Page 1

Vol. 4 No. 3

Fall 2010

Special Issue

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

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 TRCP David Bergman USDA, Wildlife Services Chad Bishop Colorado Division of Wildlife Robert Brown North Carolina State University Richard Chipman USDA, Wildlife Services Michael Conner Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center Heather Eves Virginia Polytechnic and State University 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 Nagendran U.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 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,

Contributor Guidelines

Rotating feature departments include: Executive Director/CEO Operations Manager

Lisa Moore LaRoe Director/Editor-in-Chief Divya Abhat Production Editor/Science Writer Katherine Unger Development Editor/Science Writer Ruxandra Giura Program Manager, Online Services Madeleine Thomas Editorial Intern Government Affairs Laura Bies Emily Boehm Rachael Confair Alexandra Sutton

Director Intern Intern Intern

Membership Marketing and Conferences Darryl Walter Director Shannon Pederson Program Manager, Subunits and Certification Lisa Moll Conferences and Membership Assistant

Jane Jorgenson Ankit Mehta Vasa Pupavac Danielle Prete

Manager Database and IT Administrator Finance Assistant Receptionist

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

President President-Elect 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, or mail them to headquarters’ address below.

The Wildlife Society Headquarters 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 200 Bethesda, MD 20814-2144 P: (301) 897-9770 F: (301) 530-2471

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010

education 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.




reviews 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

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 22

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 Trapping 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

42 Credit: Ken Logan/Colorado Division of Wildlife

Future Challenges to the Model By Shane P. Mahoney and David Cobb

departments 6 8 10 12 13 16 20

Editor's Note Guest Editorial Letters to the Editor Leadership Letter Science in Short

88  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 Editor-in-Chief 6

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2010

© The Wildlife Society


Hunting as a Wildlife Management Tool By Darren A. Miller, Ph.D.

I Courtesy of Darren A. Miller

Darren A. Miller, Ph.D., CWB, is Manager of Southern Environmental Research for Weyerhaeuser Company, 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: 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 University.

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

Northwest Canada



Central Mountains and Plains

Northeast North Central

Southeastern Southwest

North America

News and events affecting wildlife and wildlife professionals from across North America Southeastern 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

Northeast 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.


Western 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

Southwest 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.

General 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

Canada 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,

© The Wildlife Society


International News and events affecting wildlife and wildlife professionals around the world India 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

China 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

Australia 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 development 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 Massachusetts, Amherst. Coauthors Shane P. Mahoney is Executive Director for Sustainable Development and Strategic Science in the Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Biodiversity, Ecosystem Science, and Sustainability at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. 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 muzzle-loading 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 England.

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 Americans.

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. 28

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 license.

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 movement.

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 Resources.

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 Program.

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 regions. 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 University.

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 bibliography, 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 Management 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 projects. • $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 populations. • $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 Agencies.

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 conservation. 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


Camping. 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

Paddling. 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

Skiing. 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

Hiking. 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

Š 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:

nn Nˆ = 1 2 m2

ˆ is the estimated population size, n is the number of ducks where N 1 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.

M 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 Research.

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

Š 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 monitoring.

(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 property.

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 ing” of personal property. But in of harvested game 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

R 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 Conservation.

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 specifications.

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.

Coauthor Affiliations 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

Š 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 Management Institute and Senior Fellow of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation.

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

A 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 skills.

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 prey.

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 fellowship. 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 States.

© The Wildlife Society

A Personal Journey The Value of Hunting as a Life Experience By James E. Miller

M 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 Newfoundland and Labrador and Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Biodiversity, Ecosystem Science, and Sustainability at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Credit: Geoff Cantrell

David Cobb, Ph.D., CWB, is Chief of the Division of Wildlife Management for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

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

W Credit: Ruxandra Giura

Jenna Jadin is Science Communications Director at the U.S. Global Change Research Program and former Associate Director of Government Affairs for The Wildlife Society.

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 editor@


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 channel:

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

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 wsb@wildlife. 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 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

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


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 before.

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


The Wildlife Professional Fall 2010  

The Wildlife Professional is The Wildlife Society membership magazine. The Wildlife Professional is a magazine containing news and analysis...

The Wildlife Professional Fall 2010  

The Wildlife Professional is The Wildlife Society membership magazine. The Wildlife Professional is a magazine containing news and analysis...