Science - December 11, 2014

'Effects of hunting have never been properly investigated'

Roelof Kleis

Who? Geert Groot Bruinderink, ecologist
What? Guest employee at Alterra since his retirement
Why? ‘Came out’ as a hunter in the Volkskrant newspaper

An ecologist who’s a confirmed huntsman. Why’s  that?
‘I come from a hunting family and I was  brought up on hunting. I’d always hunted but I  stopped in 1979. I’ve always worked in jobs  where agriculture, nature conservation and  hunting meet, so you have to be neutral then.  If you hunt yourself, appearances are against  you. Now I’m retired, I can do it again.’ 

You are tough on hunters. You say hunting has  no purpose, it’s purely for enjoyment. What do  you mean?
‘The policy on hunting in the Netherlands is  based on the interests of society. But the truth  is that we don’t know exactly what effect hunting  has. Does hunting reduce damage on  farms? Hunting just shifts the problem from  one farmer to another. Are there fewer collisions  thanks to hunting? It has never been  properly investigated.’

Had many angry comments?
‘No, I’ve only had positive responses. I realize  it’s confrontational and harsh. But I tell everyone  to read the story carefully and see what  they can take away from it. It might be provocative  but I’m also mild. We do need hunting. It is  an honest account and I haven’t been unnecessarily  hurtful. I’m happy to engage in the debate.