100 Years of Game and Fish Management

This article was featured in the April Edition of Camp Talk, our monthly newsletter for our members. 


A survey of wildlife professionals reveals the importance of the North American Model of Conservation.

In recognition of the 100th year of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) and the Steering Committee for the Conference chose a unique approach for the plenary keynote address: rather than have an outside keynote speaker, or even a conference official, the committee commissioned an opinion survey. WMI partnered with Paul Hansen, Rollie Sparrowe, and Responsive Management to achieve this task.

This innovative endeavor collected a wealth of knowledge and insight from fish and wildlife professionals − those in the field, those making the hard decisions, those with experience, and those with fresh, new ideas.

At the national level, each of the top three fish and wildlife management initiatives, programs, and efforts that are most commonly cited as being the most successful over the past 100 years provides a stable funding source for fish and wildlife management: the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (PittmanRobertson), the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson), and the Federal Duck Stamp (see graph 1).

The fish and wildlife management community also considers the restoration of various species to be among the most successful accomplishments over the past 100 years, especially at the regional or state level. Interestingly, however, no single specific program or effort was named by a majority of fish and wildlife professionals.

The fish and wildlife professional community is clearly diverse in their opinions. Many different interests and opinions were expressed in the study, which is an important finding in itself. Fish and wildlife professionals have passion for and commitment to the field, but they are working on myriad issues and are facing varied challenges. This means that fish and wildlife professionals may share that passion and commitment, but the community is not necessarily a homogeneous one.

The North American Model of Fish and Wildlife Conservation serves as the foundation for fish and wildlife management and conservation in North America. Although only 5.6 percent of respondents cited the Model as one of the most successful fish and wildlife efforts over the past century when asked in an open-ended question, many respondents consider components of the Model extremely important to the future of fish and wildlife conservation (see graph 2). While the results of the study indicate that many of the Model’s principles or tenets are strongly supported by the fish and wildlife professional community, some respondents expressed interest in discussing and improving some of the Model’s principles or tenets. They appeared to support a Model that is not only retrospective but also forward thinking. CT

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