Download The Wildlife Professional - Fall 2010

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Conservation biology wikipedia, lookup

Conservation psychology wikipedia, lookup

Mission blue butterfly habitat conservation wikipedia, lookup

Habitat conservation wikipedia, lookup

Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary wikipedia, lookup

Roadkill wikipedia, lookup

Private landowner assistance program wikipedia, lookup

International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) wikipedia, lookup

Conservation movement wikipedia, lookup

Wildlife crossing wikipedia, lookup

Vol. 4 No. 3
Fall 2010
Special Issue
The North
American Model
of Wildlife
A Conservation Timeline
How Science Gains from Studying Game
The Role of Furbearer Management
Fall 2010 Vol. 4 No. 3
The Wildlife Professional (ISSN 1933-2866) is a quarterly magazine published by The Wildlife Society (5410 Grosvenor
Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-2144) as a benefit of membership. The magazine’s goal is to present timely research, news, and
analysis of issues and trends in the wildlife profession. You can learn more about The Wildlife Society and the benefits of
membership, including publications and web resources, by contacting headquarters or visiting
The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of The Wildlife Society (TWS).
Editorial Advisory Board
TWS Staff
Steve Belinda
David Bergman USDA, Wildlife Services
Chad Bishop Colorado Division of Wildlife
Robert Brown North Carolina State University
Richard Chipman USDA, Wildlife Services
Michael ConnerJoseph W. Jones Ecological
Research Center
Heather Eves Virginia Polytechnic and State
Selma Glasscock Welder Wildlife Foundation
Sue Haseltine U.S. Geological Survey
Doug Inkley National Wildlife Federation
J. Drew Lanham Clemson University
Scott P. Lerich National Wild Turkey Federation
Meenakshi NagendranU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of International Conservation
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Arthur R. Rodgers
Tom Ryder Wyoming Game and Fish Dept.
Dana Sanchez Oregon State University
Brad Strobel
Texas Tech University
Nate Svoboda Mississippi State University
Eric Taylor U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
John Wiens PRBO Conservation Science
Jiang Zhigang Chinese Academy of Sciences
Michael Hutchins
Yanin Walker
subscription and advertising
The Wildlife Professional is a benefit of membership in
The Wildlife Society, and $20 of members’ dues goes
toward magazine production.
Membership categories include Individual, Student,
Family, Retired, and International. For rates and benefit
information please email Lisa Moll at [email protected] or
use the contact information listed below.
Annual membership dues: $69 for individuals,
$112 for families, $35 for students and retirees.
For advertising information, go to
or contact Onkar Sandal, 800-627-0326 ext. 218,
[email protected]
Contributor Guidelines
Rotating feature departments include:
Executive Director/CEO
Operations Manager
Lisa Moore LaRoe
Divya Abhat
Production Editor/Science Writer
Katherine UngerDevelopment Editor/Science Writer
Ruxandra Giura
Program Manager, Online Services
Madeleine Thomas
Editorial Intern
Government Affairs
Laura Bies
Emily Boehm Rachael Confair Alexandra Sutton Director
Membership Marketing and Conferences
Darryl Walter
Shannon Pederson Program Manager, Subunits
and Certification
Lisa Moll
Conferences and Membership
Jane Jorgenson
Ankit Mehta
Vasa Pupavac
Danielle Prete
Database and IT Administrator
Finance Assistant
TWS Governing Council
Bruce D. Leopold
Thomas J. Ryder
Paul R. Krausman
Thomas M. Franklin
Richard K. Baydack
Ellen Campbell
Carol L. Chambers
Alan Crossley
John McDonald
Darren Miller
Gary C. White
Donald A. Yasuda
Vice President
Past President
University of Manitoba
Northwest Section
Northern Arizona University
WI Dept. of Natural Resources
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Weyerhaeuser Company
Colorado State University
USDA Forest Service
Guidelines available at
Email inquiries to [email protected], or mail them to
headquarters’ address below.
The Wildlife Society
5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-2144
P: (301) 897-9770
F: (301) 530-2471
[email protected]
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
ethics in practice
health and disease
human-wildlife connection
law and policy
plans and practices
professional development
Office and Finance
The Wildlife Professional accepts suggestions
and submissions for content in our regular features
and rotating departments.
tools and technology
wildlife imaging
Copyright and Permissions
Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of any
article published by The Wildlife Society for limited personal or
educational use within one’s home institution is hereby granted
without fee, provided that the first page or initial screen of a
display includes the notice “Copyright © 2010 by The Wildlife
Society,” along with the full citation, including the name(s) of
the author(s). Copyright for components of this work owned
by persons or organizations other than TWS must be honored.
Instructors may use articles for educational purposes only. To
copy or transmit otherwise, to republish, or to use such an
article for commercial or promotional purposes requires specific
permission and a possible fee. Permission must be requested
by writing to [email protected]
Application to mail at periodical postage prices is pending at Bethesda, MD
and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
The Wildlife Professional, 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-2144.
COVER: Rifle hunter Ron Jolly admires a mature white-tailed buck tagged by
his wife, photographer Tes Randle Jolly, on their family’s farm in Alabama during
the January 2010 rut. The Randle Farm has participated in the Quality Deer
Management Association’s management program since 2005.
Credit: Tes Randle Jolly
© The Wildlife Society
Fall 2010
Vol. 4 No. 3
Special Issue: North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
Feature Story Overview: The North American Model
By John F. Organ, Shane P. Mahoney, and Valerius Geist
rotating features
28 Education
A Conservation Timeline
By Robert Brown
32 Ethics
The Hunter’s Ethic
By Jim Posewitz
58 Plans and Practices
Shades of Gray: Challenges
Linked to Hunting
By Divya Abhat and
Katherine Unger
35 Law and Policy
Predator Control: A Model Dilemma
By James M. Peek
39 Commentary
66 Plans and Practices
New Guidelines for Furbearer
By Bryant White et al.
Wellspring of Wildlife Funding
By Steve Williams
Priceless, But Not Free
By Ronald J. Regan
42 Human-Wildlife Connection
A Bountiful Harvest for Science
By Gary C. White and
Chad J. Bishop
Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow
By Richard McCabe
48 Plans and Practices
52 Plans and Practices
80 Commentary
A Personal Journey
By James E. Miller
Deer Control: Hunting for Balance
By Raymond J. Winchcombe
The Scandinavian Model
By Scott M. Brainerd and
Bjørn Kaltenborn
Credit: Jim Peaco/NPS
72 Professional Development
76 Education
Safety First: Hunter Education
By Susan Langlois
64 Human-Wildlife Connection
83 Commentary
Credit: Ken Logan/Colorado Division of Wildlife
Future Challenges to the Model
By Shane P. Mahoney and
David Cobb
Editor's Note
Guest Editorial
Letters to the Editor
Leadership Letter
Science in Short
New Feature
Policy Watch
Issues relevant to wildlifers
89 Field Notes
Practical tips for field biologists
90 The Society Pages
State of Wildlife
Today’s Wildlife Professionals:
Richard Heilbrun and John Davis
96 Gotcha!
TWS news and events
Photos submitted by readers
Courtesy of Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow
More Online!
This publication is available online to TWS
members at Throughout the magazine, mouse icons and text
printed in blue indicate links to more
information available online.
© The Wildlife Society
Confessions of a Bambi Lover
The Wildlife Society wishes
to thank the following organizations
for their financial and in-kind support
of The Wildlife Professional.
Not too long ago, I figured that hunters were a fairly
homogeneous bunch—males who got a thrill from the
kill, then sat around bragging about their big bucks.
Some might say that such ignorance is bliss, but I’ve
learned that ignorance about the value of hunting is
harmful to the wildlife we treasure.
Credit: Ruxandra Giura
That’s why we’re doing this special issue of The Wildlife Professional. It’s meant to inform a wide audience—policymakers,
the general public, and our own members—about the fundamental role
that hunting plays in wildlife management and in the success of the North
American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
If you’ve never heard of the Model, you’re not alone. It’s clear from conversations with students, scientists, legislators, and many of our members
that few are familiar with the tenets of the North American Model, a term
coined to define principles of wildlife management and conservation that
have evolved over the past century.
We can no longer afford to be uninformed. The Model has moved many
species from decline to abundance, ensuring their survival. Articles in this
issue explore that success. They describe the Model's evolution, explain
how hunting aids conservation, and examine how unethical or misguided
hunting practices threaten to undermine the Model and its goals.
We realize that by doing this single-topic issue we open ourselves to criticism. Some colleagues even charge that TWS is “all about hunting and
management, and not about conservation”—as if these were mutually
exclusive. On the contrary, this issue shows that conservation of wildlife
and habitats could not exist without the careful science-based management of populations and the funds and dedication of hunters, trappers,
and anglers who work to sustain the resources they love.
Though I still couldn’t pull the trigger on a deer, I’d enjoy the meal of fresh
venison. I’d know that the deer had had a healthier life—and death—than
the mass-produced meat I buy from the store. I’d appreciate the hunters
who harvested that deer, a species so overabundant in some areas that it
threatens to denude forests. And I’d know that the millions of men and
women who hunt provide the bulk of funding for conservation, and need
the rest of us to contribute.
This issue doesn’t aim to glorify hunting. It does aim to debunk stereotypes and misperceptions (like those I once held), to clarify the role of
hunting in conservation, and to explain that role within the context of
the North American Model. The Wildlife Society—with its highly diverse
membership of hunters, non-hunters, and conservationists of all stripes—
believes that only a diverse coalition of concerned stakeholders can ensure
the future of game, non-game, and endangered species and their habitats.
By supporting the Model and its principles, anyone who cares about wildlife can stand together on common ground.
Lisa Moore LaRoe
[email protected]
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
Hunting as a Wildlife Management Tool
By Darren A. Miller, Ph.D.
Courtesy of Darren A. Miller
Darren A. Miller,
Ph.D., CWB, is
Manager of Southern
Research for
Southeastern Section
Representative of
The Wildlife Society,
and President of the
Southeastern Bat
Diversity Network.
vividly recall the harvest of my first animal, a
gray squirrel, when I was 13 years old. I fondly
remember the smell of gunpowder, the heartthumping excitement, and the face of my dad,
punctuated with a broad smile and joy in his eyes.
At that time, I only anticipated the gratification of
contributing to the next meal of fried squirrel and
could not imagine how that event in the hills of
northwestern Kentucky would help inspire in me a
deep passion for all things wild, eventually shaping
my career.
In the ensuing decades I have often found myself
“defending” hunting, even to other wildlife professionals, many of whom now enter the profession without
a hunting background. Those of us who have such a
heritage are dismayed to see the continued decline in
hunting participation, and realize that acceptance of
hunting as a management tool may be an unintended
victim of this trend.
Hunting is, in fact, an essential tool for wildlife
management. As the original lever behind the North
American conservation movement, hunting embodies the three pillars of wildlife management—habitat,
wildlife populations, and people. In the United States,
it also serves as the primary tool for funding conservation via the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act
(FAWRA), the Federal Duck Stamp Program, and
state license fees. Without such funds, state wildlife
and conservation programs might not exist.
Participation in hunting also motivates many people
to actively support conservation, particularly habitat
conservation. The National Wild Turkey Federation
(NWTF), for example, has engaged members, private
organizations, and government agencies to enhance and
conserve nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat since
its inception in 1973 (NWTF). Similar hunting-based
conservation organizations, including Ducks Unlimited
and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, have collectively conserved tens of millions of acres of habitat
and annually devote millions of dollars for wildlife
conservation. Within our free-market system, private
landowners can lease their land for hunting to generate
income, a motivation for land stewardship. Though the
goal of all these efforts is directed at improving habitat
for hunted species, nongame species also benefit from
the healthier ecosystems (Miller 2010).
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Most biologists are familiar with potential problems regarding overabundant game populations.
Over-browsing, for example, can cause disease, malnutrition, and habitat degradation, as well as impact
ecosystem functions. Hunting can help curtail these
problems by maintaining game populations at appropriate ecological and cultural carrying capacities.
Keeping populations of animals such as black bears,
Canada geese, and white-tailed deer at sustainable
levels not only promotes healthy wildlife populations
but also curbs conflict with humans, reduces collisions
with vehicles and aircraft, and minimizes habitat and
property damage. By reducing overabundant species,
hunting can also reduce the need for state and federal
monies devoted to wildlife population issues.
A Heritage Worth Preserving
Conservation of wildlife resources requires an appreciation of the importance of these resources to society.
Yet as we become more urbanized, our connections
with nature are weakened. I believe the loss of these
connections may ultimately be the most serious threat
to wildlife conservation. Hunting, like many outdoor
activities, is a tool that engages individuals and groups
with wildlife resources, creates wildlife advocates, and
helps to maintain society’s connection with nature.
Similar to any tool, hunting must be used ethically and
in an appropriate context. Some hunters have improper motivations and ignore principles of sustainability
or fair chase. This includes introduction of exotic
species solely for hunting, as well as “guaranteed success” hunts conducted within enclosures, which are
often nothing more than shooting opportunities, far
removed from the core ethics, principles, and values
of a true hunting experience.
Overall, however, regulated hunting is and should
remain a valuable tool for wildlife management. Wildlife professionals—whether they hunt or not—must
continue to support science-based hunting programs,
speak out against inappropriate applications of this
important tool, and speak up for the role hunting
plays in conservation of our natural resources. The
future of wildlife populations depends on people with
a passionate engagement with nature. Recalling my
early experience with hunting and how it sparked a
life-long commitment to wildlife, I know how vital
hunters will be to that future.
© The Wildlife Society
DellaSalla et al. (Summer 2010
letter) should be familiar with
the foundation paper (North et
al. 2009, USFS PSW-GTR-220)
upon which our article (Spring
2010) is based. In their letter’s
online text they write, “The
North et al. article relies on just
the Moonlight fire to characterVol. 4 No. 2 ize fire regimes…[and] is not
Summer 2010
scientifically credible.” This
is incorrect and intentionally
misleading. Even a cursory reading of North et al.
(2009) would show that the management recommendations are based on a synthesis of more than
200 studies published in national and international
journals. Furthermore, since one of the letter’s
authors (Hanson) reviewed and contributed ideas
to our 2009 paper (see acknowledgments), it is
disingenuous at best to state that the management
strategies are based on a single fire.
It would seem that DellaSalla et al. are the ones with a
singular focus since our article is titled “Harnessing Fire
for Wildlife,” not just for the spotted owl. Along with
others (Spies et al. 2010), we disagree with DellaSalla et
al.’s belief in the benign effects of high-severity wildfire
on spotted owls. However, even if the authors were
correct, how can modern wildfire burning in fuel-loaded
forests, usually under extreme weather conditions, produce suitable habitat for the forest’s diverse wildlife that
evolved with frequent, low-intensity fires?
DellaSalla et al. have a strong belief in reducing the
extent and intensity of forest thinning. We believe
this should be balanced with an equally strong
commitment to providing for the needs of all of the
forest’s wildlife and the disturbance regimes upon
which those species depend.
Malcolm North, Ph.D.
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Research Station
Peter Stine, Ph.D., William Zielinski, Ph.D.,
Kevin O’Hara, Ph.D., Scott Stephens, Ph.D.
Corrections and Clarifications
In the field note “Barcoding Hair Samples,” on page
72 (Summer 2010), the number of current hair
samples collected was incorrectly stated as 4,000,
when it is actually 40,000.
Please send letters to: [email protected]
Letters may be edited for publication.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
Understanding Our Roots
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
By Bruce D. Leopold, Ph.D.
s President of The Wildlife Society, it is my
honor to introduce this special, single-topic
issue of The Wildlife Professional, focused on
exploring the origins and legacy of what has come to
be known as the North American Model of Wildlife
Conservation, and explaining the role of hunting as
a key element of the Model itself.
Courtesy of Bruce D. Leopold
Bruce D. Leopold,
Ph.D., is President
of The Wildlife
Society and Head of
the Department of
Wildlife, Fisheries,
and Aquaculture at
Mississippi State
Regrettably, few graduate students studying for careers in wildlife know about the Model and its seven
underlying principles, and many wildlife professionals and policymakers have never even heard of it.
This is why we are presenting this issue of our magazine—to explain one of the world’s most successful
approaches to wildlife and habitat conservation.
Only recently have wildlife conservationists come to
define the seven principles (described in the feature
article on page 22) as “the North American Model of
Wildlife Conservation.” Each of the principles arose
independently in a different context as wildlife management evolved in North America, many as a direct
result of colonists’ anger over how wildlife resources
were controlled in England. Rather than endorse elite
control of wildlife as private property, the Model’s
principles ensure that wildlife remains available to
all, conserved for future generations.
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation wasn’t written all at once like the Declaration of
Independence or the United States Constitution. Yet
for wildlife, it carries equal weight, and its prominence as a model for wildlife conservation is now
praised by nations around the globe. As important,
the goals of The Wildlife Society are inextricably
linked to the North American Model and its principles, such as the wise and sustainable use of our
natural resources, managing through science-based
knowledge, and hunting as a core conservation tool.
Understanding the Model has become even more
important today as we face multiple challenges,
such as finding funding for non-game wildlife
management, fencing of lands, private ownership
of wildlife within enclosures, and manipulation of
science to support specific agendas. It is therefore
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
critical that all of our members understand the
teachings of the Model and how it has shaped natural resource policy in North America. Our members
must also consistently convey the achievements of
the Model as they speak before civic groups, testify
before congressional panels or state wildlife commissions, write essays and journal papers, or teach
university courses in wildlife management.
The North American Model should be understood
not only by members of TWS but by all natural
resource groups and the public at large. It has played
a critical role in how our forests, grasslands, deserts,
rivers, and lakes have been managed. Thus, we need
to join with our partners in the Coalition of Natural
Resource Societies—the American Fisheries Society,
Society of American Foresters, and Society of Range
Management—and with other conservation groups
to spread the word. This issue of the magazine can
help focus the message.
The Work of Many Hands
My hope is that the North American Model will
become as familiar to wildlife professionals as Aldo
Leopold, widely considered the father of our profession. When I was an undergraduate, Leopold’s Game
Management and A Sand County Almanac were
required reading. These classic texts have had a profound impact on wildlife professionals and on natural
resource management, and Leopold’s teachings echo
throughout the principles of the North American
Model. Yet the Model does not reflect the contributions of just one individual, but the collective thoughts
and actions of many who shared one common goal: to
conserve this nation’s natural resources for perpetuity.
From hunters and anglers to U.S. presidents, from
conservation leaders and congressmen to the courts,
many groups and individuals have shaped the North
American Model of Wildlife Conservation. I am confident that this special issue of our member magazine
will serve as an important resource for professionals
and the public at large by shedding light on the history, motivations, challenges, and future of the North
American Model, one of the greatest wildlife conservation success stories on Earth.
© The Wildlife Society
Wandering Cats
Credit: Allen Press
Roaming feral cats feast on native wildlife, particularly birds and small
mammals. Some areas use trap-neuter-release (TNR)—whereby cats are
sterilized and kept in unconfined colonies—to curtail the growth of feral cat
populations. However, many researchers debate the effectiveness of TNR,
and few had studied how sterilization affects cats’ movements and home
ranges. Reporting in the Journal of Mammalogy (v. 91/2), Darcee Guttilla
and Paul Stapp of California State University have found an answer. For two
years they monitored 27 radio-collared cats, 14 of which had been sterilized, on California’s Santa Catalina Island. The researchers had anticipated
that sterilized cats would have smaller ranges because they would not seek
mates. Yet there was no difference in home range size between the sterilized
and intact cats. Although the cat colonies were in areas of human habitation,
Guttilla and Stapp found that the cats often traveled between colonies and
undeveloped, natural habitat in the island’s interior. These findings suggest
that cats from TNR populations still pose a threat to native wildlife—on
Santa Catalina and elsewhere.
Drive Hunts Unsettle Boars
Lizards Feeling the Heat
Reprinted with permission from AAAS
© The Wildlife Society
If temperatures become so high that lizards hide in the shade rather than mate or
forage for food, they risk dying out. A new
study in Science (v. 328/5980) suggests
that this may be what’s causing declines
of some lizard populations in Mexico.
Researchers led by Barry Sinervo of the
University of California, Santa Cruz surveyed 48 species of spiny lizards in Mexico
and report that 12 percent of local populations have disappeared since 1975, even
though many had lived in protected areas.
The team notes that the environment had
remained largely unchanged except for a
raised temperature. To demonstrate how
such a warming could impact lizards,
the scientists placed a device designed to
mimic the thermal properties of a basking
lizard in various sites to record temperatures in the sun. They found that where
lizards had disappeared, spring temperatures exceeded the maximum level that
lizards could tolerate for up to 13 hours
each day, leaving barely enough time for
lizards to consume sufficient calories to
survive, much less find time to reproduce.
The researchers also developed a model,
validated by observed extinctions on four
continents, to project how climatic warming may impact other lizard populations.
The model also indicates that 20 percent
of lizards globally may face extinction by
2080—a sign that many lizards aren’t just
feeling the heat, they’re dying from it.
Credit: Springer
Drive hunts, whereby hunters and a
team of dogs chase boars (Sus scrofa),
are popular in Italy and other European
countries, where boar populations are
increasing. Boars can be agricultural
pests, so hunting is a useful means of
reducing wildlife-farmer conflicts. But
researchers led by Andrea Monaco of the
National Wildlife Institute in Bologna,
Italy wanted to see whether such intensive hunts could cause long-term instability among boar populations by forcing
the animals out of their preferred range.
The biologists tracked 20 radio-tagged
boars in 10 family groups before, during,
and after drive hunts over two years. The
authors report in the European Journal
of Wildlife Research (v. 56/3) that boar
resting ranges grew during the hunting
season and distances between resting
sites increased. They observed that family
groups driven by hunters more than twice
in a month were more likely to abandon their former territory, and a family
group that had been chased five times in
a month remained 15 kilometers away
from its old territory even after the hunting season ended. The authors conclude
that repeated and intensive drive hunts
elicit spatial instability in boar populations and should be avoided, as displaced
boars may move toward agricultural areas
where they might cause conflict.
Perching Birds Get the Flu
Credit: BioMedCentral
The avian flu virus known as H5N1, or “bird
flu,” has killed millions of domestic poultry
and hundreds of humans in the last several years. Massive monitoring programs
have implicated ducks and shorebirds as
reservoirs of flu, but few researchers had
studied whether passerines—songbirds and
perching birds—could also be important
carriers of flu. Reporting in BMC Infectious
Diseases (v. 10), a team led by University of
California, Los Angeles ecologist Thomas B.
Smith describes the analysis of 13,046 swab
samples collected from 225 species of birds
in 41 states between 2005 and 2008. The
researchers found low-pathogenic avian flu
virus (not known to be deadly to humans) in
22 passerine species, which was the largest
number of flu-positive species in 11 orders
tested, including waterfowl. A geographic
model of disease also indicates that Plains
states and the Pacific Northwest are at the
greatest risk of future bird flu outbreaks.
The findings may mean that seemingly
unlikely birds, such as finches and thrushes,
should be monitored along with waterfowl
to detect potential threats to human health.
Living with Chytrid
Credit: © 2010 National Academy of
Sciences, U.S.A.
Climate, Agriculture,
and Godwits
Predators and the Bottom Line
Credit: Allen Press
In 2005 alone, Wyoming ranchers lost
4,000 cattle and 25,000 sheep to predators
at a cost of nearly $4 million. To determine
the impact of such predation losses on an
individual rancher, Benjamin Rashford and
colleagues with the University of Wyoming’s
Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics studied a representative cattle ranch
in western Wyoming. Using a mathematical
model, they tested a variety of scenarios—
including calf mortality, lower calf weaning weight due to stress from predators,
and increased variable costs such as hay or
veterinary services. As the authors report
in Rangelands (v. 32/3), variable costs had
little effect on the bottom line. But if a ranch
lost just 4 percent of its cattle to predators, it would lose money three out of every
ten years. If the ranch lost 10 percent of its
cattle, it would risk folding. Reduced weaning weights made a ranch’s financial security
even more precarious. A mere 5 percent
reduction in weaning weight, for instance,
could result in negative profits four of every
ten years. The authors note that economically efficient predator control activities, such
as employing more herders, could decrease
mortalities and boost weaning weights.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
For amphibians, the chytrid fungus is like
kryptonite: It has wiped out populations
around the world. Yet some infected populations have persisted for more than a decade.
Ecologist Cheryl Briggs of the University of
California, Santa Barbara, led a five-year
study to find out why. Her team tagged 392
mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana sierrae and R. muscosa) in California’s Sierra
Nevada, then sought to recapture them. Reporting in PNAS (v. 107/21), they found that
frogs lost and regained chytrid infections,
and their infection status didn’t correlate
with survival. Researchers also developed
a model to see if fungal load—the amount
of spores in a frog population—affected
population persistence. At sites where
frogs with chytrid persisted, adults had low
levels of fungus, but tadpoles and subadults had much higher levels—a sign that
tadpoles may act as a reservoir of infection.
The authors suggest that managers might
help populations survive an initial chytrid
outbreak by applying antifungals, reducing
population density, or removing tadpoles.
Credit: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Climate change affects wildlife directly by
altering habitats or allowing warm-climate
diseases to spread. But warming temperatures can also change how humans use land,
with indirect impacts on wildlife. In Ibis
(v. 152/3), David Kleijn of the Netherlands’
Wageningen University and colleagues
present a case study of this indirect climate
effect by examining how climate change
and changes in farming practices in the
Netherlands interact to affect the blacktailed godwit (Limosa limosa), a declining
grassland-breeding shorebird. The researchers amassed data on temperature, pasture
mowing dates, chick hatching dates, and
arthropod abundance. Their analysis showed
that mowing dates advanced 15 days from
1982 to 2005 as temperatures warmed, yet
godwit hatching dates remained unchanged,
meaning chicks were more likely to hatch
after much of the farmland had been mowed.
This change means that not only could young
chicks be killed by mowing, but they could
hatch with reduced access to tall grasses—
their preferred foraging habitat. The authors
recommend that strategies to conserve
agricultural species must now factor in the
effects of climate change on land use.
© The Wildlife Society
From The Journal of Wildlife Management (JWM)
Credit: TWS
Credit: TWS
Cruise Ships Make Seals Splash
pup-rearing, breeding, and molting—reacted to passing or approaching ships. The team found that once
a ship came within 500 meters, seals were increasingly likely to flush into the water. At 200 meters, 77
percent of seals would enter the water. Flushing into
the cold water of Alaska has significant implications
for seal pup survival, the authors note. While pups
normally spend approximately 40 percent of their
time in the water, an increase to 50 percent could put
them in an energy deficit. To prevent seals from having to expend extra energy, the authors say that cruise
ship regulations must be updated.
By Hair or By Scat
believed to have become established. Additional studies from both SRS and Alabama point to fawns being
an important food source for coyotes. Though the
authors note that several of their “lines of evidence”
are correlations and don’t prove causation, the observations warrant further research into the impact of
coyotes on deer populations.
Close to one million visitors each summer take a
cruise in Alaska. This cruise ship traffic, which has
steadily increased since the 1980s, is disturbing
harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), according to a report in
JWM (v. 74/6). Researchers from NOAA’s National
Marine Mammal Laboratory led by John Jansen took
observations of harbor seals from the decks of cruise
ships entering or leaving Alaska’s Disenchantment
Bay from May to August 2002. They watched to see
how adults and pups that were hauled out on ice on
the tidewater glacial fjords—important habitat for
Research on reintroduced gray wolf (Canis lupus)
populations in the northern Rocky Mountains has
relied mainly on radio telemetry, a highly informative
but invasive and expensive technique. Hoping to find
a more efficient tool for long-term monitoring, a team
led by Jennifer Stenglein of the University of Idaho
tested the accuracy of wolf hair and scat genetic
sampling in central Idaho over two years, reporting
their results in JWM (v. 74/5). The team collected
samples in areas they predicted to be wolf rendezvous
sites based on vegetation, topography, and other
characteristics. They then analyzed the DNA using
microsatellite loci. The genetic analysis identified a
total of 122 individual wolves, more than four and
a half times the number of radio-collared wolves in
the same area. Researchers only needed to “capture,”
or obtain a sample from, the same wolf 1.7 times for
an accurate population estimate. The authors note
that randomly selecting just half to three-quarters
of all likely rendezvous sites and sampling for DNA
could reduce the time and costs of analysis while still
producing an accurate population estimate.
Coyote Creep
It’s well known that coyote (Canis latrans) populations have expanded their range in recent decades,
even reaching areas where they are not native, such
as some parts of the southeastern U.S. In a commentary in JWM (v. 74/5), John Kilgo of the USDA Forest
Service Southern Research Station and colleagues
discuss several observations that suggest that coyotes
may be the reason for declining white-tailed deer
(Odocoileus virginianus) recruitment, or survival
of fawns to adulthood, in the Southeast. An increase
in coyote numbers in South Carolina between 1997
and 2006, for example, mirrors a decline in the
estimated statewide deer population during the same
period. Further studies at the Savannah River Site
(SRS) have revealed that fawn-to-doe ratios dropped
sharply from before 1990 to the late-1990s and early2000s—just when the coyote population at the site is
© The Wildlife Society
Discouraging Perching
In wide open spaces like the sagebrush steppe of the
Intermountain West, power lines provide raptors with
attractive places to perch—which is bad news for prey.
Some scientists suggest that power lines may be part
of the reason that prey species like greater sage grouse
(Centrocercus urophasianus) are in trouble. Researchers Steven Slater and Jeff Smith of HawkWatch
International wanted to see if perching deterrents
such as spikes on power-line structures could keep
raptors away. At sites in southwestern Wyoming, they
recorded raptor presence, behavior, and any nearby
prey remains at power lines equipped with deterrent
devices that had been erected two years prior. They
also studied control sites where power lines lacked deterrent devices. Reporting in JWM (v. 74/5), they note
that over the course of a year they observed raptors or
ravens 13 times more often on power line structures
without perch deterrents than on structures with
intact deterrents. They also found 97 percent fewer
single prey items and 87 percent fewer grouped prey
items at the deterrent sites. The authors suggest that
managers should consider the availability of other
perches in the surrounding landscape, and weigh the
considerable financial costs of installing perching deterrents, just one of many tools available to conserve
threatened species.
See this department online at for a complete list
of articles recommended by TWP’s
Editorial Advisory Board.
rare myotis species, found in only a few counties in southeast
Virginia, may be affected by WNS.
Source: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
and Plains
North Central
North America
News and events affecting wildlife and wildlife
professionals from across North America
Florida—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission developed a plan to
excavate approximately 700 sea turtle nests—most of them
threatened loggerheads (Caretta caretta)—from beaches along
the Gulf of Mexico to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. Rescue
personnel had to carefully collect the eggs by hand and place
them in sand-filled containers. FedEx drivers then transported
the containers in air-conditioned FedEx trucks 500 miles east
to a temperature-controlled warehouse at the Space Center. As hatchlings emerge, rescue teams release them along
Florida’s east coast, where the turtles can swim into the Atlantic Ocean without encountering oil. Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife
Oregon—Biologists with USDA’s Wildlife Services recently
used carbon dioxide to euthanize 109 nuisance Canada geese
(Branta canadensis) after the birds layered a local park in Bend
with goose droppings. The meat from the birds was served at
local food banks. Growing populations of Canada geese in the
region have been a cause for concern for several years, leading park district officials to try several non-lethal measures to
disperse the geese, including hazing, paintball guns, the use
of dogs, and other scare tactics—all to little or no avail. The
problem is costly: In 2009, officials in the Bend Parks and Recreation District spent $22,000 on goose-related clean-ups and
maintenance. Source: Bend Parks and Recreation District
Washington—Police officers and biologists with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife were recently
forced to remove 10 black bears (Ursus americanus) from Long
Beach Peninsula, where the animals had become habituated
after being routinely fed. A resident notified authorities, complaining of a high concentration of bears in the neighborhood.
