Widely held unsupported assumption perpetuated by hunters.
Hunting just skews natural population dynamics, disrupting the self-regulating trophic cascade. Then more hunting is framed as the self-serving population control "solution" to the problem caused by hunting in the first place. Plus, funds for conservation generated by hunting are wildly exaggerated.
Skewed populations: Hunting predators causes prey to overpopulate while hunting prey takes food from predators and causes them to start stalking backyards and public areas, both then used to justify "population control."
Further rigged populations: Programs and breeding "farms" are in place to artificially bolster “game” populations transported over state lines for this purpose, further rigging population dynamics and justifying more "population control."
Manipulated habitats: Wildlife management services even fell forests in open glade areas with high deer populations to artificially create hunting spaces, destroying bracken regrowth with toxic herbicides.
Institutional privilege: Because state wildlife agencies gain income from hunting, trapping and fishing licenses, a powerful hunting lobby actively promotes and empowers hunting as "wildlife management.
Extinction: Hunting has contributed to the historical extinction of animal species including Southern Appalachian birds, passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, eastern elk, eastern cougar, Tasmanian tiger, great auk and more.
Exaggerated perception of conservation funds: The funds generated from hunting for conservation programs only account for 6% of such funding nationwide (see below). Groups like Nature Conservancy and land trusts contribute far more. Yet people believe "sportsmen pay for wildlife."
An outdated model: The post-frontier "North American Model of Wildlife Management" (based on "sportsmen" interests) previously fueled conservation funding but is now outdated, but still favored.
Power imbalance: "Sportsmen" still hold a monopoly due to the persistent perception amongst the public that hunters contribute more funds and ecosystem services than they actually do, combined with hunters' longstanding relationships with agencies (and a lack of those with non-hunters, leading to resistance/indifference/mistrust of non-hunting interests and revenue sources) and the fact that, per researcher David Molde, “The guys who stand up and shout the loudest are the ones that shoot deer, elk and bighorn sheep.”
Annual contributions to habit/wildlife conservation from the 10 largest non-profit conservations ($2.5B)
Breeding Animals for Hunting
To elaborate on the rigging of populations, Robert Grillo shares:
Hunting is necessary for population control. This is the main defense of hunting from the hunting establishment that the public has come to widely believe. But look beyond the false narrative and you will find over 350 officially registered deer breeding farms in Wisconsin alone. Why are they increasing the deer population all over the country? The answer: To keep up with the demand for animals to hunt. This is why the population control argument is a false one. These populations are artificially created for the sole purpose of hunting and killing them! And when a disease outbreak occurs on one of their farms, they get to "depopulate" and kill even more. But don't take my word for it. Get the facts from the official source.
Relocating Animals for Hunting
Deliberately moving animals to other areas specifically to establish new populations for hunting inevitably causes their populations to mushroom, in addition to causing habitat destruction by introducing invasive species that alter natural trophic cascades. Even a farming publication admits this:
The No. 1 cause of expansion [of “wild hogs,” actually mostly feral] in the Southeast over the past 20 years, he says, has been people deliberately moving wild hogs from place to place to establish them for hunting. And inevitably, populations mushroom. More recently, in the Midwest and Northeast, where they were not naturally colonized, there are now growing populations that were started by people trapping them elsewhere and moving them in.
Via Delta Farm Press, Wild hogs a rapidly multiplying menace for agriculture
Study: Non-hunters contribute most to wildlife (WyoFile, includes link to study)
Non-hunters should claim rights to wildlife. We pay for them. (The Cap Times)
Hunting - the murderous business (IDAUSA)
Hunting for conservation? (Veganism Unspun)