North American Model of Wildlife Conservation: Empowerment and Exclusivity Hinder Advances in Wildlife Conservation
July 3, 2019
We argue that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAM) as currently promoted is an overly narrow construct, used both to explain how North American wildlife conservation developed historically, and as a prescriptive framework for applying a hunting-focused form of wildlife conservation. We argue both constructs are problematic in that the complexities of traditional and historical roots of wildlife conservation in North America are portrayed inadequately and selectively to overemphasize hunters’ contributions. We raise issues and concerns about the rhetoric used to promote NAM and its associated form of wildlife conservation both within the wildlife profession and to the public. Portrayals of NAM have repeatedly emphasized the important role of hunters and hunting, largely failing to provide attribution for contributions made by other stakeholders or through other forms of interest in wildlife. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation does capture some of the traditional policies and practices within wildlife management in the United States of America (USA), and to some extent Canada, but in our opinion, it has not evolved to fully represent wildlife conservation efforts of the past, nor point the way toward broader, more inclusive approaches to conserve species, communities, and ecosystems into the future. We offer 5 premises with evidence to support our assertions and probing questions as a basis for initiating a call to critically analyze NAM’s structures, functions, and purposes. Briefly, the premises focus on NAM as a hunter/hunting-focused form of wildlife conservation that serves to empower hunters and marginalize non-hunting wildlife conservationists in decision making pertaining to wildlife policy, ultimately hindering development of a more holistic, progressive form of wildlife conservation.
Author(s): Thomas L. SERFASS1, Robert P. BROOKS, and Jeremy T. BRUSKOTTER