Many state wildlife agencies and organizations promote the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC) as a guiding philosophy for management.  There are seven major themes to the model. Despite the promotion of NAMWC, there are many apparent contradictions between the ideal and how wildlife is actually managed by state wildlife agencies.


  1. One of the most important ideas articulated by the NAMWC is that wildlife is a public trust and must be managed for all citizens. No one can “own” wildlife.
  2. Commercial hunting of wildlife is prohibited (but not trapping which is one of the obvious contradictions).
  3. Public participation is essential in development of wildlife management policies.
  4. The recognition that many wildlife species are of international importance, therefore, Americans have an obligation and responsibility to manage wildlife as an international heritage.
  5. Science should be used to articulate management policies.
  6. A philosophical and legal ban on wasteful and frivolous killing of wildlife.
  7. Hunting is a legitimate use of wildlife.

There are many good aspects of the NAMWC. However, just as the authors of the Declaration of Independence declared all “men are created equal”, and the United States has not fully lived up to this commendable goal, there are aspects of wildlife management policy that state wildlife agencies advocate that do not live up to the admirable goals of the NAMWC. Nowhere is this more obvious than the attitudes and policies directed towards predators like wolves.


NAMWC proponents are quick to promote the idea that recreational hunters “saved” wildlife, and are the primary interest group in promoting wildlife conservation.

There is some truth to the assertion. Enlightened hunters like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Gifford Pinchot and others joined together to form the Boone and Crockett Club that among other things promoted recreational hunting to counter the destructive effects of market hunting and unrestricted subsistence hunting. They promoted the idea of the “fair chase” and the “trophy” hunt to counter unrestricted hunting. To facilitate such hunting ethics the Boone and Crockett Club promoted restrictions on how many animals could be killed, season of hunting and other changes that once implemented did result in a recovery of so called “game” species like elk and deer.

It should also be noted, however, that these early hunter/conservationists like Grinnell and Roosevelt were also some of the strongest proponents for creation of national parks and wildlife refuges that were closed to hunting. That is a position that is missing today from many hunting organizations and state wildlife agencies who almost uniformly oppose creation of new parks or other preserves if hunting is excluded.

In addition, advocates of the NAMWC argue that since hunters are the major financial supporters of wildlife management, they deserve significant voice in management policy. In fact, most state wildlife agencies, though by law are required to manage wildlife as a public trust for all citizens, tend to make their decisions  that favor species that hunters and fishers value.

Certainly hunters, through their purchase of licenses and tags are also one the major source of funding for state wildlife agencies formerly known as Fish and Game Departments. And state wildlife agencies tend to “dance with the one that brung ya.” In other words, they respond to the opinions of hunters to the exclusion of other wildlife enthusiasts.

However, all taxpayers (which includes hunters of course) in general pay for habitat acquisition, and protection of wildlife through their support of public lands where a significant majority of all wildlife resides as well as payment for programs like the Conservation Reserve Program which promotes habitat protection on private lands. Many environmental laws that ultimately protect and preserve wildlife like the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and others are supported and funded by the general public.

One of the major weaknesses of the current polities of state agencies is the bias towards huntable wildlife. Some 99% of all other wildlife is ignored and suffers benign neglect, or worse. In many instances, the active management and enhancement of huntable species comes at the expense of other wildlife that are negatively impacted by species of interest to hunters. For instance, wild boars are commonly sustained by state wildlife agencies because hunters like to pursue them. Yet these wild pigs root up vegetation, prey on native species like salamanders, and otherwise degrade native wildlife populations. For this reason the National Park Service seeks to limit or remove wild boars from its lands, all the while state wildlife agencies are thwarting their efforts by transplanting and otherwise seeking to enhance boar hunting opportunities.


Clearly, however, many state agencies promote activities that violate these main themes and are detrimental to wildlife in general.  For instance, prairie dogs are regularly blown away by some to see the “red mist” of their blood hanging in the sky. This killing of prairie dogs is ostensibly justified by some to rid the land of “vermin” or animals that conflict with say ranchers or farmers.  Yet numerous studies have documented the importance of prairie dogs in supporting many other wildlife species from blackfooted ferret to burrowing owls.

The stocking of streams and lakes with exotic but popular “game” fish has often harmed native fish species and other wildlife. For instance, the practice of stocking formerly fishless high elevation lakes has been shown to decimate frogs and salamanders residing in those waters.

The transplanting of exotic game species like mountain goats into ranges with no history of the goats has led to overgrazing and impoverishment of alpine flora in some cases.

These are only a few of the examples of policies commonly employed by state wildlife agencies that are detrimental to biodiversity and ecosystem function.

However, perhaps the most significant and obvious conflict between the goals of the NAMWC and actual behavior of state agencies has to do with management of predators, particularly bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves. State wildlife agencies have a financial conflict of interest that makes it impossible for them to manage predators with regards to the wider public values. In most instances, hunters perceive predators as detrimental to hunting—even though there is plenty of evidence that predators seldom depress wildlife populations across the broader landscape. As a result of the funding mechanisms whereby state agencies rely on hunter purchase of hunting tags to maintain operations, these bureaucracies are not going to promote predators in the face of opposition from hunters.

This leads to obvious conflicts with the NAMWC prohibition against the frivolous killing and waste of wildlife.

Given that few hunters actually consume coyotes, wolves, cougars, and except for a few individuals, even bears, it is obviously a “waste” of wildlife to shoot or trap these animals just for “fun.”

Worse, these policies tend to ignore the growing body of evidence that suggests a significant ecological importance for these animals in maintaining ecosystem health. For instance, in some instances, fear of predators will change the behavior of herbivores like elk and deer, forcing them to use different habitat, for instance, avoiding heavy browsing of riparian areas. This in turn has been shown to increase habitat for songbirds and improve aquatic ecosystems for fish.

There are also social effects from the killing of predators. For instance, older and dominant male cougars have large territories they patrol. They will kill young male cougars that trespass in these territories to reduce competition. Thus the death of a dominant male cougar can permit younger less experienced cougars to occupy a territory. Inexperienced cougars are more likely to attack livestock, thus leading to greater human conflicts.

