The concept of park management
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
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
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
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
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."