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What is Aerial Hunting?

Ken Black
Ken Black

Aerial hunting is a hunting technique used by hunters who hunt animals from aircraft. In some cases, aircraft are used only to find the animals, which may be a legal use in many jurisdictions. In other cases, the aircraft provides a more direct role in the hunting. These techniques are often illegal and considered poaching.

One of the most common illegal techniques for aerial hunting involves using a helicopter or very lightweight and maneuverable plane to find the animals and then begin to herd them. This is often done by flying close to the target species to spook them into going a certain direction. The goal is to spook the targeted species into the area where hunters on the ground are waiting in ambush.

Helicopters can be used to take hunters to remote and otherwise inaccessible locations.
Helicopters can be used to take hunters to remote and otherwise inaccessible locations.

This is a technique that is especially used in Africa to herd big-game animals into a certain area for hunters but this type of aerial hunting is also practiced in other places. In fact, prosecutions for aerial hunting are reported in the United States as well. In one recent case, hunters were using an experimental aircraft to spook deer into a ground ambush in Iowa. It led to prison time, the loss of a pilot's license and all hunting licenses in the group.

Aerial hunting can also take place nearly exclusively from the air. Hunters can be in a helicopter, for example, with a firearm and take aim and fire on the animal from the air. This also allows the aircraft to continue pursing the animal that is hit until it dies, thus allowing for a more efficient harvest. Once that hunter is dropped off at his kill, the aircraft and other hunters may continue pursuing other animals.

Though some consider aerial hunting to be a form of recreation, most recreational hunters disagree. In fact, they see aerial hunting as one of the great evils in the sport. Hunting involves having the patience and the knowledge to anticipate when an animal will be at a certain location, and the skill to take it down when it is there. Aerial hunting renders most of these skills obsolete.

Aerial hunting is mainly used by those who hunt animals for commercial trade. This provides an easy way to find the animals and kill as many as possible, thus increasing the profits for those engaged in the practice. Many countries have come to understand this is a dangerous form of hunting that can lead to the depletion of entire animal populations. Therefore, strict laws are in place and strict penalties are often imposed on those convicted of engaging in this type of poaching.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is aerial hunting?

Aerial hunting is a method of wildlife management where hunters use aircraft, such as helicopters or fixed-wing planes, to track and kill animals from the air. This practice is often used in remote areas to control populations of predators or invasive species that are difficult to manage from the ground. It's a controversial method due to ethical, safety, and ecological concerns.

Why is aerial hunting used instead of ground hunting?

Aerial hunting is employed in situations where ground hunting is not effective or feasible, such as in vast, rugged terrains or in cases where animal populations need to be reduced quickly. According to wildlife management experts, aerial hunting allows for more rapid and efficient culling of animals over large areas, which can be crucial in preventing overpopulation and disease spread.

What species are commonly targeted in aerial hunting?

Species commonly targeted in aerial hunting include feral hogs, wolves, coyotes, and other predators that may pose a threat to livestock or native wildlife. In some regions, invasive species like wild goats or deer are also targeted to protect fragile ecosystems. The selection of species is typically based on management objectives and ecological impact assessments.

Is aerial hunting considered ethical?

The ethics of aerial hunting are hotly debated. Critics argue that it can lead to inhumane outcomes, such as wounding rather than quickly killing animals. Proponents claim it's a necessary tool for managing certain wildlife populations and protecting ecosystems. Ethical considerations often hinge on the effectiveness, necessity, and humaneness of the practice in specific contexts.

How is aerial hunting regulated?

Aerial hunting is regulated by federal, state, and local laws, which can vary widely. In the United States, the Federal Airborne Hunting Act restricts the shooting or harassment of animals from aircraft unless permitted by federal or state law, typically for wildlife management, environmental, or agricultural purposes. Regulations are designed to ensure safety and address conservation concerns.

What are the ecological impacts of aerial hunting?

Aerial hunting can have significant ecological impacts, both positive and negative. When used responsibly, it can help restore balance to ecosystems by controlling invasive species or overpopulated predators. However, indiscriminate or excessive use can disrupt food chains and alter habitats. Ecologists emphasize the importance of using aerial hunting as part of a well-planned management strategy to mitigate adverse effects.

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    • Helicopters can be used to take hunters to remote and otherwise inaccessible locations.
      By: BSANI
      Helicopters can be used to take hunters to remote and otherwise inaccessible locations.