Trapping of predators or other animals is obviously a commercialization of wildlife. Why should a trapper have the exclusive “right” to kill say otter or marten that the rest of society might value alive? Commercial outfitting is perilously close to commercialization of wildlife as well, especially in states where exclusive rights to kill wildlife in specific areas are granted.

Some proponents of hunting and trapping of predators like wolves or bears argue that if these animals are hunted and trapped, they will  garner greater  support among hunters for their persistence. But that is somewhat like arguing that if people could own slaves, they would have more incentive to give food and shelter to people who might otherwise be homeless if free.


One increasingly popular idea is to remove management authority for predators from state wildlife agencies. Some suggest transferring it to other state agencies with less obvious conflict of interest such as environmental or park agencies. Another idea is to change funding mechanisms for state wildlife agencies giving them more general state tax support under the theory that this would provide an incentive for state wildlife agencies to pay attention more to non-hunter concerns. A third option has been to keep management of predators under federal authority by the National Park Service which has a mandate to manage lands and wildlife for more natural conditions.

All of these ideas have their weaknesses and potential flaws. Whether any of these could ultimately alter the way predators are managed by government agencies is questionable. However, we definitely need to challenge the traditional collusion between hunters and state agencies if the NAWMC is realize its full potential for preserving and enhancing all wildlife conservation in the United States.

About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

98 Responses to North American Model of Wildlife Conservation And Wolves

  1. MikePost says:

    George, I generally agree with your premise that the NACM is not being followed in its full intent but there is just no truth to your assertion that taxpayers generally fund habitat aquisition and wildlife protection. Just ain’t so. Certainly not directly. Perhaps it should be but the truth of the matter is that hunters, by a much larger factor then any other group, are putting their money where their mouth is thru fees, P-R taxes and direct contributions to habitat organizations. It is a common theme on this blog to bitch about the undue influence of hunters on wildlife management but until other folks start writing checks (and I am not talking about just a $50 annual membership in Audubon or Sierra Club) then the money will continue to do the talking. If you don’t have an endowment in your estate plan for a habitat group, if you have not written a check for $10,000 or more to a habitat preservation group, if you dont go to support annual charitable events and spend $500 to $1000 on raffles and auctions, if you dont spend $500 a year on licenses and tags, then you are not playing in the same league as many in the hunting community. I am not postulating that this is the right way to do business but right now it is how business is being done. I know many here will howl in response but think about righting a big check to a habitat preservation group you favor instead.

    • Immer Treue says:


      This has popped into discussion many times on this forum. In my opinion, this was one of the most egregious faults of DOW. Folks were willing to contribute, and DOW was a central focal point at which to concentrate $$$ as you allude. Problem is DOW for all practical matters disappeared.

      There are no other organizations that come close to what DOW had at its threshold. Add into the mix, part of the hunter faction (perhaps rightly so) is indignant that wolf advocates should have any say in the matter, as hunters have shouldered the burden of the NAMC since forever.

    • Ernie Jay says:

      In California, hunters/anglers provide less than half of the CA’s Dept of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) funds (one legislative analyst presentation indicated it may be closer to 25%). By far, taxpayers and non-consumptives fund a vast and growing, majority of all aspects CDFW expenses. From documents provided by CDFW, and from the Budget Fact 2013-2014 Budget Fact book (found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?documentversionid=102534 ), page 11, with an approximately $366 million budget, not only are non-consumptives picking up the CDFW’s tab, they are also donating millions of dollars to a multitude of private, nonprofit local, state, and federal land trusts. Licenses and fees play no part in these habitat acquisitions or preservation efforts, but often hunters/anglers are allowed to use the properties. These non-hunting/angling contributions are not factored into the equations of who/how wildlife and habitat are being preserved.
      Another little known fact is that regulatory agencies plant forage in specific areas under the pretense of helping wildlife. Oddly enough only a few consumptives know where these game “attractions” are. Baiting and plots are illegal in CA, so why is this allowed?
      It’s time to re-examine consumptive’s thrill of the kill, with technology replacing “hunt” skills. Why should less than one percent of a state’s population call the shots for the other 99%? Sport killing may always exist, but it’s time to take a new look at the role regulatory agencies should take with regard to managing for true sustainable populations and not “kill quotas.” Those who hunt/“take” with a camera are being short changed.

      • mikepost says:


        • mikepost says:

          Ernie, the is issue is that those “non-consumptives” for the most part dont gather under an identifiable flag. Dollars count when they are big, and when you can reliably and easily identify the source demographic.

          It is why, for instance, the NRA commands the attention of congress on gun issues even when the NRA membership is a small minority of all the involved voters.

          Non-hunters need a new business model.

          We can argue the issue endlessly but the indisputible fact is that the hunting/fishing community controls the agenda because they have a better business model for spending and influencing.

          • Marc Bedner says:

            Mike, you’ve identified the main culprit in this: the NRA’s success in buying Congress. As the nation’s chief hunting organization, the NRA sets the agenda on many issues, not just wildlife protection. As more nonhunters follow the NRA’s lead (double-meaning intended) and purchase guns, their Pittman-Robertson funds go to fund the state wildlife agencies which follow the NRA’s agenda.
            What we need is not a business model to buy Congress, but a break from the business model. Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen in time to save wolves.

          • Carole Beverly says:

            I’ll agree with that. Hunters have a better business model, though I’m not sure what it is. Non-consumptive users (campers, hikers, skiers) spend WAY more on equipment than hunters, yet when they formed a coalition about 10 years ago in order to advocate for the imposition of a national sales tax on the kind of outdoor equipment they use (similar to PR), they were defeated. I need to do more research to find out why this happened. Non-consumptive users are willing to pay but have no mechanism (other than individual charity) for doing so.

    • Maska says:

      My husband and I have taken advantage of the state income tax check-off for wildlife for years, generally in an amount of up to $500 annually. We did cut our check-off in half after the New Mexico Game Commission voted to take NMDGF out of cooperator status in the Mexican wolf reintroduction program in 2011. We’ll be watching to see whether the department’s recent petition to become a cooperator in the rule making process is a move toward genuine cooperation, or is simply an attempt to gain a seat at the table in order to serve up poison pills to lobo recovery. We’re happy to pay our share, but we’re not willing to pony up funds to finance the destruction of non-game species including predators.

