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Wild Game
Wild Game

An Introduction to Managing Wild Game Populations Details !

An Introduction to Wildlife Management

The phrase “wildlife” refers to all species of animals and plants that are not tamed. Non-domesticated, vertebrate animals, particularly terrestrial ones, are commonly referred to as “non-humans” in popular parlance. Game and non-game species are the only two options available under this narrow definition. Animals that humans traditionally hunt are known as game species.

Akin to farmers harvesting crops, hunters or trappers take wildlife for their trophies. For a variety of reasons, wildlife is harvested. Products from game animals may be valued. Furs, hides, bones, teeth (particularly tusks), meat, and a range of other items utilized in traditional rites or remedies are among these items.

It’s not uncommon in South Africa for “sangomas” (witch doctors or traditional healers, depending on your point of view) to illegally capture endangered vultures so that the “sangomas” might use their precognitive powers to construct lottery winning spells. Hunting game animals for sport or as part of rites of passage is commonplace.

As a means of obtaining “moran” (warrior) status in western Kenya and Tanzania, young Masaai men used to kill lions as part of their training. Human-wildlife conflict can also be reduced by hunting or trapping animals for mitigation purposes.

Coyote bounties were instituted by the United States government in the early twentieth century, and it is widely known that this was done to reduce conflict between humans and wildlife. Eventually, coyotes became more intelligent and adaptive, and they now live throughout the continental United Areas, rather than just in the western and central states where they used to be restricted.

Many airports have implemented shooting programs in the recent past to help reduce bird-plane collisions. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 63,000 laughing gulls were shot at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in the 1990s (Dolbeer et al. 2003). This new valuation of game resources is based on non-consumptive uses such as wildlife photography, shark cage diving, “green” hunts (eg, darting safaris, in which game animals are tranquilized rather than killed), paid participation in wildlife research through organizations like Earthwatch and paid participation in wildlife research through such organizations as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) (Figure 1).

Regulating the use of wildlife and their habitats is essential to preventing the depletion of wildlife resources. As a result of these efforts, harvest limits and procedures may be established, wildlife habitats may be protected and education and enforcement of game regulations as well as a study into the ecology of wildlife may be conducted and human-wildlife conflict may be reduced. Wildlife management refers to all of these operations put together as a single unit.

Who Manages Wildlife?

As a government activity, wildlife management is often managed by an agency that has the legal ability to implement wildlife regulations in most nations. In many nations, the government may be in charge of most of the day-to-day operations. When it comes to management, states and provinces typically assume this role. North America is a mixture of both of these.

Wild Game
Wild Game

National, provincial, and tribal governments are all responsible for wildlife in the public trust. In some nations, such as South Africa, landowners who own the wildlife on their land are delegated most of the administration of that species. Game populations are at risk in nations where there is no strong central government, civil upheaval, or food insecurity, resulting in limited managerial authority.

As ecosystems self-regulate in the absence of human intervention, there is often no need to manage wildlife. All ecosystems are currently affected by human activities such as agricultural expansion, logging, mining, and urbanization in some form or another (all of which result from the growth of human populations). To feed workers (as an alternative source of income for workers) or as collateral damage when other resources are exploited, game animals are among the first of these natural resources to be depleted by these activities. Game management is important to prevent overexploitation or even extinction of game species in most cases. As a result

Fisheries and wildlife treaties are ratified by nearly every country in the world. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was adopted in 1975 and is the most comprehensive and well-known convention. Trade in elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn, and large cat skins are prohibited by this convention signed by 175 countries in 2010. (Figure 2). The international trade in these species is restricted to prevent the growth of an illegal international market that could worsen the plight of these creatures, even if they are common and even lawful to harvest in some countries.

The economics of wildlife harvesting are also taken into consideration by governments and/or other governing bodies. Taxes on hunting and trapping equipment and other expenditures made by hunters, as well as license sales, are important revenue sources for some governments. In the United States, for example, bows and ammunition are subject to a federal excise tax.

In 2010, roughly $473 million in apportionments collected by excise taxes in 2009 were returned to the states (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2010). The state’s wildlife conservation and educational activities are supported by the funds generated by this tax. In addition, comparable legislation has been passed in several states (e.g. Missouri), increasing the resources available for the control of wildlife.