Investigations revealed that most of the bears were fed by one
resident, who had spent approximately $4,000 in one year on
dog food for the wild animals. Of the 10 bears, officials had to
euthanize five that were dangerously habituated to people and
therefore couldn’t be effectively relocated. The meat from the
euthanized bears was donated to a neighborhood food program, and the remaining five bears were relocated to the Mount
Rainier area. Source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission
Virginia—The southeastern myotis bat (Myotis austroriparius) may be the latest victim of white-nose syndrome
(WNS), a deadly fungus that has killed nearly one million bats
across the eastern United States and in parts of Canada. In
May, biologists with the Virginia Department of Conservation
and Recreation captured an infected myotis bat in Virginia’s
Pocahontas State Park. The bat—which died soon after its capture—tested positive for Geomyces destructans, a fungal agent
that causes skin infections in bats affected with WNS. Biologists are carrying out additional tests to determine whether this
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Credit: USFWS/ Strawser
Rescue personnel at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge carefully move a sea
turtle nest, located too close to the water, out of harm’s way. A few days later,
personnel began the process of relocating nearly 70,000 turtle eggs from
beaches along the Gulf of Mexico over to Florida’s east coast, where the
hatchlings could be safely released.
© The Wildlife Society
North Central
Ohio—In July, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
organized a course for landowners, hunters, and other wildlife
professionals interested in the intricacies of deer management. A partnership between the Quality Deer Management
Association and ODNR’s Division of Wildlife, the “Farmer and
Hunter Quality Deer Management Cooperative Shortcourse”
provided tips and techniques for farmers and hunters to reduce
deer crop damage and balance deer sex ratios. It also offered
sessions on improving hunter-landowner relationships and developing deer management cooperatives. Participants learned
about—an online “match” program that
links landowners with hunters based on online profiles, hunting
preferences, and farmland features and availability. Speakers
also covered management topics such as antler growth and
genetics, culling, and hunter management. Credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program
Three bears, fed regularly by residents of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula,
circle a plot of land in search of food. Five of the 10 bears that were fed for over
a year became dangerously habituated to people and had to be euthanized
because of the risk they posed to neighborhood residents.
montana—In July, state and federal wildlife officials euthanized a female grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) after she
mauled three campers, killing one, in separate incidents at the
Soda Butte campground near Cooke City, Montana. Based on
Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Guidelines—an agreement
between eight state and federal agencies—officials are advised
to remove grizzly bears that display unprovoked aggressive
behavior toward humans, or cause substantial human injury, including death. The grizzly’s three yearling cubs were sent to Zoo
Montana. The case didn’t end there, however. A few days after
the bear was killed, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks investigators
followed up on rumors that a photographer baited wildlife near
the campsite sometime prior to the attacks. Officials are looking
into that, and several other tips. Source: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota—For the first time in almost a century, Minnesotans will be allowed to hunt sandhill cranes (Grus
canadensis) in the far northwestern part of the state. The
sandhill crane hunting season will run for 37 days beginning
in the first week of September, with a daily bag limit of two
birds and a possession limit of four. Hunters will be required
to buy a $3.50 permit and use non-toxic shot to harvest the
birds. Hunted since 1961 in other central flyway states, such
as Kansas and Oklahoma, the midcontinent population of
sandhill cranes is estimated at more than 450,000. Source:
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Vermont, New York—In an effort to protect Lake Champlain’s sport fish and colonial nesting waterbirds, state officials
from Vermont and New York are devising a management plan to
control the burgeoning population of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), non-native birds believed to eat
too many of the lake’s fish, strip leaves from trees, and destroy
ground vegetation with their guano. If the plan is adopted,
wildlife officials will build on existing management measures,
such as destroying the birds’ nests or oiling their eggs, to
further reduce the cormorant population. Due to similar habitat
concerns, Vermont officials also plan to reduce the number
of ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) on Young Island from
5,000 to 300 birds. Source: Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife,
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Lee Karney
The double-crested cormorant, a non-native species in New England, has been
disturbing nesting habitat for other waterbird species on Lake Champlain. To
curb the problem, agency officials in Vermont and New York are developing a
management plan that could result in more aggressive control of the lake’s
cormorant population.
California—The California Fish and Game Commission voted
to uphold its recently instated ban on the import of nonnative
frogs and turtles for food—a ban that drew criticism from San
Francisco’s Chinese community, one of the largest consumers of
frog legs and turtles in the United States. In response to protests,
the state organized a reconsideration hearing in Sacramento,
California, which was attended by legislators, representatives
from nonprofit organizations, businesses, and several members
of the public. Those testifying against the ban said that it would
damage the state economy and discriminate against the Chinese
community, affecting its age-old cultural practice of eating frogs
and turtles. Those in favor of the ban cited the critical global
decline in frog populations, noting that nearly one-third of the
world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Statistics show that Americans consume 20 percent of the world’s
frogs’ legs, and experts estimate that more than 100 million frogs
are taken from the wild each year for food. Source: Center for North
released a report in July that warned of the negative impact
of small and fragmented habitat on several species in
Canada. Despite the nation’s 3,500 protected areas, including 42 national parks, the report called for bigger parks and
more protected habitat for umbrella species such as woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus), grizzly bears (Ursus arctos
horriblis), and orcas (Orcinus orca), which, in turn, would
help protect other species dependent on the same habitats.
Noting that six grizzly bears had been killed by trains outside
Banff National Park in 2007, the report also called for more
“wildlife movement corridors” to allow animals—particularly
species that range over large areas—to move safely between
protected areas. CPAWS also says that government efforts
to establish the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation
Area (a feeding site for orcas) and Ottawa’s plans to create
new parks to protect wild horses both fall short and must be
carried out on a larger scale.
Source: The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
American Herpetology, California Fish and Game Commission
new mexico—The New Mexico Department of Game and
Fish conducted several public meetings in July seeking public
comments on their proposal to increase the bear harvest from
400 individuals to more than 700, in time for the 2011-2012
hunting season. If approved, that increase would remain in effect for the next four years. The Department also proposed rule
changes, including an increase in harvest numbers for cougars,
antelope, and deer, to provide more hunting opportunities, as
well as address nuisance and human safety concerns. The Department was scheduled to report its findings and present its
final recommendations to the State Game Commission by the
end of August. Source: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Central Mountains and Plains
utah—In an effort to increase Utah’s declining bobcat (Lynx
rufus) population, now at its lowest point since the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources began collecting harvest statistics
in 1983, state officials have called for several changes to
current hunting regulations. For the first time ever, bobcat
trapping and hunting permits will be capped—at 4,600. The
new rules will also limit each trapper and hunter to three
permits rather than four. Agency officials also proposed that
the length of the hunting season be reduced by a week.
A 12-year survey has revealed a significant decline in
the Franklin’s bumblebee (Bombus franklini), prompting the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation and
survey author Robbin Thorp of the University of California
to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide
federal protection for the species under the Endangered
Species Act. Entomologists last spotted a single Franklin’s bumblebee in 2006, and scientists believe that the
decline in that, along with other bumblebee species, may
be due to an exotic disease that spread from commercial
to wild bumblebees. Alarmed by an overall decline in wild
bumblebee populations, Thorp, the Xerces Society, and
the Natural Resources Defense Council, with the support
of more than 50 bee scientists, have also petitioned the
U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish more stringent
regulations to control the transfer of disease from commercial to wild bumblebees. Regulations would include
ensuring that bumblebees are not moved outside of their
native ranges as well as the use of permits certifying that
commercial bumblebees are disease-free prior to their
transfer to other parts of the U.S. Source: The Xerces Society
of Invertebrate Conservation
Source: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)—
responsible for helping establish two-thirds of Canada’s
protected wilderness areas over the last five decades—
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
For comments or suggestions, or to submit news
briefs for the State of Wildlife section, contact
Divya Abhat, [email protected]
© The Wildlife Society
News and events affecting wildlife
and wildlife professionals around the world
Locals from the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are
pressuring authorities to declassify a wildlife refuge—the
Karera Bird Sanctuary. If they’re successful, this would be
the first sanctuary in India to lose official recognition. The
sanctuary was created in 1981 to protect the Great Indian
bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps). Yet this rare bird hasn’t been
seen in the park for over a decade, causing some area
residents to argue that the sanctuary’s special status is
unnecessary. Most residents of 33 villages surrounding
the 124-square-mile sanctuary favor a downgrade, complaining that sanctuary status prevents them from buying,
selling, or building on the land. Opponents argue that a
change in status would signify a failure in conservation
efforts to protect the Great Indian bustard, known only
to exist in four Indian states and parts of Pakistan.
In June, at a five-day United Nations meeting in Busan,
South Korea, more than 230 delegates from 85 countries
backed a proposal to create a global “science policy” panel
on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Modeled after the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the new Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services will help bridge the gulf between research
and the political action needed to stop biodiversity loss. It will
conduct peer reviews of scientific literature, which will serve
as “gold standard” reports for participating governments. The
new panel is expected to be formally endorsed at the UNEP’s
Global Ministerial Meeting in 2011. Source: Intergovernmental
Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
A recent study published in the journal Marine Biology
revealed that two species of finless porpoises in Asia—once
believed to be a single species—are genetically unique and
rarely intermingle. After analyzing genes of 125 finless porpoises living around China, authors of the study discovered
that a population living in the Yangtze River represents a distinct genetic grouping from other finless porpoise populations.
Zoologists find the results of the study particularly disturbing
because of its implication for the conservation and survival
of this small population of porpoises, currently estimated at
fewer than 1,000 individuals. Experts suggest the species be
managed and conserved separately to avoid a fate similar to
the Baiji dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), a freshwater dolphin once
found only in China’s Yangtze River and declared functionally
extinct in 2006. Source: Marine Biology
Source: Bombay Natural History Society
Sydney’s Taronga Zoo has a new Tasmanian Devil Breeding
Center. Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) are threatened
with extinction because of a widespread and contagious cancer
called Devil Facial Tumor Disease that has infected 60 percent
of the wild population. The $1 million center was created to raise
awareness of a multi-zoo breeding program launched in 2008 to
help restore the species and ensure a disease-free population
of devils. Of 13 wildlife organizations that have signed on to the
program, two—the Taronga and Taronga Western Plain Zoos—
have already seen the birth of 24 Tasmanian devils. Taronga’s
new center offers outdoor classroom sessions that explain the
difficulties that devils face in the wild, particularly the threat of
contracting Devil Facial Tumor Disease. The illness is caused by
a virus that affects the animal’s face and prevents it from eating,
causing it to starve to death. According to reports, if experts cannot find a cure, the species could die out within the next two to
three decades. Source: Taronga Zoo
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Rick Stevens
One of Taronga Zoo’s Tasmanian devils approaches a food-filled replica of a
kangaroo in a specially designed feeding feature at the zoo’s new Tasmanian
Devil Conservation Center. The exhibit is part of an effort to show human impacts
on wildlife and landscapes.
A City Boy Finds His Wild Side
Richard Heilbrun hunts for a connection to nature
By Katherine Unger
pervisor Terry Blankenship, he developed an idea for
a master’s thesis project, which he pursued under the
guidance of Nova Silvy, a wildlife professor at Texas
A&M. Heilbrun’s research revealed that using trail
camera photography to perform a mark-recapture
analysis of bobcats could help accurately estimate
population size (Heilbrun et al. 2006).
Credit: John Davis
At a staff
workshop in San
Antonio, Richard
Heilbrun offers
shooting instruction
to fellow urban
biologist Lois Balin.
hen he finished college in 1998, Richard
Heilbrun had barely given a moment’s
thought to hunting. But the next summer
he interned at the Welder Wildlife Foundation near
Sinton, Texas, and a coworker took him hunting. “I just
fell in love with it,” he says. “I had camped and hiked
all my life, but here was this pursuit that was more
involved and more connected to the resource than any
of the other outdoor recreating that I’d done.”
Since then, Heilbrun—an urban wildlife biologist for
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)—
has made it his duty to inspire that sense of connection
in others. Hunting “has the potential to involve people
… in the cities” with wildlife, he says.
Heilbrun himself grew up near Houston with a family that wasn’t especially outdoorsy. Yet a passion for
nature led him to major in wildlife biology at Texas
A&M University, and to spend his summers interning
for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “Here was this city kid in
the middle of a wildlife management area, on a tractor,
painting signs, doing vegetative surveys, hiking up
mountains. I loved every minute of it,” he says.
During his post-graduation internship at Welder,
Heilbrun studied bobcats using radio telemetry and
conducted scat and diet analysis. With help from su-
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
After completing his master’s degree in 2002,
Heilbrun got a position with TPWD. As a regulatory
biologist in Victoria, Texas, he provided technical
guidance on wildlife management, mainly to private
landowners. In a feat of “people management,” he
successfully formed three cooperatives of landowners
who voluntarily agreed to the same wildlife management advice, such as increasing doe harvest and not
shooting bucks on their properties until they reached
five and a half years.
Linking City Folks to Nature
Heilbrun found working with landowners rewarding,
but he also wanted to reach out to people who knew
very little about wildlife. So, when a position for an urban wildlife biologist opened in San Antonio in 2004,
he applied and got the job. “My new mission is that
the average citizen needs to be informed about wildlife
conservation,” he says.
In this role, Heilbrun helps municipalities do regional
land planning, advises landowners, and gives presentations to local politicians on how ordinances may
be given a conservation spin. He’s found it useful to
frame discussions about wildlife and habitat around
topics that might be higher on a policymaker’s priority
list. For example, instead of explaining how a habitat
restoration project will benefit birds, Heilbrun might
point out that replanting native vegetation will help
preserve clean drinking water in an aquifer that lies
beneath central Texas. “I can impact hundreds of
thousands of acres just talking to a couple city council
members,” he says.
His move back to the city didn’t mean Heilbrun let go of
his passion for hunting. Instead, he started a mentored
hunting program through TPWD and the Texas Chapter
of The Wildlife Society (in which Heilbrun is an active
© The Wildlife Society
member) to teach the fundamentals of hunting to urbanites, lapsed hunters, or hunters new to the area. He has
also worked with the Texas Chapter’s wildlife conservation
camp for more than a decade, giving high school students
exposure to wildlife science and the outdoors. And each
fall he leads area families in an “Owl Prowl,” calling barred
owls. “People get to be 15 feet from an owl,” he says. “It
really brings home that idea of neighborhood nature.”
Heilbrun knows not all the young people he meets will
grow up to be biologists, but says that’s okay, because
at least they’ll be more informed than they were to
start. “The only thing I can do is reach as many people
as possible.”
Katherine Unger is Development Editor/Science Writer
for The Wildlife Society.
Mentor John Davis
Conservation Outreach Coordinator, Wildlife Division
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
For most of his life, John Davis knew that he wanted to share his
passion for nature with others. Planning to be a college professor,
he earned his bachelor’s in biology at Sam Houston State University, and his master’s in biology with an emphasis in invertebrate
behavioral ecology from the University of Texas-Arlington, studying why centipedes plugged their burrows. After finishing that
degree in 1993, Davis was broke. “I knew I had to do something
to get some money before I made the next run at the Ph.D.”
Davis took a job at a pet store in the Dallas-Forth Worth area,
and also started a side business designing lessons on biology
and ecology for schools. He soon got a call from Texas Parks
and Wildlife (for which he had conducted bird surveys over a few
summers) offering a temporary survey job in West Texas. Davis
jumped on it. “I left thinking that I was a biologist and I was not
going to live in the city anymore. I was never going back.”
Yet while he was working for TPWD, Davis noticed “a weird job”
posted for an Urban Wildlife Biologist. He was intrigued. Not only
would he have the chance to educate people about wildlife and
nature, but “the diversity of the people I could impact went well beyond what I could do as a college professor.” So he returned to the
big city—Dallas-Fort Worth—and quickly knew he’d found his niche.
Davis spent roughly 14 years as an urban biologist, where each
day was anything but typical. “One day in the morning I was in
waders waist deep in mud and muck, planting a wetland,” he
says, “only to go home, shower, put on a suit, and go to a city
council meeting that lasted until midnight as an expert on the
habitat implications of a proposed ordinance.”
Davis enjoyed the diversity of his work, but grew frustrated that he
didn’t have much say in land-planning discussions that could have
major environmental repercussions. So, in 2000, Davis began studying for a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of
Texas-Arlington. “I realized I needed to understand how cities were
built and how we make the decisions that make cities the way they
are in order to offset the ecological problems I saw,” says Davis.
© The Wildlife Society
He finished the degree
in 2006 and immediately
noticed a change—not just
in himself, but in how others
saw him. “It was definite and
stark,” says Davis. “People
all of a sudden wanted to
hear what I had to say.” He
was invited to speak to urban
planning conferences and
got more attention from city
planners in his own job. He
learned how to frame issues
in terms of economic and
social impacts. “The reality
is that those are the forces
that are driving land use and
gobbling up landscapes and
fragmenting habitat,” he says.
Credit: Chase Fountain/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
John Davis gives a presentation
on the impacts of an urbanizing
Texas population at the
Southeast Association of Fish
and Wildlife Agencies.
In 2008, Davis became TPWD’s conservation outreach coordinator, in charge of five programs that connect citizens to wildlife.
While he grants that the administrative aspects of the new job
aren’t as fun as running around in the field—“my passion is not
spreadsheets and meetings”—he has found “a different kind of fulfillment” in his cubicle. “Things that I’ve said or done have helped
ensure that programs I care about are still supported,” he says.
“I’ve gone home on those days feeling very proud of the fact that
I was able to do that kind of good.”
Davis says he has also gained perspective on how state agencies can stay relevant to their constituents, who are less and less
likely to have grown up hunting. “One of my fears is that agencies look at this problem of the declining relevance of the North
American Model and their response is, ‘We have to make them
like us’” by turning urbanites into hunters and anglers. Though
Davis supports hunter and angler recruitment, he says that’s not
the long-term answer. “Urbanites are passionate about wildlife;
they’re passionate about open spaces; they’re passionate about
water quality.” To support those passions, he says, TPWD can’t
only be seen as a hunting and fishing agency. “We have to be
seen as a quality of life agency.”
Born in the
Hands of Hunters
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife conservation in the United States and Canada has evolved over the last
century and a half to acquire a form distinct from that of any other nation in the
world. It’s a conservation approach with irony at its core—sparked by the over-exploitation of wildlife, then crafted by hunters and anglers striving to save the resources
their predecessors had nearly destroyed. Now a series of principles collectively
known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (Geist 1995, Geist et
al. 2001), it helps sustain not only traditional game species but all wildlife and their
habitats across the continent. The key to its future lies in understanding its origins.
By John F. Organ, Ph.D., Shane P. Mahoney, and Valerius Geist, Ph.D.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
Historical Context
The North American Model (the Model) has deep social and
ecological roots. In the early days of North American exploration, English and French settlers came from cultures where
wildlife at various times in their histories was the private property of an elite landed gentry (Manning 1993). The explorations
of these settlers were driven by the incredible wealth of North
America’s renewable natural resources—and by an unfettered
opportunity to exploit it. Today, wildlife conservation in
Canada and the United States reflects this historic citizen
access to the land and its resources. Indeed, the idea that
natural resources belong to the citizenry drives democratic engagement in conservation and forms the heart
of North America’s unique approach (Krausman 2009).
After resource exploitation fueled the expansion of people
across the continent, the Industrial Revolution brought social changes that indelibly marked the land and
its wildlife. In 1820, 5 percent of Americans lived in cities, but by 1860,
20 percent were urban dwellers,
marking the greatest demographic
shift ever to occur in America (Riess
1995). Markets for wildlife arose to feed these
urban masses and to festoon a new class of wealthy
elites with feathers and furs. Market hunters plied their
trade first along coastal waters and interior forests. With the advent of railways, hunters exploited the West, shipping products
from bison, elk, and other big game back to eastern cities. The
march of the market hunter left once abundant species teetering on the brink of extinction.
By August 1886—when Captain Moses Harris led cavalry troops
into Yellowstone National Park to take over its administration
and stop rampant poaching—bison, moose, and elk had ceased
to exist in the U.S. as a viable natural resource (U.S. Dept.
Interior 1987). The Army takeover of Yellowstone is symbolic of
the desperate actions taken to protect the remnants of American
wildlife from total extinction. Ironically, the sheer scale of the
slaughter was to have some influence in engendering a remarkable new phenomenon: the conservation ethic (Mahoney 2007).
Northern shovelers (Anas
clypeata) take to the air
over Laguna Atascosa
National Wildlife Refuge
in Texas.
Credit: René Monsalve
John F. Organ,
Ph.D., CWB, is
Chief of Wildlife
and Sport Fish Restoration for the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife
Service Northeast
Region and Adjunct
Associate Professor
of Wildlife
Conservation at
the University of
Shane P. Mahoney
is Executive Director
for Sustainable
Development and
Strategic Science
in the Department
of Environment
and Conservation,
Government of
and Labrador
and Founder and
Executive Director
of the Institute
for Biodiversity,
Ecosystem Science,
and Sustainability
at the Memorial
University of
Newfoundland and
Valerius Geist, Ph.D.,
is Professor Emeritus
of Environmental
Science at the
University of Calgary
in Alberta, Canada.
Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS
© The Wildlife Society
Born in the Hands of Hunters
criticized Roosevelt for his limited experience in the West and for presenting
hunting myths as fact. Roosevelt went
to talk with Grinnell, and upon comparing experiences the two realized that
big game had declined drastically. Their
discussion inspired them to found the
Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, an
organization whose purpose would be to
“take charge of all matters pertaining to
the enactment and carrying out of game
and fish laws” (Reiger 1975).
Credit: Jim Peaco/NPS
Some 40,000 bison
pelts in Dodge
City, Kansas (right)
await shipment to
the East Coast in
1878—evidence of the
rampant exploitation
of the species. The
end of market hunting
and the continuing
conservation efforts
have given bison a
new foothold across
parts of their historic
range, including
Yellowstone National
Park (above).
The increasing urban
population found itself with
something that farmers did
not have: leisure time. The
challenges of fair-chase
hunting became a favored
pastime of many, particularly
those of means. Conflicts soon arose between market hunters, who gained fortune on dead wildlife,
and the new breed of hunters who placed value on
live wildlife and the sporting pursuit of it.
These “sport” hunters organized and developed the
first wildlife hunting clubs (such as the Carroll’s
Island Club, founded in Maryland in 1832) where
hunters protected game from market hunters.
Recreational hunters also pushed for laws and
regulations to curtail market hunting and overexploitation. The New York Sportsmen’s Club,
for example, drafted laws recommending closed
seasons on deer, quail, woodcock, and trout—laws
which passed in 1848 (Trefethen 1975).
Pioneers in Conservation
An early advocate of game protection, Yale-educated naturalist George Bird Grinnell acquired
the sporting journal Forest and Stream in 1879
and turned it into a clarion call for wildlife
conservation. Grinnell had accompanied George
Armstrong Custer on his first western expedition
in 1874, where he saw herds of bison and elk. A
decade later, in 1885, Grinnell reviewed Hunting Trips of a Ranchman by fellow New Yorker
Theodore Roosevelt. In that review, Grinnell
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Roosevelt and Grinnell agreed that
America was strong because, like Canada,
its people had carved the
country from a wilderness
frontier with self-reliance
and pioneer skills. With the
demise of the frontier and
a growing urban populace,
however, they feared that
America would lose this
edge. They believed that
citizens could cultivate traditional outdoor skills and a
Credit: National Archives
sense of fair play through
sport hunting, thereby maintaining the character
of the nation (Brands 1997).
Endorsing these ideals, influential members of the
Boone and Crockett Club used their status to great
advantage, helping to create some of North America’s most important and enduring conservation
legacies. In 1900, for example, Congressman John
Lacey of Iowa drafted the Lacey Act, making it a
federal offense to transport illegally hunted wildlife across state borders. Canadian Charles Gordon
Hewitt wrote the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 to
protect migratory birds from egg and nest collectors
and unregulated hunting. And during his presidency
from 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt protected
more than 230 million acres of American lands and
waters, doing more to conserve wildlife than any
individual in U.S. history.
The Canadian effort revolved around the Commission on Conservation, founded in 1909 under
the guidance of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier
and noted conservationist Clifford Sifton, who
served as the Commission’s chairman and was
eventually knighted for his efforts. Established to
combat resource exploitation, the Commission—
and its prestigious panel of scientists, academics,
© The Wildlife Society
and policymakers—sought to provide scientific
guidance on the conservation of natural resources. Working committees conducted research on
agricultural lands, water, energy, fisheries, forests, wildlife, and other natural-resource issues,
eventually publishing the first comprehensive
survey of Canadian resources and the challenges
to their conservation.
society” to promote discourse on issues facing
wildlife conservation.
• Funding legislation. Congress passed the
Duck Stamp Act of 1934 and the Federal Aid
in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (or the
Pittman-Robertson Act) to provide reliable
funding sources for federal and state wildlife
conservation. (See article on page 35.)
Emergence of a Profession
Though initially launched in the U.S., these initiatives were endorsed and mirrored by Canadian
policies and programs. In both nations, subsequent
decades have brought expanded conservation legislation—such as the U.S. Endangered Species Act and
Canadian Species at Risk Act—as well as partnership
programs to promote and fund wildlife conservation,
including the U.S. Migratory Bird Joint Ventures
and the Teaming with Wildlife coalition.
By the early 20th century, much of the infrastructure of wildlife conservation was already in place.
In the 1920s, however, leading conservationists
recognized that restrictive game laws alone were
insufficient to stem wildlife’s decline. To help
address such concerns, ecologist Aldo Leopold
and other conservationists published American
Game Policy in 1930, which proposed a program
of restoration to augment existing conservation
law. “For the first time,” writes Leopold biographer
Curt Meine, “a coherent national strategy directed
the previously disparate activities of sportsmen,
administrators, researchers, and … landowners”
(Meine 1991).
Leopold and others also promoted wildlife management as a profession, advocating for trained
biologists, stable funding for their work, and
university programs to educate future professionals. Within 10 years many of these goals had been
realized. Among them:
• Wildlife curriculum. In 1933, the
University of Wisconsin launched
the first wildlife management curriculum, a program that taught
wildlife science, setting a standard
for other universities.
• Cooperative Wildlife Research
Units. Federal legislation in 1935
established a nationwide network of
what are now known as Cooperative
Research Units, where federal and
state agencies and universities cooperate in fish and wildlife research
and training.
• Professional societies. In 1937, W.
L. McAtee, Aldo Leopold, and others founded The Wildlife Society,
the first professional scientific society for those working in wildlife
management and conservation.
Said McAtee, “The time is ripe
for inaugurating a professional
© The Wildlife Society
The Model’s Seven Pillars
Such key conservation laws and programs were
built upon a firm foundation—the seven underlying
principles of the North American Model (Geist et al.
2001). Those principles have stood the test of time,
proving resilient to sweeping social and ecological
changes (Mahoney and Jackson 2009). Will they
stand the test of the future? That question can’t be
answered without a strong understanding of the
principles themselves.
1. Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource. The
heart of the Model is the concept that wildlife is
A Colorado hunter
fires a Hawken
rifle, a primitive
firearm first used
on the American
frontier in the
1820s. Sportsmen
today carry on the
tradition begun by
early pioneers and
trappers, tempered
by the understanding
that wildlife is a
public trust resource
to be killed only for
legitimate purposes.
Credit: Dennis McKinney/Colorado Division of Wildlife
Born in the Hands of Hunters
owned by no one and is held by government in trust
for the benefit of present and future generations.
In the U.S., the common-law basis for this principle is the Public Trust Doctrine, an 1841 Supreme
Court Decision declaring that wildlife, fish, and
other natural resources cannot be privately owned
(Martin v. Waddell). In drafting the Public Trust
Doctrine, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney
drew upon the Magna Carta, which in turn was
rooted in ancient Greek and Roman law. A subsequent Supreme Court Decision in 1896 regarding
illegal transport of hunted ducks across a state
border firmly made wildlife a trust resource (Geer
v. Connecticut). Today, however, each state or province has its own laws regarding wildlife as a public
trust. Those laws face potential erosion from multiple threats—such as claims of private ownership
of wildlife, commercial sale of live wildlife, limits
to public access, and animal-rights philosophy—
Credit: John Gilbert
Jennifer Vashon, a
biologist for the Maine
Department of Inland
Fisheries and Wildlife,
retrieves Canada lynx
kittens for study. Her
research team will
measure the cats,
determine their sex,
collect DNA, and tag
them for monitoring.
Such work—funded in
part by hunting license
fees—informs the
management of this
rare species.
which are prompting moves for model language to
strengthen existing laws (Batcheller et al. 2010).
2. Elimination of Markets for Game. Historically, the unregulated and unsustainable
exploitation of game animals and migratory birds
for the market led to federal, provincial, and state
laws that greatly restricted the sale of meat and
parts from these animals. Those restrictions proved
so successful that today there is an overabundance
of some game species—such as snow geese (Chen
caerulescens) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus
virginianus) in suburban areas—which may warrant
allowing hunting and the sale of meat under a highly
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
regulated regime. Such regulated hunting and trade
could enhance public appreciation of hunting as
a management tool by reducing human-wildlife
conflicts with overabundant species. In addition,
trapping of certain mammal species in North America and commerce in their furs are permitted, but are
managed sustainably through strict regulation such
that the impacts on populations lie within natural
ranges (Prescott-Allen 1996). Unfortunately, trade
in certain species of amphibians and reptiles still
persists with little oversight, and should be curtailed
through tighter restrictions.
3. Allocation of Wildlife by Law. As a trustee,
government manages wildlife in the interest of the
beneficiaries—present and future generations of
the public. Access and use of wildlife is therefore
regulated through the public law or rule-making
process. Laws and regulations, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, establish the framework under
which decisions can be made as to what species can
be hunted, what species cannot be harmed due to
their imperiled status, and other considerations
relative to public use of or impact on wildlife.
4. Kill Only for Legitimate Purpose. Killing wildlife for frivolous reasons has long been
deemed unacceptable. The U.S. Congress passed
a bill against “useless” slaughter of bison in 1874
(Geist 1995), and the “Code of the Sportsman” as
articulated by Grinnell mandated that hunters use
without waste any game they killed (Organ et al.
1998). Today, 13 states and provinces have “wanton waste” laws requiring hunters to salvage as
much meat from legally killed game as possible. In
Canada, the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing recognizes that harvest of wildlife must have a
practical purpose if it is to remain acceptable in society (Hamilton et al. 1998). Food, fur, self-defense,
and property protection are generally considered
legitimate purposes for the taking of wildlife. Other
practices that conflict with this principle—such as
prairie dog shoots or rattlesnake roundups—are
under increasing scrutiny (see page 58).
5. Wildlife as an International Resource.
One of the greatest milestones in the history
of wildlife conservation was the signing of the
Migratory Bird Treaty in 1916. Noted Canadian
entomologist C. Gordon Hewitt, who masterminded the treaty, saw the protection of migratory
songbirds as essential to the protection of agricultural crops against insect pests. Affecting far more
than hunted wildlife, this was the first significant
© The Wildlife Society
treaty that provided for international management of terrestrial wildlife resources. The impetus,
of course, was that because some wildlife species
migrate across borders, a nation’s management
policies—or lack thereof—can have consequences
for wildlife living in neighboring countries. International commerce in wildlife, for example, has
significant potential effects on a species’ status. To
address this issue, in 1973, 80 countries signed the
first Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Today there are 175 parties to the treaty.
6. Science-based Wildlife Policy. Science as a
basis for informed decision-making in wildlife management has been recognized as critical to wildlife
conservation since the founding days of North American conservation (Leopold 1933). The subsequent
application of this principle has led to many advances
in management of diverse species, often under highly
complex circumstances such as adaptive management
of waterfowl harvest (Williams and Johnson 1995).
Unfortunately, funding has been largely inadequate
to meet the research needs of management agencies. In addition, a trend towards greater influence in
conservation decision making by political appointees
versus career managers profoundly threatens the
goal of science-based management (Wildlife Management Institute 1987, 1997). So, too, do the divisions
within the wildlife science community itself, which
often splits along a human-versus-animal divide. The
integration of biological and social sciences, which
Leopold hoped would be one of the great advances of
the 20th century, is necessary to meet the conservation challenges of the 21st century.
7. Democracy of Hunting. Theodore Roosevelt
believed that society would benefit if all people had an
access to hunting opportunities (Roosevelt et al. 1902).
Leopold termed this idea the “democracy of sport”
(Meine 1988)—a concept that sets Canada and the U.S.
apart from many other nations, where the opportunity
to hunt is restricted to those who have special status
such as land ownership, wealth, or other privileges. Yet
some note that the greatest historical meaning of the
public trust is that certain interests—such as access to
natural resources—are so intrinsically important that
their free availability marks a society as one of citizens
rather than serfs (Sax 1970).