      • Jeff N. says:


        Have you been out looking for lobos lately? I just got back from a weekend in AZ’s White Mountains and was lucky enough to observe the 10 member strong Bluestem Pack on Saturday morning, and then bumped into them on a hike Saturday afternoon.

      • Guy Smith says:

        Thanks for a great comment! I also try to give as much as I can, when the time is right, but I feel really ‘burned’ when I later find out that organizations ‘compromise/cave’ on issues I really care about – such as protecting, preserving, and restoring so many Threatened and Endangered species! (& I love all our Native predators!)

    • Carole Beverly says:

      Mike, most wildlife and intact ecosystems, to the extent we have any left, are located on federal public lands (National Forests, Public Lands, National Parks, and Wildlife Refuges). These lands, with some exceptions, are lands that have always been public and, therefore, everyone pays for their management with their tax dollars. This is the way it should be. State trust lands are the next largest category of land in the West(managed more intensively and therefore less accommodating of wildlife). Lands purchased by hunters are a relatively small portion of all wildlife lands. Land trusts, such as The Nature Conservancy, have bought large tracts of land, and there are many land trusts all over the country. These are supported primarily by non-consumptive users; people who just want to know that wildlife is there. Then, there are private non-industrial forest owners who manage their land primarily for wildlife (Bless them). So, if you put this together, I think you’ll see that hunters don’t contribute a majority of the funding for wildlife habitat.

      As far as federal public lands are concerned, trapping needs to be banned entirely and hunting needs to be cut back significantly. Trapping endangers all other users of public lands and has no business existing in this day and age. I don’t object to deer or elk hunting one month per year, in which everyone else can and should stay off of public lands, but current seasons are way too long. Wolves can be hunted in some states as long as nine months of the year. The “management” goal is obviously eradication. There is a season for every permutation of hunting by species and equipment. This is absurd and evil. Animals are not put here for hunters to slaughter. Hunters and trappers (and their representatives in state legislatures) are working to ensure they have exclusive rights to use our lands by opening more land (including wilderness areas to motorized vehicles in violation of the law) and extending seasons, when hunters are a tiny fraction of the population. Non-hunters are going to take back our lands for wildlife and non-consumptive use.

  2. MikePost says:

    …you could also “write” a check…it would work out better…

    • Jon Way says:

      Mike Post,
      Many communities like mine incl. land preservation trusts in taxes,and remember all Americans that pay taxes help protect millions of acres of land thru NPS, NFS, BLM, state parks, and other land holdings. These add up to be quite sizable areas.

    • JB says:


      Funny, I read your comment right after I made the same error in a fairly important email. Stupid homonyms.

  3. Jon Way says:

    Well written George, and it is important to continue these discussions so the general public becomes increasingly aware of this bias. I particularly liked your last section about how to change this. I too see the obvious conflict of interest where state wildlife agencies allow slaughters of predator species yet make it difficult to study these same animals. They sometimes can’t see their bias b.c they answer to no one, kind of like Wildlife Services. This needs to change.

    I think a Carnivore Conservation Act is due which will partially address some of your concerns. It could be state and then eventually national and it would provide baseline protections which clearly are not currently in place for carnivores like coyotes and wolves, and many other animals. I agree that state wildlife agencies should not be allowed to manage predators in the current political climate – of course Mark Gambling and others will disagree b.c they are in charge and answer to know one except the fish and game boards which are generally even more anti-predator.

    • Louise Kane says:

      something to pay attention to is the newly “bipartisan” proposed SHARE act which would set up an advisory committee to the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture. Guess who is behind this? it would be made up of “sports hunters” orgs and others. as if they need any more undue influence in those agencies. More later on this…..

      • MJ says:

        Louise –
        I am so glad you mentioned the SHARE Act:

        H.R. 2799: To establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, recreational shooting, and for other purposes.

        At what point does the ability of organized special interest groups to form policy using money become unconstitutional? The Bill appears at least to me, to be unconstitutional. The basic premise that our legislators and government policy reflect the will of the people seems to be buried under the flagrant use of big money and special interests to influence policy. When overwhelming numbers of voters are opposed and often horrified by the behavior of trophy hunters towards our wildlife, when does the law need to respond to the will of the majority?

        NAMWC themes 1, 3-6 seem to be clearly violated but also the legal right of the majority to be represented. Our government (as all governments) may favor the wealthy in truth, but it is designed to protect the will of the majority.

    • Carole Beverly says:

      I completely agree with you, Jon. I’ve thought the same thing for years. Predator or Carnivore protection legislation is the only way we will protect these animals for the long term. Wildlife agencies and commissions are generally appallingly ignorant of ecosystem management.

      Whenever you get a trained wildlife conservationist on a F&W commission, they don’t generally get to stay long. The troglodytes see to that.

  4. Ida Lupine says:

    Good reading and much needed post. I’ll right and write a check to anybody to protect our public lands from people who like to see red mist hanging in the air. Ugh.

  5. Richie G. says:

    I might b wrong but wasn’t their an article on the amount of money our national parks bring in with tourist and logging, and wasn’t that number by far outweighed the hunters and the money they bring in from hunting. I think it’s the old boys club at work again and the hunters who live in these western states. They are close with the forest service and wildlife management, they live together and eat together or I can say socialize together. Tourist don’t live their or socialize with the people who live their. This is an home grown problem, that secretary of interior is a figure head that’s all she is, nothing more. We need a Bruce Babbit or Little John Kennedy to step in and push back that is what is really needed.

