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If hunting is the "Glue" in the North American Conservation Model, as world renowned wildlife biologist Valerius Geist suggests - Then in today's modern society, furbearer trapping is the mortar that supports the foundation.
North Americas WILDLIFE Conservation Model
Article taken from "The Hunters Institue"
Theres nothing quite like it anywhere else in
the world: a system that keeps wildlife as a public and sustainable resource,
scientifically managed by professionals thanks to hunters and hunting.
Hunting, as some folks tend to forget, has been a human activity for a long, long time as long as there have been humans.
Why Do We Mention This? Because sometimes we
forget. Sometimes, we get so accustomed to the way things are that we forget how they used
and what its like elsewhere in the world.
Theres a fellow in
Geist studied wildlife biology, earned a doctorate
in animal behavior and wrote several books on big game mammals of
When I came over here from
Its called the North American Model of
Wildlife Conservation. Theres nothing like it elsewhere in the world. And hunters
whether theyre in
To remind biologists (and anyone else) about why
this model is unique and successful, Geist and two colleagues presented a paper at a
recent North American Wildlife Management and Research conference. The other co-authors
are Shane P. Mahoney of the
We wrote this for the simple reason that what
is so obvious has been forgotten by many people, Geist said. Even our own
colleagues had forgotten the history of the wildlife conservation movement here.
What is the North American Model? The North American model has endured despite widespread changes in society, technology and in the landscape of the continent. It has become a system of sustainable development of a renewable natural resource that is without parallel in the world, Geist said. Furthermore, it has benefited not only huntable wildlife, countless species of songbirds and shorebirds are protected, becoming specifically designated as nongame species. Seven features make the North American model distinct.
Wildlife is a public resource. This is a notion
that dates back to the Bible, in legal codes of ancient
2. Markets for trade in wildlife were eliminated. Making it illegal to buy and sell meat and parts of game and nongame species removed a huge threat to sustaining those species. At the same time, however, allowing markets for furbearers has helped managed them as a sustainable resource, in conjunction with restrictive regulations, and advocacy of trappers for land stewardship.
3. Allocation of wildlife by law. States allocate surplus wildlife by law, not by market pressures, land ownership or special privilege. The public gets a say in how wildlife resources are allocated; the process fosters public involvement in managing wildlife
4. Wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose. The law prohibits killing wildlife for frivolous reasons. Under the Code of the Sportsman, hunters use as much as they can. The harvest of wild animals must serve a practical purpose if society is going to accept it.
5. Wildlife species are considered an international resource. Some species, such as migratory birds, transcend boundaries and one countrys management can easily affect a species in another country.
Science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife
policy. This is a key concept of wildlife
management. It has its roots in the Prussian Forestry System, arising in this
country as the basis of wildlife management by the convincing forcefulness of
Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold. By spawning the profession of wildlife
management, North Americans were decades ahead of their global neighbors.
According to Greg Moore, a lifelong hunter and now
The democracy of hunting. In the European model,
wildlife was allocated by land ownership and privilege. In
Hunting is the Glue
In much of
What developed in
According to Geist, the glue that holds this unique
North American model of wildlife conservation together is hunting.
Wildlife should be a publicly-owned resource not
only as a food source but also to help foster the American pioneer spirit, he
said. The ability for all North Americans to be able to cultivate these pioneer
skills through sport hunting meant that there could be no private ownership outside of the
Threatening that public trust were the markets for
wildlife that were driving some species toward extinction. The strongest proponents for
eliminating market hunting were the organized sportsmen and sporting publications. The
Boone and Crockett Club and
Without the markets, there were game surpluses
which became allocated by law. Those allocations should not jeopardize the sustainability
of wildlife for future generations. Sportsmen became the biggest advocates of maintaining
sustainable numbers of wildlife.
As ranching increased as a way of getting meat to
the table, hunting strictly for food became less important. Thus grew huntings
emphasis on the chase, not the kill, while still retaining the need to use as much of the
wildlife killed as possible.
Would Wildlife Survive Without Hunting?
One of the biggest threats to
Since the days when
As certain species become common enough to
cause conflict with humans, will humans value them less? wonders Geist.
Actually, hunters could play a key role in
alleviating such conflicts. They can help keep wild animals wild. As fish and wildlife
agencies figure out what to do about local over-abundances of deer, they can look to the
public hunters as part of the solution.
This may have to be combined with other
management alternatives, says Geist, but hunting and its advocates can again
be the force that ensures sustainable wildlife resources are a priority for society.
Formerly with the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, Eric Aldrich is now Communications Director for the N.H. Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
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