Moving Beyond the Model
Bedrock principles of the North American Model of
Wildlife Conservation evolved during a time when
game species were imperiled and ultimately led to
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Parks Canada
a continent-wide resurgence of wildlife at a scale
unparalleled in the world, as evidenced by the restoration of deer, elk, waterfowl, bear, and many other
species. It is clear that these principles have served
wildlife conservation well beyond hunted species and
helped sustain the continent’s biodiversity, especially
through the millions of acres of lands purchased with
hunter dollars for habitat protection and improvement. Indeed, the structure of modern endangered
species legislation harkens back to the old game
laws, where the focus was on prevention of take.
Elk in Canada’s
Waterton Lakes
National Park are part
of the “international
herd,” which regularly
crosses the U.S.Canada border. The
North American Model
holds that wildlife is an
international resource
and should be
protected as such.
As wildlife conservation advances into the 21st
century, these founding principles should be
safeguarded and improved, and new approaches
to biodiversity conservation should be developed
that go beyond what the Model currently provides.
A U.S.-Canadian treaty securing the Model and
improvements in wildlife law would be the most
powerful form of protection. As we seek solutions
to new challenges, we should remember that only a
minority of our citizens have a passion for the perpetuation of wildlife, and among those, the people
who call themselves sportsmen and sportswomen
have been answering this call for well over one hundred years. Wildlife can ill afford to lose them in a
future that is anything but secure.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
For a full bibliography,
go to
A Conservation Timeline
Milestones of the Model’s Evolution
By Robert Brown, Ph.D.
hough the term “North American Model
of Wildlife Conservation” was coined only
nine years ago by Valerius Geist (Geist et al.
2001), it encapsulates centuries’ worth of history.
What follows is a selection of some key historical
events related to wildlife conservation in North
America—events that continue to shape our attitudes, laws, and policies concerning wildlife and
natural resources today.
Credit: NCSU Media Services
Robert Brown, Ph.D.,
is Dean of the College
of Natural Resources
at North Carolina
State University.
Early European Settlement
From the 1500s to the mid-1600s, historians
estimate that three to five million Native Americans lived in what is now the United States. They
hunted mammals for food, in some cases decimating large game around human population centers.
After European explorers arrived, bringing infectious diseases with them, vast numbers of native
people perished and wildlife populations began
to rebound.
The rebound didn’t last. European immigrants
cleared land for farming, cut forests
for ship building, and began hunting
and trapping for European markets. As
early as 1650, beavers had been nearly
eliminated from the entire East Coast.
Spaniards introduced domestic horses,
cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, which
competed with grazing wildlife and
carried diseases. Wildlife populations
declined, and settlers blamed the loss
on predators.
Courtesy of Thomas J. Ryder
1630: Massachusetts Bay Colony offers a one
shilling bounty per wolf killed.
1646: Portsmouth, Rhode Island enacts the first
closed season on deer hunting.
The Colonial Age
As more settlers arrived in what are now the U.S.
and Canada, market hunting and fur trapping for
export expanded. The French as well as England’s
Hudson Bay Company took furbearers in the
northeastern U.S. and Canada. And in the Pacific
Northwest, the Russian-American Fur Company
took seals and sea otters. Still, in the 1700s, an estimated 40 to 70 million bison and roughly 10 million
pronghorn roamed the West.
1748: South Carolina ships 160,000 deer pelts to
1768: The Steller’s sea cow is declared extinct.
Westward Expansion
When Lewis and Clark made their westward expedition from 1804 to 1806, they observed grizzly
bears, abundant herds of buffalo and deer, and
prairie dog towns a mile square. In 1813, James
Audubon recorded a passenger pigeon flock he
estimated at one billion birds. Yet even by the first
decades of the 1800s, trading posts were plentiful
across the West, prompting trappers and remnant
tribes of Native Americans to harvest animals for
their valuable hides.
1832: Carroll’s Island Club, the first known hunting
club in the U.S., forms in Baltimore.
Early settlers killed wolves and other
predators with abandon, blaming them
for declines in game populations.
1833: In this single year, the American Fur Company ships 43,000 buffalo hides, mostly
obtained through trade with the Native
1836: Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes Nature,
one of the first writings to extol the inherent
value of wildlife beyond its use for sustenance
and profit.
Credit: NPS
Credit: Library of Congress
When Meriwether Lewis and William
Clark explored the Louisiana Territory
in 1804-06, they saw abundant
wildlife and untouched wilderness.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Bison fell by the thousands as
pioneers and fur traders killed the
animals for their thick pelts and
other products.
© The Wildlife Society
Origin of the Public Trust Doctrine
In 1842, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a landowner’s effort to exclude people from taking oysters
from New Jersey mudflats he claimed as his own.
The decision referred to England’s Magna Carta of
1215, noting that the document guarded “the public
and common right of fishing in navigable waters.”
This decision codified the concept of the Public Trust
Doctrine, which holds that, in the U.S., wildlife and
fish belong to all the people, and stewardship of
those fauna is entrusted to the individual states.
1844: The New York Sportsmen’s Club forms and in
1848 drafts laws to regulate trout fishing and
the hunting of woodcock, quail, and deer.
1854: Henry David Thoreau publishes Walden, his
treatise on the solace of nature.
Collapse of the Bison
Railroad expansion in the 1860s and ‘70s made
shipping bison hides, meat, and tongues economical—and marked a period of wildlife slaughter
perhaps unparalleled in U.S. history. The annual
bison kill in 1865 was one million animals; by 1871
that toll had soared to five million.
1872: President Ulysses S. Grant establishes Yellowstone National Park, with 3,348 square miles.
1886: A census reveals that only 540 bison remain
in the entire U.S., mostly in the Yellowstone
area of Montana.
Clubs to the Fore
a second shipment in 1882—an introduction
that leads to the establishment of pheasants
as one of the most popular game species in
North America.
1887: Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell,
and other influential hunter-conservationists
gather in New York to form the Boone and
Crockett Club, with a mission to preserve the
big game of North America.
1892: John Muir and others form the Sierra Club,
dedicated to the preservation of the Pacific
Coast and Sierra Nevada wilderness.
Age of Legislation
Legislators in the last decade of the 19th century
acted on a growing awareness of the need for natural resources conservation, taking action to protect
disappearing wildlands, passing laws establishing
national parks and forests, and protecting wildlife.
1891: Congress passes the Forest Reserve Act and
creates Shoshone National Forest, the nation’s first federally managed forest reserve.
1898: Gifford Pinchot becomes the first chief of the
Division of Forestry, renamed the U.S. Forest
Service in 1905.
1900: Congress passes the Lacey Game and Wild
Birds Preservation and Disposition Act, making it a federal offense to transport illegally
taken wild game across state borders.
The Conservation President
Dozens of hunting, conservation, and scientific
organizations formed in the 1880s, including
the League of American Sportsmen, the American Ornithologist’s Union, the Camp Fire Club,
the New York Zoological Society, the Audubon
Society, and the American Bison Society. These
groups lobbied for stricter laws to
stop market hunting for meat and
hides and for feathers for the millinery trade. They also fought for
bans on wasteful sport hunting.
An avid hunter and advocate for the conservation of game and wild lands, Theodore Roosevelt
served as President from 1901 to 1909—and
launched a conservation agenda unmatched by
other leaders. In all, Roosevelt set aside 230
million acres during his presidency—more than
80,000 acres for each day he was in office, includ-
1881: A
pproximately 60 ring-
necked pheasants from
Shanghai, China, arrive in
Washington state. Most die
during a subsequent shipment
to Oregon, but the survivors
are released and followed by
Credit: Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia
Flocks of passenger pigeons
darkened the sky in the early
1800s. Just a century later
the species was extinct, a
victim of unregulated hunting.
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Jim Peaco/NPS
Yellowstone National Park—a
symbol of the majesty of the
natural world—was protected
by President Grant in 1872.
Credit: Library of Congress
Theodore Roosevelt and John
Muir admire Yosemite Valley
from Glacier Point in 1903—
land their efforts helped protect
for generations.
ing 16 national monuments, 55 wildlife refuges, and
five national parks.
1903: President Roosevelt establishes Pelican Island
as the first National Wildlife Refuge.
Concern over Populations
After considerable debate in Congress, the U.S. signed
a treaty with Great Britain in 1916 for the Protection of
Migratory Birds in the United States and Canada—the
first international wildlife conservation legislation. Hunters and
conservationists formed organizations including the Izaak Walton
League, Forests and Wild Life, the
Wildlife Management Institute, and
American Wild Fowlers (later to
become Ducks Unlimited) to support
hunting laws and wildlife restoration.
1913: Pennsylvania becomes the
Credit: George Gentry/USFWS
President Roosevelt created Pelican
Island National Wildlife Refuge in
1903, protecting the birds from market
hunters and habitat destruction.
first state to issue a hunting
1914: The last passenger pigeon
dies in the Cincinnati Zoo.
1916: Congress creates the National
Park Service.
Birth of a Profession
Desperation in the wake of the
Great Depression and Dust Bowl
drove innovative wildlife conservation initiatives. In 1934 Congress
passed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, better known as
the “Duck Stamp Act.” Funds from
Credit: USFWS
stamp sales have protected more
Aldo Leopold and Olaus Murie, leaders
than 5.3 million acres of waterfowl
in natural resources conservation and
habitat in the U.S. The Civilian
management, attend a 1946 meeting of
Conservation Corps developed
The Wilderness Society Council.
thousands of acres of waterfowl
breeding grounds in the 1930s, and several
influential conservation organizations formed
including the Cooperative Wildlife Research
Unit Program, the General Wildlife Federation (now the National Wildlife Federation),
the North American Wildlife Institute (now
the North American Wildlife Foundation), and
The Wildlife Society.
1933: Aldo Leopold becomes the first profesCredit: Ragesoss/Wikipedia
Rachel Carson’s
seminal work, Silent
Spring, triggered
public awareness of
environmental degradation
in the 1960s.
sor of wildlife management in the U.S.
at the University of Wisconsin.
1934: Congress passes the Fish and Wildlife
Coordination Act to ensure collaboration
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
across conservation agencies, and the
Division of Predator and Rodent Control
(now Wildlife Services) forms.
1935: The Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural
Resources Conservation Service) forms.
1937: Congress passes the Pittman-Robertson Federal
Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (P-R Act), which
levies a tax on certain hunting equipment to be
used for wildlife restoration projects, research,
and education (see page 35).
Funding Boosts Post-War Efforts
Conservation efforts took a backseat during World War
II. After the war, however, hunting license sales nearly
doubled from pre-war levels, reaching 12 million by
1947. States used P-R funds to restock deer, pronghorn,
elk, mountain goats and sheep, bears, beavers, and
turkeys. Due in large part to such efforts, white-tailed
deer numbers have risen from approximately 500,000
in the early 1900s to roughly 20 million today, while
wild turkey numbers have jumped from about 30,000
to seven million.
1949: Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac is published, posthumously.
Origin of a Green Revolution
The prosperous post-war era led to commercial
development of land for housing and agriculture, as
well as to the concentration of farming and livestock
operations, and a loss of wildlife habitat. Liberal use
of pesticides and herbicides greatly increased farming
efficiency, but raised concerns about health and safety.
1962: Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, documenting the potentially harmful impacts of
pesticides on wildlife. By some accounts this
book launched the modern environmental
1964: Congress establishes the Land and Water Con-
servation Fund to acquire land for “the benefit
of all Americans,” and President Lyndon Johnson signs the Wilderness Act and the Wild and
Scenic Rivers Act.
Protection for the Rare
During the presidency of Richard Nixon, Congress
passed the Endangered Species Conservation Act in
1969, then strengthened it as the Endangered Species
Act (ESA) in 1973, adding provisions for enforcement
and funding. This landmark act established protections for threatened and endangered species, funded
research on rare species, and provided for the designation and protection of critical habitat. In addition to
© The Wildlife Society
the ESA, Nixon signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the
Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act, and he established the Environmental Protection Agency.
2000: Congress passes a version of the Conservation
and Reinvestment Act (CARA). Now called the
State Wildlife Grants Program, the legislation
diverts $50 million a year from the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service budget to the states, and
requires each state to have a comprehensive
wildlife conservation plan.
1975: The Convention on International Trade in En-
dangered Flora and Fauna Species Act (CITES)
takes effect in the U.S.
1980: The Alaska National Interest Lands Conserva-
2008: After a decade-long campaign launched by
sportsmen’s groups, Minnesota passes the
Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment,
which funnels a percentage of state taxes
directly to the state’s Department of Natural
tion Act expands the National Wildlife Refuge
System by 53 million acres.
1985: Congress passes the Food Security Act, or Farm
Bill, establishing the Conservation Reserve
2009: President Bush establishes three marine
national monuments, which protect nearly
200,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.
Modern Milestones
Throughout the 1990s to the present, conservationists and national leaders worldwide have become
increasingly aware of the mounting threats to wildlife
and habitats, including human population growth,
resource extraction, habitat fragmentation, climate
change, and loss of biodiversity. Efforts to address
these threats and live sustainably will continue for
decades to come.
2010: After announcing an opening of offshore
drilling early in the year, President Barack
Obama places a moratorium on deepwater
drilling operations in the wake of the Gulf of
Mexico oil spill, widely viewed as the worst
environmental disaster in U.S. history. (A
judge blocked the moratorium in June and
the Obama administration issued a revised
moratorium in July.)
1993: President Bill Clinton forms the National Biologi-
cal Survey (NBS), a consolidation of 1,600 federal
government scientists in eight bureaus of the Department of the Interior, to identify species and
habitats that are at risk of becoming threatened.
1996: Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt renames
the NBS the Biological Resources Division and
assigns it to the U.S. Geological Survey.
1998: President Clinton signs the Kyoto Protocol,
which calls for sharp cuts in greenhouse gas
emissions. (In 2001 President George W.
Bush announced that he would not submit the
treaty to the Senate for ratification, citing the
economic costs.)
1999: The Departments of Interior, Agriculture,
Our society debates conservation decisions with
great emotion, whether the issue is drilling for oil
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, controlling
urban deer, or managing wolves. This debate over
wildlife and wild places occurs despite our increasing urbanization and distance from nature. Such
trends make it all the more critical for wildlife professionals to know and understand the history of our
field, and to share that knowledge with the public
and with decision makers to ensure that science
forms the basis of conservation policy. If we do not,
then the democracy of conservation—a core tenet
of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation—will be in danger, as will the very animals and
ecosystems that we treasure.
Commerce, and Defense form a coalition with
university researchers to
conduct research on natural
resources and the environment and offer additional
educational and outreach
programs. The organization,
known as the Cooperative
Ecosystem Studies Units,
now comprises more than
200 universities, NGOs, and
federal agency partners in 17
Credit: Dave Menke/USFWS
The bald eagle is a
beneficiary of the
Endangered Species Act,
signed by President Nixon
in 1973.
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS
International trade in
wildlife products came
under greater scrutiny with
the ratification of CITES by
the U.S. in 1975.
Credit: Rachel Brittin/AFWA
Launched in the 1990s,
Teaming With Wildlife—a
coalition of more than 6,000
conservation groups—lobbies
for increased resources for
wildlife and habitat restoration.
The Hunter’s Ethic
The Past, The Peril, and The Future
By Jim Posewitz
Credit: Elize Wiley, Helena
Independent Record
Jim Posewitz is
Executive Director of
Orion the Hunter’s
Institute and
Adjunct Professor
in the History
and Philosophy
Department at
Montana State
he ethics of hunting may be more complex
than we think. In simplest terms, an ethical
hunter is “a person who knows and respects
the animals hunted, follows the law, and behaves
in a way that will satisfy what society expects
of him or her as a hunter” (Posewitz 1994). Yet
ethical hunting is considerably more complicated
than how a person behaves at the moment a trigger is squeezed or an arrow released. Though it’s
relevant to consider the individual afield making
decisions—such as deciding whether to shoot a
duck on the water or wait until it takes flight—such
questions need to be contemplated in the context
of why that duck is there at all, and the hunter’s
understanding of and commitment to that reality.
Past: The Path toward
a Hunting Ethic
When Europeans settled in North America there
was little sign of a conservation ethic. Early in the
19th century while studying democracy in America,
the French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
“In Europe, people talk a great deal of the wilds of
America but the Americans…are insensible to the
wonders of…nature. Their eyes are filled with another sight; they march across these wilds, clearing
swamps, turning the courses of rivers” (Wild 1986).
This history of unrestrained exploitation of natural
resources was most tragically apparent on the
northern Great Plains. When Theodore Roosevelt
was a rancher in North Dakota in 1885, he described the plight of wildlife in a culture absent a
conservation ethic: “A ranchman who…had made
a journey of a thousand miles across Northern
Montana, along the Milk River, told me that…during the whole distance he was never out of sight
of a dead buffalo, and never in sight of a live one”
(Roosevelt 1885).
In 1887, Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, and other
patrician hunters tried to forge a new relationship
with wild resources based on the sporting code, the
concept of fair chase, and accepting responsibility for the welfare of the hunted (Mitchell 1987).
Perhaps even more important, they promoted the
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
idea of wild resources for everyone. In Roosevelt’s
words: “[T]he effort toward this end is essentially
a democratic movement. It is…in our power…to
preserve large tracts of wilderness…and to preserve
game [for] all lovers of nature, and to give reasonable opportunities for the exercise of the skill of
the hunter, whether he is or is not a man of means”
(Shullery 1986).
The development of a national conservation ethic
also felt the hand of fate. After Roosevelt won the
presidency, he used that bully pulpit to convene
seven national conferences on conservation. He
also set aside 230 million acres for wildlife and
forest conservation—about 10 percent of America
(Eliot 1982). Most of that acreage was in forest
reserves, and Roosevelt believed that protection
of forest lands gave birth to the broader conservation movement. Without protection of “one of the
great natural resources,” he wrote, “the conservation movement would have been impossible”
(Roosevelt 1913).
Today, 11 decades after Theodore Roosevelt
became president, on the very landscape once littered with bones, we manage restored populations
of wolves and other previously depleted predators
while carving out space for buffalo. The continental pyramid of hunted wildlife is now essentially
restored. In 2001, wildlife biologists Valerius
Geist, Shane Mahoney, and John Organ described
this path toward restoration as “The North
American Model of Wildlife Conservation”—an
affirmation that the hunting community has a
conservation ethic and that management agencies
have a public trust responsibility to manage natural resources for all (Jacobsen et al. 2010).
In 2006, a July issue of Time magazine commemorated Theodore Roosevelt’s contribution
to American culture. To introduce the issue,
Managing Editor Richard Stengle wrote: “Being
an American is not based on a common ancestry,
a common religion, even a common culture—it’s
based on accepting an uncommon set of ideas.
And if we don’t understand those ideas, we don’t
© The Wildlife Society
value them; and if we don’t value them, we don’t
protect them.” Wildlife as a public resource, hunting access for everyone, and a hunter’s acceptance
of the responsibility for the welfare of the hunted
are all uncommon ideas that form the foundation
of ethical hunting.
Present: An Ethic in Peril?
That ethical base faces modern challenges. In the
1980s, for example, the state of Montana and the
federal government enlisted recreational hunters in an effort to liquidate every bison leaving
Yellowstone National Park to prevent the spread
of brucellosis to domestic livestock. In 1988 the
kill exceeded 500 bison. Because the park’s bison
were habituated to humans, the “chase” was
little more than government-backed slaughter of
iconic animals in the nation’s first national park.
Public protest against the hunt escalated, and
the hunting ethic found itself in the crosshairs
of public opinion. Hunters found themselves
engaged in an activity alien to the identity they
had created for themselves throughout a century.
The bison killing failed to meet society’s ethical
expectation, and within a year, Montana removed
recreational hunting from Yellowstone’s bison
management. Yet the program had damaged the
image of the American hunter.
In 1992, wildlife professionals concerned with
preserving the “uncommon idea” of public hunting
convened the first “Governor’s Symposia on North
America’s Hunting Heritage” to address hunting
and the public’s perception of hunters. Two themes
emerged and were repeated in subsequent symposia: 1) hunting needed to clean up its act, and 2) as
conservationists, hunters needed to either lead or
become irrelevant.
Cleaning Up the Act. Questionable hunter
behavior and lack of respect for the hunted are
part of reality. Unethical acts such as motorized
pursuit, marginal marksmanship, and killing
animals at game farms or constrained by high
fences do occur. Yet hunters themselves have lobbied against such practices. In Montana, hunters
brought a ballot initiative banning the shooting of
captive wildlife, one example of hunters cleaning up the act by ending captive shooting. Along
the protracted litigious trail that followed, they
collected an ethical trophy when the court ruled:
“The state has a legitimate interest in promoting
fair chase hunting ethics and Montana’s hunting
© The Wildlife Society
heritage and legacy when mandated by popular
vote or otherwise” (Kafka v. Hagener 2001).
Likewise, the International Hunter Education Association directs attention to hunter ethics. Founded
in 1949, IHEA includes 67 state and provincial
agencies that reach 750,000 students each year.
Through the program, entry-level hunters learn
about an individual’s ethical relationship with the
hunted. The program’s hunter safety record attests
to its teaching effectiveness and offers reason to
believe that its 70,000 grassroots volunteer educators are having a positive effect on the challenge to
clean up the act at an individual level.
Can the conservation ethic, born of
depletion, survive the commerce born
of restored abundance?
Lead or Become Irrelevant. There is little
doubt about the ethical leadership demonstrated by
Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, and the
early conservationists of the “Dirty Thirties,” when
an economic depression and the Dust Bowl darkened both our expectations and our environment.
The question is, are America’s hunters and anglers
willing and able to tackle the leadership challenges
of today? Ample evidence suggests that they are.
Hunters provide the bulk of support to non-profit
conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited,
which to date has protected some 13 million acres of
wetlands that benefit game birds and myriad other
species. Likewise, when thousands of elk were starving on Yellowstone’s northern border during the
bison-slaughter years of the 1980s, hunters of the
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation took action. They
facilitated the protection of 35,300 acres of critical
Yellowstone ecosystem winter ranges through acquisition and easements on eight critical properties
(RMEF 2000). Through such grassroots conservation activism, hunters continue to meet the ethical
standards of restoring game animals and preserving
the democracy of the wild.
Future: Far From Certain
Today, hunter numbers decline while the challenges to things wild escalate. The economic
and environmental distress experienced in the
20th century now has become global in the 21st.
Economies teeter, the planet heats, wildlife habitats
change, human populations swell, children stare at
electronic screens, and some people push to privatize game. A new hunting aristocracy stands eager
to replace the democracy of the wild, and the North
American Model of Wildlife Conservation, born of
the hunter’s ethic, remains a mystery to most hunters and many in the wildlife profession it generated.
For a full
go to
Although hunters have long embraced a conservation ethic and led with distinction, today they form
less than 10 percent of the population. In places that
are tolerant of privatizing wildlife, hunter participation is fading dramatically. “Texas has but half the
deer hunters of Wisconsin, yet almost five times the
number of deer and three times the human population,” writes conservation scholar Valerius Geist.
“Paid hunting reduces participation rates, the most
important factor supporting our system of wildlife
conservation” (Geist 1988).
It’s time to ask hard questions. Can we stop privatization of wild resources? Can the conservation
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
ethic, born of depletion, survive the commerce born
of restored abundance? Can we offer our children a
wild place to be young in? As we search for answers it is well to heed the words of writer Emerson
Hough, who described America’s emerging relationship with wildlife in Defender of America’s
Out-of-Doors: “When one unclean hand touches the
management of this experiment, then it fails. When
one commercialized motive comes into its thought,
then it fails. When it becomes the organ of any
man’s vanity, the tool of any man’s selfishness, then
it fails” (Hough 1922).
I’ve spent very few words on the ethical question facing the lone hunter afield who must decide whether
and when to shoot a duck. But all of us who hunt
can find ethical answers in learning how a “sport of
kings” evolved into a democratic pursuit based on
a system of fair chase, or “the balance between the
hunter and the hunted [that] allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being
taken” (Posewitz 1994). Perhaps by understanding
how hunting ethics evolved from the past, we can
find our way forward.
© The Wildlife Society
Wellspring of Wildlife Funding
How Hunter and Angler Dollars Fuel Wildlife Conservation
By Steve Williams, Ph.D.
s states struggle with dwindling budgets, questions about conservation funding dominate
the discussion of fish and wildlife professionals across the country and in Washington, DC.
Yet few people may be aware that the “granddaddy”
of all wildlife conservation trust funds—created by
the 73-year-old Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration
Act (Pittman-Robertson Act, or P-R)—realized a 38
percent increase in revenue just last year and provided
more than half a billion dollars for wildlife conservation. The reason for the jump is controversial, and
points to the nation’s critical need to find steady,
broad-based funding sources for wildlife conservation.
Passed in 1937, the P-R Act levied a manufacturer’s excise tax on firearms and ammunition
to provide funding for state fish and wildlife
agencies. The increase of almost $140 million in
revenues in 2009 occurred because many citizens
felt that the new administration might impose
new gun restrictions, concern that sparked a buying spree. Whatever the reason, large jumps or
dips in revenues make planning for wildlife conservation an unpredictable business. This is why
groups such as Teaming with Wildlife—a coalition
of some 6,000 organizations—are pressing Congress to provide long-term, reliable funding for all
species of fish and wildlife. The time has come.
Not long after the passage of the P-R Act, anglers and
the fishing industry worked with Congress to create
the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (DingellJohnson Act, or D-J), passed in 1950. Like P-R, the
D-J Act established manufacturers’ excise taxes on
a variety of fishing equipment and gear and a tax on
motorboat fuel and motors. In 1952, the first year of
funding, D-J revenues totaled $2.7 million. Last year
the taxes contributed $404 million to state agencies
for sport fish conservation and management. Like
the P-R program, the combination of D-J funds and
fishing license sales contribute more than $1 billion
annually to state fish and wildlife agencies. To date,
both the P-R and D-J programs have contributed
more than $10 billion to fish and wildlife conservation
in the U.S.—a reflection of how hunters and anglers
have ensured sustainable wildlife conservation.
Courtesy of Steve Williams
Steve Williams,
Ph.D., is President
of the Wildlife
Institute and a
Former Director of
the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service.
Despite their significance, these funding programs
are poorly understood by the public and even by
most wildlife professionals. In essence, P-R funding today is derived from an 11 percent excise tax on
firearms and ammunition, a 10 percent tax on handguns and revolvers, and an 11 percent tax on archery
Building a Bank Roll
In the 1930s, recognizing that game populations in the United States were diminished and
unsustainable, political leaders, hunters, firearm
manufacturers, and others endorsed the P-R Act
and its long-term financial commitment to the
nation’s wildlife. In 1939, the first year of P-R
funding, revenues apportioned to states reached
$890,000—a notable achievement in those difficult
days of recession and world war. Revenue generated from hunting license sales and excise taxes is
still the financial engine that drives conservation
in most states. In 2009, more than $1.1 billion in
funding came from gross license sales of roughly
$764 million and P-R funds of about $336 million.
This user-pay, user-benefit system undergirds the
North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Brent Stettler/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Mike Ault of Price, Utah, lands a glistening tiger trout at the Duck Fork Reservoir in the Wasatch
Plateau. Substantial funds from the sale of fishing licenses and from excise taxes on a range of fishing
gear help states conduct fisheries research, improve waterways, and provide recreational opportunities.
equipment and arrow components. D-J funding is
derived from a 10 percent tax on fishing equipment, a
3 percent tax on electric trolling motors, a motorboat
fuel tax, a small engine
fuel tax, and import duties on tackle, pleasure
boats, and yachts. These
taxes are collected by the
Internal Revenue Service
and deposited in Federal
Treasury accounts—essentially trust funds for fish
and wildlife conservation.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Service (FWS) administers
The 2010 Federal Duck Stamp
the P-R and D-J programs
features a vivid portrait of long-tailed
and annually apportions
ducks, painted by award-winning
tax dollars to each of the
wildlife artist Joshua Spies of
states and territories of
Watertown, SD. Since the program
began in 1934 it has generated more
the U.S. There is no other
than $700 million for wetland habitat in
user-pay system of this
the National Wildlife Refuge System.
magnitude for any other
type of outdoor recreation.
How Funds Are Apportioned
The formula for apportioning P-R and D-J funds is
based on the number of certified hunting or fishing
licenses sold in each state and the geographic size
of each state. In order to be eligible for these funds,
state and territorial governments must have passed
“assent legislation” mandating that hunting and
fishing license dollars can be used only for conservation purposes, as opposed to being diverted to fund
general activities of the state. Canada does not have
a similar federal source of funds, and most provinces submit hunting and fishing license dollars to the
province for purposes other than conservation.
To insure that P-R and D-J funds are spent appropriately, FWS has established regulations that define
eligible projects, which include research, restoration,
conservation, management and enhancement of fish
and wildlife and their habitats, and providing public
benefit from these resources. In addition, approved
grant funds are released on a reimbursement basis
for up to 75 percent of eligible project costs. For example, if a state agency spends $500,000 for eligible
costs to restore a wetland complex, the P-R program
would reimburse the agency for $375,000.
In general, ineligible activities include public relations, revenue production, commercial purposes
to benefit individuals or groups, enforcement
of game and fish laws and regulations, publish-
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
ing and distributing regulations, constructing
public facilities not directly related to conservation efforts, and most types of wildlife damage
management activities. The P-R program does
not allow expenditure of funds to support stocking game animals to provide recreation only. To
insure program integrity, internal and external
financial and administrative audits are conducted
at least every five years to gauge compliance with
applicable laws and regulations.
Wildlife Restoration Funding
Under the federal Wildlife Restoration Program,
excise tax revenue is used for a variety of purposes.
The great majority is passed on to the states for
wildlife conservation activities. Interest earned on
the trust fund is transferred to the North American
Wetlands Conservation Fund to assist in the management of waterfowl and wetlands. The Multistate
Conservation Grant Program receives an annual
amount of $3 million, and hunter education and
shooting range programs receive $8 million annually, with half of the taxes collected on handguns
and archery equipment apportioned for hunter
education. The FWS receives a small percentage of
the total fund to administer the Act.
The Wildlife Restoration Act has been amended a
number of times since 1937. These amendments
have made the funds permanent and indefinite
(1951); increased the excise tax from 10 percent to 11
percent on firearms and ammunition (1954); added
10 percent excise taxes from pistols and revolvers
and allowed use of those funds for hunter education
(1970); created an 11 percent excise tax on archery
equipment and allowed the use of those funds for
hunter education (1972); changed the tax formula
on arrows and arrow components (1997); set aside
$8 million for hunter education and shooting range
development (2000); and exempted certain small
manufacturers (producing 50 or fewer guns) from
paying excise taxes on firearms (2005).
The P-R apportionments to states in the past
five years have ranged from approximately $233
million to $472 million and support hundreds
of P-R projects across the nation involving wildlife research, habitat management, program
administration, hunter education, waterfowl
impoundments, planning, shooting range development, land acquisition and easements, and private
and public land management. In 2009 alone, for
example, the program contributed:
• $50.2 million for operations and maintenance
© The Wildlife Society
across 18.6 million acres.
• $32.1 million to fund 9,567 population research
• $18.2 million for habitat improvements on 1.2
million acres.
• $11.5 million to acquire 1.3 million acres of land.
• $10.7 million to provide hunter education
to 372,000 students.
Sport Fish Restoration
With its varied revenue sources, the D-J Act supports a wide range of activities related to the Sport
Fish Restoration Program—activities that also benefit myriad other aquatic species. The FWS retains a
small percentage of funds for administration of the
Act. In addition, each year $800,000 is distributed
to four regional Fisheries Commissions, $3 million
goes to the Multistate Conservation Grant Program,
and $400,000 to the Sport Fishing and Boating
Partnership Council. After that, 57 percent of the
remaining funds support sport fish restoration programs, and 43 percent goes to coastal, recreational
boating, clean vessel, and boating infrastructure
grant programs, and to a national outreach and communication program.
The D-J Act has been amended six times since its
inception in 1950. The Wallop-Breaux Amendment of
1984 expanded and captured additional funds from
a broad base of fishing and boating items, included
motorboat access projects, added marine as well as
freshwater projects, and created the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. A 1991 amendment added small
engine gas taxes to the fund and apportioned a
percentage for wetland and coastal wetland conservation. In 1992, an amendment added the Clean Vessel
Program. Later amendments authorized funding for
outreach and boating infrastructure and safety (1998),
reduced or removed excise taxes on a narrow list of
products (2004), and established a percentage-based
allocation for grant programs (2005).
