For those of you who don’t know I’m a college student at a small environmental college in Maine and for a wildlife management class I was required to go to a meeting with the Maine Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and to ask a question.
The class deals with current issues with the wildlife management system in this country and one of the main concerns with wildlife today is reaching out to non-consumptive users - in other words, non-hunters. The entire wildlife management system as it is today is funded and driven by hunting, in fact much of the management itself is centered around hunting.
Wildlife conservation was built on the concern of hunters, and so the majority of our management system is based around hunting and conservation of mainly game species. However since the earliest days of wildlife conservation, things have changed a little bit. Many people now recognize the different values in wildlife, aesthetic, religious, you name it - but wildlife conservation efforts are still mainly funded by Pitman-Robertson monies generated by hunting and hunting related activities through a tax on hunting equipment, as well as the money from permits.
The problem now is, how do we get these non-consumptive users - the bird watchers, the hikers etc. To contribute and have more voice in management? Acts like the Endangered Species Act have been utilized to shift some of the focus of conservation efforts onto non-game species, but the fact remains that most of our policies mediate toward game species.
So back to the meeting, my question of the commissioner:
"What is your opinion on assessing the viability of wolf reintroduction in the Northeast?"
The short sweet answer was “Not Gonna Happen.”
Don’t get me wrong, I realize - IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN - anytime soon at least. But in that statement there was no science, there was no weighing of options, there was the blindness of his constituents. The commissioner is a politician. And do not get me wrong, I can’t blame him for his focus on hunter concerns and on game species - they’re important concerns, it’s his job to oversee them, and his entire job is based off of revenue generated from hunting.
This meeting really drove home the schism between consumptive and non-consumptive users within the system. The fact of the matter is, the consumptive users are generally defendants, and the non-consumptive are generally plaintiffs. In order to have a say in the matter the non-consumptive users have generated organizations like Defenders of Wildlife and the like to represent their interests against the consumptive user based government policy.
Yes there are other ways for non-consumptive users to have a voice in the process - through public comment etc. However the most of their voice is through lawsuits and petitions, and their contribution to the government system is about equal to their voice within it.
Wolves in the Northeast - never gonna happen.
Well yes, someday I hope they will. I hope that the legislation in this country will realize that restoring wolves back to 5% of their original range doesn’t constitute a return from endangerment. And that natural aesthetics, and stable ecosystems do have value - even compared to the long standing tradition of hunting traditional game species.
Hey there world, please take the time to answer these questions for me! I would really help me out with a class project I’m working on.
1. What age group do you belong to? (10-16, 17-21, 22-30, 30-40, 40+)
2. What environmental issues do you find most pressing/concerning?
3. What are some of your favorite science/environmental blogs? if you know of any.
4. How often would you say you read primary literature: Almost Daily, Weekly, Bi-weekly, Monthly, or Almost never.
5. Do you have a degree - or hope to pursue a degree? What field of study?
6. Do you feel your decisions/voice matters? Do your actions make a difference?
Please reply, or send me a message whichever you’d prefer, and PLEASE REBLOG!
[….] We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.
In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
* * *
Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.
(Please note none of these are my words, they are an exerpt from the afore-mentioned author Aldo Leopold- hope you enjoyed)