Wildlife Management in the National Parks:
The Leopold Report
The goal of managing the national parks and monuments should be to preserve, or where necessary to recreate, the ecologic scene as viewed by the first European visitors. As part of this scene, native species of wild animals should be present in maximum variety and reasonable abundance. Protection alone, which has been the core of Park Service wildlife policy, is not adequate to achieve this goal. Habitat manipulation is helpful and often essential to restore or maintain animal numbers. Likewise, populations of the animals themselves must sometimes be regulated to prevent habitat damage; this is especially true of ungulates.
Active management aimed at restoration of natural communities of plants and animals demands skills and knowledge not now in existence. A greatly expanded research program, oriented to management needs, must be developed within the National Park Service itself Both research and the application of management methods should be in the hands of skilled park personnel.
Insofar as possible, animal populations should be regulated by predation and other natural means. However, predation cannot be relied upon to control the populations of larger ungulates, which sometimes must be reduced artificially.
Most ungulate populations within the parks migrate seasonally outside the park boundaries where excess numbers can be removed by public hunting. In such circumstances the National Park Service should work closely with state fish and game departments and other interested agencies in conducting the research required for management and in devising cooperative management programs.
Excess game that does not leave a park must be removed. Trapping and transplanting has not proven to be a practical method of control, though it is an appropriate source of breeding stock as needed elsewhere.
Direct removal by killing is the most economical and effective way of regulating ungulates within a park. Game removal by shooting should be conducted under the complete jurisdiction of qualified park personnel and solely for the purpose of reducing animals to preserve park values. Recreational hunting is an inappropriate and non-conforming use of the national parks and monuments.
Most game reduction programs can best be accomplished by regular park employees. But as removal programs increase in size and scope, as well may happen under better wildlife management, the National Park Service may find it advantageous to employ or otherwise engage additional shooters from the general public. No objection to this procedure is foreseen so long as the selection, training, and supervision of shooting crews is under rigid control of the Service and the culling operation is made to conform to primary park goals.
Recreational hunting is a valid and potentially important use of national recreation areas, which are also under jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Full development of hunting opportunities on these areas should be provided by the Service.
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