The term “wildlife ranching” has been used to describe many commercial activities associated with wildlife recreation and products. We discuss the advantages and drawbacks of 2 of those activities: fee-hunting and wildlife farming and husbandry. Perhaps the greatest advantage of fee-hunting programs is economic return to the private landowner, which, in turn, provides the landowner incentive and resources to conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. The greatest drawback is privatization of the North American wildlife resource. Many individuals from the general public as well as professional wildlife biologists fear that commercial activities associated with wildlife recreation and products ultimately will allow a shift from public to private ownership of wildlife, resulting in diminished public interest in wildlife. The advantages of wildlife farming and husbandry include greater productivity of food animals, healthy alternative food sources, product diversification, and economic gains to private landowners. Because wildlife farming and husbandry activities typically focus on exotic big game, many drawbacks have been suggested. Drawbacks include disease introduction, competition and hybridization with native wildlife, range degradation, and pest problems. However, adequate research in many of those areas is lacking. Ultimately, wildlife is a product of the land, subsidized at the expense of the private landowner. Perhaps revenues from wildlife ranching can provide positive incentives to private landowners, resulting in increased wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation and preservation.
exotic big game