Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

April 1991


Every wildlife species has positive values or benefits it provides to society. Some people enjoy hunting, while others enjoy watching and hearing wildlife; still other people derive pleasure simply knowing animals exist free from human dependency (King 1947, Ehrenfeld 1976, Steinhoff 1978). Each species also has negative values (Decker and Purdy 1988) associated with adverse impacts, such as property damage, damage to agricultural crops, predation on other valuable species, or simply being a nuisance. For any location and point in time, the net value of any wildlife resource is the sum of all its positive and negative values. The goal of wildlife managers then is to enhance the net value of the wildlife resource for society, by accentuating positive aspects and/or reducing negative attributes of species. Leopold (1933) defined game management as the "art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use." During most of the Twentieth Century, wildlife agencies followed Leopold's ideas and concentrated efforts on the production of harvestable game species. In recent years, the wildlife management profession has expanded to embrace concerns for rare and endangered species, management of nongame species, as well as provide opportunities for nonconsumptive uses of wildlife (Sanderson 1991). These efforts are usually aimed at enhancing positive values of wildlife and are directed primarily at species which already are associated with high positive values. Much less attention has been devoted toward increasing the net value of wildlife resources by reducing negative values. Academic programs in fisheries and wildlife science have both reflected and perpetuated these trends by emphasizing teaching about and conducting research on those species that already have high positive values. As a result, wildlife damage management has not received adequate attention in academic programs. The College of Natural Resources at Utah State University has recognized this deficiency in its academic program and, with the cooperation and support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), has established a new academic program in wildlife damage management. Specific objectives for our program include: 1) incorporating wildlife damage management as an integral component in all appropriate courses in the curricula of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; 2) offering specific course and a wildlife damage management option in our undergraduate degree program; 3) providing graduate training and offering advanced degrees in wildlife damage management; 4) conducting research related to new or improved methods for avoiding or alleviating wildlife problems, and 5) providing a continuing education and extension service component in wildlife damage management.