Leopold – 02 Historical

Wildlife Management in the National Parks:

The Leopold Report


During the same era, the concept of wildlife management evolved rapidly among other agencies and groups concerned with the production of wildlife for recreational hunting. It is now an accepted truism that maintenance of suitable habitat is the key to sustaining animal populations, and that protection, though it is important, is not of itself a substitute for habitat. Moreover, habitat is not a fixed or stable entity that can be set aside and preserved behind a fence, like a cliff dwelling or a petrified tree. Biotic communities change through natural stages of succession. They can be changed deliberately through manipulation of plant and animal populations. In recent years the National Park Service has broadened its concept of wildlife conservation to provide for purposeful management of plant and animal communities as an essential step in preserving wildlife resources “…unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” In a few parks active manipulation of habitat is being tested, as for example in the Everglades where controlled burning is now used experimentally to maintain the open glades and piney woods with their interesting animal and plant life. Excess populations of grazing ungulates are being controlled in a number of parks to preserve the forage plants on which the animals depend. The question already has been posed — how far should the National Park Service go in utilizing the tools of management to maintain wildlife populations?

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