Apportionments to the states in the past five years have
ranged from approximately $291 million to $404 million, funding hundreds of projects involving fisheries
research, river and stream improvement, program administration, aquatic education, hatchery construction
and renovation, planning, fish passage improvements,
boating infrastructure development, and reservoir
management. Among the major expenditures for 2009:
• $31.9 million to fund 1,092 research projects on fish
• $23 million for hatchery maintenance at 101 sites.
• $20.8 million for operations and maintenance across
© The Wildlife Society
360,000 acres.
• $20.1 million for renovations at 65 hatchery sites.
• $10.3 million to provide aquatic education to
754,000 students.
Will the Well Run Dry?
American hunters and anglers have made massive
contributions to conservation through their license
fees and excise taxes as well as through contributions to nonprofit groups such as Ducks Unlimited,
the National Wild Turkey Federation, Trout Unlimited, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
These funds—along with millions of dollars from
Summer Lake Thrives on P-R Funds
For the Summer Lake Wildlife Area in Oregon (below), the Pittman-Robertson
(P-R) Act is a lifeline. Since the area’s establishment in 1944, P-R funds have
provided the majority of its budget, contributing about $336,000 this year alone
and helping to protect 19,000 acres of land.
A critical nesting and rest stop for migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway, the
Summer Lake area supports more than 250 species of birds and 40 species of
mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. P-R funds support wetland maintenance
and restoration to ensure healthy habitat for resident and migratory birds such as
sandhill cranes, American white pelicans, tundra swans, snowy egrets, great blue
herons, many passerines, and trumpeter swans—a newly reintroduced species.
“It’s quite a complicated regime of flooding and drying wetlands to get a mix of
wildlife species,” says Peter Moore, wildlife restoration coordinator for the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife. To prevent infilling with vegetation, managers
burn, mow, dike, and re-flood the area to create more open water space.
Marty St. Louis, manager of Summer Lake Wildlife Area, says that between 2,500
to 3,000 acres of wetland habitat have been restored over just the past four
years—all of it made possible through P-R funds. “They allow the states to manage
these habitats, and that’s beneficial not only to the hunted species but also to the
endangered and other species throughout the flyways,” says St. Louis.
By Madeleine Thomas, Editorial Intern
Credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
nonprofits, Farm Bill programs, federal agencies,
and legislated funding programs in some states—
help support the protection, restoration, and
management of not just game species, but of all fish
and wildlife. These dollars have also enabled the
acquisition and enhancement of millions of aquatic
and wildlife habitat acres, and supported research
in areas such as biological monitoring, life history,
population modeling, and habitat management.
Yet as the nation continues to urbanize and as
citizens lose their physical relationship with wildlife resources, the financial, social, and political
support for sustainable use and conservation is at
risk. The decline in the number of certified paid
hunting license holders—down 14 percent over the
last 30 years—does not bode well for the future
funding of conservation. And though hunter and
angler recruitment and retention programs across
the country are attempting to sustain the numbers
of sportsmen and women, these individuals alone
should no longer be expected to shoulder the burden of conservation funding.
Of course all citizens contribute to conservation
through federal taxes that support natural resource
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
agencies such as FWS and the U.S. Forest Service.
However, these agencies do not have the authorization or responsibility to manage non-federal trust
species—resident deer, bear, turkeys, and other fish
and wildlife species that reside within the borders of
state and territorial boundaries, and which make up
the bulk of species in the nation.
Efforts are underway to expand the financial contributions of all Americans. Advocates for climate
change adaptation funding and the Teaming with
Wildlife coalition make powerful arguments for
the inclusion of public funding in conservation,
and Congress and the industries that rely on abundant fish and wildlife resources have taken steps
to provide financial support for their long-term
sustainability. The main challenge is to engage the
multi-billion-dollar wildlife-associated recreation
industry and its customers to put their collective
shoulders to the wheel of conservation alongside
the hunters and anglers of this nation. How we
meet this challenge will decide the fate of fish and
wildlife resources and of human generations.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
© The Wildlife Society
Priceless, But Not Free
Why All Nature Lovers Should Contribute to Conservation
By Ronald J. Regan
n April 9, 2010 President Obama and key
members of his administration unveiled
their platform for conservation in America—the Great Outdoors Initiative. I was at that
White House conference, and was impressed by the
commitment to conserve nature and connect people
to our country’s landscapes and waterways. As one
who has worked on behalf of state fish and wildlife agencies throughout my career, my thoughts
automatically gravitated to how state agencies
have been on the conservation front lines for over
a century, and how they are logical partners for
achieving the administration’s vision.
Fish and wildlife agencies have produced a
remarkable record of wildlife conservation accomplishments in the United States (Prukop and Regan
2005). Their research and monitoring programs
have documented distribution and abundance of
birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
Habitat management and restoration efforts have
improved forest, grassland, and aquatic habitats for
countless species of fish and wildlife, and population management and enforcement have restored
wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and
many other species to abundance.
State fish and wildlife agencies have borne a huge
amount of the cost for these efforts, given their legal
mandates for managing wildlife populations and
protecting habitat for species across the taxonomic
spectrum. As state agencies grapple with budget
cuts and layoffs, new management issues—such
as impacts from climate change, invasive species,
energy development, and diseases—are stretching
staffs and budgets to the limit. White-nose syndrome, for example, a devastating new mortality
agent for bats, was first documented in the winter
of 2006-07 in a New York cave, and since then has
spread to 14 states and two Canadian provinces.
Fish and wildlife agencies are struggling to secure
funds for multi-jurisdictional bat conservation efforts in light of this mounting threat.
Given the long-term decline in hunting and fishing
participation, it comes as no surprise that license
© The Wildlife Society
sales revenue—a historic staple of fish and wildlife
funding—has likewise been impacted, even though
federal fisheries and wildlife restoration dollars
from excise tax receipts have remained stable or
periodically increased. The federally appropriated
State Wildlife Grants Program has directed over
$600 million to the states for species of greatest
conservation need over the past decade, yet this
remains well short of the estimated $800 million
needed annually to implement the State Wildlife
Action Plans (Humpert, personal communication),
which identify each state’s species of greatest conservation need and collectively represent a national
blueprint for conservation action.
Courtesy of Ronald J. Regan
Ronald J. Regan is
Executive Director
of the Association
of Fish and Wildlife
A “User-Pay” Model
Where will the funding come from as states try
to expand management programs and provide
services to new constituents? One logical place to
look is the outdoor recreation community. Hunters
and anglers have helped foot the conservation bill
for more than 100 years. It now makes sense for all
people who enjoy wildlife in the field to contribute
their share. The value that wildlife brings to virtually any outdoor experience is priceless, transcending
age, gender, culture, and ethnicity.
I still vividly remember a priceless summer afternoon, and its emotional imprint. My wife and I had
just finished a hike in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain
National Park, and the day was drawing to a close.
When I glanced up at the ridgeline above us, I saw
the slightest trace of movement. My pulse quickened as I asked for the binoculars. Sure enough,
this eastern boy was viewing wild bighorn sheep
for the first time—icons of the West and of wildlife
I believe that, like me, most people derive real joy
from outdoor recreation seasoned with wildlife
encounters, planned or otherwise. In 2006, 71.1
million people age 16 and older—31 percent of the
U. S. population—observed, fed, or photographed
wildlife (USFWS 2006). It’s now time for these
millions of hikers, mountain bikers, campers,
canoeists, bird watchers, and others to directly
Last year, nearly 52
million people in the
U.S. took to their
tents or RVs to go
camping. Outfitting
those campers is
big business: The
National Sporting
Goods Association
reports that campers
in 2009 spent $1.5
billion for their gear.
support wildlife conservation programs, perhaps
through excise taxes on gear such as binoculars,
sleeping bags, backpacks, and wildlife field guides.
Credit: Bureau of Land Management
Wildlife Viewing.
The hope of seeing
wildlife through
a camera lens,
binoculars, or the
naked eye lured 21
million people out
of doors in the U.S.
last year. Wildlife
watchers in 2006
supported more than
one million jobs and
spent $23.2 billion
on equipment.
Benefits Beyond Game
Credit: Utah Division of Natural Resources
Exploring the
nation’s rivers and
shorelines by kayak
or canoe allows
millions of people
to absorb natural
beauty. More than six
million people went
kayaking last year
alone, spending an
average of 11 days
on the water.
Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS
Bird Watching.
Catching sight of a
songbird, crane, or
common crow can
provide a natural
thrill for people of all
ages. More than 13
million people bird
watched last year,
spending $36 billion
on equipment. Most
birders today are
women over the age
of 50.
Credit: John Hall
The national Teaming with Wildlife coalition was
first to champion such a “user-pay” funding model
more than a decade ago. But a new tax, even one
narrowly proscribed, has been and continues to be
a non-starter in Congress. This is unfortunate, because the philosophical and historical underpinning
of wildlife conservation in the U.S.—the Public Trust
Doctrine—holds that all fish and wildlife resources
must be held by the government as a public trust
protected for future generations. All citizens should
therefore share the direct costs of fish and wildlife
resource management (Jacobsen et al. 2010).
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Even though game species are often the focus of
discussions about the North American Model, all
wildlife resources can and should benefit from the
Public Trust Doctrine (Organ and Mahoney 2007,
Regan and Prukop 2008). This means that redeared sliders, ruffed grouse, mottled sculpin, lake
trout, elk, and little brown bats share common legal
footing, although management and enforcement will
vary depending on available resources. In addition,
many people turn to fish and wildlife agencies for
relief from wildlife damage, for recreational access,
and for basic education about fish and wildlife ecology. Let’s also not forget that healthy ecosystems,
maintained in part by fisheries and wildlife management programs, translate into cleaner water and
cleaner air, peripheral benefits of sound natural
resource management.
I served the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
in several administrative capacities for more than a
decade, including as Commissioner. I saw the direct
benefits that many state residents realized from the
sustainable management of wildlife, and I concluded
that my department touched the lives of the vast
majority of Vermonters in some way. Based on this
experience, I feel that broad conservation funding from
the public at large makes a great deal of intuitive sense.
Clearly new taxes do not resonate well as a policy objective, but there are other viable alternatives:
• State sales taxes and lottery funds: Publicpolling research shows that there is considerable
support for the redistribution of a percentage of
existing sales taxes or lottery receipts to fund fish
and wildlife conservation programs in a number
© The Wildlife Society
More than 10 million
people donned down
coats and goggles
and hit the slopes
for alpine skiing in
2009. A bracing
way to experience
nature, skiing is
also a costly sport:
Resorts nationwide
are predicted to
make $2.72 billion
this season.
of states (Duda et al. 1998). Arizona, Missouri,
Virginia, Arkansas, and most recently Minnesota
already have tapped this reliable, broad-based
funding stream.
• Fees on energy development. Because public
land and water resources are impacted by all
forms of energy development—from oil drilling and coal extraction to solar plants and wind
farms—royalties from energy leases could be used
to fund state wildlife conservation actions. The
Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
painfully demonstrates the long-term risks to
wildlife of energy exploration and development as
well as the need for an impact fund from leases.
• Cap and trade. Climate change will have
profound impacts on fish and wildlife resources.
Cap-and-trade proposals designed to address
climate change impacts offer another mechanism
to ensure that state fish and wildlife agencies
have sufficient resources to manage habitats and
populations adaptively. It is heartening to see that
energy and climate change legislation before the
111th Congress provides for wildlife adaptation
funding. State Wildlife Action Plans and regional
Fish Habitat Partnership plans offer platforms for
the effective, immediate use of new funds.
Credit: Geoffrey Holman/iStockphoto
Last year more than
32 million Americans
went hiking, the sixth
most popular form of
outdoor recreation
after walking,
running, freshwater
fishing, biking, and
camping. If all these
people contributed
to conservation,
wildlife would thrive
for ages.
Credit: Sheridan Steele/NPS
It is true that all Americans help fund conservation through their federal taxes. In addition, many
Americans who do not hunt or fish support conservation advocacy and land conservation through
membership dues and donations to groups such as
the National Wildlife Federation and The Nature
Conservancy. But state fish and wildlife agencies—
those on the front lines of virtually every fish and
wildlife conservation issue in this nation—do not
necessarily benefit from such funds. State agencies
need dedicated operational funds to supplement
those already provided by hunters, anglers, and
trappers in order to get the job done.
North America’s fish and wildlife resources are
priceless. The continued viability of wildlife populations on the landscapes we frequent, those special
places we cherish, requires new levels of funding, and all citizens should contribute to the cost.
Birders, hikers, campers, and other outdoor recreationists, in concert with hunters and anglers, can
take the lead with advocacy efforts to make broader,
dedicated funding a reality.
© The Wildlife Society
A Bountiful Harvest for Science
How conservation science benefits from the study of game species
By Gary C. White, Ph.D., and Chad J. Bishop, Ph.D.
Courtesy of Gary C. White
Gary C. White, Ph.D.,
is Professor Emeritus
in the Department
of Fish, Wildlife, and
Conservation Biology
at Colorado State
University and is the
Central Mountains
and Plains Section
Representative on
the Council of The
Wildlife Society.
Credit: Margie Michaels
Chad J. Bishop,
Ph.D., is the
Mammals Research
Leader of the
Colorado Division
of Wildlife and Past
President of the
Colorado Chapter of
The Wildlife Society.
he Dust Bowl days of the “Dirty Thirties” were a disaster for settlers in North
America’s Great Plains and for waterfowl
populations. The extreme drought of this period
depressed populations of both farmers and ducks.
Yet the devastation to game bird populations led to
a breakthrough in the science of estimating wildlife
populations—just one illustration of how the study
of game species can benefit conservation.
In the 1930s, Jay “Ding” Darling was a political
cartoonist for the Des Moines Register and an avid
hunter. Alarmed by the decline in duck numbers, he
published multiple cartoons illustrating the plight
of waterfowl during the extended drought. Appointed in 1934 to head the Bureau of Biological Survey
(forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service),
Darling wanted to learn how the drought had affected duck populations.
To the rescue came Frederick Lincoln, who ran
the Bureau’s bird banding program. Bird banding
was primarily a private enterprise at the time, but
Lincoln recognized that the recovery of waterfowl
bands could provide a method to estimate waterfowl populations. He realized that bands placed on
waterfowl prior to the hunting season represented
the first sample of a mark-recapture survey, and
that hunter recoveries of banded and un-banded
birds represented the second sample. Based on
the probability that a harvested bird was banded,
Lincoln demonstrated how to compute an estimate of the North American waterfowl population
(Lincoln 1930). Wildlife professionals now know
this mark-recapture estimator as the LincolnPetersen index (see box on page 45).
Known as a careful scientist, Lincoln understood
the assumptions required to generate a valid
estimate, yet he faced two problems: Bands were
not uniformly dispersed throughout the waterfowl
population, and the estimates of harvest were likely
biased. To improve estimate accuracy, Lincoln encouraged hunter cooperation. “American sportsmen
who are vitally interested in the perpetuation of an
abundant stock of wild fowl and in the American
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
sport of free shooting,” wrote Lincoln, “should be
willing to do all in their power to see that all banded
birds are reported to the Bureau of Biological Survey and to furnish reports concerning their seasonal
bags, and other information, when requested to do
so” (Lincoln 1930).
Waterfowl harvest brought about the development of Lincoln’s method, demonstrating how
game hunting has played a critical role in monitoring waterfowl for the benefit of conservation.
Likewise, many other scientific advancements
have sprung from the study of game populations, including the estimation of survival rates,
understanding density dependence, balancing
predators and prey, insights into survival variation, adaptive management, marking techniques,
and habitat enhancement.
Estimating Survival Rates
In 1970, renowned statistician George Seber published a very technical mathematical paper on how
recoveries of dead animals could be used to estimate survival (Seber 1970). Yet the paper appeared
in Biometrika, a journal that most wildlife professionals would not have read or even known about,
with a level of mathematics far beyond what was
familiar to most wildlifers of the day. Fortunately
David Anderson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS) biologist working at the Patuxent Wildlife
Research Center, did recognize the significance of
the Seber study. Anderson has said that he couldn’t
believe his luck at finding a method that would do
exactly what he wanted—estimate survival rates. It
was one of those eureka moments.
With paper in hand, Anderson assembled a team
that greatly extended the theory of how survival
rates were estimated. He hired biometrician Ken
Burnham and established a connection to Doug
Robson, a statistician at Cornell University. Robson
recruited graduate student Cavell Brownie, and
the rest, as they say, is history—at least for wildlife
professionals. The team produced some of the first
specialized computer software to estimate survival
rates of waterfowl banded as adults (the ESTIMATE
© The Wildlife Society
program) and banded as both juveniles and adults
(the BROWNIE program). The analyses produced
by these software packages included goodness-offit tests, a broad set of models, and likelihood ratio
tests between models. A major scientific report
documenting the team’s theory and software was
published in 1978 (Brownie et al. 1978) and revised
in 1985 (Brownie et al. 1985).
Game harvest enabled the development of these
survival estimation methods, which are still
routinely used worldwide to manage waterfowl
populations. These methods have been extended
to analyze data from encounters with both live and
dead animals, and thus are useful for the study of
many species that are not hunted. They have also
been extended to apply to animals marked by other
means, such as live recaptures and re-sightings.
For example, survival rates of albatrosses might be
estimated from data collected on recaptures and
re-sightings at the breeding colony and from band
returns from albatrosses accidently killed in commercial fishing activities. Ultimately, defensible
management of wildlife species—hunted or not—
depends on reliable estimates of survival. Anderson
and his colleagues provided that foundation.
Doing its part for
science, a young
mallard in Colorado
receives a leg band
from Kammie Kruse
of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service.
Part of the Migratory
Bird Management
project, banding helps
determine survival
and reproduction
of resident ducks, a
game species often
used for scientific
research of waterfowl.
Credit: Michelle Gallagher/Colorado Division of Wildlife
Understanding Density Dependence
Manipulating game populations through harvest
has contributed to the scientific rigor of wildlife management. To study the effects of density
dependence on population regulation, population
size must be manipulated to obtain cause-andeffect results. Biologist Dale McCullough’s work
with white-tailed deer on the George Reserve of
southeastern Michigan offers a classic case in
point (McCullough 1979). McCullough manipulated deer populations within the fenced reserve
to measure fawn recruitment to the reproductive
population. His work clearly showed how fawn
recruitment responded to the density of deer
within the Reserve, and thus supported densitydependent population models.
As part of our own research in Colorado, we have
had sport hunters manipulate populations of
mule deer to evaluate the impact of density on
fawn survival (White and Bartmann 1998). We
estimated fawn survival in two areas using radiotracking, and then reduced the deer population
in the treatment area through sport hunting.
Each hunter was allowed to take two antlerless
deer. The results demonstrated that over-winter
© The Wildlife Society
Courtesy of the J. N. “Ding” Darling Foundation
The cartoons of avid hunter and conservationist Jay “Ding” Darling spoke powerfully of the
need for active game management to ensure the health of species and habitats. A Pulitzer
Prize-winning cartoonist, Darling designed the first Federal Duck Stamp in 1934.
additive, with the survival rate dropping by the
amount of increase in this mortality, to full compensation of this increase mortality whereby the
survival rate remains unchanged.
Balancing Predators and Prey
Credit: Ken Logan/Colorado Division of Wildlife
Wildlife veterinarian Lisa Wolfe assesses a captive mule deer (above) and other colleagues
weigh a fawn (below) during studies of density dependence in Colorado. Hunting has
been used to manipulate wildlife populations to advance scientific understanding of density
dependence, predator-prey relationships, and other issues.
Courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife
fawn survival increased with decreasing density
(i.e., increased harvest). This finding supports the
compensatory mortality model, which describes
how increased mortality from one source (such as
hunting) results in decreased mortality rates from
other sources (such as predation or disease) and a
survival rate that remains constant. In contrast, the
term additive mortality describes how an increase
in a mortality source is additive to existing mortality, and thus the resulting survival rate declines. An
increase in a source of mortality can be completely
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Hunting and trapping can inform science about
predator-prey relationships by manipulating predator populations. In Idaho, for example, biologist
Mark Hurley and colleagues recently reduced coyote
and puma populations to measure the impact on
mule deer survival and population levels (Hurley et
al. in review). Extensive coyote removal did not influence overwinter survival of six-month-old fawns
or annual survival of adult females, which was consistent with past findings in Colorado (Bartmann
et al. 1992). Coyote removal had a positive effect
on newborn fawn survival, but only when small
mammal abundance declined and coyotes became
dependent on deer fawns as alternate prey. Puma
removal increased survival of adult female deer during winter, although weather had the most influence
on winter survival. Extensive predator removal did
not have a detectable effect on population change,
whereas winter weather severity did. These results
demonstrate that increased predator harvest is not a
particularly effective means of increasing mule deer
populations in southeast Idaho.
In Alaska, wolf control through hunting has led to
a deeper understanding of wolf-moose and wolfcaribou dynamics (Boertje et al. 1996). In contrast to
Hurley et al.’s work, Rodney Boertje and colleagues
studied historical data and concluded that controlling wolf populations in combination with favorable
weather can increase long-term abundance of wolf,
moose, and caribou populations. Initial reduction
of the wolf population allowed moose and caribou
populations to grow, and thus support a larger wolf
population after wolf control stopped. Benefits to humans from wolf control included enjoyment of more
wolves, moose, and caribou and harvests of several
thousand more moose and caribou than would have
been possible if wolf control had not occurred.
These sorts of studies contribute to our understanding of population dynamics and are possible because
of the ability to manipulate populations through
controlled harvest. Without manipulation, we cannot evaluate whether observed predation is actually
having an impact on prey populations, and therefore
whether predation or some other factor is ultimately
limiting population growth. Such studies reveal the
complex relationships between predators and their
© The Wildlife Society
prey and how other factors such as weather and
alternate prey influence those relationships.
Enhanced understanding of density dependence
and predator limitation in harvested populations
can be extended to non-hunted species. Identifying
and understanding potential limiting factors of population growth is fundamental to management of
sensitive or declining species, many of which are not
conducive to large-scale experimentation. Population models and subsequent management decisions
for sensitive species are directly influenced by our
understanding of population dynamics gleaned
from studies of more abundant hunted species.
Insights to Survival Variation
Long-term research and monitoring efforts on game
species have also contributed to our understanding
of population dynamics by quantifying how survival
rates vary over time (i.e., process variance). Because
of the economic importance of game species, wildlife
management agencies are willing to conduct costly
long-term survival monitoring efforts. For example,
the Colorado Division of Wildlife estimates annual
survival rates of mule deer via radio-tracking of
fawns and adult females on five intensively studied
populations. These survival data enable improved
population models to set harvest levels. The variation in annual survival rates is a critical piece of
information required to estimate the probability of
population decline or extinction. This information is
typically lacking for endangered species, yet is necessary for any realistic population viability analysis.
decisions as circumstances change. “Key elements
of this process are objectives, alternative management actions, models permitting prediction of
system responses, and a monitoring program,”
writes USGS biologist James Nichols. “The iterative process produces optimal management
decisions and leads to reduction in uncertainty
about response of populations to management.”
This adaptive approach represents the most modern theory of harvest management to date.
An Enduring Tool
In 1896, Danish fisheries biologist Carl Petersen developed an
innovative mark-recapture method to estimate fish populations. Some
three decades later, Frederick Lincoln adapted the method for a birdbanding program to estimate waterfowl populations. In use ever since,
the Lincoln-Petersen estimator provides a simple ratio for determining
population size as follows:
Nˆ = 1 2
where N̂ is the estimated population size, n1 is the number of ducks
banded, n2 is the number of ducks harvested (both banded and
unbanded), and m2 is the number of banded ducks harvested.
(As an aside, note the correct spelling of Petersen, which reflects his
Danish heritage. Incorrect spelling of his name is likely one of the most
common errors in wildlife literature.)
Game species can be used as surrogates to construct
realistic population viability models for endangered
species because scientists can monitor game species
over a time period long enough to achieve more
precise estimates of the process variance of critical
parameters (White 2000). For example, sex- and
age-specific survival rates of North American mallards have been estimated for over 50 years with the
band recovery models described above. In contrast, most endangered species completely lack any
information on the variance of the survival process,
which typically isn’t possible to obtain given so few
individuals available for study.
An Adaptive Approach
Analysis of game species has recently become
more sophisticated through the use of adaptive
harvest management, or AHM, which involves
collaboration of wildlife managers and scientists in
making management decisions and adjusting those
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Jake Ivan/Colorado State University
A newly re-collared snowshoe hare pops free of a handling bag during a study on hare
density and demography in Colorado’s Gunnison National Forest. Snowshoe hares are a
primary food source for Canada lynx, reintroduced into the state in 1999. To ensure lynx
survival, researchers study hare distribution and potential impacts on populations.
Since 1995, for example, FWS has implemented
AHM to set hunting seasons for mid-continent North
American mallards (Nichols et al. 2007). Scientific
analysis has shown that recruitment in the population
is weakly density-dependent, but that almost equal
weight is assigned to additive versus compensatory
mortality (Nichols et al. 2007). These results make
biological sense. In years where good water conditions result in elevated production of young, hunting
mortality is additive, because more ducks returning to the breeding grounds would result in larger
population increases. Conversely, in years with poor
water conditions, the excess of breeders relative to
the conditions do not produce young, and therefore
can be harvested with no impact on the population.
This case illustrates one of the major benefits of
AHM—that we learn about the system in the process
of making and adjusting management decisions.
Adaptive management may not be as focused on
learning as traditionally manipulative experiments
(such as agricultural plot experiments analyzed with
analysis-of-variance procedures), but it does foster
new knowledge while enabling optimal decisions
about management. Such approaches are therefore
beginning to be used to manage non-game species
and to facilitate science-based management within a
structured stakeholder decision process.
Catch, Mark, and Release Techniques
Research on abundant game populations such
as deer, elk, and waterfowl has helped scientists
to evaluate and refine a number of animal capture, handling, and marking techniques, which
can then be used safely on rare species. In fact,
the Animal Care and Use Committee would not
give researchers approval to handle threatened or
endangered species with any technique that has not
been extensively tested on abundant species. This
includes techniques involving drop nets, Clover
traps, helicopter darting, helicopter net capture,
cannon-netting, and a wide array of sedation drugs
and methods of delivery. Such techniques can be
refined and adapted for use on less-plentiful species
with reduced risk of harming or killing the individuals. Cannon nets used to capture abundant gulls or
crows, for example, have been refined for capture of
waterfowl and turkeys.
Habitat Enrichment
Scientific advancements stemming from research
and management of hunted species have only been
possible because of the large amount of funding
provided by sportsmen. As decades of experience
have clearly shown, habitat protections that were
funded for particular game species have benefitted myriad non-hunted species and helped keep
ecosystems intact. Waterfowl production areas in
the Rainwater Basin of south-central Nebraska,
for example, were funded to increase waterfowl
production for hunters, yet these areas also provide
excellent habitat for endangered whooping cranes
during spring migrations.
Just as the management of habitat for hunted species benefits many others, the wildlife profession’s
scientific evolution has benefitted enormously from
sportsmen’s dollars. The management of hunted
populations requires sound information, and this
quest for information has lead to many scientific
advancements. In a very real sense, those who harvest wildlife have helped generate new management
techniques, theory, software, methodologies, and
basic scientific knowledge that will help our profession meet the challenges facing numerous wildlife
species, now and into the future.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
For a full bibliography, go to
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
Hunting for Balance
A Long-term Effort to Control Local Deer Abundance
By Raymond J. Winchcombe
Credit: John Halpern
Raymond J.
Winchcombe, CWB,
is a Biologist with
the Cary Institute of
Ecosystem Studies in
Millbrook, New York.
t’s a little after 5 a.m. on a mid-November morning, and a steady stream of headlights winds
along a quiet dirt road in central Dutchess
County, New York. The vehicles’ occupants are deer
hunters headed to the Deer Hunter Check Station
run by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, a
non-profit research organization. The opening of
New York’s southern zone firearms deer season is less
than two hours away, and these hunters are anxious
to sign in and head for their favorite opening day deer
stand. Yet this is no typical recreational deer hunt.
What sets it apart is its history and its science.
Since the mid-1970s, hunters have been selected to
participate in the Cary Institute’s annual controlledaccess deer hunt, a closely managed hunt designed by
Institute biologists to control the abundance of local
deer numbers and thereby mitigate the impacts of
deer on the Institute’s forested ecosystems and landscape plantings. Recreational deer hunting has long
been the traditional tool used by managers to address
deer population issues, but the Institute recognized
that a structured program, rather than a purely recreational hunt, was needed to address concerns such as
safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of the harvest.
Credit: Steven Dorney
Biologist Ray Winchcombe, left, and his son David display does they’ve taken to fulfill their doe
harvest obligation at the Cary Institute. Hunters in the program must harvest a doe at least once
every three years to help control local deer abundance and protect the forest ecosystem.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Origin of the Hunt
The Cary Institute is located on the former estate
of Mary Flagler Cary, a 2,000-acre site where deer
hunting had long been prohibited. By the late 1960s,
biologist Jeff Davis of the National Audubon Society
noted deer starvation at the site, severe over-browsing
of vegetation such as eastern red cedar, and minimal recruitment of trees beyond the seedling stage.
His drive-survey estimate put the deer population at
roughly 39 animals per square mile (later revised to
52 deer per square mile.) In 1970 Davis implemented
the first controlled hunt on the estate to “prevent
further damage to wildlife habitat.”
Since then the Cary Institute has implemented systematic efforts to quantify trends in deer numbers,
impacts of deer on forest vegetation, and effectiveness of the hunts. Several well-established ground
rules help ensure the hunt’s ongoing success.
By invitation only. Invitations go out to 40 to 45
hunters each year, with new hunters sponsored by
experienced veterans of the hunt. To qualify, hunters must preregister, obtain a state-issued antlerless
permit, and attend a pre-hunt meeting to learn
about the ecological service that hunting provides
and to reinforce hunter ethics and safety. Each year
they also must pass a firearms proficiency test, placing three shots on a 12-inch-square target set 50
yards away. Hunters must commit to a minimum
effort of five five-hour days, comply with state game
laws and Institute rules (such as properly tagging
harvested animals and respecting legal shooting
hours), and actively hunt as diligently for does as for
bucks. Failure to take a doe at least once every three
seasons may result in a hunter being dropped from
the program, as would unsafe or unethical behavior.
Pre-Hunt Orientation. One week before the
hunt, all participants must attend an orientation
conducted by Institute staff biologists, who emphasize the goals of the deer-control program. Hunters
learn about the impacts of deer overabundance and
see how harvest levels affect browse consumption
and forest regeneration. Hunters also learn about
distribution of the previous years’ deer harvest,
© The Wildlife Society
trends across 26 specific zones of the property, and
biological specifics of harvested deer. Such data help
hunters determine where they might be successful
and which hunting method to employ. For example,
a hunter who likes to stalk deer might want to
choose a lightly hunted area where deer may be less
wary due to lower hunting pressure.
Logistics. The Cary property includes mixed hardwood and softwood forest stands, old field habitats,
open meadows, and wetland habitats. About 1,500
of its 2,000 acres are open for hunting. The state’s
23-day southern zone shotgun deer season begins in
mid-November, with legal hunting hours from sunrise to sunset and check-in beginning at 5 a.m. After
checking in, each hunter places a pin in the property
map showing where they plan to begin their hunt;
later arriving hunters avoid these locations. Temporary tree stands are permitted, but no nails or
cutting of live vegetation is allowed. Hunters bring
all harvested deer to the hunter check station.
Credit: Ray Winchcombe
A white “vegetation density board” stands clearly visible in a heavily grazed forest
(above) managed to favor deer abundance to benefit recreational hunting. In contrast,
robust sapling growth obscures a density board in a Cary Institute forest (below), where
aggressive doe harvests limit deer abundance and encourage understory growth.
