The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, Sportsmen, and the Boone and Crockett Club
Wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will.
Natural resources, including wildlife represent the health and wealth of a country and its people. We are fortunate in North America to have a proven system that not only recognizes these values, but also provides for and directs the proper use and management of these resources.
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is anchored by a Supreme Court decision that decreed that wildlife belongs to the people, and not government, corporations or individuals. It further directs how this natural resource is to be used and managed under sustainable guidelines for the betterment of wildlife and people. It is the reason why we still have abundant, wildlife populations in the U.S. and Canada and the opportunity to freely hunt, fish or enjoy this wildlife each in our own way.
The Model is guided by seven principles. It developed over time out of necessity to reverse the negative effects from the unregulated over harvesting of many species of wildlife and early attitudes that these resources where there for the taking and inexhaustible. Sportsmen and women, led by the efforts of the Boone and Crockett Club and its members helped to either establish, popularize, mobilize support for, and/or defend each of these guiding principles over the past 125 years. The results are unprecedented in the history of mankind.
In the Public Trust – Wildlife belongs to the people and managed in trust for the people by government agencies.
Who owns wildlife was determined by a Supreme Court decision at the time the New World was flexing its new independence from European rule. The Public Trust Doctrine is the pillar of North American conservation, but it took time for citizens to fully understand the responsibilities that came with this ownership.
Many of the Boone and Crockett Club’s early efforts were focused on awakening the people to the plight of their wildlife resources, and that these resources did indeed belong to them, and were in their care. These efforts were in concert with the conservation laws the Club and its members were proposing to aid in the recovery and protection of wildlife. Once the public realized it was their wildlife being irresponsibly eliminated their outcry was so great that conservation legislation passed with ease.
Prohibition on Commerce of Dead Wildlife – It will be illegal to sell the meat of any wild animal in North America.
The harvesting wildlife for commercial markets contributed greatly to the extinction of some species of wildlife, and the near extinction of others. With the Boone and Crockett Club rallying the public and political support needed, Club member Senator John F. Lacey of Iowa was able to present and pass the Lacey Acts of 1900 & 1907, which prohibited a commercial value to wild game meat, spelling the end of market hunting, allowing our wildlife to recover and flourish.
Allocation of Wildlife is by Law – Laws developed by the people and enforced by government agencies will regulate the proper use of wildlife resources.
The mere presence of man on the landscape can negatively affect wildlife and the habitats that support them. The rule of law instead of the rule of chance will be used to govern the appropriate use of these wildlife resources.
The Boone and Crockett Club proposed laws and rallied public support for these new rules of order. The Club helped establish government agencies like the U.S. Fish & Wildlife and National Forest Services that were needed to oversee the proper execution and enforcement of these laws. The Club’s Fair Chase statement also became the cornerstone for game laws established by the states.
Opportunity for All – Every citizen has the freedom to hunt and fish.
Public access to wildlife, regardless of social or economic status, including hunting, fishing, and trapping is a right of citizenship. This access fosters individual stewardship and provides the funding necessary to properly manage wildlife resources in a sustainable manner.
Boone and Crockett Club founder, Theodore Roosevelt believed strongly in wise-use conservation and fought aggressively against preservationist, or non-use proposals. The Club also believed that those who use the resource should pay for its care and maintenance. The Club lobbied for the laws and institutions that provided this funding, including a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition and the federal Duck Stamp program. Sportsmen and women subsequently stepped forward and gladly accepted their role in funding conservation
Non-frivolous Use – In North America we can legally kill certain wildlife for legitimate purposes under strict guidelines for food and fur, in self-defense, or property protection. Laws are in place to restrict casual killing, killing for commercial purposes, wasting of game, and mistreating wildlife.
The rules of proper use, both in written law and personal ethics, did not exist in commercial market and sustenance hunting cultures. As these activities faded, what remained was recreational, sport hunting. What separated a true sportsman from market gunners was an ethical code of personal conduct that was defined and promoted by the Boone and Crockett Club. These same tenets of Fair Chase were used as the cornerstone of modern-day game laws. Club member, Aldo Leopold is credited with framing the concept of a land ethic and managing entire biotic communities. Combined, the foundations for the proper use of The intricate nature of ecosystems and biotic communities, of which all wildlife and man belong, will be managed under the knowledge of science rather than opinion, or conjecture.
wildlife and the habitats that support them was put in place to support conservation, defined by Club member, George Bird Grinnell as,” wise use without waste.”
International Resources – Because wildlife and fish freely migrate across boundaries between states, provinces, and countries they are considered an international resource.
The proper management of certain species of migrating wildlife is to be managed by international treaties and laws.
Sportsmen where among the first to recognize the need for international treaties and laws to save what was left of decimated waterfowl populations. Wildfowl that nested in Alaska, Canada and the Lower 48 States, and then migrated as far south as Mexico, could only be saved if restrictions to the loss of their wetland nesting habitats and hunting reached across international boundaries. The Boone and Crockett Club responded with the establishment of the National Wildlife Refuge system (1903) and the passage of the Migratory Bird Act of 1913 & 1917, the Reclamation Act of 1902, and the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 all contributed to the recovery and future prosperity of migratory species.
Managed by Science – The best science available will be used as a base for informed decision making in wildlife management.
Boone and Crockett Club founder, Theodore Roosevelt was a strong advocate of science, and that only the best science available was to be used to make critical decisions on natural resource management. The Club began by providing seed money for some of the first wildlife research projects. Under the leadership of member, Aldo Leopold the Club began formulating flexible scientific management policies for wildlife and natural resources to achieve an ecological balance. The Club also called for the first President’s Conference on Outdoor Recreation, which lead to the establishment of the National Recreation Policy, which coordinated resource management at federal, state, and local levels.