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Why hunting has defined the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

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... Throughout this thesis there are many statements that wildlife management decisions (e.g., Organ et al. 2012;Artelle et al. 2018a;Ryder 2018;Powell 2020) and government decisions broadly (e.g., Government of British Columbia 2017) are appropriately informed by the 'best available evidence'. But what is best available evidence? ...
... The so-called "North American Model of Wildlife Conservation" is the prevailing model of state, provincial, and federal agencies based on regulated management, science-based policies and equitable access and public ownership (Organ et al. 2012;Krausman & Cain 2013;Ryder 2018;Mahoney & Geist 2019). Thus, in North American fish and wildlife management agencies decisions are purportedly evidence-based, supported by the best available science (e.g., population dynamics, surveys, statistics, habitat information, and behavioural studies) (Organ et al. 2012;Ryder 2018;Powell 2020), however recent research suggests that the "hallmarks" of science including measurable objectives, evidence, transparency, or independent review are missing from management (see Artelle et al. 2018a). ...
... The so-called "North American Model of Wildlife Conservation" is the prevailing model of state, provincial, and federal agencies based on regulated management, science-based policies and equitable access and public ownership (Organ et al. 2012;Krausman & Cain 2013;Ryder 2018;Mahoney & Geist 2019). Thus, in North American fish and wildlife management agencies decisions are purportedly evidence-based, supported by the best available science (e.g., population dynamics, surveys, statistics, habitat information, and behavioural studies) (Organ et al. 2012;Ryder 2018;Powell 2020), however recent research suggests that the "hallmarks" of science including measurable objectives, evidence, transparency, or independent review are missing from management (see Artelle et al. 2018a). ...
Thesis
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Wildlife managers are faced with decisions and issues that are increasingly complex, spanning natural and human dimensions. A strong evidence base that includes multiple forms and sources of knowledge would support these complex decisions. However, a growing body of literature demonstrates that environmental managers are far more likely to draw on intuition, experience, or opinion to inform important decisions rather than empirical evidence. In 2018, I interviewed members from natural resource management branches of Indigenous (n = 4) and parliamentary (n = 33) governments, as well as nongovernmental stakeholder groups (n = 28) involved in wildlife management and conservation in British Columbia, Canada. I set out to: assess how interviewees perceive and use western-based scientific, Indigenous and local knowledge and the extent to which socio-economic and political considerations challenge the integration of evidence [Chapter 2]; examine perceptions on the current and future status of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations and fisheries [Chapter 3] (supplemented with n = 1029 online survey responses from rainbow trout anglers); and identify perceived benefits and existing barriers supporting or limiting the use of a particular type of evidence, conservation genomics [Chapter 4]. Then in 2019, I facilitated fuzzy cognitive mapping workshops with n = 12 participants from four groups of fisheries managers, detailing their perceptions on the evidence influencing freshwater fish and fisheries decisions [Chapter 5]. Collectively, this research suggests that wildlife management issues and decisions are time-sensitive and value-laden. Interviewees relied heavily on personal contacts with internal colleagues and institutional information to inform decisions and practices. Evidence which may influence decisions is within a closed social network, centralized to a handful of decision-making organizations and their partners. A lack of time and information overload were major barriers to external evidence use. A lack of trust and hesitancy to share were major barriers to Indigenous and local knowledge use. Abundant environmental evidence may not be immediately ‘actionable’ and relevant to known problems faced by decision-makers due in part to poor communication and dissemination. Participants perceived a diminishing role of evidence in decisions due to increases in socio-economic and political influence that may supersede conservation.
... At the start of the 21st century, a group of Western wildlife scientists and scholars brought together these elements of modern policy and underlying motivations into a set of seven tenets that became known as the NAM (Geist et al. 2001). While the origins of the NAM predominately come from the USA, Canada also experienced unregulated pressures on wildlife from European colonization and instituted similar laws and policies to conserve and structure decision-making for wildlife populations (Hewitt 1921;Hawkins 1984). ...
... Yet one important difference between the USA and Canada's adoption of the NAM is that Canada does not share the same robust funding models (i.e., firearm tax, dedicated funding models) for wildlife conservation as the USA (Organ et al. 2012). Here we provide a brief overview of the seven tenets of the NAM, but refer the reader to Geist et al. (2001) and Organ et al. (2012) for a richer description. ...