Strategies. Institute hunters employ three basic
methods. Most hunt from stands, waiting for deer
to approach—a tactic that accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the harvest in any given year. Some quietly
stalk deer on the move, an approach that requires
more skill and patience and contributes about 16
percent to the annual harvest. Others walk in small
groups to drive deer out of the thickest cover or
off the highest ridges to a member of the group, a
method accounting for an average of 12 percent of
the harvest and particularly effective for does, as 63
percent of deer taken through drives are females.
Credit: Ray Winchcombe
Data Collection. Dates, hours, and areas hunted
are recorded in a daily log at the hunter check
station. Trained staff process all harvested deer,
recording dressed weights, lactation status, antler
points, antler beam diameters, and deer age. They
also record time and location of kill, method of hunt
(drive, stand, or stalking), distance of shot, number
of shots, distance deer traveled, and number of deer
present at time of shot.
Harvest Levels. Harvest is controlled not by
bag limits but by limiting the number of hunters
and antlerless permits. For the first 21 years of the
hunt, fall counts of deer via night spotlighting were
conducted to index trends in deer numbers. Today,
these data are derived from a group of bowhunters
(prior to the firearms season) reporting deer observed per hour afield. Most years, Institute hunters
© The Wildlife Society
have access to a single buck tag and two doe tags.
For the past ten years the average deer harvest has
been 41 deer (13.7 per square mile), while the average for the previous ten years was 67 deer (22.3 per
square mile).
Measures of Success
Institute biologists conduct annual spring browse
surveys to measure deer impacts on forest vegetation, the best metric of program effectiveness. These
surveys, done at 45 sites in the Cary forest, quantify
the percent of available buds actually browsed by
deer. On average we’ll examine 6,100 buds on seven
of the most abundant tree species to determine
whether browsing levels are low enough to accommodate forest regeneration. The long-term, overall
browsing rate of buds examined each spring has
fluctuated between 10 and 16 percent, with oak species averaging 15 percent browsing pressure. (Where
deer concentrate during severe winters, browsing
rates have approached 30 percent.) The average
browse rates are considered low, which suggests that
the hunts are effectively protecting the forest environment from deer.
For hunters, success depends upon effort and attitude. A small number of participants consistently
take two or more deer, and, not surprisingly, the
hunters who put in the greatest number of days and
hours have the highest success rates. Over the past
15 years, the successful hunters have averaged 30
percent more hours of effort, 27 percent more days
hunted, and 36 percent more days with five or more
hours hunted.
Harvest numbers are getting lower, however, as
the program successfully trims deer abundance.
In the early years of the hunt, a harvest of 60 to
70 deer per season was the norm. In recent years,
that’s been cut in half, and hunter success has averaged 59 percent for the past 10 years, down from
76 percent in the previous 10 years. I remind the
hunters that the goal of the program has always
been to reduce and stabilize the local deer herd,
not to sustain the high numbers of the past, and I
encourage them to improve their skills. Most see
that persistence and patience pay off, and nearly 90
percent return year after year.
A Season Ends
It is mid-December, the days are bitter cold, and the
season is drawing to a close. Almost 2,000 hours
of hunting have been spent pursuing deer, a typical
season’s effort. Deer tracks mark recent snow, spurring on the few remaining hunters. At season’s end,
most go home with venison after a harvest sufficient
to keep deer numbers in check. The Cary Institute
program proves that, when well-organized and
managed with science, the age-old method of using
hunters to control deer is still a viable conservation
tool for sustaining healthy forests.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
In 2007, the Northeast Section of The
Wildlife Society presented the Cary
Institute with a Certificate of Recognition
in appreciation of its deer management
program to protect forested ecosystems.
To see additional research related to the
Institute’s hunt, go to
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
The Scandinavian Model
A Different Path to Wildlife Management
By Scott M. Brainerd, Ph.D., and Bjørn Kaltenborn, Ph.D.
Credit: Bjørn Kaltenborn
Scott M. Brainerd,
Ph.D., is a Wildlife
Research Coordinator
with the Alaska
Department of Fish
and Game and a
Research Scientist
with the Norwegian
Institute for Nature
Research. He
served 15 years
as the national
wildlife specialist
for the Norwegian
Association of
Hunters and Anglers.
any once-depleted wildlife populations
in Sweden and Norway are flourishing
today. Moose (Alces alces) are a prime
example: Though nearly exterminated only a century ago due to overhunting, concerted efforts by
Scandinavian hunter-conservationists and legislators have brought the species back from the brink
(Swedish Hunter’s Association 1992; Søilen 1995).
Today, Sweden’s annual harvest of moose totals
more than 80,000 animals, and Norway’s is nearly
40,000. This pattern of overhunting and recovery may sound familiar to North Americans. In
many ways, the successes of wildlife conservation
in Scandinavia have paralleled those of the North
American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
The North American Model has been lauded as a
great success and incorporated into the policy of the
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Prukop and Regan 2005). Yet there is room
for improvement, as evidenced by problems such as
chronic overpopulation of deer and geese in North
America, and an inability to adequately regulate
these species through hunter harvests (e.g., Ankney
1996, Merrill et al. 2006, Connor et al. 2007).
To find solutions to such problems, it makes sense
to observe wildlife conservation successes elsewhere
in the world. With more than 60 years of collective experience working in both North America and
Scandinavia, we believe that certain facets of the
Scandinavian approach to wildlife management,
if used wisely, may have potential application in
North America.
What is the Scandinavian Model?
We propose the following as the eight guiding
principles of the Scandinavian Model of
Wildlife Conservation:
1) No one owns living wildlife, but landowners own wildlife legally harvested on their
property. Living wildlife in Scandinavia is considered a public resource (Danielsen 2001). Animals
that die of natural causes, are killed as part of
special public control measures, or are otherwise
Credit: Scott M. Brainerd
Bjørn Kaltenborn,
Ph.D., is a Senior
Research Scientist
with the Norwegian
Institute for Nature
A moose-hunting team
in Norway retrieves a kill
from the field. Like other
hunters in Scandinavia,
the group leases
moose-hunting rights
on privately owned
forest land, paying the
landowner permit fees
to harvest a set number
of animals. Moose
numbers are thriving
under this system.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Credit: Eyvor Aas
© The Wildlife Society
not legally harvested (e.g., killed by vehicle collision or poaching) are considered property of the
state, but legally harvested wildlife is the property
of the landowner.
2) Game meat is a commercial commodity that can be sold on the open market.
Though game farms for wildlife products exist
in the U.S., they are relatively rare. In Scandinavia, game meat is routinely sold on the open
market and is considered an important part
of the culture.
3) Landowners have exclusive rights to hunt
on their land. Scandinavian landowners have the
right to hunt on their land, and can also lease access
to other hunters. In Norway, landowners hold state
hunting licenses allocated to their properties in
accordance with plans approved by locally elected
game boards and supervised by regional wildlife
managers (Storaas et al. 2001).
upon wildlife research and monitoring as the
basis for sound management. Meticulous harvest
statistics have been collected in both Norway and
Sweden for over 150 years. While most monitoring
programs have concentrated on cervids, funding
for large carnivore research has increased dramatically in recent years, in pace with increasing
wildlife populations.
8) Hunting is open to all citizens. Hunters in
Norway and Sweden comprise roughly 5 percent of
the population (comparable to the U.S. percentage).
They are representative of the population and do
not belong to an elite class (Statistics Norway, U.S.
DOI and U.S. DOC 2006).
4) Decision-making is decentralized through
empowerment of local stakeholders. Management of species such as moose has been gradually
decentralized to allow more precise management in
accordance with local management goals (Danielsen
2001, Lavsund et al. 2003). As a general rule, landowners are given responsibility to manage game
populations on their land within a sound regulatory
framework designed to incorporate data collected
primarily by hunters.
5) Wildlife should only be killed for legitimate reasons. As in the U.S. and Canada, the
primary motivations for Scandinavian hunters
are recreation and harvesting meat for the table.
Wildlife can also be legally killed in self-defense or
defense of property.
Credit: Erling Solberg
A group enjoys a forest walk (above) on private land east of Trondheim, Norway. Unlike in
North America, private land is largely available to the public for hiking, berry picking, and
sometimes fishing (below). Fishing rights may also be leased from landowners.
6) Wildlife is an international resource.
Norway and Sweden both work to conserve wildlife
populations internationally, participating in panEuropean and global agreements including the Bonn
Convention, the Bern Convention, RAMSAR, CITES,
and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Norway recently took the lead in creating the European
Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity, which recognizes the value and importance of hunting as a tool
in European wildlife conservation.
7) Science should ground decisions to
allocate wildlife resources to the public.
Scandinavia, like North America, has long relied
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Olav Strand
Where the Models Part Ways
While the two Models share much in common,
several differences do exist arising from the different cultures, politics, and history of the nations
involved. In 1899, for example, when Norway was
in union with Sweden, private landowners were
granted exclusive hunting rights to all game species
on their property to avoid overharvesting of game
species by the public—a “tragedy of the commons”
situation (Søilen 1995). These rights endure today
in both countries. In addition, because landowners can charge hunters for access and for the meat
they harvest, landowners have incentive to sustainably manage wildlife on their property. They also
recognize the need to regulate ungulate populations, especially moose, through hunting in order
to prevent damage to forests and crops.
Some North American conservationists regard
privatization as being in direct conflict with the
Public Trust Doctrine (Williams et al. 2009). This
does not seem to be the case in Scandinavia, where
wildlife is not farmed or ranched, and landowners widely provide hunting opportunities to the
public. Recent public opinion surveys in Norway
indicate that a majority of the public are highly
supportive of nature conservation and protection
as well as hunting (Norsk Gallup 2008). Thus,
we see no evidence that the fee-based system for
wildlife management in Scandinavia has been
detrimental to public support for either conserva-
tion or hunting (cf. Swenson 1983), in part due to
cultural norms and values which are not directly
translatable to other countries. Among other notable differences between the North American and
Scandinavian models:
A Culture of Open Access
Land ownership in many, if not most, Scandinavian
rural communities dates back many generations,
even centuries in some families. In Norway the government has heavily subsidized rural communities
to maintain older settlement patterns and thereby
cultural continuity. The hunting culture is thus relatively intact—many urban hunters are able to return
each fall to family-owned lands to hunt.
Although more than 75 percent of land in Norway
and Sweden is privately owned, “No Trespassing”
signs are almost non-existent. Instead, private
lands in Scandinavia are generally freely open
to the public for hiking, camping, berry picking,
and to some extent fishing. Physical exercise and
an appreciation of the “peacefulness of nature”
are also important components of the culture in
Scandinavia, where great emphasis is placed on
healthy lifestyles, and obesity and associated health
problems are comparatively rare.
State managed land is available for hunting. In
Norway and certain areas in Sweden, laws stipulate
that local residents have priority to use communal
areas—private land managed in the public trust—for
hunting and fishing. Access to large private estates
may be limited to landowners and their friends, but
in many cases, small landowners band together to
ensure that they have enough land to meet requirements for harvesting a single deer or moose.
Whether on private or public land, however, hunters must have landowner permission to hunt,
obtained either through leases—which provide
exclusive access for hunting parties—or permits,
which typically give individuals short-term access
to small game or roe deer. (A typical lease for ptarmigan hunting on private land in southern Norway
may cost upwards of $10 per acre or more.)
Credit: Erling Solberg
Successful moose hunters dress their kill. They will leave the meat hanging until it
becomes dry and tender. Hunters may keep moose and other game meat for private
consumption, give or sell it to friends and acquaintances, or sell it on the open market.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Local hunters in Scandinavia generally have very
good access to hunting through informal personal
connections with landowners or through membership in organized hunting clubs. Hunters without
local connections may find it challenging to gain
access to big game hunting, and often must compete
© The Wildlife Society
for leases or permits on private or state land. Small
game hunting is generally more available. Clubs
also lease small game rights from consortiums of
landowners, and manage the wildlife and hunting on their behalf. Profits above the lease fees are
used for hunter education and wildlife caretaking
(Heberlein 2001).
Commercial Markets for Game
Key to the Scandinavian Model is that game meat—
moose, red deer, roe deer, wild reindeer, wild boar,
brown bear, and small game such as ptarmigan—
can and does have significant commercial value.
Hunters must pay landowners to harvest the meat,
but can then sell it for more than what they pay,
so both landowners and hunters benefit and have
incentive to sustain healthy wildlife populations.
Hunters pay landowners a fee based on the harvested animal’s sex, age, and slaughter weight,
from about $8 per pound for a typical moose calf
to $10.50 per pound for an older bull. These payments are roughly 10 to 20 percent less than what
one would pay in the commercial market—compensation to hunters for the service they render.
Hunters also pay individual tag fees that in Norway range from about $22 for a calf reindeer to
about $71 for an adult moose. Landowners typically charge hunters up front for permits, ranging
between $200 and $400 per animal. Once animals
are harvested, that amount is deducted from the
total price the hunter pays for the meat. Hunters
can then sell the meat they do not use to friends,
neighbors, or others at market price.
This system provides hunters incentive to fill their
quotas and thus recoup their investment, and may
help explain the very high achievement of national
moose quotas in particular—on the order of 80 percent or more annually (Statistics Norway 2009). To
ensure quality, all privately harvested game meat
sold on the market must pass a health inspection.
In 2007, the total value of wildlife meat harvested
in Norway was 500 million Norwegian kroner (90
million U.S. dollars), with moose meat alone valued
at 300 million kroner (54 million U. S. dollars).
Fur also has commercial value in Scandinavia as it
does in North America. However, with the exception of Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) ) in the Svalbard
archipelago, commercial trapping of furbearers is
very limited, primarily due to low fur values for the
most commonly trapped species such as marten
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Erling Solberg
Working for the
Norwegian Institute
for Nature Research,
doctoral student
Christer Rolandsen
tracks a radiocollared moose in
central Norway. As
in North America,
wildlife management
in Scandinavia is
grounded in scientific
research and
(Martes martes) (Helldin 2000). Many trappers
indicate that wildlife management is their primary
motivation for trapping (Ødegård et al. 1994).
Conservation Funding
There is no special excise tax on firearms and
ammunition in Scandinavia akin to the PittmanRobertson Act funds (see page 35). However, as
in the U.S., wildlife management and research are
generally paid for by hunting license and permit
fees. In Norway these funds have been earmarked
for wildlife management and research since 1951—a
feat considering that the Norwegian Finance
Department abhors dedicated fees. Hunting and
fishing are also important and steadily increasing
parts of the overall economy in Norway, contributing roughly $580 million a year (Norwegian
Agriculture and Food Department). Likewise in
Sweden, hunter license fees and dues for membership in the Swedish Association for Hunters and
Wildlife Management pay for management and
research. These contributions, both in terms of
funding and local involvement, represent considerable hunter “ownership” of Scandinavia’s
conservation system.
Hunting Ethics
Laws and policies in Norway and Sweden emphasize the need for high hunter competence and
ethical standards, as in North America. Yet in Scandinavia, hunting teams must have dogs available
to track wounded game, and hunters must pass
annual shooting tests before they can legally hunt
big game. These standards are reflected in hunter
proficiency: A recent study of 12,000 shots fired at
red deer, moose, and wild reindeer in Norway indicated that wounding loss for the combined sample
was less than 1 percent (Andestad 2009).
The relative concept of fair chase is balanced
against other ethical considerations, such as
achieving efficient and “clean” kills. In addition
to using dogs for hunting moose and deer species,
big game hunters in Scandinavia can use two-way
radios and other communication devices—illegal
in some U.S. states—to increase efficiency. In
Sweden, hunters can gain access to remote areas
with helicopters, but the use of off-road vehicles
for recreational hunting is generally prohibited as
it is considered a disturbance to wildlife and lands.
Unlike North America and elsewhere in Europe,
obtaining trophies in Scandinavia is rarely an important objective. This may be partly explained by
the egalitarian and collectivist nature of Scandinavian culture, where bragging or standing out from
the group is discouraged (Daun 1996).
Public Perceptions of Hunting
Perhaps because of these high standards for
competence and ethics, as well as the important
cultural value of game meat, hunting is viewed
by an increasing majority of Norwegians (74
percent in 2008) as an acceptable and even
desirable activity (TNS Gallup 2008). One study
found that the Swedish public was highly supportive of hunting when the main objectives were
recreation and meat (81 percent), but less so (33
percent) when the objectives were recreation and
sport (Heberlein and Willebrand 1998).
Public attitudes toward guns also differ significantly from those in the States. Some hunting
advocates in the U.S. warn that gun control will
impose serious limitations on hunting (Williams
et al. 2009). Ironically, Norway has rather strict
gun control laws by U.S. standards, yet gun ownership in Norway is the highest in Europe at 32
percent of households compared to 39 percent in
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
the U.S. (Kates and Mauser 2007, Gallup 2009).
Hunters without serious criminal backgrounds in
Norway generally have no trouble obtaining gun
permits since hunting is considered a legitimate
and important activity under the law. The same
holds true in Sweden, although just 15 percent of
households have guns (Kates and Mauser 2007),
which may reflect the country’s higher proportion
of urban residents.
A Different Model for Success
The Scandinavian Model of Wildlife Conservation has promoted the recovery and sustained
management of many big and small game
species in Sweden and Norway. Yet this model
also has its challenges. Competing interests in
an increasingly urbanized society will continue
to place wildlife and their habitats under pressure. In addition, successful recovery of large
carnivore populations brings its own headaches.
Many hunters perceive wolves, bears, and lynx to
be unwelcome competitors or adversaries, as do
agriculturalists in rural communities. As a result,
poaching of large carnivores is on the increase,
and appears to have slowed recovery of the wolf
population significantly (Liberg et al. 2010). The
Scandinavian governments have begun to dedicate more resources to wildlife law enforcement
to counteract this trend.
The Scandinavian Model is the result of a strong
partnership between the states, landowners,
and the public. This “revier,” or hunting territory, system—where hunters, landowners, and
the government partner in the management of
local properties—provides real incentives for local
wildlife conservation and management (Bubenik
1989). Therefore, in areas of North America that
are dominated by private land and where game
populations are dense and hunter access is lacking
(such as in the northeastern U.S.), it may benefit wildlife conservation to consider the creative
implementation of a model similar to that practiced in Scandinavia, giving private landowners
incentive to allow hunters to help manage wildlife
on their property.
For a complete bibliography,
go to
© The Wildlife Society
Managing Wildlife in Shades of Gray
Threats to the Pillars of the North American Model
By Divya Abhat and Katherine Unger
o model is perfect. As black and white as
the pillars of the North American Model
of Wildlife Conservation may seem, reality comes in shades of gray. The Model states that
wildlife cannot be owned by an individual, for
example, yet many white-tailed deer, elk, and other
animals are confined in private “game farms.”
The Model calls for the elimination of markets for
game, yet legal markets exist for everything from
deer antlers to alligator skin to amphibians. Such
contradictions raise questions.
If the Model is to stand strong and retain its
relevance over the coming decades, wildlife professionals and hunters themselves must focus a
critical eye on all wildlife harvest practices and
weed out those that are unethical or illegal. What
follows are examples of some of the gray areas associated with wildlife harvest, and how they may
undermine the Model’s pledge to conserve wildlife
for future generations.
The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact offers
a partial solution. More than 30 states have now
signed this agreement, which says that if a person’s
hunting, fishing, or trapping license or permit is
suspended or revoked in one state, the same can be
done in member states. Since 1998, approximately
17,000 poachers have lost their licenses, reflecting
an increase in license confiscations as more states
choose to sign on to the program.
Credit: Ohio DNR
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
The unlawful taking of wildlife, or poaching, can
occur knowingly or unknowingly. Either way,
poaching crimes pose a threat to the Model by
casting a pall on North America’s strong heritage
of ethical and legitimate hunting. Though statistics
are difficult to come by, it’s evident that poaching
—whether carried out on a small scale or commercialized—can have negative impacts on wildlife
populations. In Idaho and Montana, for example,
the wolf quota for the first fair chase hunting
season in 2009 was adjusted to account for illegal
killing, which resulted in decreased hunter opportunity for lawful harvest to assure sustainable
levels of total wolf mortality. Poaching also harms
state agencies and local economies that benefit
from the dollars hunters contribute. It “steals
from the honest hunter,” says Rob Buonamici,
chief game warden with the Nevada Department
of Wildlife. “In Nevada, people might go 20 years
before they successfully draw an elk tag, yet a
poacher comes along and poaches that trophy elk
before the legal hunter can see that animal.”
To curtail the problem, most states have adopted
Turn-in-a-Poacher programs, which encourage
citizens to report violations. Fines, which depend on
the severity of the crime, don’t always serve as a deterrent to poachers, however. “Money is no issue,”
says Buonamici. After surveying poachers about
their motives, he discovered that most are financially well off. “Jail time and losing a trophy—those
are the big deterrents,” he says.
Dozens of whitetailed deer mounts,
nearly 40 firearms,
additional hunting
equipment, and three
all-terrain vehicles
were confiscated
following a poaching
investigation in Ohio
that concluded late
in 2008. Thirteen
individuals were
convicted for illegally
hunting deer and
turkey. Such crimes
taint the image
of hunting and
undermine the actions
of ethical hunters.
Poaching and “Thrill Kills”
A particularly egregious and disturbing trend in
poaching is known as “thrill killing.” It typically
© The Wildlife Society
involves small or large groups of poachers—often
in their teens and 20s—that drive through private
or public land to wantonly kill wildlife just for the
apparent thrill. For example:
• In 2009, three young Saskatchewan men were
fined approximately $5,000 and banned from
getting hunting licenses for three years after they
posted a video of themselves illegally shooting
ducklings in a small pond near Saskatoon.
• Last year, game wardens with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources arrested a group of
15 people—five of them juveniles—for chasing and
clubbing muskrats, raccoons, and opossums with
spiked clubs and baseball bats.
• In 2008, law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania
convicted four juveniles for illegally shooting more
than 50 deer over a few weeks.
Hoping to quash this trend, officials in Washington
state are pushing for a law that will make “spree killing” a felony with large civil penalties.
Legal but Wasteful
The North American Model supports the sustainable harvest of wildlife for food, fur, habitat
management, and personal or property protection.
Other types of killing, though technically legal,
may be seen as wasteful, even unethical. Rattlesnake roundups, for example, stir considerable
debate. At annual roundups held in seven states,
including Texas, New Mexico, Georgia, and Alabama, thousands of rattlesnakes are hunted and
sold to roundup organizers, who sell the snakes for
their skin, meat, and rattles. The largest roundup,
held in Sweetwater, Texas, draws approximately
35,000 visitors annually. Critics complain about
over-exploitation of several snake species and the
ecological impact of these hunts.
Likewise, some people consider prairie dog
shoots unnecessary and frivolous. Black-tailed
prairie dogs, widely considered varmints, can be
hunted year-round across most of their range. In
Colorado, where prairie dogs are considered by
some as “destructive rodent pests,” people can
legally shoot the animals year-round on private
lands and, for approximately eight months in a
year, on state and federal lands. In Wyoming and
several other western states, however, individuals can shoot prairie dogs year-round regardless
of land ownership. Though such shoots spark
controversy, the Wyoming Game and Fish
Department believes controlled shooting is a
management tool that needs to be maintained to
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Csharrard/
help manage prairie dogs effectively (Wyoming
Game and Fish Department).
Balancing Predator and Prey
There’s a long-standing debate over whether to
kill animals that prey on game populations. Aldo
Leopold recognized the problem long ago when
he wrote: “Some students of natural history want
no predator control at all, while many hunters and
farmers want as much as they can get, up to complete
eradication. Both extremes are biologically unsound
and in many cases economically impossible.”
A regal bull elk in
Michigan lives confined
by a game farm’s
fence. Fences can help
landowners responsibly
manage deer on their
land, but hindering the
movement of wildlife
can call into question
whether the fenced
animals are a public
trust resource or private
Certainly, eliminating predators can increase prey
species survival. “From the standpoint of many
hunters … predator control [is effective] because
they see proof that the management is working
almost immediately,” says Terry Messmer, a professor and Berryman Institute associate director for
outreach and extension at Utah State University. To
many it is intuitive that if you remove a source of
mortality, for example cougars in the case of deer,
you’ll soon have more animals to hunt.
At the ecosystem level, however, predator control is a highly complex (and politically sticky)
undertaking that may only make ecological sense
in highly specific circumstances. A recent study
found that trapping predators such as skunks and
raccoons over a localized area in the prairie pothole region could boost duck nest success (Pieron
and Rohwer 2010). However, study co-author
Frank Rohwer of Louisiana State University says
that the practice is rarely used to increase waterfowl populations. In fact, Ducks Unlimited
(DU)—one of the world’s largest conservation
organizations, which counts duck hunters as a
main constituency—has a policy explicitly against
predator control. DU notes that funding predator control would take money away from habitat
management, and is “not a responsible use of our
supporters’ contributions.”
Alaska has a different story. The state’s Intensive
Management Law, passed in 1994, endorses lethal
control of predators such as wolves and bears “to
restore the abundance or productivity of identified big
game prey populations” such as caribou, moose, and
sitka deer for human consumptive use. Predator control can include culling by traditional hunting and by
agency actions such as baiting and aerial shooting, as
authorized by the state Board of Game. Science shows
that culling wolf populations can indeed increase
ungulate populations in localized areas (see Alaska
DFG 2009), but “science is only one aspect of the decision making,” says Kim Titus, chief wildlife scientist
of the Division of Wildlife Conservation with the
Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Because of the
high reproductive rates of wolves, harvest rates may
need to be quite high—up to 50 percent or more—in
order to effectively limit wolf populations (Adams et
al. 2008). That degree of “intensive” lethal control of
predatory mammals for the sake of boosting game for
hunters can prompt protests, and some groups have
also called into question its effectiveness (Defenders
of Wildlife 2008). Regardless of its grounding in science and law, predator control in Alaska gives those
opposed to hunting fodder for debate.
Credit: Courtesy of Doug Smith/NPS
A before-and-after comparison of vegetation along Yellowstone National Park’s Blacktail Deer Creek
shows the difference a predator can make. In the 1990s (left), prior to wolf reintroduction, a large
elk population heavily browsed area vegetation. Shown in 2000 after wolves had returned (right, at a
different time of year), area willows have regrown, likely due to changes in elk behavior or numbers.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
A dearth of predators can also throw ecosystems out
of kilter. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park,
for example, serves as a predator-free refuge for more
than 3,000 elk, which have decimated aspen and
willow stands, leading several conservationists to propose reintroducing wolves to rebalance the ecosystem
(Licht et al. 2010). Overabundant deer populations—
fiercely defended by some hunters—have dramatically
altered ecosystems in Pennsylvania as well. Gary
Alt resigned from his position as deer management
section supervisor for the state’s Game Commission
in 2004 after his efforts to reduce the swollen deer
population were met with antagonistic criticism from
hunters, politicians, and sometimes from colleagues.
“As a profession we often use white-tailed deer
recovery as a huge success story,” says Alt, now an environmental consultant for Normandeau Associates. “I
think that was quite appropriate for the first half of the
20th century. But in the 21st century I think trying to
control the population we brought back is one of the
greatest challenges in wildlife management.”
Exotic Imports and Trophy Hunts
Dealing with invasive non-native species is a challenge
for wildlife professionals throughout North America.
Often introduced as quarry for hunters, exotics may
compete with native species for food and territory and
often cause habitat destruction. Introduced species
can also transmit diseases to native or domestic animals, or vice-versa. “They might bring something with
them or they might get something from here that they
haven’t been exposed to before and become another
reservoir for disease,” says Don Davis with the Center
for Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.
Feral hogs, for instance, now found in 23 U.S. states,
can carry swine brucellosis and pseudo rabies, both
zoonotic diseases that can infect humans.
Exotic wildlife is not always under the legal
jurisdiction of state fish and wildlife agencies, and
this restricts their ability to regulate and control
populations. In some states, fish and wildlife agencies promote the hunting of exotics. In fact, trophy
hunts for exotics, a niche element of hunting, has
become a growth industry in some rural areas, where
businesses for the breeding and hunting of exotic
species—often native to Africa—have proliferated.
According to a report by Texas A&M University’s
Agricultural and Food Policy Center, there are about
3,750 exotic breeding and hunting operations in
the U.S. (not including cervid operations), with an
economic impact of roughly $1.3 billion a year. Some
hunters will pay fees ranging from $1,100 to $4,600
for the privilege of hunting exotics such as eland and
oryx on private land, usually within fenced enclo-
© The Wildlife Society
sures, which can range from approximately 500 to
100,000 acres in size. Such practices pose an ethical
challenge to the North American Model, which
espouses the “democracy of hunting” and the concept
that wildlife cannot be owned.
Genetic Tampering
The human footprint on nature can extend to the
genes of species that hunters pursue. When wildlife managers use captive-bred animals to re-stock
dwindling populations of wild game or fish, for
example, it can result in what some call “genetic
pollution.” Likewise, the accidental escape of farmraised fish such as Atlantic salmon into the wild can
alter gene transcription, potentially putting wild
populations at risk of extinction (Roberge et al.
2007). The interbreeding of captive and wild individuals—whether fish, birds, or ungulates—can also
reduce genetic diversity. “Natural selection produces genotypes that exist in the wild,” says biologist
David Coltman of the University of Alberta. “When
we alter that regime, we are probably hampering
that population’s ability to adapt in the future.” On
a more philosophical level, Coltman says, genetic
tinkering interferes with the notion of wildness: “I
think most people would agree that we want wildlife
to be as close to natural as possible.”
the presence of a buck that I’d very much like to
kill. But they have never given me an unfair edge in
harvesting that buck.” The Pope and Young Club, a
bowhunting and conservation organization, holds
that “the use of electronic devices for attracting,
locating, or pursuing game or guiding the hunter
to such game” goes against the rules of fair chase
(Pope and Young Club). Yet electronic turkey calls
and “robo ducks”—battery-powered decoys that
can simulate a duck landing on water—are still
legally used in some states. Clearly the gadget
question remains open for debate.
Troublesome Tools and Methods
The Boone and Crockett Club defines fair chase
as “the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit
and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North
American big game animal in a manner that does
not give the hunter an improper advantage over
such animals” (Boone and Crockett). But what
constitutes an “improper advantage?” Technological advances have given modern hunters enormous
advantages unknown by earlier generations. Some
of these—like high-powered scopes—are widely
viewed as legitimate, while others brew controversy.
Among those that may cross the line:
Electronic gadgets. Does a trail camera give
hunters an unfair edge at scouting out game? The
state of Montana seems to think so. Its hunting
regulations make it clear that hunters cannot “possess or use in the field any electronic or camera
device” for the purpose of locating a game animal
during the hunting season (Montana FWP 2010)—
a ban in effect for more than a decade and newly
strengthened this year. Though many hunters are
supportive of this law, others do not see the use of
cameras as a violation of fair chase. Scott Bestul,
a columnist for Field and Stream, for example,
writes that cameras have occasionally “revealed
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
Baiting and Supplemental Feeding. Wildlife
professionals use bait and supplemental feeding
as a management technique to capture wildlife for
research, assist in restoration efforts, and translocate
problem animals as well as to lure animals away from
crops or help them survive harsh weather. But when
hunters or poachers put out food merely to attract
wildlife for hunting, the concept of fair-chase is violated. Baiting and feeding—whether done by hunters
or wildlife watchers—can also artificially concentrate
animals, leading to increased rates of bovine brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, chronic wasting disease,
aflatoxin poisoning, mycoplasma, duck virus enteritis,
and parasitic infections (TWS 2006). These diseases
can and do affect wildlife beyond game species.
Dozens of white-tailed
deer feed on bait placed
near a residence—an
activity that is illegal
in parts of Wisconsin
and elsewhere. Even
when bait is used
legally by hunters or
wildlife watchers, it can
raise concerns about
animal health, behavior
modifications, and fair
chase hunting.
“Most honest hunters who believe in fair-chase ethics
do not want to hunt over bait and supplemental feed,”
says Jim Miller, professor emeritus at Mississippi
State University, who also notes that the practice is
illegal in many states. Miller urges wildlife professionals to educate hunters and policymakers about
the problems with baiting and supplemental feeding.
Fenced and “Private” Game.
