China rethinks its hunting ban with a CALS student’s help

Officially, China frowns on hunting. The world’s third-largest nation placed a moratorium on big game hunting in 2006. But now that policy is getting second look with help from a CALS grad student.  Chinese wildlife management officials have invited Karl Malcolm to speak about the North American model of wildlife conservation and the role hunting plays in it at a forum on hunting and wildlife management. The conference takes place next month in the city of Urumqi in northwest China.

China’s ban on big game hunting is a result both of anti-hunting sentiment among the general public and a lack of understanding of how managed hunting can promote conservation, explains Malcolm, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of forest and wildlife ecology. He thinks that policy is ill-advised.

“This suspension (of hunting) exists despite locally abundant populations of species that could support managed hunting and thereby bring considerable benefit to nearby communities and key habitats,” he says. “Some species, such as Asiatic black bears, pose serious threats to humans and hunting has historically been used to alleviate these conflicts.”

Malcolm is already an experienced China hand. For the past three years he has been conducting research there in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute and Peking University.  He is studying the relationships between habitat fragmentation and various land uses on stress condition of free-ranging Asiatic black bears. This summer’s trip will be his 7th visit to China.

He has done related research in Wisconsin. He is part of a team led by his adviser, associate professor Tim Van Deelen, that has been studying the growth and territorial expansion of the state’s black bear population. He has also conducted studies related to deer management.

Participation in the China wildlife forum is limited to about 50 invited attendees, Malcolm says.  These will include Chinese wildlife management officials and scientists as well as individuals representating farmers,  herdsmen, villages, indigenous people, conservation groups, international hunting organizations and media.