History and Evolution of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model

Posted: 29 Sep 2020

See all articles by Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

American Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: August 13, 2020


The first section of this monograph describes the NAWCM and the difficulties it faces confronting circumstances very different from those that created it, namely the local overabundance of whitetail deer, wild hogs, and other wild game animals. It describes scientific wildlife management and argues that it constitutes the sole necessary cause of sustainable consumptive use of living natural resources. It concludes by showing that scientific wildlife management and markets for wild game meat can be compatible when commercial influences on wildlife managers are adequately checked.

Section two reviews the history of wildlife management in North America, from American Indians through the development of the NAWCM in the late nineteenth century, and surveys the interplay between biology, ecology, markets, range, and population size of a dozen important types of wild animals. The key takeaway is that common pool problems and species-specific characteristics, like herding and flocking behaviors, endanger wild game populations far more than the scientifically-managed commercialization of their flesh does.

The third section warns that the facile application of “democracy” to wildlife management poses grave risks for wildlife, especially wild game species, by threatening the authority of scientific wildlife management and further eroding the wildlife dollars volunteered by consumptive users.

The fourth section suggests several ways that wildlife managers, short of reinstating markets for wild game meat, can increase the number of consumptive users and political support for the sustainable, consumptive use of wildlife. The most important suggestion is for the legalization of proxy hunting as a way, short of full-blown commercialization, of increasing wild game harvests where needed to meet local scientific wildlife management goals.

The conclusion argues that by stressing the importance of scientific wildlife management over its other components, instead of making a fetish of prohibitions on wild game markets, the NAWCM can continue to protect North America’s wildlife throughout the twenty-first century.

Keywords: conservation; scientific wildlife management; policy persistence

JEL Classification: Q26, Q28, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Wright, Robert Eric, History and Evolution of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model (August 13, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3673178 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3673178

Robert Eric Wright (Contact Author)

American Institute for Economic Research ( email )

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Great Barrington, MA 01230
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6053709610 (Phone)

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