Many hunters would consider hunting within a fenced
enclosure and the concept of
inaccessible privately owned
game antithetical to many of the
Model’s core principles. Fenced
hunts, whether of exotic species or native game, have also
sparked vehement arguments
and lawsuits over protecting
wildlife from private ownership and making it available to
all—a central tenet of both the
Public Trust Doctrine and North
American Model. Some of these
cases have reached the highest
courts. In Montana, for example,
the state’s Game Farm Reform
Act (or Montana Initiative 143)
banned the creation of new game
farms and outlawed hunting for a
fee on existing game farms. Some
game farm owners sued, claiming
that the ruling constituted a “tak-
not a bad thing,” argues Stephen Demarais, a professor of wildlife ecology and management at Mississippi
State University. In fact, fences can improve management effectiveness if, for example, one property
owner wants to grow big bucks while a neighbor
wants to shoot two- and three-year olds. “The
problem is the incremental creep from enclosures
to breeding pens to the sale of animals within the
breeding pens,” says Demarais. “When you get to that
level, you no longer have the North American Model,
you have private ownership.” Furthermore, managing
fenced-in land for production of one species over others can have negative consequences for biodiversity
(Geist and Organ 2004).
Lead Ammunition. Hunters and anglers have
used lead ammunition and tackle for centuries.
Scientific studies show, however, that birds,
scavengers, and other animals can ingest lead
from sources such as sediments, shooting ranges,
or carcasses contaminated with lead shot. High
levels of ingested lead can damage an animal’s
nervous system, impact reproduction, cause tissue
and organ damage, and even result in death (TWS
2008)—a particular concern for threatened populations such as the California condor.
Concerned about such impacts, legislators banned the use of lead shot for
waterfowl hunting starting in 1991. In
addition, to aid in the recovery of the
condor, in 2003 the Arizona Game
and Fish Department launched a nonlead ammunition outreach program
to reduce the use of lead for hunting.
Credit: Richard P. Smith
Surveys showed that, in 2009, apAfter successfully tracking their quarry, barking
proximately 90 percent of hunters
hounds are leashed to a tree to keep them from
in the condor region took voluntary
jumping. Hounds are often equipped with radiosteps to keep condors from ingesting
tracking collars, which help their owners find
lead, such as switching to non-lead
them quickly. After hounds tree a bear, hunters
Credit: Julie Hunt Connel
move in for the harvest. This hunting practice has
ammunition or removing gut piles
caused a stir in several states, raising questions
from the field (Arizona Game
on the ethics of the use of hounds in bear hunts.
October 2009, the U.S. Supreme
and Fish Department 2009). At least 24 states now
Court declined to hear one of
restrict the use of lead ammunition for other game,
these cases, thereby allowing the state’s ban to stand and last year The Wildlife Society (TWS) released
(Kafka vs. Montana FWP).
a position statement advocating the gradual phase
out of lead with non-toxic alternatives.
Keeping wildlife within impenetrable fences—
whether for hunting, breeding, or raising commercial
Though several such alternatives are already on
products—can also increase the likelihood of disease
the market, some hunters express concern that
transmission. In some states, the first occurrences
non-toxic ammunition is too expensive and not
of diseases like chronic wasting disease and bovine
as effective or widely available as traditional
tuberculosis were identified in fenced-in enclosures
lead. Yet with public awareness of the dangers of
(Missouri Department of Agriculture 2010, California lead on the rise, hunting advocates may increasDepartment of Fish and Game). “Fencing by itself is
ingly promote the use of non-toxic alternatives
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
for the sake of wildlife, habitats, and the reputation of hunting itself.
Traditions Drawing Fire. A baying hound or
bird dog on point is a classic—and cherished—icon
of the hunt. Yet the use of dog packs to chase down
and “tree” game until hunters arrive for the kill
raises questions of ethics. In California, for example, hunting bears with hounds in this way has
become a “hot-button issue,” says Craig Stowers,
deer program coordinator with the California
Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). “The general public does not view the use of hounds to hunt
bear as an ethical practice.”
The CDFG noted, however, that all bear population indices reflected robust bear numbers, so
much so that the department decided to provide
additional hunting opportunities.It issued a proposal to remove the existing hunting cap of 1,700
bears, expand bear hunting areas, and allow hunters to place GPS collars on hounds used to tree
bears, making it easier for hunters to locate their
dogs should they get lost. Proponents argue that
the dogs are just doing what comes instinctively.
In addition, “hound hunters enjoy watching and
hearing their dogs work,” Stowers says. “Dog
owners take pride in knowing they’ve successfully
reared and trained a dog to pick up and follow
faint scents to the climax of the chase.” The welfare of bears is factored into California’s hunting
rules, says Stowers, which restrict the harvest
of sows with cubs or cubs under 50 pounds and
regulate the time of year when hunters can run
and train their hounds. Opponents, however,
claim that this form of hunting violates fair chase
and is inhumane to both dogs and bears.
An Unblinking Look
Fenced hunts, baiting, and other such hunting practices
walk a fine line between ethical and unethical behavior, between upholding the principles of the North
American Model and testing their limits. “Some people
will say that the only people in our society who should
debate these things are the hunters themselves,” says
Decker. “But the resources are managed in the public
trust. They’re owned by no one and managed for the
benefit of everyone, including people who don’t hunt.”
All people who value wildlife should therefore
add their voices to the conversation. “The North
American Model will only stay strong if the
practices of modern hunters are legal, ethical,
and ecologically compatible, and wildlifers can
help them reach these goals,” says TWS Executive
Director Michael Hutchins. Hunters and wildlife
professionals together can play a key role in studying and monitoring harvest practices, adjusting
them when necessary, and educating the public
about their ethics and efficacy. The North American Model and the continent’s hunting heritage
depend on such scrutiny.
Divya Abhat is
Production Editor/
Science Writer for
The Wildlife Society.
Katherine Unger is
Development Editor/
Science Writer for
The Wildlife Society.
For additional
resources on
hunting practices,
go to
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
Bowhunting is another long-valued tradition that
requires skill and patience, hallmarks of fair chase.
Yet early this year, controversy arose in Vermont
over a proposal to add 50 additional bowhunting permits for moose, and a separate eight-day
archery season for moose on top of the regular
season. During a board meeting, one of the concerns over the proposal was on the potential risk of
a bowhunter injuring a moose, rather than killing
it outright.“Sportsman’s code is for one shot, clean
kill,” says Thomas Decker, director of operations
at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. But
with more than 100,000 rifle and bowhunters in
the state, Decker says, “that doesn’t happen every
time.” Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Board eventually rejected the proposal for an extended hunt,
stating the need for more public input.
© The Wildlife Society
A Model Dilemma
When Game Management Goals and Carnivores Collide
By James M. Peek
Credit: Patricia Peek
James M. Peek is
Professor Emeritus
with the Department
of Fish and Wildlife
Resources at the
University of Idaho.
econciling management of large mammalian carnivores and the game they eat
is where the rubber meets the road for the
North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
The hunting community has become polarized
around this issue. Some hunters view game-eating
carnivores such as wolves, cougars, coyotes, and
grizzly bears as plagues akin to tuberculosis and
small pox. Others see the long-term efforts at conservation of these species as the best evidence that
the Model works. The dilemma lies in balancing the
Model’s dual goals of sustaining game populations
while protecting large carnivores.
Wolves clearly illustrate the problem. In the late
1980s, wolves were beginning to re-colonize the
Montana side of the North Fork of the Flathead River
in Glacier National Park, where they were protected
from hunting. Yet wolves next door in British Columbia were not protected. Some biologists therefore
assumed that the U.S. re-colonization would take
place more rapidly if hunting were banned in B.C.
Despite facing criticism, Ray DeMarchi, then the
game manager in Cranbrook, British Columbia,
decided to keep the wolf season open—a decision
he based on extensive experience and scientific
data. He had observed that at times when the wolf
season was closed, whole packs somehow disappeared, yet when the wolf season was open and
pelts could be sold, the animals persisted. In other
words, when wolves had commercial value their
populations survived, but when they were not
hunted and freely preyed on game species, they
vanished. Presumably those wolves were illegally
killed by frustrated game hunters—most likely
some of the same people who allowed breeding
populations of wolves to survive when they could
be legally harvested. In effect, wolves re-colonized
the Flathead country and beyond in spite of the
open seasons in B.C.
This case demonstrates some of the realities of
managing predators in North America. People
need an incentive to participate in the management
and conservation of large mammalian carnivores.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Hunting and trapping seasons provide one such
incentive, but the North American Model specifies
that there can be no commercial exploitation of
wildlife resources. In some cases, that prohibition
could actually contradict the goal of protecting and
maintaining populations of large carnivores, particularly when hunters demand protection of prey
(or game) populations.
Predators on the Rebound
In general, wildlife managers have been largely
successful in maintaining and expanding predator
populations across North America. As most wildlife managers know well, coyotes have expanded
their range in the eastern part of the continent, the
cougar is omnipresent across its western range and
may be expanding eastward, black bears have been
retained or restored across most of their available
range, and extensive efforts are underway to restore
and properly manage wolves.
Some of these efforts have generated significant
controversy among hunters. Yet hunters and
trappers have contributed extensively to a better
understanding of the ecology and management of
large mammalian predators. Fees for licenses and
tags and excise taxes on arms and ammunition, for
example, have funded much of the predator research done by state wildlife agencies. These funds
have also supported research on game species and
led to management decisions regarding harvest
quotas, hunting seasons, methods of take, and sex
and age ratios for harvest. Such regulations have enhanced game populations and habitats, thereby also
benefitting the carnivores that prey on ungulates,
small mammals, and other game.
Understanding Mortality
Predation is a major mortality factor for game species and plays a significant ecological role, whether
by depressing population levels or altering behavior
of prey. Some factions lobby to address this issue
by suppressing predator populations. Alaska, for
example, emphasizes human game harvest by minimizing wolf and bear populations in certain areas
and allowing the hunting of females with cubs in the
© The Wildlife Society
hope that moose calf survival will improve. Even assuming that a habitat can sustain more moose, does
the potential public backlash against such ethically
questionable harvest outweigh the potential advantage? Efforts in Idaho to reduce cougar populations
with extended harvest and multiple bag limits have
caused similar concerns. There is evidence that such
practices can increase predator mortality to levels
where breeding individuals are dramatically reduced
or temporarily eliminated from large areas. Such
politically motivated harvest methods do not serve
the hunter’s cause in the long run or exemplify the
intent of the Model.
has traditionally done, in promoting more involvement and support for the North American Model
and its goals, being careful to use and promote
methods acceptable to the non-hunting public.
Wildlife biologists also have an obligation—often
unstated and difficult to carry out—to make it clear
that it is in the best interests of hunters to promote
wise conservation practices for large mammalian
Just because nature takes its course and predators
eat prey does not mean that we need to reduce predator populations. Instead, we need to expand our
understanding of what makes prey unduly vulnerable, and assess whether predation or hunter harvest
is the primary cause of decline in ungulate species.
Unfortunately, current studies of the effects of predators on big game often stop at marking newborn
calves, lambs, kids, or fawns and then monitoring
their survival rates and causes of mortality. This tells
us the “whats” but does not get at the “whys,” which
have to assess prey vulnerability and its causes.
We also need a better understanding of the complex relationships of prey to their habitats. Many
species of native ungulates, for example, are well
known for persisting at high density on deteriorated
habitat. Deer, elk, and moose can alter their diet
and habitat use patterns according to winter severity and summer drought. Without predator species
to keep these animals in check, the biodiversity of
over-grazed habitats can be severely compromised.
Facing pressure from sportsmen to keep game
populations high, game managers may feel little
incentive to assess carrying capacity, impose bag
limits, or support predator protection. Yet contemporary management needs to occur in a broader
context, balancing the goals of game availability,
habitat preservation, predator survival, and broad
public use. In this way, professional wildlife biologists can meet their obligation to serve the entire
wildlife resource.
Spreading the Word
Though funding will ultimately dictate what can
be done, all those with an interest in wildlife
resources can play a significant role. I believe that
the hunting community should lead the way, as it
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Andy Gehrig/iStockphoto
Eyes intent on an unknown prize, a trio of seemingly hungry wolves suggests the majesty
and the peril of charismatic predators. Wolves symbolize the debate over how to balance
predator and game populations. Wise management must accommodate both.
predators as well as for game species. And the
public at large must play an active role in supporting and funding wildlife conservation, as the
collective input of non-hunters can have important
consequences for how and where both game and
predator species will exist.
I contend that the only way wildlife agencies can
address the controversy over conservation of the
large mammalian predators effectively over time is
by learning all they can about population dynamics and sharing that information with the vested
interests. While there are those who will argue with
the science and attempt to insert undue political influence into wildlife management, it’s ultimately the
science that will quiet the shrillest voices and serve
to integrate large mammalian predators into the
management of the rest of the wildlife complex.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
New Guidelines for Furbearer Trapping
Science Improves an Age-Old Pursuit
By Bryant White, Clifford Brown, and Thomas Decker
Courtesy of Bryant White
Bryant White is
a biologist with
the Association of
Fish and Wildlife
Agencies working
through the Missouri
Department of
he stereotype of “animal trappers” evokes
villainous cartoon characters killing whatever furry creatures they can find and trading
away the pelts. That image is a distorted reflection
of past centuries, when unregulated and excessive harvest was done with little concern for animal
welfare. Though the image may persist in the public
imagination, it’s time for public perceptions to change
because trapping itself has fundamentally changed.
Without it, many species and habitats would not
survive—a fact that very few people understand.
Furbearer trapping in the United States and
Canada is a highly regulated activity, subject to
strict standards of animal welfare and sustainable
harvest. It is a way of life that provides a source of
income to tens of thousands of people. It is also a
vital tool for wildlife managers and for biologists
studying wildlife populations, disease, invasive
species, predation, and habitat ecology. As noted
in a recent position statement from The Wildlife
Society, government-regulated trapping in North
America is consistent with the principles of natural
resource conservation by ensuring genetic diversity
and continued existence of species and ecosystems.
In recent years, the role of trapping in wildlife conservation has been the focus of an unprecedented,
ongoing program to develop scientifically-based
Best Management Practices (BMPs) for furbearer
trapping. Now in its 13th year, this program got its
start in the late 1990s when the Furbearer Conservation Technical Work Group of the International
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (now
AFWA) recognized the need to improve trapping
methods, long a subject of public debate and controversy. In 1997 the Work Group published a report
titled “Improving Animal Welfare in U.S. Trapping
Programs,” which compiled data on trap research
and testing and described how state wildlife agencies could “systematically and objectively” improve
trapping in their jurisdictions. That was the beginning of testing and analysis to develop BMPs for a
host of species. The program’s objectives are to:
Credit: Bill Heatherly/Missouri Dept. of Conservation
Courtesy of Thomas Decker
Open dumpsters and exposed trash offer an all-you-can-eat buffet for raccoons on the prowl in urban areas. Highly adaptable and quick to
reproduce, raccoons can spread rabies, harm pets and wildlife, and damage property. Trapping raccoons in Missouri (above), biologist Dave
Hamilton (now deceased) helped assess traps for the BMP program.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
• Identify practical traps and techniques that continue to improve efficiency, selectivity, and the
welfare of trapped animals.
• Promote regulated trapping as a modern wildlife
management tool.
• Provide wildlife professionals with information to
evaluate trapping systems.
• Instill public confidence in, and maintain public support for, wildlife management trapping
through distribution of science-based information.
• Provide specifications for traps that meet BMP
criteria for wildlife species in various regions.
• Develop a reference guide and recommendations
for those interested in the continued improvement of traps and trapping systems.
This effort has involved extensive international
collaboration among AFWA, the Fur Institute of
Canada, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, the Alberta Research Council,
national trapper organizations, and various representatives from the European Union and Canada.
With their input, AFWA’s Furbearer Work Group
developed criteria for evaluating a variety of lethal
and non-lethal traps.
The field work for the BMP project has been a massive undertaking involving nearly 1,000 licensed
trappers and scores of technicians, biologists,
and veterinarians from 41 state fish and wildlife
agencies and several Canadian provinces. Working with more than 100 commercially available
traps, trappers have conducted the field work while
independent technicians accompany them to collect
data. Based on the results of these projects, teams
of experts have created BMPs for 18 species so far.
These include the most commonly trapped furbearers—raccoon, red fox, coyote, muskrat, beaver, and
mink—as well as nutria, fisher, bobcat, and others. The newest BMPs (for swift/kit fox) came out
in July 2010, and guidelines for badger, lynx, and
other species will follow in 2011 and beyond.
Credit: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
welfare goals based on specific trauma scales. To
pass muster, live capture traps must cause little or
no injury, while lethal traps must cause irreversible
loss of consciousness in a minimal timeframe of less
than five minutes.
2) Efficiency. To meet BMP criteria, traps must
capture and hold at least 60 percent of the targeted
species that activate or spring the trap. In other
words, the number of targeted species captured, divided by the number of times that species activates
a trap, must equal at least 60 percent.
3) Selectivity. Trap testers look for technical
features that will increase the likelihood that a trap
will capture the desired species while minimizing
the risk of capturing non-target species, such as
pets or livestock. Each BMP describes these technical features and provides trap illustrations and set
As outlined in AFWA’s introductory guide to the
BMP program, trap testing and evaluation is based
on five fundamental criteria:
4) Practicality. Trappers who use devices in the
field provide invaluable feedback about pan shape,
jaw type, chain length, swivel placement, and other
aspects of trap design and performance. A panel
that does final evaluations and recommendations
also considers the cost of traps and trap maintenance, ease of use, weight and dimensions, ease of
transport and storage, reliability, versatility, usable
life span, and training requirements.
1) Animal welfare. When testing live capture or
lethal devices—including cage traps, foothold traps,
submersion systems, bodygrip traps, or cable devices and snares—traps are evaluated to determine
whether they are humane enough to meet animal
5) Safety. When testing traps for the BMP project,
trappers assess whether the traps pose any unreasonable risk to the user or to anyone who might
come into contact with the trap. To meet safety criteria, traps should have safety features and/or tools
The Key Criteria
© The Wildlife Society
Buyers assess pelts for
sale at a fur auction in
Herkimer County, New
York. Local fur auctions
can be a social event,
bringing trappers,
fur buyers, and
conservation agents
together to reflect
on the past trapping
season and bring it to
a close.
Clifford Brown is a
biologist with the
West Virginia Division
of Natural Resources.
Thomas Decker is
Chief of Operations
with the Vermont
Department of Fish
and Wildlife.
that are easy to use under normal field conditions.
BMPs present the appropriate use of setting tools,
grippers, and other safety devices.
The results of BMP testing have been encouraging.
Trappers have conducted more than 210,000 total
trap nights resulting in 13,500 animal captures, 94
percent of which were the target species. In addition, 72 percent of traps tested have met all program
criteria. Each resulting BMP provides information
commodities for a wide range of consumer products
such as blankets, paint and hair brushes, waterrepellent oils, fishing lures, perfume, cosmetics, pet
food, and high-protein food for human consumption.
Conducted under principles of sustainable use,
furbearer trapping is subject to strict, well-enforced
regulations regarding seasons and limits, size and
style of traps, trap placement, and trap-checking intervals. Because harvested species are common and
abundant, trapping poses no threat to the survival
of these species. Indeed, it often keeps populations
from becoming unsustainably overabundant—with
either biological or social consequences—thereby
posing a threat to both the species and its habitat.
Regulated trapping benefits wildlife management,
conservation science, and the public at large in
numerous ways. Biologists, landowners, animalcontrol technicians, and others trap animals to
manage and monitor wildlife populations, conduct
disease testing, relocate animals to establish new
populations, protect public safety, prevent damage
to property, protect endangered species from predators, and save threatened habitats. Examples of the
benefits of trapping abound:
Courtesy of the Fur Institute of Canada
Michelle Hiltz and
Marion Herbut at the
Alberta Research
Council use
computer simulation
to assess how a
rotating jaw trap
will perform when
capturing a marten at
various angles. Hiltz
shares data with U.S.
researchers working
on BMPs. “The
ultimate goal,” she
says, “is to effectively
rate traps against
humane trapping
standards without the
use of animals.”
about the characteristics, range, habitat, food habits, and reproduction of the target species, as well as
detailed trapping guidelines, precise measurements,
practical tips, and advice about sets and safety. The
BMP for trapping muskrats, for example, which
describes use of foothold, bodygrip, and cage traps,
notes that loosening pan tension may improve efficiency of foothold traps in submersion sets. All
BMPs are freely available in PDF form on AFWA’s
website—an essential resource for anyone involved
in the humane capture of wildlife for any purpose.
The Role of Modern Trapping
There are about 150,000 state-licensed trappers in
the U.S., as well as federal, state, and private trappers conducting animal damage control activities.
Each year, during regulated hunting and trapping
seasons, trappers harvest between six million and 21
million wild furbearing animals. Aside from providing pelts for garments, furbearer harvest also yields
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Reintroductions. Biologists have used foothold or
cage traps to capture river otters, gray wolves, fisher,
marten, beaver, and many other species for relocation to former ranges where the animals had become
extirpated. Between 1986 and 1993, for example, the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources trapped 123
otters in Louisiana and Arkansas and released them
at four sites in eastern Ohio. By 2002, the state had
an estimated population of 2,100 otters (it’s now past
6,000) and was able to remove the animal from its
Endangered Species list (Linkhart 2007).
Wildlife science. Trapping allows wildlife biologists to study populations, gather genetic samples,
and attach radio collars or transmitters for monitoring migration, foraging patterns, home range, and
other behaviors. In 2005, Vermont Fish and Wildlife and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Cooperative
Research Unit implemented a radio telemetry study
of bobcats to determine their home range, habitat
use, and navigation through or around highways
and roads. This information helped to evaluate the
impacts of various types of development and determine if some habitat types were critical for bobcats.
Wildlife biologists used BMP-tested foothold traps
in this study to capture bobcats, which were then
examined, collared, released, and monitored.
© The Wildlife Society
Protecting property and public safety. As
humans encroach on wild lands, or when wild animals repopulate developed areas, conflicts between
people and wildlife soar. Likewise, when predator
species become overabundant, domestic animals
and livestock become easy prey. Coyotes, for example, pose a costly problem for ranchers across the
West. Now the leading cause of death for sheep in
Montana, coyotes reportedly killed 2,500 sheep and
12,100 lambs in that state last year, costing sheep
ranchers well over $1 million in losses (Adams
2010). To curb predation, ranchers may work with
state or private trappers to remove coyotes, particularly during lambing season.
Protecting endangered species. Numerous
states authorize trapping as a means to protect rare or
threatened species from predation. Threatened shorebirds that nest on beaches such as piping plovers and
Credit: Cliff White/Missouri Dept. of Conservation
As part of a Missouri Department of Conservation reintroduction program, river otters
brought from out-of-state are ready to be released near a Missouri river. Over several years,
some 850 otters—primarily trapped in Louisiana—were released in Missouri. The state now
has more than 15,000 otters, one of the nation’s most successful reintroduction efforts.
Nutria: Plague of the Wetlands
Long before the Deepwater Horizon disaster released millions
of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands were battling a different plague. Nutria (Myocaster coypus), rodents native to South America, have feasted on wetland
vegetation for decades, destroying thousands of acres a year.
Louisiana fur farmers originally imported nutria from Argentina in
the 1930s. Soon thereafter, released or escaped animals began
to establish feral populations across the Gulf Coast. Today
nutria rank as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world.
Averaging 12 pounds each, nutria can consume roughly 25
percent of their body weight each day, soon rendering marshes
void of vegetation. These “eat outs” leave marshes prone to
erosion. If the plants don’t regenerate quickly, a marsh can become open water, leaving coastlines vulnerable to storm surge.
Credit: Steve Hillebrand/ USFWS
“Wetland vegetation is the fabric that hold the marsh together,”
says biologist Edmond Mouton, program manager at the
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “Any destruction to wetland habitat…impacts wetland species [and] affects
water quality, which in turn can affect fisheries and other marine
organisms. There are other forces that contribute to coastal
erosion, but nutria tend to exacerbate the process.”
To encourage robust nutria trapping, Louisiana launched an
incentive program. (Chemical control, rodenticides, and fertility
control were also considered but deemed too costly, ineffective,
or dangerous.) Through the incentive program, hunters receive
$5 per nutria harvested and must provide nutria tails as evidence of the take. Trappers can receive an additional payment
for fur ranging from $1 to $1.50 per pelt.
To address the problem, in 2002 Louisiana established the
Coastwide Nutria Control Program to encourage nutria trapping.
During Louisiana’s Trapping Season (November 20 through
March 31), trappers can use legally authorized traps to harvest
nutria, and must check all traps daily. Nutria can also be hunted
during a Recreational Season from September 1 through February 28 with steel shot (to prevent lead contamination in the
wetlands), or with dogs, except during turkey nesting or deer
hunting season.
These incentives appear to be helping: In the 2009-2010
season, trappers harvested 445,963 nutria, up from fewer than
30,000 during the 2001-2002 trapping season. During the past
eight years of the incentive program trappers have harvested
2,571,030 nutria. Although Mouton estimates that nutria populations remain in the millions, wetland damage has decreased
from over 100,000 total acres of damage in 1999 to approximately 8,000 total acres this year—a move in the right direction.
© The Wildlife Society
By Madeleine Thomas, Editorial Intern
least terns are particularly vulnerable to predation
from a variety of species including foxes, coyotes, and
skunks. Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries is vigorously using trapping to remove raccoons, red fox, and
other predators from barrier islands that host piping
plovers and other shorebirds.
Disease control. When wild animals congregate,
they can spread disease among themselves or, on
occasion, to human populations. In 2008 alone,
more than 6,300 cases of rabies in wildlife were
reported in the U.S., where raccoons, skunks, and
foxes are prime vectors for the disease (Chipman
2010). Biologists capture animals with foothold and
cage traps to test for disease, administer vaccines,
or remove infected individuals.
Habitat protection. Overabundant muskrats,
beaver, or nutria can devastate an ecosystem by
burrowing into stream beds or dams, altering water
flow, and devouring local vegetation. Nutria, rapidly
reproducing invasive rodents found in Louisiana,
Top Six Trapped Species
Most trappers take raccoons, red fox, and other species that are highly abundant (below) due to habitat conditions and high
reproductive rates. Modern trapping plays an important role in managing these species.
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Coyote (Canis latrans)
Beaver (Castor canadensis)
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Credit: USFWS
Credit: Christopher Bruno/ Wikimedia
Credit: Steve/Wikipedia Commons
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
Mink (Mustela vison)
Credit: Ronald Laubenstein/USFWS
Credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson/Wikipedia
Credit: Brendan Lally/Flickr
© The Wildlife Society
consume thousands of acres of wetland vegetation
each year, prompting the state to launch an ambitious controlled trapping program to slow the loss of
critical marshlands (see sidebar on page 69).
Seeking balance. The beaver may be the best
example of a furbearer in the modern landscape
that requires active management to maintain
optimal population levels. Because beavers create
productive wetland areas and provide meat and
fur, they’re ecologically and commercially valuable.
But without trapping to limit populations, beavers
can quickly over-populate, creating dams that lead
to flooding, habitat degradation, property damage,
and public nuisance.
A well-known case in Massachusetts illustrates
the unintended consequences of a trapping ban.
Under pressure from an animal rights group, the
town of Chelmsford banned beaver trapping in
1988. By 1992, flooding related to beaver dams
had shut down municipal wells and caused thousands of dollars in damage to septic systems, lawns,
and roadways. Citizens voted to lift the ban, but
a state ballot initiative in 1996 placed severe new
restrictions on trapping statewide. The troubles
Chelmsford had experienced spread across the state
as the beaver population grew from 24,000 in 1996
to 52,000 by 1999. Citizens who once viewed beavers as valuable wildlife came to see them as pests
(Organ et al. 2001).
Spreading the Word
If people view wildlife as an irritation or nuisance
to be destroyed rather than a valuable resource to
be managed, enjoyed, and sustained into the future,
then wildlife and habitats will not survive. This
is why the current coalition of U.S. state fish and
wildlife agencies and its federal partners, trappers,
technicians, veterinarians, and academics will continue to develop BMPs for furbearer trapping and
educate the public about its role in conservation.
“This body of work is a very important contribution
to the field of wildlife management and conservation,” says Ron Regan, Executive Director of AFWA.
Education is the key to ensuring adoption of BMPs
by trappers and to changing public perceptions.
With funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and with the assistance of state wildlife
agencies and private trapper’s associations, AFWA
and the International Hunter Education Program
have developed a trapper education program that
includes DVDs and videos, workbooks, and student
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Cliff White/Missouri Dept. of Conservation
and instructor manuals. In 2003 AFWA also helped
launch a series of “Trapping Matters” workshops,
which have taught the benefits of regulated trapping
to more than 2,000 state biologists, educators, law
enforcement officers, and others around the nation.
This effort is clearly having global reach. Each year,
biologists and agency representatives from the U.S.
and Canada—which has developed a trap certification program—meet with representatives from
other nations to review and share trap research,
study protocols, and discuss necropsy and other
methods. Gordon Batcheller, a Certified Wildlife
Biologist with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and chair of the AFWA
Furbearer Conservation Technical Work Group, has
travelled in recent years to New Zealand, Europe,
and Russia representing the U.S. at international
meetings on trapping and trap research. “It is very
gratifying to see that the international community
understands and increasingly accepts the BMP
process,” he says. That acceptance by wildlife professionals and the public, both in North America
and abroad, will ensure that furbearer trapping
continues to evolve as a humane, practical, and
thoroughly modern tool for sustaining both wildlife
populations and an age-old way of life.
The tell-tale
scrapings of razorsharp teeth show
how beavers can
“girdle” residential
trees, stripping
them of bark—just
one form of damage
that beavers can
quickly create. In the
flatlands “they can
build a dam and flood
160 acres,” says
Arkansas trapper
Mike Fischer, who
makes his living by
trapping for pelts, to
control pests, and to
help with relocations.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
For additional resources on furbearing
trapping in the U.S. and Canada, go to
Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow
A program That opens minds to the value of hunting
By Richard McCabe
nna sort of got it even before the workshop started. Denise got it during an ethics
discussion. Charlene got it during a fire pit
gathering when no one was saying much of anything. Nick got it when a pheasant flushed a few feet
away, and Hannah got it on the drive back to college.
Courtesy of Richard McCabe
Richard McCabe
is Vice President
of the Wildlife
Institute and Senior
Fellow of the Max
McGraw Wildlife
According to confidential questionnaires, these
students and more than 350 others have eventually gotten “it”—the relationship of hunting to
conservation and careers in natural resources—by
participating in the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow (CLfT) program. “CLfT isn’t simply about
ensuring hunting opportunity for hunters now,”
wrote one graduate student from the University
of West Virginia. “It is about ensuring hunting for
conservation in the future.”
Launched in 2005, the CLfT program—developed
by the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) and
funded mainly by the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation (MMWF)—was designed to provide non-hunting
upper class and graduate students in natural resource
disciplines with a better understanding of the roles
and values of hunting. The initial catalyst for the program was a concern expressed by state wildlife agency
officials that many of their new hires had no familiarity with hunting or hunting stakeholders. Agencies
feared that these new professionals—and eventual
decision makers—would therefore have little appreciation for hunting, the linchpin of conservation.
These apprehensions were well-founded. According
to an unpublished survey by WMI in 2004, fewer
than 50 percent of students graduating with wildlife
degrees had a hunting background. Among those
graduating with degrees in other natural resource
disciplines, fewer than 30 percent had been exposed
to hunting. Likewise, fewer faculty members in
natural resource sciences hunt or acknowledge its
importance to their students.
Equally sobering, the wildlife profession projected
a 70 percent turnover between 2007 and 2017, and
game management has become a vanishing course
of study at universities (Baydack et al. 2009). These
and other trends signaled the need for a program
like CLfT. The question was, if WMI and MMWF
built it, would students come?
Building Blocks
The CLfT format was inspired by the Wisconsin
Student Hunting Program at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and incorporates many of
the same topics and activities. In addition, CLfT
adopted teaching materials from the handful of
universities that teach about the culture of hunting,
as well as from the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA), Becoming an Outdoors
Woman (BOW), and the National 4-H Shooting
Sports program. Finally, CLfT has borrowed ideas
from hunters, educators and, eventually, from students themselves.
Credit: Joe Thomasson
During a session on bowhunting, CLfT instructor Jami McCabe demonstrates technique
for university students from Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. The workshop was held at
Ringneck Ranch near Tipton, Kansas, one of seven facilities around the country where
CLfT instructors have taught hundreds of students—65 percent of whom are women.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Today, after five years and two dozen workshops,
CLfT continues to evolve. Now offered through 34
universities at facilities in seven states (see box on
page 73), the program exists not to recruit hunters,
but to provide participants with insight about hunt-
© The Wildlife Society
ers and the relationship of hunting to conservation.