... Unregulated market hunting and commercial demand for wild game and nongame species led to drastic and sometimes catastrophic declines of wildlife populations across North America in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries (Geist and Organ 2004). The elimination of such markets (i.e., restaurants selling wild game), was an essential step in halting rapid declines for wildlife species (Geist et al. 2001). However, market processes are still in place in some jurisdictions for furs, antlers, and bounties. ...
Article
Although a diversity of approaches to wildlife management persists in Canada and the United States of America, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAM) is a prevailing model for state, provincial, and federal agencies. The success of the NAM is both celebrated and refuted amongst scholars, with most arguing that a more holistic approach is needed. Colonial rhetoric permeates each of the NAM’s constituent tenets—yet, beyond these cultural and historical problems are the NAM’s underlying conservation values. In many ways, these values share common ground with various Indigenous worldviews. For example, the idea of safeguarding wildlife for future generations, utilizing best available knowledge to solve problems, prioritizing collaboration between nations, and democratizing the process of conserving wildlife all overlap in the many ways that the NAM and common models of Indigenous-led conservation are operationalized. Working to identify shared visions and address necessary amendments of the NAM will advance reconciliation, both in the interest of nature and society. Here, we identify the gaps and linkages between the NAM and Indigenous-led conservation efforts across Canada. We impart a revised NAM—the Indigenizing North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (I-NAM)—that interweaves various Indigenous worldviews and conservation practice from across Canada. We emphasize that the I-NAM should be a continuous learning process that seeks to update and coexist with the NAM, but not replace Indigenous-led conservation.
... The NAM is a set of seven tenets that portrays and promotes conservation and hunting of the public domain [21]. However, these seven tenets of the NAM were created by Western wildlife biologists using colonial rhetoric and conservation values [22,23]; they are rooted in Western conceptions of property, human-animal relations, and science [24]. According to the sixth tenet of the NAM, science is the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy; however, Western science paradigms are the only formally recognized way of monitoring wildlife [25]. ...
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Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is becoming more prominent in wildlife management decisions and policy making. The cooperation of TEK and Western science paradigms have been beneficial for conserving our natural resources and wildlife populations. However, there are still concerns with accepting TEK as part of wildlife management, policy, and regulations. With increasing challenges to wildlife conservation, it is vital to implement Indigenous TEK to form more robust and holistic approaches to wildlife management. Here, we present two case studies in the upper Midwest region of the United States involving the Ojibwe tribe that show the importance of TEK collaboration and how that knowledge can be used for the betterment of ecologically sensitive species—lake sturgeon and eastern timber wolves.
... This divide presents a paradox for many states in the Eastern and Midwestern United States like Indiana in which 97% of land is under private ownership: deer management relies heavily on the cooperation of local property owners who may be increasingly skeptical of hunters and unwilling to provide access to their land. Under the North American model (NAM) of wildlife conservation (Geist 1995, Geist et al. 2001, state agencies are entrusted to manage wildlife populations and their habitat for the equal benefit of all citizens, a principle known as the public trust ideal (Decker et al. 1996, Pomeranz et al. 2014). Yet the NAM's historical foundation and legal funding structure (i.e., financial reliance on fees collected from hunting permits) have advanced the concerns of white male hunters, affording little consideration to those of non-hunters, women, and other minorities (Yarbrough 2015, Peterson andNelson 2017). ...
Article
In the United States, the management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has typically focused on improving hunting opportunities and mitigating human-deer conflicts. Yet the expansion and diversification of human communities and activities implies that human-deer interactions may also be diversifying. Approaches based on complex adaptive systems theories have been posited as a way to better attend to the diversity of these interactions between humans and wildlife. Using Indiana as a case, this study draws from the Integrated Adaptive Behavior Model (IABM) to understand human-deer interactions as a complex system. We use empirical social science to understand how citizens across Indiana perceive deer populations, what outcomes they desire, and how these perceptions could be integrated into Indiana's deer management plan. In Indiana, neither wildlife managers nor researchers have assessed public perceptions of deer beyond hunting and farming stakeholders. From May to September 2019, we collected 59 semi-structured interviews and two focus groups (n = 14) with deer stakeholders including woodland owners, farmers, deer hunters, and urban area residents. Through mixed inductive-deductive coding, we found that Indiana citizens hold complex emotions toward deer regardless of their stakeholder identity. Factors influencing these emotions include past experiences, current livelihood and behavioral contexts, beliefs about responsibilities and ethics in deer management, and beliefs about other social groups. Our results suggest that the IABM, despite adding in much-needed complexity and realism to the analysis of human-wildlife interactions, still lacks explanatory power over several important dynamics that emerged from our interviews. Here, we discuss how mixed emotions, situational context, and power dynamics challenge conventional management approaches that focus narrowly on mitigating human-deer conflicts, and that reduce public interests to demographic categorizations. To better inform social-ecological governance, models of complex human behavior should account for power within management institutions and across management scales. Our work contributes a refined understanding of how multidimensional emotions and experiences influence public (dis)interest in natural resource management, and what this implies for managers who aim to balance competing social interests with ecological conditions.