    • Nancy says:

      “I might b wrong but wasn’t their an article on the amount of money our national parks bring in with tourists and logging”

      You’re on the right track here Richie G (but IMHO minus the logging) but who’s paying attention when the “shoot em” crowd continues to claim the glory for “restoring & then managing” all aspects of wildlife 🙂

    • MJ says:

      There are studies on the money that non-consumptive tourism brings in to both Africa and the US vs. trophy hunting, and there needs to be more done, but yes it can and does outweigh the hunting contribution. In Africa there is strong assertion that money claimed to go to communities does not. Agree with Nancy that I did not see anything about logging, but that would be a dangerous and slippery slope, and analogous to uncontrolled hunting of specific species. If we allow the destruction of habitat the wildlife will follow, if people have seen the images of Rainforest then and now.

      In agreement with the original article those who would like to change the power structure to address the conflict of interest with state agencies.

      Excellent article.

  6. Anja Heister says:

    Thank you for this much-needed info on the NAWCM.
    Promoting trapping is clearly one of the main violations of the Model’s own principles. The Wildlife Society’s explanation for exempting trapping “because there is an active market for furbearer pelts..” and claims that trapping is strictly regulated and serves a conservation purpose” but then notes that “markets for… furbearers exist in north America, but regulations and and enforcement vary, and impacts on populations are not well understood” is beyond ridiculous. Statements like this and others casts a very questionable light on the actual goals of the Model serving more as PR to promote hunting than providing insights in the workings of conservation.
    On a different note, whatever happened to the Forsythe-Chafee bill to provide funding for “nongame” species?

  7. Don Molde says:

    Mike Post’s comments caught my eye, particularly given that the first tenant of the NAMWC is that the public “owns” wildlife. Hunters do not. That they buy a license/tag is a personal decision by sportsmen about expenditure and says nothing about “ownership” or entitlement.

    The Idaho Stateman had an interesting story on October 8th about how the federal government spends nearly $400 million in Idaho to manage its millions of acres of public land. While the gist of the story was about how much the state/counties would have to come up with to manage the lands should they gain control of federal lands, the side story is what a huge subsidy hunters/trappers get from the rest of us when they go out on public lands and destroy our property in the name of some purpose they claim is more honorable. While paying not a nickel more than the rest of us do for that wildlife habitat.

    I won’t mention the P-R funds….paid by well north of a 100 million gun owners and enthusiasts…while national hunting license sales linger about 15 million, annually. Sportsmen clearly do not contribute the majority of P-R funds. Guys who shoot tin cans like me contribute more than some hunter who discharges his rifle half-dozen times a year and keeps it in the closet otherwise.

    And so it goes…hunter mythology about what they contribute to wildlife….desperately needs a dash of salt from time to time…

    • Nancy says:

      “the side story is what a huge subsidy hunters/trappers get from the rest of us when they go out on public lands and destroy our property in the name of some purpose they claim is more honorable. While paying not a nickel more than the rest of us do for that wildlife habitat”

      BIG thumbs up on that comment Don!

    • rork says:

      We are supposed to ignore any but federal land perhaps, forget Dingell/Johnson monies, and ignore that states pay matching funds largely from license sales.
      “destroy our property in the name of some purpose they claim is more honorable” is over the top.
      “clearly do not contribute the majority of P-R funds” is not demonstrated, but an anecdote was provided.

    • Carole Beverly says:


  8. rork says:

    Wildlife managers in Michigan also cater to hook and bullet crowd, not just cause that’s where their funding comes from, but also because their decisions affect tens of millions of tourist dollars. So they stock rubber fish and keep deer densities fairly high, despite knowing the anti-ecology of that. So those making money on the hunters and anglers are also to blame.

    Small quibble: The part trying by analogy to dispute that hunters will care more about a species numbers if it is something they hunt, failed. The folks near me sure worry about salmon and deer populations. Not predator enough? How about Pike or Musky, bob-cat, fisher, marten, mink?

    Finally: In MI we have the new Public Act 21, which lets our Natural Resources Commission simply declare a species game, without voters being able to do stuff about it. This violates principle 3, which is sometimes called the democracy clause. I’ve been screaming that almost daily here (i.e. http://www.mucc.org/2013/10/defend-the-hunt-by-donating-your-deer-hide/). The hunters, and their leaders near me, like this act despite it giving up our rights, only because it brought wolf hunting. I don’t even know how many edges that sword has. When I ask straight up whether they want citizens to have power over game laws or not, they weasel out of it. They might argue that science should win, but we know the decisions are often quite political and monetary, and we also let citizens decide equally or more grave questions like tax policy, abortion law, and health care law, which they are also indisputably very poor at – so that argument sucks.

  9. todd tanner says:

    While George raises some worthwhile points, there’s a fair amount of “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” at work here as well. If conservationists of all stripes – hunters and non-hunters alike – don’t start to focus on climate change, none of this will matter. We’ll lose all the conservation gains of the last 100+ years, and the North American Wildlife Model will become largely irrelevant. We can argue about predators and state agencies all we want, but unless we deal with climate in the very near future, wildlife is in serious trouble.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      I disagree – that is an important point and a major factor in the future, but a lot of our large wildlife and birds are going to disappear before the worst of climate change due to poaching, hunting and habitat loss. Most scientists agree that habitat loss is the biggest threat.

      • mikepost says:

        Ida, you are correct. Permanent land protection for habitat is the key. Even an outfit like RMEF, (not many here like their wolf stance), celebrates permanent land protection. They may be focussed on elk hunting for the future when they do it but a whole lot of other critters benefit as a result…and they are one of those outfits where people seem to like to write big checks.

    • Carole Beverly says:

      Another reason to ensure that fish and wildlife are safe on public lands and have migratory corridors enabling them to travel north. We need more conservation, not less.

  10. John Kugler says:

    Yes, it is time to take a stand. I hunt, my family hunts, killing predators is not necessary.

    • Louise Kane says:

      Thank you John Kugler….killing animals that are not eaten is not only not necessary its wrong.

    • jon says:

      You are the kind of hunter I can respect.

      • JEFF E says:

        Gee, Sunnyvale jon and “hot flash” Louise,
        I have said that for years.
        where is my respect

        • Jeff N. says:

          Maybe because the fact that you refer to a female as “hot flash” makes you an azzhole that doesn’t deserve respect.

