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Wildlife Management in the National Parks:

The Leopold Report

 

 

 

The concept of park management

 

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The present report proposes to discuss wildlife management in the national parks in terms of three questions which shift emphasis progressively from the general to the specific:

1) What should be the goals of wildlife management in the national parks?

2) What general policies of management are best adapted to achieve the pre-determined goals?

3) What are some of the methods suitable for on-the-ground implementation of policies?

It is acknowledged that this Advisory Board was requested by the Secretary of the Interior to consider particularly one of the methods of management, namely, the procedure of removing excess ungulates from some of the parks. We feel that this specific question can only be viewed objectively in the light of goals and operational policies, and our report is framed accordingly. In speaking of national parks we refer to the whole system of parks and monuments; national recreation areas are discussed briefly near the end of the report.

As a prelude to presenting our thoughts on the goals, policies, and methods of managing wildlife in the parks of the United States we wish to quote in full a brief report on "Management of National Parks and Equivalent Areas" which was formulated by a committee of the First World Conference on National Parks that convened in Seattle in July, 1962. The committee consisted of 15 members of the Conference, representing eight nations; the chairman was Francois Bourliere of France. In our judgment this report suggests a firm basis for park management. The statement of the committee follows:

"1. Management is defined as any activity directed toward achieving or maintaining a given condition in plant and/or animal populations and/or habitats in accordance with the conservation plan for the area. A prior definition of the purposes and objectives of each park is assumed.

Management may involve active manipulation of the plant and animal communities, or protection from modification or external influences.

2. Few of the world's parks are large enough to be in fact self- regulatory ecological units; rather, most are ecological islands subject to direct or indirect modification by activities and conditions in the surrounding areas. These influences may involve such factors as immigration and/or emigration of animal and plant life, changes in the fire regime, and alterations in the surface or subsurface water.

3. There is no need for active modification to maintain large examples of the relatively stable "climax" communities which under protection perpetuate themselves indefinitely. Examples of such communities include large tracts of undisturbed rain-forest, tropical mountain paramos, and arctic tundra.

4. However, most biotic communities are in a constant state of change due to natural or man-caused processes of ecological succession. In these "successional" communities it is necessary to manage the habitat to achieve or stabilize it at a desired stage. For example, fire is an essential management tool to maintain East African open savanna or American prairie.

5. Where animal populations get out of balance with their habitat and threaten the continued existence of a desired environment, population control becomes essential. This principle applies, for example, in situations where ungulate populations have exceeded the carrying capacity of their habitat through loss of predators, immigration from surrounding areas, or compression of normal migratory patterns. Specific examples include excess populations of elephants in some African parks and of ungulates in some mountain parks.

6. The need for management, the feasibility of management methods, and evaluation of results must be based upon current and continuing scientific research. Both the research and management itself should be undertaken only by qualified personnel. Research, management planning, and execution must take into account, and if necessary regulate, the human uses for which the park is intended.

7. Management based on scientific research is, therefore, not only desirable but often essential to maintain some biotic communities in accordance with the conservation plan of a national park or equivalent area."

 

 

 

 

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