... The culture of SWFAs is heavily influenced by a set of guiding principles known as the "North American Model of Wildlife Conservation" (NAM). The NAM articulated by Geist et al. (2001) offers seven pillars of effective wildlife conservation, and centers in particular the importance of biological science as a foundation for policy-making and hunting as a management tool and focus of conservation efforts. Accompanying this guiding philosophical framework is a set of legal mandates and funding structures common to all agencies that serve in a complex web of ways to reinforce cultural ideas and practices. ...
Article
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Amid a time of unprecedented social‐ecological change, professionals within and outside of the US wildlife conservation community have called for transformation of existing processes and structures to ensure that the benefits of wildlife conservation can be realized well into the future. Current momentum behind an initiative to help increase conservation relevancy among population segments that have historically been underserved by the conservation community is underway. Sustainable institutional change will not be realized, however, without attending to internal cultural change within the conservation community itself. Although elements of an ideal institution have been suggested, specific interventions related to institutional culture need deeper exploration. State fish and wildlife agencies—a primary organizational actor within the conservation community—play a central role in institutional transformation. Using a systems framework, this essay describes key leverage points for cultural change for which interventions could result in sustainable culture shifts. Five possible interventions are introduced to stimulate conversation among conservation practitioners seeking to initiate transformational change within their specific cultural contexts. Amid a time of unprecedented social change, professionals within and outside of the US wildlife conservation community have called for transformation to ensure its ability to provide benefits to society. State fish and wildlife agencies—a primary organizational actor within the conservation community—are a major focal point for needed change. Using a systems framework, this essay describes key leverage points for cultural change for which interventions could result in sustainable culture shifts. Five possible interventions are introduced to stimulate conversation among conservation practitioners seeking to initiate transformational change within their specific cultural contexts.
... As they emerged, state wildlife agencies practiced a management ideology consistent with the predominant values of the public at the time (Organ et al., 2012), though many were excluded from this process or have had their contributions to wildlife conservation minimized (Eichler & Baumeister, 2018;Nelson et al., 2011). Agencies developed with strong support from a core constituency of hunters and anglers and operated on a user-pay funding model that provided resources for the array of management responsibilities they were tasked with upholding (Geist et al., 2001). This traditional model evolved into a powerful institution with foundations in Western science and a system of norms that supported the bonds between agencies, their traditional users, and policy makers (Gill, 2004). ...
Article
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State fish and wildlife agencies in the United States are confronted with the realities of a rapidly changing society. With declines in historical sources of revenue and the growth of diverse voices with values that differ from those emphasized by traditional policies and user groups, agencies are faced with diminishing relevancy and are encountering institutional challenges that inhibit their ability to serve the broader public. Here, in collaboration with a group of fish and wildlife agency leaders from 11 states, conservation professionals, and academics, we employ qualitative methods and concepts from systems theory to develop an integrative model of a state wildlife agency. We use this model to identify leverage points to induce transformational change toward an ideal future state: one driven by a system of shared values toward wildlife and a mission to improve quality of life for all people. Our findings point to the importance of developing interventions that will lead to changes in agency culture, systems of governance, and policy and action, and enhance the accessibility of natural resources and opportunities for diverse publics to engage with and benefit from fish and wildlife. We offer recommendations for state wildlife agencies to engage in adaptive organizational change and for university programs to support agency needs.
