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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our good friend and co-originator of the LANDSCAPE OF FEAR CARNIVORE/PREY PARADIGM, John Launder, contributes his insights on all things CARNIVORE to this blog on a regular basis ............Today, John focuses on two components of THE NORTH AMERICAN MODEL FOR CONSERVATION(NAM)---In 1842, the Supreme Court rule in Martin v. Waddell set the foundation in U.S. common law for the principle that wildlife resources are owned by no one, to be held in trust by government for the benefit of present and future generations).....John focuses his essay below on two of the 7 tenets of the NAM---- 1)Wildlife can only be killed for legitimate purposes------ 2) Science is the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy....................John fervently and logically points out that all that is spelled out in these NAM precepts sounds very good on paper, but in fact are meaningless in terms of how our State Game Commissions go about interpreting and enforcing them..............John, tip of the hat to you on revealing how lax NAM is in practice.......If we could fund State Game Commissions with something other than hunting license money, perhaps the good ideology behind NAM would actually be followed though both in spirit and practice,,,,,,,,,,,,,,with the result being a full and functioning suite of both carnivore and prey animals rewilded across North America

Where is the NAM?
BY-jOHN Laundre

The North American Model for Wildlife Conservation (NAM) is heralded by hunters and game agencies across the country as THE model for wildlife management.  Additionally, if you would believe them, it was hunters and the sacred NAM that saved wildlife from past destruction, ironically by hunters, in the late 1800's to early 1900's.  What does this hallowed doctrine say and is it being used today?  Well, among the "seven sisters", the 7 tenets of the Model, there are several that hunters proudly point to as guiding lights to wildlife management.  The two I want to address today are 1) Wildlife can only be killed for legitimate purposes and 2) Science is the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy.

This all sound good and on a high moral standard but recent incidences, sponsored by hunters and game agencies indicate how much of a sham the NAM is.  What is a legitimate reason to kill wildlife?  Obviously most hunters would say THE legitimate reason to kill wildlife is to eat it.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation interprets the NAM as restricting the casual killing of wildlife merely for antlers, horns, or feathers.  Another obvious reason to kill wildlife is if it poses an immediate threat to human life.  Another reason might be argued if the species in question was seriously threatening the viability of another species. 

Given the above, how is the sacred NAM applied to the conservation/management of predators?  We know they are not killed for food!  Killing them just for their fur would seem to be as frivolous as killing another species for their antlers, horns, or feathers! Why does the coat industry still get to use wild animal fur when the hat industry has been denied the use of wild bird feathers? There is no evidence that healthy wolves nor coyotes are a threat to people and though cougars have attacked and killed people, the risk that happening is a lot less than your son or daughter being injured or killed in a school sporting event.  There are no conclusive studies showing that 1) predators "decimate" game populations and 2) reducing or eliminating predators enhances these game populations.  So the only true legitimate purpose for killing predators should be the same as for deer, to eat them!

Given all this, one has to ask then, what is the "legitimate" reason the state of Utah has re-enacted a bounty system, paying people, to kill coyotes?  It is not for food, it is not even for their fur. It is not to "protect" other species.  It is to just kill them…because.  If this does not represent "casual" killing of wildlife, I don't know what does.  Also, Idaho is planning on a "kill the most, the biggest coyote/wolf contest this winter.  People will get prices for just the shear killing of animals that are not a threat to humans or other wildlife and again, the contestants will not eat them after!  In the Great Plains, cougars are struggling to make a comeback to their ancestral homes.  Yet almost every time one shows up cowering in a culvert or up a tree, no obvious threat to anyone, they are killed, even, recently in South Dakota, dug up with a backhoe just to shoot it.  What is the "legitimate" reason for killing them?  None.

President Teddy Roosevelt and Conservationist John Muir

As for using science as the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy, again, recent events indicate the blatant disregard for the NAM.  In South Dakota, a population of only around 150 adult animals is being "harvested", politically correct way of saying killed, to the tune of 70 to 100 animals a year.  What scientific study of wildlife populations has demonstrated that killing 45 to 65 percent of the population yearly is sustainable?  None!  Yet the game agency continually justifies this excess killing as sound wildlife management.  And it is even worse in Nebraska.  Their best guess is that they have 20-22 cougars in the state.  My guess is that it is more like 15.  For any other species, the science would consider this to be a highly endangered population.  Yet what is the Nebraska game agency doing?  They are opening a hunting season to kill up to 3 animals, regardless of sex!  In whatever other real world, would a game agency have a season to kill these many animals out of such a small population?  None!  Would we do it for a population of 22 bighorn sheep or elk?  NO!  And why are these states having these seasons to kill cougars?  For food?  Because they are a threat?  Again, it is to just kill them for casual reasons, a trophy, a clear violation of their sacred NAM.

