Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences

 

Date of this Version

February 1991

Abstract

The theme of this conference, "Human and Wildlife Interactions: Public Perceptions and Management Realities," suggests to me that the reality of what wildlife managers do is often affected by the public's perception of the problem. In considering animal damage, there's the question of which solutions the public fords appropriate and acceptable. Attitudes and perceptions nowadays, whether correct or based on misinformation, are often translated into policy and law. "Management realities"- why can't we just go ahead and solve the problem the way we want to? After all, we're the scientists and wildlife managers; we know the problem better than anyone. "Get out the traps and the toxicants, and we'll have the situation under control in no time, thank you. Errr-Could you please not look over my shoulder while I work? Come back in a few days and I'll have things cleaned up, yes Ma'am!"

Reality. Is it an absolute, or is it only a shadow, perceived by each person in terms of his or her own experience? Plato aside, we often feel frustrated by having to work in a society where everyone's opinion seems to have as much weight as what WE know to be the real facts; and effective, decisive action is delayed, postponed, or made impossible by debate, litigation, and public opinion generated by inaccurate publicity, or worse. "Why can't a trapper just do his job, without being bothered by all these damned unemployed long-haired kooks who want to preserve every last acre as wilderness?" "C'm on, look at the FACTS! Be REASONABLE!!!"