History - Undergraduate Courses, NRES, U of I

A Brief History of Wildlife and Fisheries
•Early(< 1500’s)
•Pre-European Settlement of North
•1700’s on…….
(This lecture will have a decidedly North
American bias and emphasis)
Early Laws and Regulations Concerning
Wildlife and Fisheries Resources
Mention of wildlife management
/harvesting issues in Deuteronomy
(14:4-20), Leviticus (11:4-6). Decrees on
harvesting of wildlife
Hieroglyphics showing trapping of rats
600 B.C.
Hunting Restrictions
Kublai Khan
1260 A.D.
Specific Hunting Restrictions
Magna Carta
1215 A.D.
Ownership of game animals (and
land) assigned to King and nobles. Hunting
is made and exclusive right of the noble
class (note distinction with the modern
North American system)
Wildlife and Fisheries Resource Use in
Presettlement North America
• ≈ 10,000 B.C.: Native Americans widespread in N.
America. Early on, primarily a hunter-gatherer
•≈ 3000-1500 B.C.: first cultivation, but hunting
and fishing persisted
•Landscape-scale management of habitat common
( e.g., use of fire to promote successional
Impact of Native Americans on Wildlife
Possible overkill as important
contributor to mass extinctions
Other possibilities include:
•Climate Change
•Introduced Disease
•Combination of two or more factors?
Development of North American wildlife
conservation during the post-(European)
settlement period
Can be divided into 5 periods:
•Era of Abundance
•Era of Overexploitation
•Era of Protection
•Era of Game Management
•Era of Environmental Management
Era of Abundance: 1600-1849
•Most fish and wildlife species found in high
numbers, resource is viewed as limitless
•Wildlife and fisheries not viewed as
restricted “resources”, rather it is viewed by
immigrants as a “commons”
•Some laws were passed; e.g.,
bounty on wolves
closed season on deer (R.I., 1646)
Game bird seasons (N.Y., 1708)
In England and Wales: a common (or common land) is a piece of
land over which other people—often neighbouring landowners—
could exercise one of a number of traditional rights, such as
allowing their cattle to graze upon it. The older texts use the
word "common" to denote any such right, but more modern usage
is to refer to particular rights of common, and to reserve the
word "commons" for the land over which the rights are
exercised. By extension, the term "commons" has come to be
applied to other resources to which a community has rights or
Basically, everyone was operating under the
“Myth of Superabundance” which resulted
from rich natural resources and relatively
few consumers
Era of Overexploitation (1850- 1899)
Wildlife populations declined because:
- habitats were continually modified
- repeating firearms
- efficient transportation
- markets for wildlife
Hunted or trapped to the brink of extinction:
beaver, bison (10 x 106 to nearly none….)
In the Midwest: White tailed Deer, Wild Turkey,
Greater Prairie Chicken, Wolf
Era of Overexploitation (1850- 1899)
Some reactive responses:
First Game Wardens: Maine, 1852
Hunting License: New York, 1864
First Bag Limit: Iowa, 25 Prairie Chickens
First National Park: Yellowstone, 1872
Hunting of Passenger Pigeons
Ectopistes migratorius
"The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully
prolific, having the vast forests of the North as its breeding
grounds, traveling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is
here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary
destruction can lessen them, or be missed from the myriads
that are yearly produced“
Ohio Senate report finding in response to bill to protect the
Passenger Pigeon , 1857
Possibly the most common bird in the world at one time
Era of Protection (1900-1925)
Many populations were at historical lows
Pronghorn Antelope
Passenger Pigeon*
Snowy Egret
Era of Protection (1900-1925)
Laws protecting wildlife were established:
Lacey Act: Passed in 1925, regulated market
hunting, controlled importation of exotics and
interstate transport of illegal game
Weeks-Mclean Act: 1912, provided for
protection of waterfowl
Era of Protection (1900-1925)
New laws, continued:
Migratory Bird Treaty Act: 1917, protection
of migratory birds either complete or
through regulation
All this was driven by recognition that
overexploitation was the cause of declines
Era of Protection (1900-1925)
•Most states established departments of
fish and game
•Revenue from fish and hunting licenses
generated and put into enforcement and
some level of resource management
Era of Protection (1900-1925)
Theodore Roosevelt: 1858-1919
Along with others , he conceived many of
the key aspects and elements of modern
conservation and the dangers of
overexploitation. A doctrine that included:
1) A recognition of conservation through wise use as a public
2) Recognition of resource ownership as a public trust
3) Recognition of outdoor resources as integrated systems
4) Recognition of science as a means effective resource
Theodore Roosevelt:
•As President (1901-1909), established several natural
resource agencies, and what became the National
Wildlife Refuge system
•Promoted the National Monuments and Antiquities Act
and then established 23 National Monuments.