“Through my career I have seen a lot of models for
letting non-hunters know about the values of hunting in a modern society,” says Patt Dorsey, a CLfT
instructor from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
“No one is on par with CLfT. [It has] found a way to
teach about hunting—as opposed to teaching hunting—in a cerebral and philosophical way.”
CLfT’s instructors—numbering more than
140—must be veteran hunters, experienced
communicators, and dedicated conservationists. Vocationally, they are divided nearly equally
among academia, state or federal government
agencies, and NGO conservation organizations,
retirees, and other professionals. To become a
CLfT instructor, candidates must go through a
two-day training and orientation session and then
participate in a workshop. University faculty who
are CLfT instructors also serve as student advisors
to enlist workshop participants, provide program
orientation, and arrange transportation. These
advisors determine which of their students will
benefit most from a CLfT workshop, giving priority to graduate students and those deemed most
likely to be in future leadership roles. A number of
non-hunting university faculty and administrators
as well as federal and state agency personnel also
have attended the workshops.
Regardless of background, most CLfT students have
never held a hunting license. About 65 percent have
been females, and most students have urban or
suburban backgrounds. Pre-workshop surveys have
shown that most participants arrive not unfavorably
disposed towards hunting, but with little understanding of its role in conservation, its inextricable
link to resource management, and its economic,
social, and personal value. Perhaps 10 percent of
students have been vegetarians, and fewer than 10,
including several PETA members, were professed
anti-hunters. According to post-workshop surveys,
98 percent of participants ranked their experience
as worthwhile.
The Core Curriculum
Although the curriculum varies somewhat depending on season and weather, it invariably involves
a dozen roundtable discussions and 14 basic field
exercises. Ideally, 16 students from at least three
universities participate. Instructor numbers vary
from nine to 15. Though free to present roundtable
topics as they wish, instructors are encouraged to
© The Wildlife Society
Courtesy of CLfT
Instructor Bob Byrne, left, gives an enthusiastic thumbs up for two CLfT participants who
each bagged a pheasant during a mentored hunt at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation
in Illinois. Held in January 2010, this was the first CLfT workshop offered exclusively to
non-hunters from state and federal natural resource management agencies.
Where CLfT is Taught
The CLfT program currently holds workshops at the following seven
facilities, which offer lodging, classrooms, outdoor class space, dining, and proximity to a trap range and a hunting preserve:
• The Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, in Dundee, Illinois, is CLfT’s
flagship site. Established in 1962, this private 1,200-acre conservation research and education facility also operates a shooting
preserve and a fisheries management program.
• Ringneck Ranch in the Blue Hills near Tipton, Kansas, is a premier
hunting lodge with access to more than 10,000 acres, featuring
primarily upland game and deer hunting.
• The Edward F. Kehoe Camp in Castleton, Vermont, is a summer
youth conservation camp located above Lake Bomoseen near the
Green Mountain Range. It is operated by the Vermont Fish and
Wildlife Department.
• Chesapeake Farms near Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern
Shore is a 5,300-acre demonstration farming operation and the
home farm of DuPont Agricultural Products.
• The Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield, Georgia, is a
6,400-acre site managed by the Georgia Department of Natural
Resources. It offers a variety of educational, informational, and
recreational programs.
• The Silver Spur Ranch near Saratoga, Wyoming, is a working cattle
ranch. It hosts Silver Spur Outfitters, which has 55,000 deeded
acres of BLM and U.S Forest Service land in Wyoming and Colorado, mainly for hunting mule deer and elk. It also is recognized as
one of the West’s finest fly-fishing destinations.
• Wildlife Farms, a 1,900-acre site along the White River near Stuttgart, Arkansas, is one of the state’s oldest and most acclaimed
waterfowl hunting and fishing outfitter operations.
make the material as interactive and creative as
possible within the allotted time of about an hour
per topic. Field exercises are taught in a uniform
manner for safety considerations.
A CLfT workshop typically begins on a Wednesday
evening when instructors arrive to get settled and
review student lists, lesson plans, equipment needs,
and logistics. Students arrive the next afternoon and
typically experience the following:
Credit: Joe Thomasson
University students
pitch in as CLfT
instructors demonstrate the art of field
dressing pheasants
at Ringneck Ranch in
Kansas. Participants
gain more than a feast
of fresh game from the
workshops. “I’d had no
idea how thoroughly
hunting is integrated
into wildlife management,” says CLfT
graduate Rita Blythe.
“Now I understand
that it’s an integral part
of it.”
Day 1: Thursday. Students and advisors arrive
by about 3:30 p.m. After check-in, orientation, and
dinner they’ll participate in roundtable discussions
about Who Hunts and Why and Hunting Safety. Afterwards, instructors will address shotgun handling
and safety and help fit students with shotguns by
assessing eye dominance, which determines rightor left-handed shooting.
Day 2: Friday. Packed from 7 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.,
this day offers the bulk of the coursework, with
roundtable discussions, field exercises, and a
hunter education exam. Roundtable discussions
include issues such as the Role of Hunting in Wildlife Management and Conservation, Hunting Laws
and Regulations, the Role of Hunting in Society,
and the Biological Basis of Hunting. Through these
roundtables, students gain an understanding of the
basics of hunting game populations and of hunting’s values and complexities. They also learn that
the privilege or (in some states) right of hunting
can be easily abused in the absence of proper laws,
regulations, and ethical standards.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Field exercises give students hands-on experience
with hunting-related skills including:
• Handling rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders.
Training covers firearm parts, actions, safety, basic
rules, zones of fire, and ammunition (such as shot
shell and cartridge parts, gauges and calibers, shot
size, and lead vs. nontoxic shot). In groups of three
or four, students rotate through five stations to practice mounting, stance, loading, and unloading of
various firearms.
• Shooting and hunting skills, where students
practice field carries, crossing fences and other
obstacles with firearms, zones of fire, BB gun and
trap shooting, game recovery, and more.
• Dog training, handling, and care.
• Stalking game.
• Archery.
That evening, all students take the participating
state’s hunter certification exam, whether or not
they wish to hunt the next day.
Day 3: Saturday. After breakfast and a morning
review of the exam results (all CLfT students have
passed so far), the group discusses hunter responsibilities and ethics. Instructors cover ethical dilemmas
such as baiting, access/trespass scenarios, snow
goose hunting, and use of robo ducks and scent lures.
This is followed by field exercises that include pheasant hunting, dressing and packaging game, cooking
game, and post-hunt care of dogs and equipment.
After a dinner of pheasant or other game meats, the
students and instructors discuss contemporary management issues that involve hunting such as chronic
wasting disease, trophy hunting, conservation financing, and high-fence and game preserve hunting. The
day concludes after the shotguns are cleaned.
Before leaving on Sunday, students and instructors
will discuss any questions or lingering issues, then
respond to a post-workshop survey before heading
back to school. “CLfT has had an amazing impact
on the students who have participated,” says instructor Gary San Julian of Penn State University.
“I see it in their classwork and in those who have
joined the professional ranks: Voices strengthened
by experience rather than just education.”
New Models for the Future
The CLfT program is filling a need absent in academia. Its facility owners and operators see the
program as an investment in their future and that of
conservation. Most of all, CLfT succeeds because it
fulfills a genuine interest on the part of students to
© The Wildlife Society
understand what hunting is and who hunters are. “I’d
always seen hunting in a negative light,” says Marco
Sanchez, a wildlife and fisheries student at Michigan
State University who had never shot a gun before
participating in a CLfT workshop in the fall of 2009.
“But for anyone going into natural resources who
hasn’t had much exposure to hunting, it’s important
to open yourself to new ideas and other viewpoints.”
To expand on its success, CLfT is supporting new
spin-off programs. These include an on-campus
evening and weekend course, a train-the-trainer
program for state agencies, and workshops for
non-hunters from wildlife agencies and university faculties—the first of which was conducted
in January 2010. This momentum is vital, given
current trends. “I am concerned with the growing
disconnect between state fish and wildlife agencies
and university wildlife programs,” says CLfT instructor John Organ of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. “CLfT is the first comprehensive program
to bridge this gap. Its students have an indelible
experience such that their attitudes towards hunting as a component of wildlife management will be
positive and endure.”
© The Wildlife Society
Safety First
States Teach Lessons in Hunting and Conservation
By Susan Langlois
Credit: Bill Byrne/MDFW
Susan Langlois is a
State Administrator
for the Massachusetts
Division of Fisheries
and Wildlife Hunter
Education Program.
ccidents happen. In April 2009, 18-year-old
Adam Garcia of Breckenridge, Texas was out
with his friends on the first day of turkeyhunting season when his 15-year-old companion
accidentally dropped his shotgun, firing a fatal shot
into Garcia’s lower left abdomen. That year Texas
recorded a total of 29 hunter-related accidents, of
which three were fatal.
Tragic as they are, hunting-related accidents are
in decline in Texas, likely a result of the state’s
requirement, begun in 1988, mandating that all
hunters take basic hunter-education classes. A 2009
report revealed that prior to 1988, the state had one
hunting accident for every 13,318 hunting licenses
issued. After 1988, the rate fell to one accident for
every 21,528 hunting licenses issued (2009 Texas
Hunting Accidents Analysis). This trend isn’t
unique to Texas. In a recent report by the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation,
hunting incidents in New York reflect a 40-year
trend of increasing safety (NYSDEC 2008).
Organized hunter education programs began in
Kentucky in 1946 as part of a statewide youth camp
Credit: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Participants in Colorado’s Youth Big Game Program train for big game hunts in the state.
The program—developed in partnership with private land owners, some local ranchers, and
other sponsors—provides youth hunters and their parents with a unique experience to hunt
big game, including deer, elk, and antelope.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
program. In 1949, New York became the first state
to require mandatory hunter education for all new
hunters under the age of 17. Today, hunter education
is required for certain age groups in all 50 states and
10 provinces in Canada. Each state fish and wildlife
agency administers these programs with the help of
nearly 70,000 volunteers, who teach hunter education to approximately 700,000 students in North
America every year. Below is a sampling of the types
of hunting-related courses and resources that state
fish and wildlife agencies offer through the year.
Basic Hunter Education
Every state agency offers basic hunter education,
the fundamental hunting course mandated in
almost all jurisdictions in North America. Courses
are designed to produce safe, knowledgeable, and
responsible hunters and instill hunting values and
core ethics. Prospective hunters can take a course
in any state or province that will allow them to
purchase a hunting or sporting license anywhere in
North America. Although mandatory requirements
tend to vary across states, all courses—typically a
minimum of 10 hours in length and and usually
free of cost, except for the occasional nominal fee to
cover the cost of teaching materials—are designed
around basic content standards, which include the
following broad categories:
• Firearms and hunting safety. Students learn
how to safely participate in hunting and shooting
activities through the introduction of basic firearm and hunting safety principals and practices.
• Firearms identification and safe handling.
This teaches participants to identify different
action types and the parts of a firearm, how to
match ammunition to a particular firearm, and
how to properly load and unload a firearm.
• Hunter ethics and responsibility. Students
are trained to be responsible hunters and promote a positive public image through legal and
ethical hunting practices.
• Personal preparedness. Instructors teach
students about health and environmental safety
concerns such pinpointing geographic location,
emergency preparedness, and signaling methods
when lost in the outdoors.
© The Wildlife Society
• Wildlife conservation and identification.
Students discover the role of hunting in wildlife
conservation and the importance of accurate wildlife identification.
Distance-Learning Courses
Independent study courses offer an alternative to
traditional classroom courses, ideal for students who
have scheduling conflicts and are therefore unable
to attend the evening and weekend classes required
to complete the traditional course. Independent
study courses, although more flexible, require as
much time and effort as classroom sessions. Home
study materials may include books or CDs that the
agency supplies, or may involve information accessed
through the Internet. In addition to completing
course homework, students are required to attend
a pre-arranged, one-day field day to learn firearms
skills, and they must pass a written exam.
In 2002, the IHEA developed a free online course,
available in English and Spanish. While some states
direct their students to use the IHEA version, others
have collaborated with independent online providers,
such as Today’s Hunter and Hunter Exam, to offer the
course. Although several of these online courses can be
accessed as a study tool for free, participants who take
the course in conjunction with a state program, and
pass the qualifier exam, must pay a fee of up to $24.95.
Bowhunter Education
Though hunting in general is on the decline, more
hunters are turning to bowhunting. By the late 1990s,
bowhunting accounted for 21 percent of all license
sales, up from less than 8 percent in the 1970s. Almost
all states and provinces across North America offer
bowhunter education courses. Some require hunters
to complete a bow-hunter education course before
purchasing an archery license. The course curriculum—developed by the National Bowhunter Education
Foundation (NBEF), in cooperation with states,
provinces, and territories—covers a wide variety of
topics including the safe use of bows, tree-stand safety,
game care, and hunter ethics. As is the case with the
basic hunter course, most jurisdictions will recognize a
bowhunter certificate issued in another state.
Trapper Education
Approximately half of all states and all Canadian provinces have mandatory trapper education programs,
although the curriculum varies between jurisdictions.
In 2005, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) developed performance guidelines for
all beginner trappers. In addition, the AFWA trapper
© The Wildlife Society
education course was designed to cover topics such as
furbearer identification and management, pelt preparation, ethics, responsibilities, and best management
practices or BMPs (see page 66), which specify the
most-effective outdoor trapping techniques and give
practical tips on managing equipment. The trapping
course is typically a minimum of 10 hours and includes
both classroom work and field training. AFWA also
provides online trapping BMP documents, its Trapper
Education Manual for Students, videos, and reading
materials. An online curriculum has yet to be devel-
Courses for Women
A National Sporting Goods
Association (NSGA) survey shows
that between 2003 and 2008, the
number of women hunting with
firearms rose from 2.1 million to
2.9 million; the number of female
target shooters increased from
4.1 million to 4.8 million, and the
number of women who bowhunt
rose from 400,000 to 600,000.
Women now account for about 15
percent of the firearms, shooting,
and hunting market.
Credit: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Manufacturers have noticed the
trend. According to the NSGA,
As part of a bird-watching workshop
there has been an increase in the
organized by the Colorado Division of
Wildlife, this young woman takes aim at a
number of manufacturers designing
bird as her instructor Shaun Deeny guides
products specifically for women,
her on the best techniques to lead it.
such as pellet rifles with minimal
noise and recoil and light, compact
gun rests that can be quickly repositioned to a hunter’s ideal shooting height.
More hunter-education programs are also catering to women who might want to
experience the outdoors or hone their skills in hunting and shooting.
Becoming an Outdoors Woman
Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW)—launched in 1991 at the University of
Wisconsin-Steven’s Point—was created to get women more involved in the outdoors. BOW weekend-long workshops introduce women to numerous activities
equally balanced between hunting and shooting, fishing, and non-harvest sports
like canoeing and camping. “This workshop gave me the opportunity to try it,
learn the “right way” from experts, and learn about resources I can tap into later,”
noted a participant of the course. “I cannot wait for my daughter to grow up so
that we can come to the workshops together.”
Women in the Outdoors
The purpose of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) Women in the
Outdoors program is not only to introduce more women to outdoor activities
but also to train them as outdoor educators. Participants, who must be age 14
or older, learn the importance of wildlife management and the role hunters play
in conservation. In addition to these weekend-long workshops held through the
year, NWTF holds day-long events where women can try outdoor activities such
as archery, camp cooking, and gardening for wildlife.
oped. Many states collaborate with their local trapper
associations to offer additional classes and advanced clinics where students can set and check traps and learn pelt
preparation in the field with qualified instructors.
Muzzle Loading or Black
Powder Education
The province of Quebec and at least ten states including Illinois and Alaska offer muzzle-loading courses. The standard
course given by state agencies was developed by the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMRLA), the largest
association of muzzle loaders in the U.S., and covers the
selection of hunting equipment, safe handling, powder storage, and state laws. The NMRLA governs muzzle loading
competition in the U.S. and also offers the basic eight-toten-hour hands-on course plus a six-hour, in-depth course
on teaching skills and techniques for individuals who wish
to teach the program. Participants are required to score at
least 80 percent to successfully complete the course.
hunters and trappers, including species-specific hunting classes for deer, wild turkey, big game, waterfowl,
or upland birds. Other clinics may focus on specific
types of equipment, such as handguns or crossbows, or
even on a specific skill such as waterfowl identification
or nature observation.
Overall, participation in hunter education courses has
remained stable over the last five years, with some states
experiencing increases and others seeing declines. All
wildlife professionals should help promote such education, as it plays a key role in the future of hunting.
Mandatory hunting courses can directly influence and
shape the behavior of hunters, paving the way for safe
and responsible wildlife management and harvest.
This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.
Advanced Courses
Each year many agencies offer a variety of other
courses and clinics of interest to novice and veteran
Link to the hunting-education resources
below by going to
Hunter Education Resources
Additional training and skills programs are offered by other organizations such as the National Rifle Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The following is a list of organizations you can contact to learn more about your particular area of interest.
Hunting and Conservation Groups
All About Birds: An online guide to birds and bird
watching from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Boone and Crocket Club: Created to preserve the
hunting heritage, scoring and keeping big game records,
maintaining hunter ethics, and furthering conservation.
Delta Waterfowl Foundation: Dedicated to the future
of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting. Its website offers
several quizzes to test your waterfowl knowledge and ID
Amateur Trapshooting Association: Trapshooting is
a way to learn the basics of shotgun shooting and is also
a challenging sport helps develop wing-shooting skills.
Pheasants Forever: Involved in habitat improvement
projects and acquisitions that benefit upland birds.
National Rifle Association: Offers a variety of shooting programs and competitive events for shooters of all
ages and experiences.
Pope and Young Club: A bowhunting and conservation organization focused on preserving and promoting
bowhunting heritage and values.
National Shooting Sports Foundation: Provides information and publications on sport shooting and shooting ranges. or
Quail Unlimited: Dedicated to quail and upland bird
habitat improvement.
National Skeet Shooting Association: Skeet shooting is a fast-moving shotgun sport that sharpens skills for
bird hunting. Programs range from beginning shooters to
national and international events for competitors.
Ducks Unlimited: Founded to protect, enhance,
restore, and manage North America’s wetland and
upland habitats.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Helps ensure the
future of elk and other wildlife by conserving, restoring,
and enhancing natural habitats. An Internet site launched for
handgun hunters around the world.
Ruffed Grouse Society: Uses education and leadership to enhance ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat.
International Hunter Education Association:
Provides information about hunting safety and services
for hunter education instructors.
White-tail Unlimited: Promotes the betterment of
white-tailed deer and its environment.
International Association of Falconry: Dedicated
to preserving the art of falconry, the taking of quarry in
its natural state and habitat by means of trained birds of
The Shooting Sports
Izaak Walton League: One of the earliest conservation
organizations in the United States, formed to protect the
nation’s soil, air, woods, and wildlife.
National Wild Turkey Federation: A national conservation and hunting organization that supports the conservation and hunting of all species of wild turkeys and the
preservation of the hunting heritage.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
4-H Shooting Sports Program: Offers local shooting
activities to members. Programs include rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzleloader, and archery. Contact county extension
4-H agents or the 4-H offices at state agriculture universities.
National Sporting Clays Association: Dedicated to
the development of the sport at all levels of participation
and creating an atmosphere of healthy competition and
United States Biathlon Association: The national
governing body for the Olympic sport of Biathlon, a
combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. It provides opportunities to compete at all levels
across the country, and is responsible for National Team
selection and training. It also incorporates Summer
Biathlon, a combination of running and rifle-marksmanship.
USA Shooting: The national governing body for the
sport of Olympic Shooting, responsible for selecting and
training shooting sports teams to represent the United
© The Wildlife Society
A Personal Journey
The Value of Hunting as a Life Experience
By James E. Miller
Credit: V. Daniel Stiles
James E. Miller is
Professor Emeritus
in the Department
of Wildlife and
Fisheries at
Mississippi State
University, a Former
President of The
Wildlife Society, and
a life-long hunter.
ost of us in the wildlife profession who
were born before the 1960s are well aware
of the demographic and philosophical changes that have occurred within our ranks.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the urban
backgrounds from which most recent wildlife
students have emerged and, as a result, in their attitudes about hunting and its place in conservation.
Perceptions about hunting have changed
dramatically. In the days when most people had
rural backgrounds and direct ties to the land,
hunting was seen as a natural part of life for many
people. Today, our predominantly urban populace
has few or no ties to the land and therefore
virtually no understanding of where food comes
from or of why wildlife management—including
hunting, angling, and trapping—remains essential
to the future of diverse and abundant fish and
wildlife populations.
Due to this lack of understanding and to widespread misperceptions, hunting and trapping
are increasingly under attack by individuals and
organizations. It is disheartening to hear or read
public comments that hunting
should be curtailed or stopped
because animals should not be
killed for recreational use and food.
Incredibly, some opponents say that
hunting no longer has a legitimate
place in American life since you can
go to the grocery store and buy meat
on a styrofoam tray or at a fastfood drive-through. Do these folks
believe that no animal had to die
to provide those burgers or shrinkwrapped pork chops?
Credit: Mary L. Miller
A young hunter-to-be (circa 1944), Jim
Miller stands with “Ol’ Rip,” the family
bird dog, eager to shed his Sunday best
and grab overalls for a day outdoors.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Just as such misinformed attacks
appear to be on the rise, the percentage of the American population
that hunts has declined. In 2006,
roughly 12.5 million people hunted,
or 5.5 percent of the population,
down from 6.1 percent in 2001
(U.S. Census Bureau). The decline is due not just to
public misperceptions and urbanization, but also
because hunters, trappers, resource managers, and
educators have failed to effectively communicate to
our youth and the non-hunting public the cultural,
biological, economic, ethical, and personal values
of hunting. Nor have we effectively explained how
hunting contributes to the stewardship of wild
things and wild places, and to the ultimate sustainability of all wildlife resources.
True Conservationists
The non-hunting public must come to understand
that hunters, trappers, and anglers must purchase
licenses, permits, and stamps as well as pay excise
taxes on their firearms, tackle, archery equipment,
and ammunition. These are the major sources of
funding for state wildlife and fisheries management
and the conservation programs that promote sustainability. This is true today and very likely will be
in the future unless significant alternative funding
sources are obtained. Hunting therefore benefits all
species of wildlife, their habitats, and the non-hunting public who enjoy wild things and wild places.
Admittedly, hunters are merely one cross-section
of the American populace, and some of them act in
irresponsible and unethical ways—as do some politicians, golfers, doctors, lawyers, or members of
any other profession. I am confident that unethical
hunters are exceptions, not the majority, and most
Americans seem to agree: According to Responsive
Management research, 81 percent of the public
supports hunting if it’s employed as a means to
manage wildlife populations and if it’s fair-chase
hunting that results in appropriate utilization of
harvested animals.
Such attitudes are a sign of hope, and perhaps of
hunting’s deep roots in human history. I have long
been convinced that the thrill of the chase and responsible stewardship of wildlife resources are two
of the fundamental passions of mankind. I contend
that hunting blood courses in all our veins, and that
those of us who do not suppress our inborn instinct
for the chase and the desire to be responsible stew-
© The Wildlife Society
ards derive great pleasure and satisfaction from the
pursuit of these efforts, which are basic instincts.
For those who argue that they haven’t a drop of
hunting blood in their veins, I contend that even if
they never hunt game animals, they still thrill to the
chase—whether it’s for a bargain at the shoe store,
the winning bid at an auction, the newest electronic
gadget, or adding a new species to their bird-watching list. Like these and other passionate pursuits,
hunting is about an enriching experience, not just
the occasional harvest of a game animal.
life lessons including the connectivity and interdependence of life; dependence on the biological integrity,
viability, and extent of natural systems; awareness
of our environment; the importance of stewardship;
skills of observation, patience, and responsibility to
ourselves and to the animals we seek; self-sufficiency
and self-confidence; natural history; responsibility for
the safe use of lethal harvest equipment; humility and
gratitude; social cooperation with colleagues, landowners, managers, and local communities; survival
skills; and reverence for life itself.
A Source of Solace
Aside from feeling genetically and instinctively predisposed to hunt, I treasure and enjoy everything
about it: the planning and preparation, the sights
and smells, the privilege of observing animal behavior, the scouting, the challenges and thrills of the
chase, the skillful cleaning of harvested game, the
final organic feast. Hunting enables me to use and
improve skills learned over a lifetime. It demands
physical fitness, personal discipline, and a code of
ethics. It recharges my personal batteries, improves
my perspective about life, and results not only in
rich experience but in priceless memories of great
times afield with family, friends, and colleagues.
Reared on a farm in north Alabama in the 1940s, my
earliest memories of hunting begin at about four years
old. Armed with a homemade slingshot and road
gravel, I hunted barn rats, common birds, bullfrogs,
and small game like squirrels and rabbits. Always
hunting with enthusiasm, I became more efficient as
I moved to a Red Ryder BB gun and then to a singleshot .22 caliber rim fire rifle, which I purchased with
money earned from trapping. With help from our
beagle hounds, the loan of my uncle’s squirrel dog,
and my angling efforts, I kept our family supplied with
small game and fish to supplement the chicken, pork,
and beef produced on the farm. By the time I was 12, it
was clear to me that wildlife should only be killed for
food, fur, property protection, and self-defense (rabies
was fairly common). By high school my experiences
of ethical hunting, learned afield with mentors and
friends, helped me appreciate the reasons for laws
defining legitimate uses of wildlife.
Now, after 65 years as an avid hunter and 45 years as
a professional wildlife biologist, I believe that wildlife
management continues to rely on the vision of people
whose lives have been positively inspired and transformed by hunting. Fair-chase hunting teaches vital
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Doris Miller
At a friend’s farm in Virginia in 2005, Jim Miller helps his grandson Brooks position
and aim his new rifle, a Christmas present. Since then, Brooks has become “safe and
proficient” with the rifle, says Miller, who enjoys turkey hunting with Brooks in the spring.
To my mind, hunters are heroes. They were the
first to initiate efforts to stop the destruction of
habitats from development and the sale of wildlife and the first to call for legislation to restore
wildlife habitat and populations. They continue
to support and defend scientific wildlife management. Fair-chase hunters are passionate about
wild things and wild places, recognizing that wild
creatures are worthy of our respect and admiration. Such hunters understand the need for
enabling and supporting scientific wildlife management and sustainability.
Those of us who are fair-chase hunters have a major
responsibility to serve as mentors to those who
follow us and who indicate an interest in hunting,
fishing, trapping, and in becoming wildlife stewards.
In my many years of teaching young people about
hunting, I’ve tried to help them understand that
ethical hunting is not about the amount of game you
bring home, but the amount of investment you make
in obtaining it, and how you take care of it. As I once
wrote in a Christmas letter to my then nine-year-old
grandson Brooks: “I wish you an abundance and diversity of wildlife and fish species to enjoy observing
and harvesting if you desire to do so…[and] that you
will become an astute and experienced observer and
naturalist [and] an exemplary steward of wild places
and wild things as you grow older.”
We have the privilege of being wildlife stewards only
for a short time. What we leave behind as evidence
of that stewardship—good or bad—will be our legacy
to future generations. So we face the question: Will
we retain our privileges as fair-chase hunters and
stewards, or will negative behaviors and misperceptions degrade the future of hunting and wildlife
sustainability for present and future generations?
The answer lies with us and those we influence. All
hunters have a responsibility to discourage unethical practices, to participate fully in the promotion of
policies that will support the role of hunting in wildlife conservation, and to serve as mentors for those
who follow us. Let’s rise to the challenge!
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
Future Challenges to the Model
Why Collapse is Possible and Alteration Inevitable
By Shane P. Mahoney and David Cobb, Ph.D.
s the articles in this issue have explained,
the philosophy, institutions, policies,
and laws that collectively govern wildlife conservation in North America have become
recognized as the North American Model. A
retrospective concept, the Model enhances understanding of some of the most important historical
elements of wildlife conservation in North America and of the vital role hunting and hunters have
played. It also has led to the recovery of many
wildlife species at a continental scale, generated a
diverse economy, and enriched society by sustaining wildlife and habitats.
This approach to maintaining wildlife in the face
of change developed organically. Evolving over
time, the Model added to and refined its principles,
scientific institutions, and funding mechanisms in
response to changing social, economic, and environmental contexts. In a critical sense, it has always
been reactive. Looking ahead, we must acknowledge that its resilience lies in its adaptability.
Achilles’ Heels
Though the seven basic tenets of the North American Model are clearly defined, these principles were
neither simultaneously conceived nor consistently
applied among wildlife taxa, ecosystems, or user
groups. In this regard, the Model has seriously
fallen short of its intended inclusivity regarding
wildlife and society.
The Model’s inception occurred in a time of wildlife
decline and the reckless pursuit of natural resources. Hunters and anglers became the great agitators
for conservation, and thus game species emerged as
the iconic symbol of both decimation and recovery.
Conservation of game was the focus beyond which
radiated lesser efforts for biodiversity at large.
Though conservation of this core group of terrestrial
and aquatic species has benefitted other species and
ecosystems, formidable bias still resonates in the
Model’s taxonomic agenda.
Furthermore, the Model’s bedrock philosophy of
sustainable or wise use gradually diverged from
© The Wildlife Society
other priorities, such as wilderness preservation
and non-hunting recreation, leading to the false
notion that only those who hunted, fished, or
trapped were actually utilizing or advocating for
wildlife. It ignored the reality of very substantial
human pressures arising from other forms of
wildlife enjoyment. In failing to challenge this
notion, the Model’s application has helped reinforce the great conceptual divide that now often
separates conservation activism along the fault
line of hunting.
To some appreciable extent, therefore, the North
American Model may have helped design its own
challenges, principally by failing to emphasize a
broader range of biodiversity, a more inclusive
public constituency, and a closer study of changing societal values and trends. However true this
may be, as the following list of global and local
challenges shows, many threats to the Model are
outcomes of powerful societal forces that are affecting change in virtually every aspect of daily
life. In this regard, the conservation movement
shares much in common with other vital societal
institutions in the throes of a tidal wave of change.
Global population increase. Perhaps the most
intractable and pervasive of all challenges, human
population growth will continue to impact conservation across the globe. Not only will numeric
pressure increase a broad suite of demands on
ecosystems, but cultural diffusion via immigration
is leading to a more heterogeneous melange of attitudes towards wildlife, which will add complexity
to conservation policy.
Climate change. Inevitable and catalytic, climate
change will pose an enormous challenge to the
North American Model framework, bringing ecosystem changes, gaps in scientific knowledge, and the
need for complex international collaboration among
diverse cultures. Potential effects on migratory and
endemic species may be especially complex.
Courtesy of Shane P. Mahoney
Shane P. Mahoney
is Executive Director
for Sustainable
Development and
Strategic Science
with the Department
of Environment
and Conservation,
Government of
and Labrador
and Founder and
Executive Director
of the Institute
for Biodiversity,
Ecosystem Science,
and Sustainability
at the Memorial
University of
Newfoundland and
Credit: Geoff Cantrell
David Cobb, Ph.D.,
CWB, is Chief of the
Division of Wildlife
Management for
the North Carolina
Wildlife Resources
Global economics. The highly integrated
global economy leaves less room for national,
regional, state, or provincial governments to
effectively budget for wildlife management and
set funding priorities. Geopolitical realities will
increasingly create abrupt and large-scale economic upheavals that will force major shifts in
governments’ social agendas.
Urbanization. Land-use changes have long
impacted wildlife conservation, from creating
large markets to generating powerful voting
What may arguably be the world’s
best experiment in conservation is not
invulnerable. It is at risk and its collapse
is possible.
blocks that often put conservation ethics at odds
with sustainable use. Conversion of natural
habitats or rural lands into urban environments
or large-scale agriculture, timber, feedstock, or
biofuel operations will continue to alter ecosystems and impact associated wildlife. Much
conservation effort today involves trying to
restore or maintain affected habitats and their
plant and animal species. Integrating such
efforts at a continental scale in the face of accelerating change will pose one of the Model’s
most acute challenges.
