The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC) is often held up as the best system of wildlife management and conservation in the world. Developed in the post-frontier era, the NAMWC helped put a stop to wanton wildlife destruction in an era where many species were being hunted and trapped ruthlessly to the brink of extinction.
But the tenets of the North American Model were developed in the 19th century, when wildlife ethics and science were a mere glimmer of what we understand today. The system was intended as a hunter-centric model, both guided by and benefitting consumptive interests.
Now, in 21st century America, we’re entertaining new considerations, in keeping with our modern understanding of wild animals and conservation. There is:
Growing skepticism about how well the North American Model serves not just the wild animals in our public trust, but also the conservation priorities of non-consumptive users who are the majority users of public lands.
Increased scrutiny of practices long considered the norm in wildlife management, including predator hunts, commercial trapping, the legal culling of non-game birds like American Crows, and some of the research protocols used to track and translocate wild animals.
A new willingness among scientists to consider certain moral and ethical implications with respect to wild animals, where previously utilitarian ideas prevailed, including ideas of intrinsic value.
Serious examination of the national funding paradigm and how it contributes to the conservation choices made on both federal and state levels.
By Larry Jordan, 10,000 Birds, December 17, 2014
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