•Created 150 National Forests
•Established Federal protection for over 230 x 106 acres
Gifford Pinchot: 1865-1946
"The greatest good for the
greatest number of people in the
long run."
Generally credited with coining the term “conservation”
A forester who started the first forestry school (Yale,
1899) and lead what became the U.S. Forest Service
Recognized that resources must be managed
John Muir: 1838-1914
•Proponent of the preservationist movement
•Established the Sierra Club in 1892
•Advocate of wilderness and aesthetic values of the
Era of Game Management (1930-1965)
•First research and management programs
developed in North America
•Publication of the book “Game Management”
in 1933 by Aldo Leopold
•The Wildlife Cooperative Research Program
was established in 1932 at universities and
graduate education centers
•The Wildlife Society was established in
Era of Game Management (1930-1965)
Significant Legislation:
Duck Stamp Act (1934)
Pittman-Robertson Act (1937)
Aldo Leopold: 1886-1948
•“Father” of wildlife management; the book Game Management
was the first formal integration of ecological principles with
management goals.
•Co-founder of the Wildlife Society; first professor of
wildlife/game management
Aldo Leopold; continued
Established “American Game Policy” with
basic principles on the requirements of
wildlife as a sustained resource:
1) Food and cover
2)Inducements for landowners
3)Classification of game by habitat (farm,
forest, …wilderness).
4)The need for facts, funding, and publicsportsman cooperation
The Land Ethic
"We abuse the land because we see it as a
commodity belonging to us. When we see land
as a community to which we belong, we may
begin to use it with love and respect."
"The land ethic simply enlarges the
boundaries of the community to include
soils, waters, plants, and animals, or
collectively: the land
Era of Environmental Management (1965 to
Significant growth in environmental regulation:
First Endangered Species Act : 1966
National Environmental Policy Act: 1966
EPA established in 1970
First “Earth Day” and Clean Air Act; 1970
Significant rise in environmental concerns for
biodiversity-related issues
Concern over global change has generated increased
recognition of environmental issues
Like wildlife, fisheries resources were viewed as
a “commons.”
Again, a commons is a resource owned by the
populace without restriction on who uses it and
how much…
Generally, things developed as they did with
wildlife resources
First restriction on fish catches was
enacted in 1652 in Mass.
• Millions of sockeye
salmon expected to
swim up British
Columbia’s Fraser
River this summer have
gone missing.
Recent News
Erie Canal
Transportation has an important influence on resource; canals were
built, channels were “improved”
Through the 19th century, fisheries were commercial (especially in
the Great Lakes) and subsistence. Technological advances improved
catches to the point where overexploitation became an issue (mid to
late 1800’s),
1870, the American Fish Culturists’ Association was formed (later
became the American Fisheries Society
Early 1900’s, concept of population biology and
“maximum sustained yield” (MSY) developed.
“System” view of aquatic ecosystems developed.
Example: Stephen Forbes, Illinois Natural History
1938; publication of Improvement of Lakes for Fishing.
C. Hubbs and R. Eschmeyer
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