Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for

 

Date of this Version

April 1991

Abstract

Managing the damage that species of wildlife cause to human-owned resources is a legitimate area of specialization in the field of wildlife management. In recent years, wildlife damage management, particularly the Federal government's Animal Damage Control (ADC) program, has come under increased scrutiny and opposition. Reasons for the increased focus on ADC are varied but no doubt center on the fact that some of ADC's activities involve killing animals. Groups opposed to ADC have used the media to gain a following, but the glimpses of ADC they have shown to the public are rarely balanced or objective. Stories usually focus on the killing of wildlife and are often punctuated with gruesome pictures and enumerated lists of the dead by species. Most sensible people are offended at what they are led to believe is an unnecessary waste and destruction of living things. Since the other side of the story is rarely presented, it is not surprising that people who see the sensational presentations become opponents of ADC. In reality, many people simply do not fully understand the ADC program or its mission. They only hear that a Federal program uses tax dollars to kill wild animals. Since wildlife is a public resource, the public should be accurately informed about the realities of managing wildlife damage (Decker and Connelly 1990, Adams et al., 1988). Wildlife professionals, including those in ADC, are developing an appreciation of the importance of this issue (Acord 1991, Manfredo 1989, Hendee and Potter 1971), but an even stronger emphasis is warranted. I had the opportunity to give a presentation on wildlife damage management to seventh grade junior high school students in Littleton, Colorado. Prior to my visit, their science teacher had taught them a segment dealing with livestock predation. The objective of my visit to the students was to convey what has been termed the ADC message - "Wildlife is a valuable public resource which is managed for abundance and diversity. However, wild animals often cause damage that affects every citizen. Wildlife must be managed in a responsible and caring manner. This is ADC's purpose." This paper describes my presentation to the students and offers information gleaned from some questions the students answered before and after my visit.