Wildlife Policies in the U.S. National Parks
By Frederic H. Wagner, Ronald Foresta, Richard Bruce Gill, Dale Richard McCullough, Michael R. Pelton, William F. Porter, Hal Salwasser
Publisher: Island Press
Number Of Pages: 251
Publication Date: 1995-07-01
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 1559634049
ISBN-13 / EAN: 9781559634045
This volume presents the results of a five-year study of wildlife-management policies in national parks. It synthesizes interviews with individuals inside and outside the National Park Service, provides a comprehensive review of published and unpublished literature, and draws on the collective experience of the authors with various units of the system over the past three decades. Among the topics examined are:
the structure and history of the National Park System and Service
wildlife "problems" in the parks
the role of science in formulating policies and in management
recommendations for changes in policy formulation, management, and scientific research procedures
Summary: Essential study of wildlife policies in the national parks, but recommendations are weak
This report was originally commissioned by The Wildlife Society to make recommendations for managing wildlife in the national parks. TWS was disappointed with the result, and the authors decided to publish it on their own instead of trying to satisfy them.
It’s an excellent review of the history of wildlife management in the national parks. Originally, wildlife were an afterthought because the parks were built around monumental scenery. After that, many people started to think of some species of wildlife as part of the scenery too, such as bears in Yellowstone or Yosemite. Eventually, wildlife became a featured part of some parks such as Isle Royale or the Everglades. In all parks, wildlife faces threats external to the park such as pollution or exotic species, as well as internal threats from tourism and other national park service goals.
The authors review these issues very well, and this book is one of the central texts for any review of wildlife in the parks. However, they shrink back from making any strong recommendations. As scientists, they tend to feel more comfortable with recommendations of the form, "If your goal is X, then your policy should be Y." They are less comfortable talking about what the policy goals should be, and the authors did not see this book as the place to make radical recommendations about decommissioning roads, removing tourists, or the like.
They also don’t really confront the political problems involved in park policy. These include the interests of concessionaires and gateway communities, hunters in the region around each park, congressional pork, the political interests of the National Park Service, and the self-interest of scientists who work in parks (such as the authors!). While they mention these issues, they don’t really confront them as either obstacles or opportunities to their preferred policy, in large part because their policy recommendations are pretty weak themselves.
Though this book is essential if you want to understand wildlife in parks, those limitations are an important weakness. It deserves 4.5 stars but I’ll round up because I’m in a good mood.