In many cases, the private sector has a vested financial interest in the management of game resources. Private hunting ranches and game preserves have mushroomed in post-apartheid South Africa as a result of ecotourism and hunting, and they now account for more acreage than public reserves. Annual returns from private nature reserves and ranches are estimated at USD 259 per hectare by Bothma et al. (2009), who compiled data from a wide range of sources. Many non-game species are also protected as a result of the preservation of natural habitats.

However, the devastation of crops or other property, opportunity missed (e.g., the maintenance of animal habitat that could otherwise be converted to agricultural or other output), the maintenance of reservoirs of illnesses, or direct attacks on humans can all result from wildlife management.

The Philosophical Evolution of Game Management Practices

Current methods of wildlife management have been heavily impacted by several underlying historical concepts. There are two models, one of which is known as the dominion model, which is based on the idea that humans have the right to exploit all natural resources in any way and in any quantity they choose; for example, in the Abrahamic religions, humans are traditionally regarded as having dominion over nature.

The royal or regal paradigm is an alternative concept in which a controlling institution claims ownership of wildlife resources and declares any improper exploitation to be criminal. Often, these methods were more concerned with controlling human beings than with the management of game populations It is rare to find a modern example of the regal model, but one can be found in Swaziland, where the monarchs have been actively involved in wildlife management since the mid-20th century.

Hlane Royal National Park is South Africa’s most important wildlife refuge. The colonial model, the third school of thought, saw the regency’s authority over natural resources extending to colonial holdings. This sometimes resulted in wildlife-rich areas becoming private shooting grounds for colonial officers in such areas as East Africa. Another tool for exerting control over the colonial peoples was to disenfranchise indigenous residents by this method.

These methods of wildlife management frequently resulted in unmanaged populations of game. The result was the development of a management model where specific species are intensively controlled as natural resources to offer sport or revenue, frequently by professional game managers. For example, in the United Kingdom and the United States, game birds are raised in pens before being released on shooting preserves, while in South Africa, game ranches trade-in individuals of highly sought-after species, and in Europe, hatcheries raise many game fish, particularly trout and salmon, which are particularly popular among sport anglers.

Laws were also developed to safeguard wildlife resources in response to overpopulation. In contrast to royal commands, strict animal protection legislation was enacted and put into effect. Typically, these laws established a governmental agency that was responsible for game management and the enforcement of other regulations. Typically, these agencies have the power to enforce new rules on the harvesting of games.

As a result of the overexploitation or abuse of wildlife resources and/or their users, both management and legal methods of management are necessary. Socially-enforced regulations about animal use may also exist in traditional communities, which are effectively informal laws designed to manage wildlife resources.

Environmental ethics, the establishment of ecology as a discipline, and the development of conservation biology have led to an ecological philosophy of wildlife management in which other species’ rights and the interconnection of species and resources are recognized. Although the management of individual species is still widespread, this approach appreciates all wildlife, not only game species, and focuses on managing habitats and ecosystems rather than individual species. An example of this is shown in Figure 3.

The Future of Game Management

Managing human populations and the demand they place on animal resources is an inevitable part of long-term game management. The loss of natural habitat is the most significant factor in the dwindling and eventual extinction of wildlife species.

To meet their immediate requirements, human populations that lack food security will unavoidably exploit game species at levels that are unsustainable and transform wildlife habitats into agricultural or other uses. If we want to strike a balance between human requirements and the environment at large, we must find ways to use natural ecosystems and species in ways that benefit local human residents’ food security (such as ecotourism, the development of natural products, and carbon crediting schemes).

References and Recommended Reading

Recommended readings:

Begon, M., Townsend, C. R. et alEcology from Individuals to Ecosystems, 4th ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

Bolen, E. G. & Robinson, W. L. Wildlife Ecology and Management, 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2003.

Bothma, J. du P., Suich, H., et al “Extensive wildlife production on private land in South Africa,” in H. Suich, B. Child, et al. eds. Evolution & Innovation in Wildlife Conservation. London, UK: Earthscan Publications, 2009.

CITES Secretariat. Official website of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. (link)

Dolbeer, R., Chipman R., et al. Does shooting alter flight patterns of gulls: a case study at John F. Kennedy International Airport. International Bird Strike Committee Conference. Warsaw, Poland. 2003. (link)

Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y. Wildlife and Food Security in Africa. New York, NY: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997. (link)

Sinclair, A. R. E., Fryxell, J. M. et alWildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management, 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.

U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 2006. (link)

U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Certificate of apportionment of $472,719,710 of the appropriation for Pittman Roberston Wildlife Restoration (DVDA No. 15.611) to the states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for the fiscal year 2010. (link)

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