting describes hunting for being beneficial for the environment is that they are controlling animal populations by targeting their favorite species to hunt. However, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, describes hunting as victimizing and the cruelty to animals. PETA’s article on how hunting down animals for sport, leads to animals being in great pain and suffering, because as the article states,
many deer are shot but not killed, fleeing from the area of danger and not being recovered by the hunters. Wolves make as another good example. Wolves mate for life and travel in packs which they remain with, so targeting these animals for reasons like, as the article states, “to hang over the fireplace.” (“Why Sport Hunting is Cruel”, 2018).
Hunting was very much necessary back in the Paleolithic Age. Back then, people hunted for the soul purpose of food. To the present day, hunting is mostly just for sport, especially canned hunting. Canned hunting can be seen as even crueler than regular hunting, depending on the viewpoint. This is when an exotic animal, like a lion, panther, or tiger just to name a few; they are kept in a confined place, like a fence or other type of border, where they are eventually and easily killed to be a hunter’s trophy. The article by Big Cat Rescue states that this is because, “they are accustomed to being around people and won’t run when the client walks up to them to take a shot.”
Besides hunting, our impact on the environment may be unintentional, referring to pollution. It is safe to say that most people do not toss away their yogurt cup on the road in hopes that a squirrel comes across it and gets its head stuck inside the cup. Most usually act carelessly and do not think of the potential harm it can do to other living things. According to the documentary, Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic, “Each year, Americans throw away over 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags.” The production of plastic takes up 4% of global oil production, which is twelve-million barrels of oil per year being used to make plastic bags. (“Oil Consumption”, 2018).
The majority of the pollution in the ocean comes from the land. About 80% (“What is the Biggest Source of Pollution”, 2018). This is because of reasons like nonpoint source pollution and point source pollution. Nonpoint source pollution is pollution that comes from many
different sources, such as vehicles, farms, and septic tanks. Point source pollution only comes from one specific source like an oil spill. Point source pollution is much more dangerous and negative effectively, but they are less likely to occur than nonpoint source pollution.
According to the article by Do Something, “Over one-million seabirds and one-hundred thousand sea mammals are killed by pollution each year.” Microplastics and fishing gear that people throw away cover large areas of the ocean. Sea life can become tangled and trapped in the fishing gear and drown. Creatures such as fish might mistake the plastic pieces for food. This is especially bad for people because that waste inside their body will still be there when we consume the fish. Eating fish with high mercury levels can lead to having tremors, headaches, insomnia, and many more. (“Ocean Pollution”, 2018).
Due to all the negative human impact on the environment many different species of animals are now considered endangered and are on the brink of extinction. Take the state of Florida for example. The population of Florida has doubled in the past thirty years. This resulted in there now being only 5% of the Florida panther’s population remaining, so only around 100 to 120 Florida panthers left. They have been on the list of endangered species since the year 1967 when several panthers died from Florida increasing their number of roads. To the present day, the Florida panthers now live in an area where the construction of new homes will be located. Meaning that many more will be caught in the line of fire.
The same goes to the loggerhead sea turtle which also resides in Florida, being included on the endangered species list in 1978. An article from Center for Biological Diversity states, “More than half the world’s 7.5 billion people live within 150 miles of the coast.” (“Top Ten U.S. Endangered Species”, 2018). This makes it hard for these sea turtles to live in this crowded of a place. Many of these sea turtles were killed because of people destroying their nests which
are located on beaches, and with their eggs being harvested. Also, many have died due to fishing gear. The population of the loggerhead sea turtles have increased since then but are difficult to manage since they do nest on beaches, in which people who are cruel enough may try to violate.
There are many other endangered species out there. Many are aware of animals like tigers, elephants, bald eagles and how these are known to be endangered. There are animals that may not necessarily be endangered but are considered to be very vulnerable and require special needs in order to survive. Pandas are a great example of this. Living in damp forests in China, bamboo is primarily what pandas eat, that being around twenty-eight pounds of bamboo a day. It has always been very difficult for the population of pandas to grow since they do not reproduce that often. Like many endangered species, most of their habitat had been destroyed due to the human population in China increasing. There are different kinds of bamboo that grow at certain times of the year. If a specific type of bamboo gets destroyed, it could lead to pandas not having that much food for that season of the year.
Up until 2016, pandas were endangered, but Chinese conservationist helped bring up their numbers from around 2,070 to about 3,900. As mentioned previously, they are very vulnerable in being endangered. However, according to BBC News, about one third of the bamboo population will be wiped out in eighty years due to climate change. Pandas obviously are not the only animal affected by climate change. Another species of bear actually, polar bears have adapted to be in sub-zero temperatures. Since our population is so large and the overuse of fossil fuels, the sea ice in Antarctica is melting. National Geographic states that, “satellites show there is about 770,000 square miles less sea ice than the 1981 to 2010 median.” The sea ice is decreasing by 14% per decade. If climate change is not addressed, polar bear’s population will be reduced to zero.
Unlike many of today’s endangered species, some were not able to be saved. Arguably one of the most well-known species to become extinct, the wooly mammoth’s extinction may had resulted for different reasons. They existed during the Ice Age, so they most definitely died off due to the weather being warmer and the environment changing. Hunting the wooly mammoths to make tools from their bones and tusks, and their fur for warmth was very common so that definitely played a part in their extinction as well.
Another example, but a more recent specie to go extinct was the Pinta Island tortoise. In 2012, the last of these giant tortoises died after being so long in captivity – Lonesome George. He was the last of his species with all others being wiped out by hunters and fishermen in the 19th century. His body had been frozen in hopes that one day his species could be revived.
To conclude, this is not really anything new. Animals throughout history have slowly been dying out, going extinct. We as people have always been hunting animals. The main purpose of hunting had always been for survival. In today’s time it’s basically for bragging rights. I wouldn’t necessarily say I disagree with it. I have gone deer hunting every year since I was twelve years old mainly because it’s a family thing. I don’t do it anymore though because I just don’t receive the same enjoyment as my father does. But people do need to learn to be more responsible on how they hunt. We as a species need to be more responsible with how treat everything really. Polluting the oceans will not only affect the sea life, but it will eventually fall back on us for when we consume fish. We’re already responsible for the extinction of most species. Dinosaurs are the only ones I can think of that we’re not responsible for ridding of. We are also responsible for the endangerment of species. We can come together and take action, or we can be next on the extinction list.