... Historically, cooperation between state wildlife agencies (SWAs) and hunters on harvest regulation led to the recovery of many game species (Geist et al. 2001). Contemporary wildlife management challenges often include the need to reduce abundant populations, but hunters do not always perceive their role as serving as a population management tool and achieving sufficient voluntary hunter cooperation with such management efforts can be difficult (Holsman 2000, Rudolph andRiley 2014). ...
Article
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Private‐land, deer‐hunting cooperatives seek to facilitate collective action to restrain buck harvest, encourage doe harvest, and improve hunter satisfaction. We evaluated 15 deer‐hunting cooperatives in southern Michigan to assess whether perceived satisfaction among 348 members was affected by deer harvest outcomes, characteristics of cooperative members, agreement over voluntarily established harvest and population management goals, and members' perceived fit with their cooperative. Our results indicate that cooperative members harvested just over 2 antlerless deer for every antlered buck, compared to an overall hunter harvest ratio of approximately 1:1 across all of southern Michigan. Perceived satisfaction levels generally increased among cooperative members after joining a cooperative. Perceived satisfaction was positively correlated with members' perceived fit within the cooperative, members' perceived agreement with other cooperative members on harvest and management goals, years of membership and antlerless harvest, and negatively associated with member age. Our results suggested that efforts to promote the formation and successful operation of private, deer‐management cooperatives may provide a way for state wildlife agencies to leverage collective action to enhance deer management capacity, boost hunter satisfaction, and potentially increase hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation. © 2021 The Wildlife Society. Members of private–land deer–hunting cooperatives in our study harvested twice the ratio antlerless deer per antlered buck compared to the overall Michigan hunting population, reported higher levels of satisfaction than they experienced prior to joining their cooperative, and perceived satisfaction was most strongly positively correlated with members perceived fit within the cooperative. These findings showcase the potential of hunter collaboration and partnership resulting in increased satisfaction and increased management activity to reduce deer population in areas with such management objectives.
Technical Report
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This document provides a variety of potential provisions for state legislators. Each provision attempts to address and improve different facets of identifying and protecting state wildlife movement and habitat connectivity. The following pages provide rationales for enhancing existing or creating new provisions and, where available, include examples of model or sample legislative language. Although intended to be sufficiently flexible to apply anywhere in the U.S., the sample provisions included in the document are not tailored to any specific state. As a result, those provisions may require additional modifications or refinements, depending upon the state’s desired goal, as well as the enactment of additional provisions related to compliance, enforcement, or other avenues of accountability.
Article
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Calls for organizational change have pervaded wildlife conservation in recent decades, driven by a shift in values that is reshaping the social landscape of wildlife management. As this process unfolds, wildlife agencies in North America seek new ways to remain relevant, focusing primarily on how they might expand support for their ongoing work. Less attention, however, has been given to expanding opportunities for a value‐diverse public to directly shape what that work might entail. As citizen ballot initiatives, lawsuits, and other forms of political intervention continue to complicate wildlife management, we ask whether agencies—who have historically shied away from value‐based conflict in pursuit of apolitical scientific management—can remain relevant without fundamental changes to their governance structures. Using data from a 2018 survey of wildlife values among the American public (n = 24,393) and state wildlife agency employees (n = 10,191), we explore the extent to which public values are mirrored within wildlife agencies and examine the implications of a “values gap” on the long‐term sustainability of technocratic wildlife management. Findings suggest that as the public's perspectives on wildlife conservation change, governance reform may become a growing area of focus in the years ahead.
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Recreational angling in the United States (US) is largely a personal hobby that scales up to a multibillion-dollar economic activity. Given dramatic changes to personal decisions and behaviors resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we surveyed recreational anglers across the US to understand how the pandemic may have affected their fishing motivations and subsequent activities. Nearly a quarter million anglers from 10 US states were invited to participate in the survey, and almost 18,000 responded. Anglers reported numerous effects of the pandemic, including fishing access restrictions. Despite these barriers, we found that the amount of fishing in the spring of 2020 was significantly greater—by about 0.2 trips per angler—than in non-pandemic springs. Increased fishing is likely associated with our result that most respondents considered recreational angling to be a COVID-19 safe activity. Nearly a third of anglers reported changing their motivation for fishing during the pandemic, with stress relief being more popular during the pandemic than before. Driven partly by the perceived safety of s ocial fishtancing , recreational angling remained a popular activity for many US anglers during spring 2020.
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