Novel ecosystems. Little emphasized in
conservation forums, there is a growing tendency for ecosystems to not only show signs
of change in species populations but to see the
emergence of entirely new suites of habitatorganism complexes. Such regime shifts have
been most extreme in marine environments
following excessive over-exploitation, as seen
off the west coast of Africa. Climate change is
also enabling temperate species to invade Arctic
environments in North America, forcing Inuit
peoples to borrow English language expressions
for species never before seen in their regions.
This trend reflects the large-scale environmental
impacts driven by human population increases
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
and resource demands. While substantial change
in continental ecosystems has been part of the
North American Model experience, increasing
novelty will challenge our scientific, educational,
and funding institutions.
Abundance and superabundance. The North
American Model was spurred into being by the
collapse of charismatic species of direct importance to the public. The memory of that dark
phase in the continent’s history has had a long
reach in conservation circles. Today, however,
white-tailed deer and many other once-vulnerable
species are thriving and have reached numbers
that affront both public sensibilities and ecosystem structure. The Model’s appeal for constant
vigilance on behalf of wildlife is thus hard to convey, making it a victim of its own success.
The human-nature divide. Increasing
urbanization, changes in land use, new technologies, changes in recreational activities, and new
socioeconomic trends have changed the human relationship to nature and created a vastly
different public mindset and value system than
prevailed throughout much of the Model’s history. Dealing with such deep-rooted social change
is not a quick study for conservation practice,
and the likelihood of reversing this trend is very
low. However, regarding this new reality as
somehow abnormal is a serious strategic error.
Like all social trends, it is neither normal nor abnormal but simply a reality of modernism. It will
not be reversed. The Model will have to adapt.
Wildlife as vermin. The growing number of
high profile wildlife diseases and the increasing
possibility for disease transfer from wildlife to
humans are bolstering fears that wildlife presents a public health risk. Diseases such as AIDS,
West Nile virus, chronic wasting disease, Lyme
disease, avian influenza, hydatid, and others are
making headlines, increasing conservation costs,
and creating widespread concern. These diseases—in combination with other human-wildlife
conflicts such as predator attacks on people
or livestock, crop depredation, animal-vehicle
collisions, and the ruin of recreational areas
by overabundant geese—are resulting in more
people wanting wildlife controlled or eliminated
rather than managed. This poses a threat to the
Model, which was founded on the assumption
© The Wildlife Society
that the public viewed wildlife as majestic and
desirable, not disease ridden and pestilent.
dependable funding must become a mainstream
of national, state, and provincial economies.
Changes in public perceptions. Since the
Model’s inception, it has focused on species that
are hunted, fished, or trapped. While these ‘takings’ of wildlife have long been a part of North
American society, their acceptance is being
challenged by animal rights activists as well as
by social trends and the growing disconnect from
nature. Hunters and anglers have long been the
most stalwart supporters of the Model. Retooling
it in the face of both declining hunter and angler
numbers and public opposition to their activities—and explaining the modern relevance of
hunting to an increasingly distanced public—
are major challenges today.
Lack of education. Perhaps the most glaring failure of the North American Model is the
consistent lack of any effective educational
outreach. While efforts targeting specific local
problems or constituencies have been increasing, it remains an inconvenient truth that
Model supporters seemingly will not engage in
any strategic public outreach. Without it, the
public remains ignorant of the Model and many
therefore believe that hunting and conservation
are contradictory terms. Without understanding the Model, the public may fail to understand
that healthy wildlife populations and habitats
equate to human health and satisfaction. They
may also believe that wildlife exists by accident, and think that displacing humans from
ecosystems will only benefit wildlife. Nothing
in conservation can be more important than effectively communicating the Model’s principles
and building public support.
Commercialization and privatization.
Perhaps more insidious than the divisions
between hunters and non-hunters are the divisions within the sustainable-use sector itself.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate
over the commercial use and privatization of
wildlife, which threaten the Model’s core notions
of public trust, democracy of hunting, elimination of markets for wildlife, and wildlife being
killed only for legitimate purpose. Game farms,
exclusive hunting leases, genetic engineering,
canned hunts, and markets for some species are
threatening the Model’s historic standards. The
challenge is to curb these emergent practices
while providing alternative incentives that will
encourage private landowners to practice sound
wildlife conservation. As Aldo Leopold deliberated, we must ensure that wildlife will thrive
on private land.
Funding for conservation. A major source
of funding for the Model has been the investment by hunters and anglers in both state
and provincial license fees and through various federal tax programs (in the U.S.) such as
Pittman-Robertson, Dingle-Johnson, and State
Wildlife Grants legislation (see page 35). Substantial general revenue funding also supports
wildlife conservation programs, although this is
not often emphasized by hunter based organizations. Nevertheless, the declining participation
in hunting and angling poses a severe economic
challenge, particularly for state agencies. An
expanded funding base is clearly required, and
© The Wildlife Society
Be Prepared for Change
The North American Model has faced many
challenges over the last 100 years, yet has proven
resilient over that arduous journey. The economic and societal trends we now face, however,
leave little doubt that the Model is experiencing
perhaps its greatest period of challenge. While
we may take strength from the Model’s history,
we cannot underestimate these threats to its
future. What may arguably be the world’s best
experiment in conservation is not invulnerable.
It is at risk and its collapse is possible.
Avoiding this tragedy will require more than
simply a defence of the perimeter or an appeal
to history. We must be prepared to adapt and to
engage at all levels of society. Inclusivity, and
the degree to which we can achieve this, will
determine the North American Model’s future.
What’s won is won; but whether we can keep
wildlife with us in the 21st century depends on
how broadly we will think, how deeply we will
feel, and how magnanimously we will act. We
must be prepared to re-evaluate even the most
basic principles of the Model if this is what is
required. No environment stays constant forever, but a forever without wildlife would
be intolerable.
The Wildlife Society
policy watch
It Was Worth a Shot
Idaho’s Near-Miss for Conservation Funding
By Jenna Jadin
Credit: Ruxandra Giura
Jenna Jadin is Science
Director at the U.S.
Global Change
Research Program
and former
Associate Director of
Government Affairs
for The Wildlife
ildlife biologists and enthusiasts in Idaho
were all abuzz earlier this year when a
new wildlife funding policy was proposed
in the Idaho House of Representatives. The bill,
H.O. 532, would have required the purchase of a
“conservation license” to enter any of the 32 Wildlife
Management Areas (WMAs) owned and managed
by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG).
The resulting funds would have supplemented existing funding for wildlife conservation, which comes
largely from the sale of state hunting licenses and
federal excise taxes on fishing and hunting gear.
As written, the bill would have charged an annual fee
of $10 for state residents and $20 for non-residents
to purchase the conservation permit. However,
anyone with a hunting or fishing permit would
be exempted from buying the new conservation
permit—thereby sharing the burden of conservation
funding more equitably. Unfortunately, when the bill
came up for vote in mid-March, it was defeated 25 to
43, disappointing its supporters.
What Happened?
Proponents of the bill argue that wildlife and nature
enthusiasts currently have a free ride—financed by
hunters and anglers—and that it is time for all users
to support the IDFG’s wildlife conservation work.
Ever since its creation by voter initiative in 1938, the
agency has been entirely self-funded, receiving no
annual appropriations from the state budget. Hunter
license fees are the primary source of funds, along
with federal excise taxes from the sale of ammunition, a state income tax check-off, the sale of wildlife
license plates, and other grants and contracts. While
this funding scenario is not unique to Idaho, many
state fish and wildlife departments benefit from a
dedicated source of income from the state budget.
However, opponents of the proposed wildlife conservation license note several drawbacks to the proposal.
The first is enforcement. To patrol and process the
permits would require extra staff hours, potentially
cutting substantially into any profits generated. Critics
also charged that forcing citizens to pay a fee to view
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
wildlife—a public trust resource—would violate the
Public Trust Doctrine. Still others argue that boundaries between U.S. Forest Service land and state WMAs
are not obvious, thus users could have a difficult time
assessing whether they had crossed a federal-state
border into an area requiring a permit.
Cal Groen, director of IDFG, supported the bill and
believes that many members of the public did too.
Though he acknowledges that wildlife is a public
resource, he points out that “we’ve still got to fund it.”
Groen also feels that it’s time for all users of wildlife to
support the work that goes into managing populations.
“As it is now, it’s just one group—hunters—paying for
wildlife. They’ve done a wonderful job, but now there
are more complexities and challenges when it comes
to [managing] wildlife in the states,” he says. “We’ve
got to find a way to meet those challenges.”
Try, Try Again
The measure would have raised an estimated
$250,000 a year. Of that, 40 percent would have gone
toward maintenance and operation of lands managed
by IDFG, 20 percent would have paid for biological
control of noxious weeds on agency lands, and 40
percent would have supported the agency’s non-game
wildlife programs. Though IDFG dedicates 2 percent
of its budget toward non-game species management,
none of that funding comes from hunting permits,
instead arising largely from State Wildlife Grants,
which totaled $894,717 for Idaho in FY2010. Because
State Wildlife Grants require states to provide 50-50
matching funds for any federally-apportioned money,
Groen says that having “more funds available for
matching means that Idaho Fish and Game would be
able to leverage more federal grant money to do much
more to help non-game species.”
Despite the bill’s defeat in March, it may still be
breathing. Groen and other supporters of the bill
believe that it is very likely to be reintroduced in the
next legislative session, which will convene in January
2011. Meanwhile, other states that are struggling to
fund conservation may pick up a few pointers from
Idaho’s experience. If at first you don’t succeed . . .
© The Wildlife Society
The Wildlife Society
field notes
Teaching Quolls to Avoid Toxic Toads
Big Cats Fall for “Obsession”
Like a plague, poisonous cane toads (Bufo marinus) arrived in
Queensland, Australia in 1935 and swept across northern Australia. Unwitting native predators that ate the toxic amphibians
died, including quolls (Dasyuras hallucatus), a critically endangered cat-sized marsupial. Jonathan Webb, a research fellow at
the University of Sydney, wondered if he could somehow “teach”
quolls to avoid preying on cane toads by using conditioned taste
aversion, or CTA. This method—which conditions animals to
associate a particular food with an unpleasant taste or illness—
has been shown in certain situations to reduce wolf and coyote
predation on lambs and to discourage bears from human foods.
As part of animal enrichment programs at zoos, keepers sometimes spray scents on trees in big cat exhibits just to stimulate
the enclosures’ inhabitants. Pat Thomas, general curator of the
Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, wanted to learn which
kinds of scents had the most appeal for cheetahs. So in 2003 he
tested 24 different scents and found that Calvin Klein’s “Obsession for Men” was the clear winner, holding the cats’ attention
the longest. Cheetahs sniffed and rubbed their cheeks against
trees sprayed with the cologne for more than 11 minutes, beating Nina Ricci’s “L’Air du Temps” (10 minutes) and walloping
Revlon’s “Charlie” (15 seconds) and Estée Lauder’s “Beautiful”
(2 seconds). Thomas had hoped to use the cologne to lure rare
Asiatic cheetahs to camera traps and hair traps in Iran, where
they could be counted and their DNA analyzed. That plan had to
be put on hold, however, due to the political difficulties of getting American researchers into that country. But the news of the
tests spread by word of mouth to WCS’s field staff in Guatemala.
There, in 2007, program director Roan McNab began spraying
Obsession for Men—which costs $60 per four-ounce bottle—onto
staked rags near trail cameras in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
The results were arresting: Three times as many jaguars visited
cameras with the scent than without it, helping researchers make
more precise population estimates.
– As reported by the Wildlife Conservation Society
To test CTA in
Australia, Webb and
colleagues fed small
cane toads to captive-reared quolls.
The toads were so
small, however, that
quolls didn’t get
sick and thus didn’t
develop any associaCredit: Jonathan Webb
tion between eating
Critically endangered quolls in Australia are being
toads and feeling
trained to avoid eating toxic cane toads
unwell. Inspiration
struck while Webb was reading “Little Red Riding Hood” to his
children. He got to the part of the story where Grandma climbs
out of the wolf’s stomach, then fills it with onions and sews him
back up. “When the wolf wakes up he feels terrible and refuses
to eat grandmothers again,” says Webb. “Upon reading this,
it dawned on me that we could try adding a nausea-inducing
chemical to a small dead toad to make quolls feel ill. Hopefully,
they would subsequently avoid consuming live toads.”
Webb’s team did exactly that, feeding captive quolls each a dead
cane toad—small enough not to be toxic—dosed with nauseainducing thiabendazole. A control quoll group was not fed
toads. One to seven days later, the researchers radio-collared
and released the quolls into toad-infested habitats in the wild.
Within hours of release, five of 17 “toad-naïve” quolls had attacked toads and died, while just two “toad-smart” quolls did
the same. Overall, males were more likely to attack toads, but
“toad-smart” male quolls survived five times longer on average than their naïve counterparts. Webb says that in places like
Australia, where uncontrollable invasive species are harming
native species populations, managers could do air drops of
thiabendazole-tainted toad baits to broadly condition quolls,
or other threatened species, to avoid a toxic death.
– As reported by O’Donnell et al. 2010
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: WCS Guatemala Program
Rony Garcia, director of biological investigations for the Wildlife Conservation
Society’s Guatemala Program, spritzes “Obsession for Men” onto a rag he’ll
place near a trail camera, hoping to lure wild cats with the scent.
Please submit Field Notes ideas to [email protected]
The Wildlife Society
Society News
Election Results: New Faces on Council
Video Contest Winners
The Wildlife Society congratulates the
new members of Council, who will
officially assume their new roles at the
Annual Conference in Snowbird, Utah.
TWS members have elected Winifred
Kessler, director of Wildlife, Fisheries,
Ecology, Watershed, and Subsistence
Management for the U.S. Forest Service’s Alaska Region, to serve as Vice
President of Council. Members also
elected Karl Martin of Wisconsin as
Courtesy of Winifred Kessler
North Central Section Representative,
Winifred Kessler
Jack Connelly of Idaho as Northwest
Section Representative, and re-elected California’s Don Yasuda
for a second term as Western Section Representative. Kessler
is eager to build on the forward momentum in TWS’ approach
to member services, government affairs, communications, and
recruiting. “I wish to apply my experience and perspectives in
ways that build on these positive trends and respond to new
challenges and opportunities in the wildlife field,” she says.
The Wildlife Society has some talented videographers in its
midst. After receiving 22 captivating entries to our inaugural
video contest, viewers selected a video montage by Amanda
Moors titled “When Owls Dream” as their favorite. Moors’
video montage depicts the grace of owls in the wild, flying,
hunting, and feeding. Second place winner Shawn L. Locke
took a different tack with his video, “Trapping Rio Grande
Wild Turkeys in Texas,” offering viewers detailed instruction on how to equip turkeys with tracking devices. Marco
Sanchez rounds
out the winners,
earning third
place with his
submission, “Meet
a Fisheries and
Wildlife Grad,”
which documents Michigan
Credit: Amanda Moors
State University
graduate student
An owl swoops onto a branch in Amanda Moors’
winning video, “When Owls Dream.”
Emily Johnston’s
explanation of her
research on zoonotic disease. Don’t miss the outtake at the
end. View all of the submitted videos at the TWS YouTube
In addition to Council elections, TWS members approved all
eight proposed ballot measures. Several of these change the
Society’s Code of Ethics. Most notably: The Code now applies
to all members and has expanded the standards of professional
conduct to all members and no longer just to Certified Wildlife
Biologists. Members also approved a measure to create a new
category of membership—“New Professional”—which will offer
a discounted membership fee of half the normal dues plus $10
to professionals in entry-level positions.
Wiley-Blackwell Our New Publishing Partner
The Wildlife Society is pleased to announce that beginning in
2011, Wiley-Blackwell will become the new publisher for The
Journal of Wildlife Management, Wildlife Monographs, and
the Wildlife Society Bulletin, scheduled to re-launch as an
online journal next year. After a thorough search, TWS Council
selected Wiley because of the firm’s premier journal collection, international presence, marketing savvy, reputation, and
financial projections. As publisher of more than 1,500 peer-reviewed scholarly journals—including many of the top journals
in ecology, conservation, and zoology—Wiley-Blackwell will
increase the profile and international reach of TWS’ publications. As we prepare for this new partnership, we would like to
express our thanks and appreciation to Allen Press for its long
years of fine service and dedication to The Wildlife Society.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
Conference Sustainability
To help offset the carbon footprint of the Annual Conference,
The Wildlife Society is partnering with TreeUtah, an organization dedicated to the planting and stewardship of trees
throughout the state of Utah. Five dollars of every Conference
registration will go to TreeUtah, an amount that will cover the
cost to purchase, plant, and care for one seedling for two to
three years. TWS estimates that the total donation will enable
the planting of 1,500 seedlings, offsetting approximately 750
tons of carbon. Native species such as fremont and narrowleaf
cottonwoods, coyote willow, and red-osier dogwood will be
planted in two main areas: a 120-acre Jordan River restoration site in South Jordan City, Utah, which provides habitat
for songbirds, and a new “Trees for Eagles” grove within Salt
Lake County’s Redwood Natural Area. TreeUtah Executive
Director Jeff Ward says that these sites were historically little
more than dumping grounds for industrial and even nuclear
waste, but restoration efforts have turned them into havens for
wildlife and local residents alike. “We just started planting in
the Trees for Eagles grove this spring”, he says, “and already
© The Wildlife Society
we’ve spotted hawks and kestrels and heard boreal toads.” For
more information on how to prepare for the Annual Conference in an eco-friendly way, check out the wildlife professional
sustainable buyer’s guide at
Welcome Aboard
The Wildlife Society welcomes Ankit
Mehta, who joined the staff in July
as software developer and membership database administrator. Mehta
replaces Michael Levin, who finished
his master’s degree in computer
science at American University in
the spring and is now sharing his
expertise in a new position with Booz
Allen Hamilton.
Credit: Ruxandra Giura
Originally from New Delhi, India,
Ankit Mehta
Mehta earned a bachelor’s degree in
computer science and engineering in New Delhi before moving to the United States in 2008. He earned a master’s degree
in computer science from the University of Southern California this past May. “I have always been interested in software
development and other areas of computer science, especially
building web-based applications,” says Mehta, who is eager to
apply his interests and skills to better serve the needs of TWS
members and staff. In his free time, he also looks forward to
sampling some of the international cuisine available in his
new home in the Washington, D.C. area. Contact Ankit with
technology questions or comments at [email protected]
In Memory
Devra Kleiman, a pioneer in conservation biology
and an expert in wildlife reproduction, passed away April
29th at the age of 67. Born in 1942 in the Bronx, she earned
her undergraduate degree in biopsychology from the University of Chicago in 1964 and a doctorate in zoology from
the University of London in 1969. She was hired by the
National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 1972, becoming one of
the institution’s first female scientists. She soon became involved with golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia),
successfully proposing that zoos renounce their ownership
of the animals, instead considering them “on loan” from
their native Brazil. She designed a breeding program for the
monkeys to ensure their population retained as much genetic diversity as possible. Many of the program’s tamarins
© The Wildlife Society
were later reintroduced
into the wild, where
1,500 live today. Kleiman (right) also worked
with the zoo’s most iconic
species, the giant panda
(Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Her research on
panda reproduction
broke new ground, and,
after many setbacks, bore
Credit: Jessie Cohen/National Zoological Park
fruit for the zoo in 2005,
when panda cub Tai Shan—a product of artificial insemination—was born and attracted visitors by the thousands.
Kleiman officially retired in 2001 but continued work on various projects, maintained her adjunct position in the University
of Maryland biology department, and served as an inaugural
member of The Wildlife Professional’s Editorial Advisory
Board. “Devra was one of my early professional role models—
an animal behaviorist who directly applied her work to wildlife
management and conservation,” says TWS Executive Director
Michael Hutchins. “I was very fortunate to have known her and
to have called her my friend.”
John Arthur Crawford
Long-time TWS member and wildlife
ecologist John Arthur Crawford died
July 11 in Bend, Oregon. He was 63.
Born in Iowa in 1946 and raised on a
farm, Crawford attended Creighton
University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor’s in biology in 1968, then earned
his master’s in biology from the University of Nebraska in Omaha in 1971. At
Texas Tech University he pursued his
Credit: Oregon State University
doctoral degree in range and wildlife,
John Arthur Crawford
finishing in 1974. That same year he
was hired by Oregon State University, with which he was affiliated for the rest of his life, finally as professor emeritus. Crawford’s
research specialty was the habitat relationships of gallinaceous
birds, and he published 75 papers on species from turkeys and
geese to pheasants and quail. An active and esteemed member
of The Wildlife Society, Crawford served as an associate editor
for The Journal of Wildlife Management and president of the
Oregon Chapter of TWS. His contributions to our profession
and the Society will not be forgotten.
To read a longer tribute written by Dan Edge, head of Oregon State University’s
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, go to
The Wildlife Society
Society News
TWS Members on New Federal Council
Update on the Wildlife Society Bulletin
At a July press conference, Secretary of the Interior Ken
Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced
the creation of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, an advisory group made up of 18 leading
members of the conservation and sporting community,
including three members of The Wildlife Society—Tom
Franklin, Joanna Prukop, and Steve Williams. Similar to the
Sporting Conservation Council convened under President
George W. Bush, the new council will provide guidance to
the Secretaries on federal policies having to do with hunting,
wildlife conservation and management, and the development of partnerships among conservationists, the shooting
sports and hunting community, states, tribes, and the federal
government. “The members of the Wildlife and Hunting
Heritage Conservation Council will play a crucial role in our
ongoing efforts to improve the health and management of
America’s public and private lands,” said Secretary Vilsack.
TWS is moving full steam ahead on plans to relaunch the
Wildlife Society Bulletin as an online, peer-reviewed journal
for practitioners of wildlife management and conservation.
Editor-in-Chief Warren Ballard has lined up 22 Associate Editors to assist with manuscripts, which will focus on applying
science to wildlife management, retrospective analyses, tools
and techniques, and other management-related content. WSB
will also run special sections such as From the Field, In my
Opinion, Commentaries, Head to Head, and Our Respects.
“We hope to publish our first issue in early 2011,” says Ballard, “and initially will publish four issues per year.” Though
the Bulletin’s online submittal system is still being designed,
Ballard welcomes manuscript submissions at [email protected]
org. (Please format manuscripts following guidelines for The
Journal of Wildlife Management.) The Society looks forward
to your submissions and encourages your support of the new
WSB. Keep your eyes peeled for subscription information.
“I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish,” says Franklin,
immediate past-president of TWS and director of policy and
government relations for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation
Partnership. “It’s an opportunity to wear my TWS hat as well
as my hat here at TRCP to help get out our message of scientific conservation.” The council is expected to meet roughly twice
annually, with their first gathering planned for early this fall.
Help TWS Spread the Word
To educate more people about the North American Model of
Wildlife Conservation, TWS is making this entire special issue
of The Wildlife Professional freely available online. We also encourage members, state and federal agencies, and conservation
groups to order additional hard copies (available for $4 each)
through the TWS bookstore at
“Best in America” Honor
The Wildlife Society is pleased to announce that our Combined Federal
Campaign (CFC) application has again
been accepted by the U.S. Office of
Personnel Management. The CFC is a
workplace giving program that allows federal government employees to
donate part of their income to charity.
In addition to achieving CFC approval,
TWS also received the “Best in America”
seal of excellence. This seal is awarded
to charities that demonstrate, through
rigorous independent review, that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost
effectiveness. Less than 0.2 percent of the roughly one million
charities in the U.S. are awarded this seal. During the federal
government’s annual fall employee CFC drive, please look for
The Wildlife Society in the CFC giving guide. We encourage
you and your colleagues to support the Society’s mission of
science-based conservation.
The Wildlife Society
would like to thank the
Wildlife Management Institute
for its support of this special issue
of The Wildlife Professional. WMI is a
scientific and educational organization
dedicated to conservation.
Credit: John and Karen Hollingsworth/ USFWS
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
© The Wildlife Society
The Wildlife Society
working group News
Working Groups at Snowbird
Not only will many TWS working groups be meeting amongst
themselves during the Annual Conference in Snowbird, Utah
this year, but they’ll also be contributing to the conference at a
larger scale through their support of workshops and symposia,
including the following:
The Human Dimensions Working Group and the Public Conservation Education and Outreach Working
Group are cosponsoring workshops on conflict management
and techniques to manage the human side of wildlife management. The public outreach group is also cosponsoring a
workshop on navigating protected species conservation and
Safe Harbor agreements.
The Spatial Ecology and Telemetry Working Group is
sponsoring a workshop that will serve as an introduction to GIS
and another on using Home Range Tools to analyze location data.
Along with the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the
Biometrics Working Group will cosponsor a workshop on
applications of the program WinBUGS to do Bayesian survival
analysis, and another on using the program R to do advanced
ecological data analysis.
The Biological Diversity Working Group and the Wildlife
and Habitat Restoration Working Group are cosponsoring
a workshop on quantifying and restoring native biodiversity and
a symposium on supporting restoration and management decisions using ecological site descriptions.
Several groups, including the Wildlife Damage Management
Working Group, will sponsor both a workshop and a symposium on managing conflicts between humans and carnivores.
Joining a variety of agencies and institutions, the Wildlife
Diseases Working Group will cosponsor a workshop on
investigating wildlife mortalities in the field, and two symposia—one on bat management and another on wildlife’s role in
emerging diseases.
The Urban Wildlife Management Working Group is working with three universities to cosponsor an offsite workshop on
wildlife conservation in an increasingly urban area and will also
be sponsoring an interdisciplinary symposium on the present and
future of urban wildlife management.
In a team effort, the Biological Diversity Working Group, Biometrics Working Group, Wildlife and Habitat Restoration Working
Group, Wildlife Economics Working Group, and Wildlife
Planning and Administration Working Group are sponsoring a symposium on conservation planning, implementation,
and monitoring.
The Wildlife Toxicology Working Group is the sponsor of a
symposium on how wildlife migration influences ecotoxicology.
© The Wildlife Society
The Renewable Energy Working Group is sponsoring
a symposium on solar energy impacts and wildlife management measures.
With the USA National Phenology Network and the NOAA Earth
System Research Lab the Climate Change Working Group
is sponsoring a symposium on advancing climate science to
enhance wildlife management.
Damage Management Proceedings Available
Did you miss the 13th Wildlife Damage Management Conference—sponsored in part by the Wildlife Damage Management
Working Group—or would you just like a record of the meeting’s
presentations? Copies of the proceedings are now available for
$15.90. Email [email protected] for ordering information.
Call for Board Members
The Wildlife Diseases Working Group is looking for three
new board members to serve two-year terms. Members of the
board are responsible for liaising between the working group’s
executive committee and membership. Send nominations to
[email protected]
Toxicologists at Oil Spill Ground Zero
Though oil is no longer
spewing from the deepwater well, the work of
wildlife toxicologists in
the Gulf is just beginning.
Members of the Wildlife Toxicology Working
Group sprang into action
to assess the damage to
wildlife from the oil spill.
Deborah Rudis, an enviCourtesy of Deborah Rudis
ronmental contaminants
Deborah Rudis met CNN’s Anderson
Cooper in the course of supporting oil spill
biologist with the U.S.
response efforts in Louisiana.
Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS), spent four weeks
this summer working 14-hour days to identify and recover birds
affected or threatened by the spill in the Gulf. Information her
team provided helped direct response personnel to the most
critical areas to place or repair oil-containing boom. “When
there’s something going on that’s this huge, it’s hard to comprehend how many places are in need of attention,” says Rudis.
Other working group members, including FWS employees Tom
Augspurger, Jewel Bennett, and Carrie Marr, also helped coordinate responses to wildlife needs in the aftermath of the spill.
The Wildlife Society
student News
Spotlight on Students at Snowbird
Opportunities for
students abound at
The Wildlife Society’s
Annual Conference
in Snowbird, Utah.
Come armed with your
polished résumés for
the career fair, studentprofessional mixer,
student-mentor session, and other events
that can help link students and job hunters
with potential advisors
and employers.
Brinkman says that engaging activities are key to attracting
new members. Luckily, local resources offer several options.
A regional office of the Missouri Department of Conservation
(with a TWS member on staff) is close to campus, and students
have easy access to nearby Thousand Hills State Park. In addition to their routine projects, like building squirrel and bird
houses around campus and cleaning up streams, Brinkman
and others in the chapter have cooked up some ambitious new
endeavors. The group plans to assist a faculty field ecologist
in small animal trapping and use Truman’s teaching museum
materials to bring wildlife lessons to local elementary schools.
Brinkman says it’s all about sustainability: They’re helping to
create the next generation of wildlife biologists.
Credit: The Wildlife Society
Quiz Bowl competitors at last year’s TWS
Annual Conference in Monterey puzzle over
a wildlife identification challenge.
A breakfast discussion will give students
a chance to get the latest news from TWS headquarters and to
give feedback to TWS staff. Members of the Student-Professional
Development Working Group—which any TWS member can join
for a $5 fee—will meet at the conference to discuss upcoming
plans about how to make TWS more beneficial to students.
Student presenters can also win recognition at the conference:
The two best student presentations and posters will receive
awards, and all will receive advice and recognition for their
projects. On the lighter side, schools can compete in the popular Quiz Bowl to test their knowledge of wildlife.
It’s not too late to register for the Annual Conference.
For registration information and conference updates,
go to
New Chapter at Truman State
Two years ago at Missouri’s Truman State University, biology
major Leslie Brinkman flipped through some materials at the
school’s career center. “I came across ‘wildlife biologist’ and I
thought, that sounds like me!”
A faculty advisor encouraged her to join a wildlife organization.
Brinkman joined TWS as a student member immediately, but
Truman offers no specialized wildlife track in its biology department. “I thought the students at Truman were at a disadvantage
in that regard,” says Brinkman, “so I decided to bring TWS
to them.” She set about organizing a student chapter of TWS,
which became official in April 2010. Chad Montgomery, an
assistant professor of biology who specializes in reptile ecology,
signed on as faculty advisor.
The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010
A Student Pioneer
Ecology master’s student Robin Steenweg is breaking new
ground for the University of Northern British Columbia
(UNBC) and the Canadian section alike. Working closely
with fellow student Jennifer Sheppard and supervisor Mike
Gillingham, director of the school’s Natural Resources and
Environmental Studies Institute, Steenweg helped transform
an existing fish and wildlife club into a TWS student chapter
in 2008, then served as its first president. “One of my main
interests was adding an academic component to the club,”
says Steenweg. “We brought in local lecturers and had peermentoring and practical workshops, like skull cleaning and
hunting and firearms certifications.”
With that success
under his belt, in 2009
Steenweg began working with then-Canadian
Section President
Merlin Shoesmith and
Rick Baydack, Canadian
Section representative
to TWS’ Governing
Council, to create a
student position on the
Canadian Section committee. The goal was to
“communicate between students and the
Council and to promote
communication among
student chapters,” he
says. Now, Steenweg
leads conference calls
with chapters across the
country to brainstorm
and share experiences.
Credit: Doug Heard
An ecology student at the University of
Northern British Columbia, Robin Steenweg
collars a wolf as part of his master’s project
research on the interaction between wolves
and endangered mountain caribou.
© The Wildlife Society
Credit: Susan Cooper
After engaging in a precarious dance of predator versus prey, a bobcat (Lynx rufus) on the
Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch near Sweetwater, Texas, carries away its prize: a prairie
rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis).
Credit: Eric Wengert
Two mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) kids share
space on a boulder on Mount Evans in Colorado. Later, a
third kid tried unsuccessfully to squeeze in.
Credit: Vince Crichton
A bull moose (Alces alces) makes a regal subject for photographer and wildlife biologist Vince Crichton, who spotted the moose as it engaged in an
autumn courtship with a nearby female. While the female ate, the bull stayed close by watching, and then followed her when she finally moved out of
sight. “It’s a learning experience every time I see these icons of the boreal,” says Crichton.
Send your high-resolution, minimum 300-dpi
electronic photographs to [email protected]
The Wildlife Professional, Summer 2010
For a photo gallery of more Gotcha! images, go to
© The Wildlife Society
When Good Vision
is Not Enough...
ATS will help you
see in more
ways than ever
Clear vision takes focus. Like the
focused precision you can achieve
with the ATS R4500 Receiver using
digital signal processing.
Combined with a precisely-tuned
antenna and the industry’s most
reliable and long-ranged transmitters, ATS allows you to see more
clearly than ever before.
Call or visit us online today.
MINNESOTA 763-444-9267
[email protected]