It is these recent actions and more, championed by hunters and sanctioned by game agencies that convinces me that the NAM is a worthless document filled with lies and hypocrisy.  It is not the revered model for conservation nor sound wildlife management.  It is consistently ignored and abused by the very people who fool themselves thinking that they are conservationists.  Only when the majority of hunters and hunting groups put ecosystem integrity, including the SOUND conservation of predators, in front of their desire to kill for killing sake can they begin to consider themselves stewards of ALL wildlife and we will return to the 21st century of wildlife conservation.   Until then, hunting has become not the honored tradition it has been but a tool for the decimation of native predator populations.  Populations that Science has shown to be essential to ecosystem integrity.

John Laundre, an ecologist at the State University of New York at Oswego, noticed the impact of fear on animals' behavior after the re-introduction of grey wolves in Yellowstone National Park while he was studying elk. And he has found that the greatest impact predators can have over their prey is not by killing but rather by instilling fear in them. He coined the term for this: landscape of fear.

purchase John's book on Amazon

The North American Model
 of Wildlife Conservation 
and Public Trust Doctrine
In recent years, the recognition of wildlife conservation
 in the U.S. and Canada
 as distinct from other forms worldwide has led to the
 adoption of the term
“North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.” 

 The Public Trust Doctrine, derived from the 1842
 U.S. Supreme Court
 case Martin v. Waddell, is considered the keystone
 of the North American
 Model of Wildlife Conservation. It represents the
 common law foundation
 for trust status of wildlife resources in the United States.

While the Industrial Revolution initiated rapid technology
 and laid the foundation of the urban workforce, the
 movement also
 placed harsh demands on the natural world.  In
 particular, the food
supply required by the rapidly growing urban
population caused game
to be hunted at unsustainable levels. Simultaneously,
 an urban upper
 class emerged with the leisure time that afforded
 hunting under
 self-imposed “sporting” conditions that promoted
 fair play,
 self-restraint, pioneer skills, and health. Conflicts
 between these
distinct hunting groups resulted in successful advocacy
 by the upper
 class for the elimination of markets for game, allocation
 of wildlife
by law rather than privilege, and restraint on the killing
of wildlife for
anything other than legitimate purposes.

In 1842, the Supreme Court rule in Martin v.
 Waddell set the
 foundation in U.S. common law for the
 principle that wildlife 
resources are owned by no one, to be held
 in trust by government
 for the benefit of present and future generations.

The court ruling, combined with the advocacy of
 the upper class sport
 hunters, resulted in the Public Trust Doctrine.

Concern over the protection of wildlife in the
United States prompted a
 concern in Canada over the potential for similar
 misuse of wildlife. The
subsequent collaboration of the U.S. and Canadian
wildlife conservationists
 led to treaties establishing certain species of marine
 mammals and migratory
 birds as international resources and to the creation
 of the North American
 Model of Wildlife Conservation. The heart of the
 Model is composed of
seven focal points (as stated in the TWS Final
Position Statement on The
 North American Model of Wildlife Conservation):
  • Wildlife as Public Trust Resources
  • Elimination of Markets for Game
  • Allocation of Wildlife by Law
  • Wildlife Should Only be Killed for a
  •  Legitimate Purpose
  • Wildlife Are Considered an International
  •  Resource
  • Science is the Proper Tool for Discharge
  •  of Wildlife Policy
  • Democracy of Hunting
It wasn’t until President Theodore Roosevelt’s
 administration that the
 implementation of wildlife policy significantly
began. Actions such as
the 1930 American Game Policy and the 1937
 Federal Aid in Wildlife
Restoration Act set a precedent for the role of
science over partisanship
as the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy.
Comprehensive conservation
 principles and their scientific application led
to increased professional
management of hunting programs. As a result,
 hunting is accessible to
citizens of all social classes in the United States
 and Canada, a feature
not found in many other conservation models

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