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Introduction to Wildlife Management. Marie Bolt. Introduction. Wildlife: free-ranging birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles Not all wild animals and plants Not fish Not just “game” species Not just “nongame” species. Wildlife Management.

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  • Wildlife: free-ranging birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles
    • Not all wild animals and plants
    • Not fish
    • Not just “game” species
    • Not just “nongame” species
wildlife management
Wildlife Management

Wildlife management is the application of ecological knowledge to populations of vertebrate animals and their plant and animal associates in a manner that strikes a balance between the needs of those populations and the needs of people.

ecological management approaches
Ecological Management Approaches
  • Preservation
    • Nature takes its course without human intervention
  • Direct manipulation
    • Animal populations are trapped, shot, poisoned, and stocked
  • Indirect manipulation
    • Vegetation, water, or other key components of wildlife habitat are altered
an art or a science
An Art or a Science?

Wildlife management is not purely basic nor applied science, but uses both to apply an integrated approach to solve a given problem

Not a “cookbook” approach

Requires application of skill, knowledge and imagination

wildlife management skills
Wildlife Management: Skills

Ecology/Natural History


Habitat Management

Team Work

Land Navigation/GIS/GPS


People Management

brief history 1
Brief History-1

Early US/Colonial: game laws

1800s: Increased regulation of game

1900s: Gifford Pinchot “Resource Conservation Ethic”

1930s: Aldo Leopold, father of wildlife management, “Game Management”

1937: Pittman-Robertson Act, 10% tax on hunting arms and ammo for research and management by states

resource conservation ethic
Resource Conservation Ethic
  • The qualities found in nature could be considered “natural resources”. The goal of proper use of natural resources is the greatest good of the greatest number (of people) for the longest time. (G. Pinchot)
    • Resources should be fairly distributed among present as well as future users
    • Resources should be used with efficiency—that is, put to the best possible use and not wasted (i.e., non-use is waste)
evolutionary ecological land ethic
Evolutionary-Ecological Land Ethic
  • The most important goal of land management is to maintain the health of ecosystems and ecological processes. Maintaining these ecological processes will ultimately give greater long-term value to humans than managing natural areas only for particular resources (A. Leopold)
    • Humans are part of the ecological community rather than standing apart from nature and exploiting it (move away from over-exploitation of “conservation ethic”)
brief history 2
Brief History-2
  • 1960s and 1970s: greater expectations
    • Changes from “maximum” to “optimal” yield for game species
brief history 3
Brief History-3

1970s: Environmental movement and Environmental Laws (NEPA, ESA, CWA, CAA, FIFRA, RCRA, CERCLA, etc.)

1980s: National Forest Management Planning Act

Late 1980s: Conservation Biology

wildlife managers
Wildlife Managers
  • Address complex issues with both research and management skills by
    • Reviewing the scientific literature
    • Finding answers with field &/or lab work
    • Implementing and evaluating remedies
  • Political, social & economic factors influence methods and how successfully they can deal with stewardship of wildlife populations and habitats
management decisions
Management Decisions

Desired Goal

Appropriate Management Option(s)

Best Management Action


Where do we want to go?

Can we get there?

Will we know we have arrived?

How do we get there?

What are the costs?

What are the benefits?

Will benefits exceed costs?

goals of management
Goals of Management
  • Increase Population
    • Endangered Species
  • Decrease Population
    • Nuisance species
  • Harvest
    • Game species
  • Monitor
    • Nongame species
something to ponder
Something to Ponder

You can not increase the numbers of all species on every piece of land….when you manage for certain species, you manage against other species

overview of lecture
Overview of Lecture



Passenger Pigeon

Other Extinctions

Some Near Extinctions

Problems of Excess

Predator Control

Exotic Wildlife


God’s instructions to Adam and Eve were to “be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the Earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth on upon the Earth.” Genesis 1:28


Eliminate predators and competitors

Repopulate with domestic animals

Move “familiar” animals across the world

Privileged classes and sport hunting

Market hunting

market hunting
Market Hunting
  • Waterfowl
  • Bison
  • Songbirds
  • Plumage
  • Beaver hats

To 1850, large population in American West, coexisted with humans

Provided food, shelter, bowstrings, fuel

Grass-bison-human food chain for years

6 million in 1860 to 160 in 1889

Small herds existed & replenished population

buffalo hunters
Buffalo Hunters
  • Railroads made access easy
  • Repeating rifles & scopes
  • Army condoned it
  • Food for railroad workers
  • Hides/tongue prized
  • Most rotted, unused
passenger pigeon
Passenger Pigeon
  • Most abundant animal on the planet
  • Migration darked the sky
  • 1871, 136 million in central WI alone
  • Market hunting, nesting habitat destruction, single egg, no laws, lead to extinction in 1914
other extinctions
Other Extinctions
  • Steller’s sea cow
  • Carolina parakeet
  • Labrador duck
  • Heath hen
  • Great auk
some near extinctions
Some Near Extinctions
  • Wood Duck
  • Wild Turkey
  • California Condor
  • Beaver
  • Canada Goose
  • Mountain Lion
  • Grey Wolf
  • Double-crested cormorant
  • Bald eagle
problems of excess
Problems of Excess
  • White-tailed deer
  • Raccoon
  • Canada goose
  • Beaver
  • Double-crested cormorant
response of prey without predators
Response of Prey without Predators
  • Two charts
    • Reindeer
    • Mule deer
  • Beaver Basin deer herd
predator control
Predator Control
  • Bounties
    • Not effective, no population changes
    • Fraud
  • Poison controls
    • Non-target animals
  • Overall, not effective
exotic wildlife
Exotic Wildlife

