The government is us; we are the government, you and I. -Theodore Roosevelt

B&C Position Statement - The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

First Adopted August 19, 2014

Situational Overview

The North American1 Model of Wildlife Conservation is a set of principles that represent values toward wildlife and guides how it is to be appropriately used and managed. It provides a systematic way of understanding many of the conventions, laws, policies, and institutions that affect wildlife. Unlike many other nations, wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Canada is based on the notion that wildlife belongs to the people--not the government, private landowners, or individuals.

The Model includes seven foundational principles: 1) wildlife resources are a public trust to be managed by governments for the benefit of all citizens; 2) unregulated commercial markets for wild game that decimate wildlife populations are eliminated; 3) allocation is by law, meaning that laws are developed by citizens and enforced by government agencies to regulate the proper use and management of wildlife; 4) opportunity for all, which means that every citizen has the freedom to view, hunt and fish, regardless of social or economic status; 5) wild game populations cannot be killed casually, but only for a legitimate purpose as defined by law; 6) wildlife will be considered an international resource because wildlife migrates across political boundaries; and 7) science is the proper basis for wildlife policy and management, not opinion or conjecture, in order to sustain wildlife populations. These principles were assembled and framed as the "North American Model of Wildlife Conservation" long after they were implemented; the Model is essentially a modern description of why conservation efforts in the 20th century were so successful. These principles are important because they led to the creation of a number of mechanisms and institutions that, combined, are largely responsible for the remarkable diversity and abundance of wildlife that we have today.

The concept of wildlife and habitat conservation in North America arose out of necessity at a time of great crisis when many wildlife species were in serious decline or on the brink of extinction from unregulated over harvesting and irresponsible land use practices. Early conservation pioneers like George Bird Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt, who formed the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, did not specifically set out to develop this Model by name to address the rapid decline of wildlife. Their work and that of many others resulted in what is now called the North American Model. President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the primary leaders of the conservation movement because he institutionalized and popularized conservation and worked hard to expand protection, then management, of wildlife. Due to his influence, a considerable number of national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, laws and policies were established in the U.S., many of which were mirrored in Canada.

The early motivation of the Model's construct was wildlife recovery. Guiding principles were important to set the initial course, but many mechanisms to support conservation were added later such as funding, scientific research and training, wildlife agencies, conservation incentive programs, and protection for endangered species. Now that most species of wildlife have recovered, the challenge is maintaining what we have gained. As successful as the Model has proven to be, it is not all-inclusive; its seven principles alone are not enough to address the challenges of today and into the future.

In a society increasingly disconnected from the natural world, the public knows little of the Model and its connection to conservation. Public attitudes toward wildlife and hunting are often based on emotion and misunderstanding rather than scientific evidence and proven principles. We must guard against a loss of public acceptance of hunting, which is important to the success of conservation. Inadequate funding for wildlife agencies, changes to habitats and landscapes from human development, climate change, and a host of other factors are threatening the rich conservation legacy that has been achieved in part by the Model.


The Boone and Crockett Club supports the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation as a proven system of sound principles that help drive the policy and practice of wildlife management at the state, provincial, and federal levels. The Model has contributed greatly to the abundance of wildlife populations we enjoy today and the opportunity to hunt, fish, and enjoy wildlife in the way we choose.

The Club acknowledges that the Model was developed under unique temporal and social circumstances that continue to evolve, and that it is silent on several transformative events in the history of American and Canadian conservation. The Club believes periodic review and adaptation of the Model is necessary to meet contemporary wildlife conservation needs and sustain abundant wildlife populations and hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations. 



 1 The reference to “North American” is conceptual rather than geographic, as Mexico’s wildlife conservation movement has developed under different circumstances and does not parallel the approach taken by the U.S. and Canada.


The Boone and Crockett Club publishes position statements to inform and educate people about conservation and hunting issues. Thus, there is no charge for personal and non-commercial use of its position statements, but reprinting or re-use of any portions of a position statement shall credit the Boone and Crockett Club as the source. Any such use shall remain subject to all rights of the Boone and Crockett Club. 

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt