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"Simply, wildlife policies are focused on consumption and control, rather than conservation.” ~ Dr. Paul Paquet

The Michigan Tech News article of June 9, 2011, “Environmental Scientists Call North American Model of Wildlife Conservation Flawed” states: “Often touted as the greatest environmental achievement of the 20th century, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is anything but, say wildlife ecologists and environmental ethicists from Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University.”

Michigan Tech’s John Vucetich and Joseph Bump, Michigan State’s Michael Nelson, and Canadian environmental scientist Paul Paquet contributed to the critique. “The model consists of two related approaches to conservation: a historical description of past conservation efforts and an ethical prescription for the future. ‘One rests upon an inadequate account of history and the other on an inadequate ethic,’ Vucetich and Nelson say flatly.”

The model is built on the presumption that recreational hunting saved wildlife from commercial market exploitation that was wiping out wildlife in the 1800s and therefore recreational hunting is a necessary component of conserving wildlife. These four scientists point out: “Since the 1960s … conservation efforts have been led by non-hunters and nature enthusiasts such as national park visitors and bird-watchers.”

Nelson and Vucetich counter the “tradition of hunting” argument, writing, “Would you argue that society should perpetuate slave labor or gender discrimination simply because such practices are part of our history? Likewise it is wrong to conclude that hunting should play a central role in future conservation efforts simply because it has in the past.”

They emphasize the harm done to the health of ecosystems by overproducing deer and trophy-hunting natural predators.

The North American Wildlife Model emerged in 2001 and has been glorified and utilized in wildlife management to rationalize mass murder of wildlife.

Paul Paquet: “It is not the gold standard — it is the LEAD standard — with way too much testosterone.”

These are the seven tenets of the model:

• Wildlife is held in the public trust.

• Commerce in dead animals is illegal.

• Wildlife use is allocated through law.

• Hunting is an opportunity for all.

• Wildlife may only be killed for legitimate reasons.

• Wildlife is an international resource.

• Science is the basis for wildlife protection.

The scientists comment that “Killed for legitimate reasons” is so vague as to be useless.

Trapping, fur farms, canned hunts, hunter guides and the entire system of selling wildlife to death all violate the “commerce in dead animals” clause. “Hunting is an opportunity for all” violates the rights of the 90-95 percent of citizens who do not kill, thus making a lie of ”Wildlife is held in the public trust.”

The UW-Madison Nelson Institute's Carnivore Co-existence Lab debunks the myth that science is the basis of wildlife management. A descriptive 2018 chart titled, “When Science-Based Wildlife Management Isn’t — and a Framework to Fix It,” by scientists including Adrian Treves and Paul Paquet, illustrates “most scientific hallmarks missing from North American wildlife hunting and trapping plans”:

“Our assessment of 667 wildlife management systems across Canada and the USA found that key hallmarks of science were missing:

• OBJECTIVES: Only 26% had measurable objectives

• EVIDENCE: Less than 15% addressed uncertainty in population estimates

• TRANSPARENCY: Only 11% explained how hunting quotas are set

• EXTERNAL REVIEW: Only 6% were subject to external review”

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It concludes: “Without all four hallmarks, the foundation of science-based wildlife management is compromised.”

Dr. Paquet further expounds in a blog titled “BEARS MATTER — because bears are sentient beings too!” He writes, “Largely ignoring the biology and intrinsic value of all species, the model reinforces the narrow idea that nature is a commodity — a ‘resource’ — owned and used by humans in pursuit of personal interests. This ‘management’ perspective draws its support from — and sustains — the view that humans exist outside of nature, and that other species, apart from their utility for humans, are of little importance in the larger scheme of things. Human dominion and domination over nature are deemed to be the natural order."

Predominantly driven by a recreational hunting agenda, the North American model is informed largely by values, attitudes and atavistic beliefs entrenched in the self-serving fallacy that killing wild animals for sport and control is essential to wildlife conservation.”

He proposes a new model: “Considering centuries of human privilege over the needs of the environment, what we need to manage is not wildlife but ourselves.” He envisions “a compassionate conservation policy based on management for wildlife, as opposed to management of wildlife — a policy that takes into account the health and well-being of individuals and populations. Furthermore, we envision substantially more consideration given to maintaining the integrity of ecological systems upon which species depend.”

“Finally, wildlife management needs to emerge from the shadows and adopt practices in keeping with modern science, as well as principles regarding the ethical treatment of animals.

“Without a significant shift in how we relate to and interact with wildlife, future generations will look back with stunned dismay at how our society could be so divorced from reality and morality.”


The Center for Biological Diversity Action web site for bears has a number of alerts for citizens to take actions protecting grizzly bears.

The DNR has sold a record 12,970 licenses to kill 4,550 of our indigenous black bears this fall. Please call your legislators and demand that they take action to end the persecution and killing of our black bears as trophies. Find your legislators by clicking here. A call and email together are more effective. Be sure the staff registers your name, address and demand that our black bears be protected.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. or

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