A few years ago, I compared the “game management units” where the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) set the highest quotas for killing wolves with hunter licensing and killing of elk in the same areas. There was a direct correlation. Hunters killed far more elk with guns, arrows, and muzzle loaders in those areas had the highest removal rates of wolves compared to low-wolf quota areas. I used the data from the IDFG online records. This biased persecution of wolves is not unique to Idaho. I saw the same pattern while living in Alaska for seven years, only there they were (and still do) killing black and grizzly bears in addition to wolves to keep moose populations high enough for hunters, urban and indigenous alike. More recently, Montana, Washington, Wisconsin and other states have enacted various methods for killing wolves. Widely approved are leghold traps where there is no requirement to check the traps for days while the wolves, coyotes, fox, and other species suffer. Baiting is allowed. Hunting with packs of dogs is allowed in at least one state. Wolves are shot from airplanes. Professional wolf assassins are hired at taxpayer expense.
All of it serves to remind us that the profession of fish and wildlife management, especially at the state level, is thoroughly corrupt and trapped by arcane legislated mandates. They still are not acting for ecosystems, but instead “ranch” the species that will be hunted and thus provide department revenues through license fees. In one of many non-biocentric policies, state departments of fish and wildlife management continue to artificially stock nonnative species for revenues. Through similar makes-no-ecosystem-sense policies, these agencies ensure hunting is the top selection pressure, the ultimate decider of how evolutionary genetics plays out for the rest of history.
For Idaho, IDFG was created by a public initiative. Here is its mission statement:
“All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.” (as of June 2012)
Generally, the ultimate measures of successful “management” are the trends (up or down) of abundance and diversity of species and communities of species over the span of as many original geographic areas as they existed in the past. Biodiversity is declining at an astounding rate, perhaps 100, or 1,000 or 10,000 times more than the fossil record indicates for past norms. Part of the disagreement lies in the fact we have no idea how many species exist on Earth so it is assumed most extinctions go unnoticed. They are gone forever and we never knew they existed, nor of their miraculous complexity and role in ecosystems, nor their necessity for other species survival. Recent estimates indicate Earth is losing some 140,000 species per year.
Fish and wildlife management agencies do not spend anywhere near the resources on maintaining ecosystem integrity and researching for new species and their natural histories, for instance, than they do producing hunted, trapped, and fished wildlife targets. If that weren’t awful enough, agencies ignore the element of human-caused suffering directed at individuals from other species, behaviors and agonies these agencies enthusiastically promote. Consider the egregious violations of disrespect and cruelty in their promotion of bow hunting and trapping. What in the hell is wrong with these degreed people?
Under wildlife management professionals, we are losing biodiversity and net geographic abundance of species and their communities. The strategies of these agencies are unable to match the destructive power of human behaviors—our human ecologies. As a result, the Idaho wolf kills, for example, are inevitable. It’s what we get from the institutions of fish and wildlife management. They are focused on protecting cattle for slaughter and the special interest hunters, trappers, and fishers. That will not change until progressive biologists, ecologists, and legislators vocally challenge the social and political root causes of the collapse of ecosystems and the accelerating loss of biodiversity. Currently, they do not see this needed reformation of their professions as being their duty, responsibility, or legislated mandate. But you’d think anyone with a true love for what we are losing would be motivated by a higher purpose and responsibility. Meanwhile, we’ve a front row seat to watch “wildlife management” continue to be a core problem as extinction rates rise and human populations rush in like a storm surge displacing native species whose predator-prey ratios are suppressed.
Think about what a vegan human ecology would accomplish for biodiversity and the reformation of fish and wildlife management and conservation biology. As it now stands, employee and agency cultural worldview beliefs block that consideration. Imagine no livestock grazing on public and private lands and no land being used to grow food for livestock starting in the U.S. and other first-world nations. Imagine the immense reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen runoff into the oceans in a vegan human ecology. If not in this profession, then where lies any hope while they oppose us?