Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
WILD LIFE PROBLEMS
By Frank T. Been
Wild life problems in the national parks may involve any one or all of the following:
(2) Controlling increase in numbers
(3) Effect upon vegetation
(4) Predatory animal control
Predatory animal control was quite thoroughly covered during a previous meeting so that the first three only need be dealt with here.
The problem of preventing the extermination of a species is a problem that may come up at any time. At the present time in Yellowstone the trumpeter swan is thought to be on the verge of extinction. To prevent this from happening is a big problem. Mr. Dixon said that during a recent survey he found one pair that was reproducing. Will it be possible to protect this pair and their young which may be able to reproduce to save the species? If that is possible, it should be done even though it may not be “natural.”
Similar problems will occur in other parks. If a species is becoming extinct in one park, but there are abundant representatives of the species in another park or parks, should steps be taken to save them in the first park? Opinions may differ, and I should like to hear this question discussed.
Control of increasing numbers is a problem already facing more than one park where the balance of nature has been disturbed. For the benefit of the park flora and other animals the number of these animals should perhaps be reduced, but what are the most feasible or practical methods by which this can be accomplished?
The effect upon vegetation may be included in control of numbers but not necessarily so. In Sequoia National Park the deer are so numerous to be a serious problem, but they are numerous enough that in limited areas the browsing of the deer is reducing vegetation to a very noticeable extent. In a case like this the solution may be in devising a method to save plants from feeding deer rather than decreasing numbers of deer. But how? That is a question we would like to see answered.
The control of bear in the parks is a real problem because these animals can make themselves such a nuisance with park visitors. Undoubtedly “something must be done” — but what? The problem will have to be studied intensively before we can make intelligent management plans.