Multiple Causation of disappearance of game and other species and the Blaming of Animal Predators:
Multiple Causation of disappearance of game and other species and the Blaming of Animal Predators: A Jan. 17th article in High Country News discusses the plan of the State of Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife department to kill mountain lions and black bears in order to “boost mule deer.” This plan is similar to those enacted by Alaska, Wyoming, and Idaho to kill wolves and boost caribou, moose, and elk populations. As the article notes, the plan is controversial because these populations of game species are affected by other important causes of mortality such as loss of habitat, disturbance of habitat by development and extractive industries, and weather conditions such as droughts that analyses suggest are more important causes of population declines than predation by animal competitors to human hunters. The fact that Colorado, a state run by a Democratic governor, is conducting such a campaign demonstrates the fact that wildlife politics are not necessarily dominated by partisan forcess but are more subject to institutional factors. In particular, state “wildlife” departments are dominated by interests of hunters and anglers who provide much of their funds via charges for hunting and fishing licenses. These departments and other wildlife-related state policymaking bodies are dominated by these interests and, because of their independent source of funds, they are often independent of controls by state legislatures. Indeed, many polls (I discuss these in detail in my Wildlife Politics book) show that the general publics in western states are generally supportive of predators such as wolves, bears, and mountain lions but this support is overwhelmed by the institutional factors and the fact that the intensity of feelings on the part of the smaller hunter-angler coalition wins out over the views of the majority in the state. Indeed, the same situation extends beyond these customary predators to other species such as ravens. When threats to tortoise populations in California, the Bureau of Land Management took steps to kill ravens that prey on tortoises rather than direct attention to highways and off road vehicles that are more important causes of the threat to tortoises. In short, predators do kill and consume threatened species but their “take” is small compared to human-causes of threats to species. But the nature of wildlife politics dominated by hunter-angler and developer-extractive industries have been consistently successful in focusing attention and “solutions” on animal predators because they are easier targets than powerful human interests. This case illustrates my thesis in my book that wildlife politics is a distinct subset of environmental politics and requires different analysis than environmental policies that affect humans such as clean water and air. Check out the High Country News story on Colorado’s actions at from http://www.hcn.org/articles/colorado-state-study-kill-mountain-lion-cougar-black-bear-predator-for-mule-deer?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email
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During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.