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“A peculiar virtue of wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”
--Aldo Leopold

125 years ago today an American original was born.

Probably no one has had a greater influence on hunting in America. The ideas put forth in his seminal book Game Management form the basis of all wildlife management in the US today.

The central thesis of game management is this: game can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it --axe, plow, cow, fire, and gun. A favorable alignment of these forces sometimes came about in pioneer days by accident. The result  was a temporary wealth of game  far greater than the red man ever saw. Management is their purposeful and continuing alignment.

The conservation movement has sought to restore wild life by the control of guns alone, with little visible success. Management seeks the same end but by more versatile means.
Aldo Leopold
Madison Wisconsin 1932

At the time Aldo wrote those words most of the large mammals of North America existed in a precarious state or in very small numbers. We had larger tracts of undeveloped lands, we just had few animals on them.

Aldo Leopold in a series of lectures in the early to mid 1930s helped establish the Wildlife Society and the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman Robertson) which allowed hunters to fund and encourage the restoration and nurture of the wildlife we now enjoy in all 50 states.


photo david hannigan CO Div of Wildlife with permission.

Originally posted to Hunting and Fishing Kos on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 04:06 PM PST.

Also republished by Liberal G Club.

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Comment Preferences

  •  59th National Park established today (15+ / 0-)

    From the press release I'm not sure there was any sort of ceremony. http://www.doi.gov/... I think Salazar spent the day down in Florida celebrating six new Wildlife Refuges in the past year.

    Can't think of a better place to do it except maybe Hawaii. http://www.doi.gov/...

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 04:04:08 PM PST

  •  Excellent post! Cheers to Aldo! (6+ / 0-)

    Cheers to the Wildlife Society and the Wildlife Restoration Act and our newest National Park.

    I love nature, science and my dogs.

    by Polly Syllabic on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 04:19:31 PM PST

  •  A fierce green fire (8+ / 0-)

    “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

    - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

    •  we are doing as he said and helping to make sure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Polly Syllabic, blueyedace2

      the wolf  is

      restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it
      in 6 states last year and 7 this year. One more successfully restored species.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 05:49:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The two paragraphs following: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldJackPine, Polly Syllabic
      Thinking Like a Mountain

      Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.

      I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.  And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf's job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

      If you've killed the wolves, you've assumed their responsibility for protecting the mountain. Most ecosystems we've disturbed carry the same kind of obligation.

      In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

      by badger on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 07:59:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Now we've returned both the wolves and the deer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Polly Syllabic, badger

        and our work is easier. We are as Leopold said, "growing natural species in an environment not greatly altered for the purpose at hand, relying on partial control of a few factors to enhance the yield above what unguided nature would produce"

        I love his ideas of a careful nudge of nature such that it's invisible to "an observer unless her were an expert". We actually achieved his objective years ago. Most remark on seeing our great forests and wildernesses that they are seeing nature untouched and at it's most primal undeveloped state, even though a sophisticated understanding informs us that we have greatly manipulated even the more remote areas of the US for thousands of years.

        Adding a full complement of as many species as possible simply makes things more fun and nicer to look at and with careful management we'll return soon to Leopolds state of enhanced yield.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 05:00:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Enjoy the view of his namesake lake every day! (6+ / 0-)

    Living on Lake Aldo Leopold (really more of a pond, but it is what it is) as I do, I must recommend this diary!

  •  I've been to the Pelican Island NWR boardwalk (5+ / 0-)

    Very cool to walk it and see a plank for each national wildlife refuge. Then at the end of the boardwalk, you get a beautiful view of Pelican Island NWR -- our first national wildlife refuge -- and the lovely Indian River Lagoon. Definitely worth a visit.

    Refuge Watch -- news from America's national wildlife refuges

    by Naturegal on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 05:09:03 PM PST

  •  The Land Ethic (4+ / 0-)

    "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

    -Leopold 1949

    http://www.aldoleopold.org/...

    Imagine the context.  On the heels of a dustbowl, a second world war, and a great depression, Leopold was arguing that ethical considerations must extend to non-human nature.  He argued that achieving conservation had immediacy and was not something to be put off until the economy improved, or the war was paid for, or whatever.

    Its a lesson that we should contemplate today as we cope with a dysfunctional government, a stubborn recession, intolerable gun violence....AND try to find the will to face down the realities of climate change.

    Rest in peace professor.

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