        • Louise Kane says:

          Jeff E I was reading some older posts and just saw your your hot flash comment. Inappropriate name calling is always your go to when you don’t agree with someone’s opinion all the while spouting off in other posts about how legitimate discussion is halted by extremists. When you speak about me or others I’d ask that you don’t make personal attacks or use slanderous ignorant offensive language. I’m betting others cringe when they see the insulting names you like to use when describing people that post here.

  11. Patricia Vineski says:

    In reply to hunting and its financial influence on wildlife conservation; in particular, predators: the fact that hunting provides so much money to conservation is a conflict of interest. There needs to be a separation of monies obtained from the killing of wildlife for fun and profit and the conservation of wildlife. Predators such as wolves are managed by nature (they have fewer offspring in lean times) and do not need to be managed by humans, for the most part. In areas where predators and livestock conflict, non-lethal methods have proven to be both effective and economical. The most common complaint against the banning of predator hunting, especially wolves, is that these animals make it harder for (some) hunters to find the prey they are looking for. Who said hunting was supposed to be easy? I would suggest that these hunters are both arrogant enough to assume they have an inalienable right to their prey, and lazy enough to think that they should be able to simply aim and shoot. Sport is about competition, in this case, competition with other predators. If you eliminate or seriously disadvantage the competition, in any other sport, it would be called “rigging” the game. Those hunters who oppose competition give the rest of us a black eye. Hunting is not supposed to be easy, and science, not money, is supposed to be the basis for decisions about conservation.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      Well said.

    • rork says:

      Managers trying for high numbers of profitable animals are also trying to attract money to their states. Leopold talks about that. Once the communities smell that money, it’s nearly over, or some thought like that. For example, our managers in MI are under pressure to make artificial brown trout and salmon populations (alien) for unlucky towns with no rivers (or dammed ones) into which the fish can spawn (i.e. Rogers City, Oscoda). They are spreading the wealth from fishing tourists around this way, driven more by business than anglers. If they dramatically reduced deer numbers for the sake of the plants and other animals (and farmers, drivers etc), it’s not just hunters that would be complaining – every dinky politician would be up in arms complaining about the financial loss to their community. The price of land would fall some places.

      I like your comment but wouldn’t push the sports analogy too far: though some people call hunting a sport, most may not be wanting a competition. It’s more like a recreation, re-creating our past. I could live with not hunting some animals in bad years, exploiting them in others, but the tourist-dependent folks won’t like swings in their industries. Maximum sustainable yield is a terrible goal, but because of the money, that’s what has happened mostly here.

    • MJ says:

      While I feel that hunting should be only for food, and don’t feel that unsuspecting wildlife should be subject to our whims to entertain ourselves, whether it is seen as a sport or recreation, I agree that the concept of recreation takes this to a level that affects most of us at a visceral level.

      Agree that there is a conflict of interest, and that one can pay for the technology and an arranged habitat to kill for recreation is something that I hope will eventually be voted down. I will stick with marksmanship and targets that don’t bleed, that is enough to prove what my skill.

  12. wherecanigetsomeobjectivity says:

    Well written article, but I think there is a glaring point that is missing. This is, that Fish and Wildlife Commissions in many States have lost their ability at operate interdependently and make decisions based on the recommendations of their biologists.

    For example, in MT there were over 200 anti-wildlife bills on the legislative docket this past spring, fortunately in MT hunters stood up against the anti-wildlife special interests and we able to defeat a majority of the anti-wildlife bills.

    In Colorado, the legislature has moved to allocate a greater number of landowner vouchers out of the public pool and into the hands of landowners allowing them to profit on the sale of said vouchers.

    In CA, Jerry Brown just recently signed a bill to outlaw lead bullets in hunting. Now, while I don’t totally disagree with this change, I completely disagree with the methodology.

    Wildlife Commissions should be making decisions based on science, not political special interests.

    • Louise Kane says:

      For example, in MT there were over 200 anti-wildlife bills on the legislative docket this past spring, fortunately in MT hunters stood up against the anti-wildlife special interests and we able to defeat a majority of the anti-wildlife bills.

      what anti wildlife bills were defeated? quite a few anti wildlife policies and measures were passed especially as relates to wolves. The hunters seemed to be especially in favor of these…killing up to five wolves at one time. Not exactly pro wildlife

  13. Julie Long Gallegos says:

    wherecanIgetsomeobjectivity – re: California Governor Brown’s bill signing to ban lead bullets – this is a good thing and I am not sure why the ‘methodology’ bringing this about is suspect. It went through the process and was signed into law. And there is plenty of science around lead being poisonous.
    Great comments here.
    Cheers from California

    • wherecanigetsomeobjectivity says:

      The issue is that key decisions, whether you agree with them or not are being taken away from the people most qualified to make said decisions. Wildlife biologists should be making recommendations to their wildlife commissions, not politicians.

      Politicians are suspect to the political winds and are unqualified to make the vast majority of decisions for wildlife.

      As to the original topic as a whole it’s clear these issues are multi-faceted and those that paint with broad brushes will certainly cover up things they may not intend to. Whether one shoots a Winchester or Nikon it’s important that we all seek common ground because the species we all enjoy are greatly subject to our selfishness.

      • Julie Long Gallegos says:

        wherecanIgesomeobjectivity – a good law has been enacted by the Governor. Objectivity, taken to its furthest point, simply becomes inertia. And – you have failed to pinpoint where the lead ammo law became an innocent pawn in a politician’s power play. Unlike many other state Governors, Governor Brown is pretty sharp fellow; many may dislike him, but stupid and easily manipulated he isn’t, and that is probably the reason many dislike him! And when one shoots one’s Nikon, little harm is possible. When one shoots one’s Winchester, harm is probable. There is no equivalency.

