North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
Early on, fish and wildlife were plentiful in North America. However, as the European settlers arrived, they moved into wildlife areas, resulting in habitat loss and a reduction in the number of animals. The wildlife population was reduced further by the settlers hunting wildlife not only for food but also for profit from selling the animals.
In the mid-19th century, seeing that wildlife populations were disappearing, hunters began to realize the importance of wildlife conservation. During this same time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1842 case of Martin v. Waddell that wildlife in the United States were not owned by individuals but belonged to all the people.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, sportsmen from the United States and Canada began building on this concept and started developing a set of guiding principles for managing wildlife resources. Called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, these seven principles (sisters) continue to evolve today and provide the foundation for the success of fish and wildlife conservation in North America.
- Wildlife is held in trust for the public. No one owns wildlife. Instead, the government holds this resource in trust for the benefit of all people.
- The selling and trading of wildlife is controlled. State and federal laws regulate the sale of dead game animals and migratory birds, including their parts and products.
- Laws and regulations determine how wildlife is allocated. Regulations unique to each state determine how wildlife resources are managed, including hunting seasons and bag limits.
- Opportunities for hunting, fishing, and trapping shall be democratic. Every citizen in good standing—regardless of wealth, social standing, or land ownership—is allowed to participate in the harvest of fish and wildlife within guidelines set by each state.
- The reasons for killing wildlife must be valid. Wildlife can be harvested only for legitimate purposes—for food and fur, in self-defense, or for protection of property.
- Wildlife is an international resource. As such, hunting and fishing shall be managed cooperatively across state and province boundaries.
- Science plays a key role in managing wildlife. Decisions regarding wildlife management, use, and conservation are based on sound scientific knowledge and principles.
Democracy of Hunting
- In the European model, wildlife is generally allocated by land ownership and privilege.
- In North America, anyone in good standing can participate.