Man has moved animals from place to place across the world, either intentionally or unintentionally

Exotic wildlife may increase or fail to prosper

If they increase, many times they become nuisance species

Many examples on trying to control, “new immigrants” who alter the ecology of the habitats they are released into by fulfilling/displacing native species niches

continuing challenges
Continuing Challenges
  • Spotted owl
  • Sea turtles
  • California condor
  • Grey wolf



Lead Poisoning

Wood Ducks

Wild Turkeys


Marine Mammals


Elusive Measures


1639, 1st closed season for white-tailed deer in Rhode Island colony (May-Nov)

Many laws to protect species including heath hens and passenger pigeons

No ecological considerations, no habitat protection

No preservation of food, cover, water

Not until 1900s did management occur

  • American Bison Association, NY Zoo
  • Bison preserves
  • Yellowstone NP
  • Canada: 2 NPs, one for Wood Buffalo
  • European bison restocked in Bialowieza Forest, Poland/Russia
  • 2 Problems with Bison reintroduction
    • Lack of natural predators, leads to overpopulation
    • Overpopulation and outstripping resources, and control measures not accepted by populus
lead poisoning
Lead Poisoning
  • Primary issues:
    • Use of lead in shotgun shells
    • Use of lead in rifle bullets
    • Use of lead in fishing gear
lead poisoning1
Lead Poisoning
  • Lead shot
    • Banned in 1976/78
    • Decrease in raptor deaths
    • Decrease in waterfowl losses
    • No increase in waterfowl crippling deaths
  • Lead Poisoning
    • Primary Routes
      • Shot
      • Grit for gizzard
        • Grinding plus acid in stomach, organo- lead, neurotoxin
    • Secondary Route
      • Incidental ingestion of lead in prey
crippling losses of waterfowl
Crippling Losses of Waterfowl

Mean No. Lost/100 Retrieved

lead poisoning2
Lead Poisoning
  • Rifle bullets
    • Issues for California Condor
    • Issues for Steller’s sea eagle in Japan
wood ducks
Wood Ducks
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 1918
  • Protected wood ducks
  • Population rebounded without help at first
wood ducks1
Wood Ducks
  • 1938, biologists in Illinois erected wood duck houses
  • Noticed insufficient nesting sites
  • Quickly spread
  • Some areas have more produced in boxes than natural habitat
  • Now, 2nd/3rd most abundant waterfowl species
wild turkeys
Wild Turkeys
  • Extirpated in most of North America by 1930s
  • Reintroductions were tried, many failed
  • Finally appropriate genetic types were used for each site
wild turkeys1
Wild Turkeys
  • New populations were protected
  • When appropriate, hunting was allowed
  • Now 40 states have turkeys
  • White-tailed deer
    • 0.5 million, 1900
    • 12 million, 1980
  • Elk
    • 0.04 million, 1900
    • 1 million, 2000
  • Pronghorn antelope
    • 13,000--1920
    • 400,000--1980
  • Beaver
    • Nearly extirpated 1800s
    • Nuisance species, now
marine mammals
Marine Mammals
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972)
  • Endangered Species Act (1973)
    • Pinnepeds (seal)
    • Sirenians (manatee)
    • Cetaceans (dolphins & whales)
marine mammals1
Marine Mammals
  • Sea Otter
    • Reintroductions, natural increases
    • Protection from trapping, fishermen
    • Orcas new threat in Aleutian Islands
  • Gray whales
    • Predictable migratory route
    • Stay close to shore
    • Now problems with carrying capacity
    • Salt plant in calving grounds
  • Trumpeter swans
  • Roseate spoonbills
  • Upland sandpipers
  • Sage grouse
  • Sharp-tailed grouse
  • Snowy egrets
  • Whooping cranes
  • Wood ducks
  • California condors
  • Heath hen
  • “Candidates for oblivion” listed in Our vanishing wild life, by William Hornaday 1913
  • Only the Heath hen is extinct today
birds that have come back
Birds that have come back
  • Bald eagles
  • Peregrine falcons
  • Kirtland’s warbler
  • Atlantic puffin
  • Many other species
elusive measures
Elusive Measures

Need to have neither extinction nor excess populations

How do we measure success, is 40 million ducks from 400 million a success or a failure?

Need to include the social dimension in answering these types of questions

elusive measures1
Elusive Measures
  • Technical
    • Current status of population
      • Size
      • Rate of population change
      • Reproductive capacity
      • Seasonal requirements
  • Social
    • Public education
    • Public support