  14. Larry Copenhaver says:

    There are some valid premises in this essay but the lack of certain aspects causes me to see this is simply an anti-hunting campaign.Keep in mind that the Market hunting of the 1800s also marketed songbirds, shorebirds, and other wildlife not just what is considered game animals. So, when TR and George Bird Grinnell and Gifford Pinchot succeeded in providing public lands inperpetuity as well as wildlife “preserves” and refuges, it also preserved these non-game spefies along with the game species. Hunter angler dollars FULLY fund MT FWP. Fishing Access Sites are utilized by hikers, campers, birders for FREE on the sportsman dollar then have the nerve to condemn hunters? Really? If it weren’t for the sportsman dollar you wouldn’t have any non-game wildlife to grow to love and we would be like Europe where little wildlife exists naturally. There are areas where there is no public sentiment because native animals have been gone for centuries. In regards to predators, I fully agree that predator management has little to do with stable wildlife/game populations but more to do with hunting opportunity; I do not find that contradictory to NAWM; in fact #5 referring to science based decisions addresses the wolf hunting in MT. Biologists called for 160 wolves in varying capacities to be a recovered population. With a rough count over 600, why should those hunters wanting a wolf pelt on their wall be denied? I don’t kill what I don’t eat; I make that choice for myself – I refuse to make that choice for others and take offense at those who would insist only THEIR personal choice can be the right one.A most glaring omission in this essay convinces me that it is intended only to condemn the hunter: Wildlife Services is funded by Dept of Agriculture which funds the destruction of multiple times the number of wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, bears than hunting. This public use of taxes to purposely destroy predators just because they exist on Ag lands is vastly more egregious. It is done without any wildlife management influence or regards for seasons or limits, so tell me why are hunters the bad guys??? Mr. Wuerthner, I don’t know what soured you so badly on hunting but there is way more villains out there that deserve your hate a lot more. I really don’t like the behavior of some hunters but there are many of us who participate in our pursuit with dignity and ethics. I truly hope you will turn more attention towards those things.

    • Nancy says:

      “Biologists called for 160 wolves in varying capacities to be a recovered population. With a rough count over 600, why should those hunters wanting a wolf pelt on their wall be denied?”

      Larry – I’m thinking that many in our species have evolved over the years, thru education (hey I got a life and a family too – wildlife) to realize that the killing of another species for entertainment or “wall hangings” should be frowned on.

      But then again maybe its more complicated for those that can’t quite shake that ancestral past of adoring their homes (huts)


      “The practices of the tribes of New Guinea are still changing with reference to the modern world. Headhunting raids are now frowned upon by government authorities and religious organisations, although tribal customs remain deeply entrenched. In the past when community longhouses were erected, a freshly procured human head was buried under each post”

      • Larry Copenhaver says:

        So frown… we are becoming an intolerant society; one which demands all other need to choose whatever you, whomever is talking, decide is right or wrong then legislate that behavior. If you don’t agree with hunting, don’t do it, but I don’t feel I am committing a immoral or societal sin by harvesting my own meat and enjoying myself providing for myself and my own, so legislating me out of it, just seems wrong too.It’s not something people can fully understand, I get it. But eliminating it??? Really?

    • Immer Treue says:


      With respect, look at one of the pictures that adorn the entry to this blog site. Wild Life Services have been beaten to near death in TWN. I might be wrong, but I think you can find something in George’s past writings concerning WS. Also, I saw no mention of hate directed against hunters in George’s piece. Hate is another one of those words thrown out there much too liberally. Disagreement does not automatically mean hate.

      • Larry Copenhaver says:

        It’s just that recently there seems to be quite a volume of his pieces expressing his disappointment in hunting. Perhaps hate is a strong word, but perhaps too, it’ll give some food for thought. I apologize for its use, regardless; Sometimes, my writing skills leave a lot to be desired.

    • Peter Kiermeir says:

      “…….. and we would be like Europe where little wildlife exists naturally”.
      Oh interesting, where in Europe could that be? I´m always told, that we need hunting here in Europe because all that deer and wildboar would otherwise destroy all our land 

      • Larry Copenhaver says:

        Peter… germany still has some but other locations, not so much. Noted author and conservationist, Jim Posewitz was giving a lecture in Vienna, so in the morning with fresh snow, he was pleased to have the opportunity for a stroll through the Vienna Woods. He found no tracks of wildlife save for one lonely trail made by a red fox. I’m no expert in European wildlife, but my info comes from good sources.

    • Carole Beverly says:

      I agree Wildlife Services in USDA needs to go, but this is an article about wildlife management (i.e., by F&W agencies).

    • MJ says:

      Larry we need to find another source of revenue for wildlife preservation, that is no longer a valid excuse. The “indignation” of hunters that they are gaining a bad reputation is solely the responsibility of hunters. The anger is valid.

  15. snaildarter says:

    Habitat is the key but wildlands are not profit centers. Income from hunting should have nothing to do with managing wildlife habitat on public lands. There is nothing wrong with sustainable hunting but that’s not what’s going on in the Northern Rockies with reference to wolves.

    • Larry Copenhaver says:

      I agree… in general. Except I don’t see any of this as “income from hunters”… merely that license dollars support the management, and pays salaries and buys habitat. No-one wants to return to ESA protection and the federal involvement in wildlife management, so monitoring wolf numbers will continue, using license dollars.Too many who disapprove of the hunt seem to think either we don’t hunt and we’ll thousands of wolves, or with the hunt, wolves will disappear from the planet… it’s a false choice there.

      • Carole Beverly says:

        Having seen the horror show that is state “wolf management,” I’d like to return to ESA protection for wolves. It’s not ideal (we need a predator protection act), but it’s far better than what’s going on now.

  16. Grandma Gregg says:

    Please read the below excerpt from this recent research article (then take a look at the entire article and charts):


    “For more than 100 years, the US government has conducted lethal control of native wildlife,to benefit livestock producers and to enhance game populations, especially in the western states. Since 2000, Wildlife Services (WS), an agency of the US Department of Agriculture, has killed 2 million native mammals, predominantly 20 species of carnivores, beavers and several species of ground-dwelling squirrels, but also many non-target species. Many are important species in their native ecosystems (e.g., ecosystem engineers such as prairie dogs
    and beavers, and apex predators such as gray wolves). Reducing their populations, locally or globally, risks cascading negative consequences including impoverishment of biodiversity, loss of resilience to biotic invasions, destabilization of populations at lower trophic levels,
    and loss of many ecosystem services that benefit human society directly and indirectly.”

    • Immer Treue says:

      Call me naive. Don’t know why I did not think that occasional bear would fight (no tree to climb?)

      ““Broken and crushed legs, sliced-open abdomens and punctured lungs,” he wrote. “Dogs lying mangled and dying on the surgery table — all in the pursuit of sport.”

      Bodewes, in an interview, says his small clinic treats about a dozen dogs a year mauled by bears while hunting. Usually two to four die. Recent cases include a dog whose jaw “was snapped off below the eyes” and one whose back muscles were “ripped loose from its spine.” Both survived.”

      Again, my prediction. First lint for brains that puts hound/wolf altercation on YouTube will be the death knell for hounding in Vicksconsin.

      • Nancy says:

        How can anyone NOT call this animal cruelty / abuse?????

        But then again… you only have to read the comments ( after the article below) to understand.

        Poor Ron Hill – out there doing the nasty to wildlife, but didn’t expect the “wildlife” to turn the tables:


        From coast to coast, we’ve got idiots like Ron Hill trying to justify why its okay to run wildlife to death and then these idiots top it off by risking injury and death, to their so called best friends (dogs) who have no choice but to go along with their sick little hunting agendas.

        Kind of reminds me of cow dogs out here in the west – Oops! got kicked in the head, Oops, got run over (by a cow or a car)

        Expendable (probably an app for that now) 🙂

  17. SquirrelClan says:

    Wolves need some sort of permanent federal protection. A special rule like the Bald and Golden Eagle Act would preclude further need for ESA listing (which the feds would be loathe to do, anyway) and provide a specified level of protection for an animal that will otherwise always be persecuted at the hands of states. It would have to have a hunting provision(unlike the BGEA), but wouldn’t allow wolves to be classified as varmints they way they are now.

    • rork says:

      How would we obtain federal protections if your prediction (always be persecuted) is that people will never see the self-interest of such protections.
      I’m accused of over-optimism, but think that it’s possible that some states will be more moderate in their predator policies, and that this will be found to actually pay. Others would then follow. Small losses from ungulate hunting money or sheep deaths might be offset by other winnings. Near me (MI) that would be nature tourists (happy to spend money someplace that is in accord with their management wishes), lumber industry, farmers, fruit-tree growers, ranchers dealing with bovine TB or other diseases, folks paying car insurance, anglers, gardeners, less battling with beavers, many other small things. Yes, those things might just be 10s or 100s of millions of dollars per year, but not all of the billions from hunting will be lost, just a bit of it, so I’m thinking it might actually make money. Which state will lead us this way – I want it to be mine, and you try to make it yours. Trouble: those benefiting are diverse, and will not likely organize as well as those standing to loose a bit.
      Anyway, I know I’ve spent serious money and time to experience wild places, where its intact enough to have animals like griz and cougar, and just perceiving it suffices, no extraction needed (not that I never extract, just that in the very best places I’m content enough with very little, or none). I admit the young people worry me – simulations of wild places might satisfy some better than the real thing.

  18. Nancy says:

    “The state’s kill-limit was set at 251 wolves by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — meaning about one-third of Wisconsin’s wolf population could be killed legally. The hunt will last until February or until the limit has been reached”


    40 wolves shot since last Tuesday, an average of 5 a day.

    ***noun: blood-lust
    1. uncontrollable desire to kill or maim others

  19. Nancy says:

    2.Commercial hunting of wildlife is prohibited (but not trapping which is one of the obvious contradictions).

    “So we could apply the same logic to the wolves. Minnesota wolves might be a bit nicer than Idaho wolves, but not nearly as nice as Alaskan wolves. But then again, I’ve seen some ugly Alaskan wolves.

    Guess we will have to wait and see what the wolves look like when they start killing them in Minnesota and Wisconsin this fall.

    I still say, the place to get the most money for them will be on the tourist market”


    • Immer Treue says:

      On my one trip to Alaska, in the Ankorage airport, there were wicker baskets full of wolf pelts. This was August of 1987. Anyone been through there lately?

    • Ida Lupine says:

      That entire site is profane.

  20. Ida Lupine says:

    A group called Wisconsin Mainstream Hunters has filed a brief in support of the lawsuit. It maintains wolf hunting with dogs is likely to turn the public against hunting and therefore poses a risk to the future of hunting.

    I ran into a couple of duck hunters while I was out hiking today. They seemed like nice, respectful young men for the most part. Except for one who had a bandana over his face, but I wondered if they were hunting illegally.

    • Louise Kane says:

      I ran into another 10 dead birds (left to rot) of all kinds on my morning walk that these nice young men blasted out of the sky as they are in migration. I don’t feel so amiable toward them.

      • Elk375 says:

        How do you know that nice young men blasted those 10 birds of all kinds out of the sky and left them to rot. I doubt that they were shot by hunters and left for you to find them on your morning walk.

        • Louise Kane says:

          Elk yes I do know they were shot by hunters. I photograph them every year, birds with discernible holes in them lined up and down the beaches. The hunters shoot at them while they are flocked and the ones they don’t mortally wound fly off and die and the local beaches are strewn with them for months. I suppose that since I was not there I can’t say definitively if it was hunters. The bird corpses just happen to always have holes in them, the deaths ad corpses coincide with hunting season….some coincidence

        • Louise Kane says:

          Elk I just made a photo page with a number of dead birds that I photographed. 36 on this day. The 3rd image in clearly shows a hole, on close examination you always find a hole. This day is just one in many. the beach is just one of many. The bay beaches are filled with dead birds during hunting season. https://www.facebook.com/louise.kane.946/media_set?set=a.10151912017319070.1073741839.743944069&type=1

        • Louise Kane says:

          Elk I can always count on some form of acrimonious challenge about my posts. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how the images I just posted. Not enough dead birds in one place, not enough holes?

      • Ida Lupine says:

        I haven’t seen that, yet anyway. I think these guys were hunting on private land. Maybe other years the weather wasn’t good enough. Where I walk the land is to be shared by all – hunters, our Native people, birdwatchers, hikers, etc. and there is a cranberry farm abutting, and they donated some of their land also.

  21. JW says:

    Very simply put, We as human beings need to respect our planet and all living things upon her. When can it stop being about power and control? When is enough enough? When we are all individually slowly dying because we have killed everything….plants animals water, air! There is a place for everything thats ever been created. We need to come together and protect not kill! Wolves deserve protection.
    What is happening to them is senseless and sick. Get up and DO something to help!

  22. Louise Kane says:


    This is how we should be acting…responsibly and not like the squandering, pillaging, insensitive, ignorant human race that we are.

  23. IDhiker says:

    A while back, I was taken to task for commenting that while backpacking numerous times through Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness this past season, I had not seen nor heard wolves, or hardly any sign. I speculated that with the known poisening last year, that perhaps it was more widespread than we know.

    Well, I finished my last trip through the Bob last month, which made for about 320 miles and 24 days this season. Although I encountered deer and elk, a cougar, and numerous bear tracks, I neither saw or heard wolves. In the Danaher Basin, I encountered one set of wolf tracks. And, other than the Cheff outfitter camp, the place was devoid of hunters.

    Two weeks ago, I spent eight days in the center of the Frank Church in Idaho doing an archaeological survey for the Payette Forest. I worked in the Big Creek drainage, and again, other than one outfitter, the place was empty of hunters, so it wasn’t that wolves were being harassed much.

    Two years ago in Big Creek, in the same area, tracks and scat were very evident, and I also saw and heard wolves howling. The same with the Bob Marshall. Now, there is a deathly silence in these same places.

    I only write concerning my observations, or lack of, in the field, of wolves. Perhaps they are more wary and quit howling with so many killed the last two years, but that doesn’t explain the lack of sign.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Thanks IDhiker,

      The liklihood grows with more “samples” — trips and pasage of time.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if you are right. I saw no wolf sign 2013, but I did in Idaho in 2012.

      Has anyone seen Idaho wolf sign this year, or especially wolves, this year?

      • Cobra1 says:

        Just about every time we go out we see wolf sign as do a lot of big game hunters in North Idaho. We’ve seen scat, tracks and have heard howls but have actually not seen the animals all though they are close.

    • Louise Kane says:

      could the majority of them been killed by the trapper and the aerial gunning. This is such sad awful news.

  24. William West says:

    Hello William West,

    I agree with conservation of wildlife is important. I also feel that that hunting could be the solution to the problem if we allow it to.

    Would you mind reading my blog at http://sites.isucomm.iastate.edu/wjwest/what-are-some-ways-to-help-the-conservation-of-wildlife-is-hunting-a-really-the-solution/? I would like to have your perspective.

    William West
    The Green Room at Iowa State University

    • Louise Kane says:

      blah blah blah
      hunting predators to low levels to keep artificially high game numbers = bad management. Tell me how wolves fit into this fairy tale?
      killing is not conservation, although many iike to argue it is, especially when it comes to large carnivores.

    • Nancy says:

      “The money that goes towards research helps us to get a better understanding of species. By gaining more knowledge on animal species, we can find ways to help protect them and learn secrets about them, which in return might be useful for technology”

      Learn secrets about them?? Sounds more like creepy wildlife CIA tactics, William.

    • MJ says:


      Read your blog, this is very similar to what we hear quite a bit. Please let’s think this through.

      The research reference sounded a little like the medical research done by Hitler. Scary.

      Now that you have this in mind, the fact that you just killed a deer, it probably doesn’t seem like you are really protecting any wildlife does it? Yes, that first instinct is the correct one. It is not protecting wildlife, it is killing wildlife. The sky is blue. Grass is still green.

      Giving back money after a killing is done does not undo the killing. It has been accepted as a common practice with the belief that is the lesser of two evils, killing then giving at least something back, vs killing and giving nothing back at all, which would wipe out our wildlife even faster.

      This is analogous to giving money to someone after you hit them with your car, or otherwise cause irreversible harm. The right thing to do is not to hit them with your car to begin with. If you know you are going to hit them with your car, but think it would be fun, and give them some money even though they never walk again, can you understand that some people might find that offensive?

      All forms of recreational hunting are purely for the fun of killing wildlife. That is just factual, it isn’t mudslinging. It should not be confused with subsistence hunting but it often is. A poor person feeding their family is not done for the experience of killing. Yet this is what many people claim, while it was obviously a trophy hunt.

      Giving money to provide habitat for more hunting is not conservation of the ecosystem, or preservation of the quality of lives that the animals would have experienced if they were not hunted. If you were the prey, would you really believe it to be the same thing?

      We kill the apex predator, which then skews the natural balance and we have then the overpopulation of other species, overgrazing of habitat, and complete disruption of the ecosystem until we are arbitrarily choosing animals to kill off to try to reverse the damage done, based on limited understanding, inaccurate counts, and politics. Somehow, surprisingly, that balance is not restored by doing that, it just keeps getting worse.

      All the time we rationalize and normalize animal cruelty on par with a felonious act if you did the same thing to a dog. Unless the dog was abandoned by the human they trusted heart and soul and would have done anything for, and they became a stray. Then it’s ok, it’s ok to be cruel to ferals.

      Hunting is not the solution to the problems that were caused by hunting. That’s like treating bone cancer by exposing someone to AIDS as well.. enough.

    • MJ says:

      William you also could learn a lot about the consequences of hunting by researching what is happening in Africa. Country after country is attempting to ban it, since it contributes to the rapid decline of their endangered species. They are now where we could be in the future. The Safari Club is paying big money to maintain the sport of killing their animals, for fun, despite local anger at the practice.

      Africa Geographic and others have published works on the damage to their countries that is sped up by trophy hunting. They just gave one of their members a prize for killing an almost extinct white rhino. The more rare the species the more the reward. These animals are often revered members of a herd, the patriarch or matriarch. It is devastating to the other animals, and studies on several species show that they experience PTSD the same as we do. I have had the pleasure of conversing with some African Rangers for their perspective on recent rationalizations given by Corey Knowlton. They find his stories to be very inaccurate and offensive.

      Aside from contributing to a more rapid decline in populations, it masks poaching which funds terrorism.






October 2013


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey