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Webinar – Hunting and Trapping Part 1: Wildlife Management and Ethics

2021-10-21 @ 12:00 13:00 MDT

Webinar Summary

This engaging webinar was a continuation of the great discussion from the hunting and trapping symposium that we hosted during our 2021 conference. Dr. Mark Boyce kicked off the webinar by discussing the challenges with the current North American wildlife management model and its principles. Although once incredibly useful and effective, this model is now outdated and does not prioritize habitat, focuses on hunters, has no Indigenous involvement or input, and is only for North America. Mark went into detail about how each of the seven principles of the North American model are problematic in facing our current realities around wildlife and habitat management. He then proposed seven new principles for wildlife management that considers things we have learned and the evolution of our profession over the past several decades. These new principles are:

  1. Ecological goods and services need to be incorporated into management.
  2. Incentives, such as carbon markets, irrigation districts, and reclamation bonds can also provide a funding base that is broader than hunting and angling.
  3. Corporate social responsibility can also be a funding source and an opportunity to implement management best practices outside of government agency jurisdiction.
  4. Conservation of habitats and creating a land ethic should be central to the model.
  5. Sustainability of harvest by integrating science into decision making remains important.
  6. Global context is important. Several international efforts (e.g., Convention on biodiversity, IUCN) should be considered to ensure a model is applicable more broadly.
  7. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Environmental Justice need to form central tenets of a new model. Indigenous involvement is essential, as well as human dimensions research.

Charles List joined us from New York state to talk about hunting ethics. Charles posed some really good questions largely stemming from “Why do I hunt?” He shared some essays that others had written that spoke to the need to get outside and be with family, to connect with nature, and to be more connected to what we’re eating. But there is an underlying reason to why people hunt. Why is it good to connect with family and to nature? Because it brings us joy. Happiness is a choice in life that is the ultimate goal. If this is true, then how do we enable this kind of life? Hunting can offer access to the virtue of happiness and “the good life”. It provides unique experiences and unique opportunities to connect with nature. Charles encouraged us all to think about why we hunt (or not) and to chase that answer down to the ethical views.

Matt Besko from the Government of Alberta brought the discussion home by talking about wildlife management in Alberta. For the 130K resident licensed hunters in Alberta, hunting is a privilege; for our Indigenous population, it is a right. A total of 3% of the Alberta population hunts. The Alberta Government does its best to manage hunting based on science (e.g., using population dynamics to set harvest); feedback received from the public also influences decisions but is not always based in science. This creates controversy that can be challenging to navigate. Biologists needs to respond with a different skill set based on ethical questions. Sometimes hunting issues are not directly related to hunting but about other things, like human-wildlife conflict. Social media drives this controversy and creates more concern about the relevance of wildlife management. To maintain social license to hunt, we need to turn to virtue-based models. This incorporates environmental awareness (both ecosystem science and stewardship), and the answer to why we hunt. Where and how these answers are communicated is also part of this work. Alberta’s principle-based policies developed in 1982 need to be updated and we need to develop a wildlife conservation and management strategy. These updated policies need to include a policy on Indigenous harvest and outline how Indigenous peoples will be part of the decision making processes.

Webinar Results

This webinar was attended by 32 people and 79% of them were satisfied and 91% of them were likely to recommend ACTWS webinars to their network. Two people liked the video livestreamed on Facebook and at least part of it was watched by 62 people! We’re still seeing about half of participants have attended a previous ACTWS webinar, which means that with each webinar we’re attracting more people to the ACTWS. Also great news.

See the Webinar!

A video of the webinar is posted in our members area.

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Title: A Global Model for Wildlife Conservation

Mark Boyce

Abstract:  In the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation Val Geist, Shane Mahoney and John Organ have identified 7 principles that were highly successful during the 20th century at achieving wildlife conservation and recovery for many species of wildlife in North America. However, today this model fails to retain relevance relying heavily on hunters who constitute less than 5% of the population in most jurisdictions. Also, the North American Model does not apply elsewhere in the world where cultures are different.  I identify 7 different principles that can serve to ensure wildlife conservation in the 21st century that are relevant in a global context. These include sustainability, habitat conservation, the preservation of biodiversity, ecological goods and services, incentives, corporate social responsibility, and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Title: Why Am I Doing This: A Path to Hunting Ethics

Charles List

Abstract: A critical and philosophical exploration of why we hunt will lead to some insights about hunting ethics. Usual answers such as pleasure or tradition are set aside in favor of a more ethically compelling answer which requires the development of personal and environmental excellence. This will connect to the question of why our states and provinces should allow us to continue to hunt.

Incorporating Hunting Ethics and Principle-Based Strategies into Wildlife Management in Alberta

Matt Besko

Abstract: Wildlife management is traditionally recognized as a science-based process which incorporates social, ecological and economic interests into decision making. Alberta is fast-becoming a complex environment with an increasing human population and growing development into rural areas, coupled with increased pressures on natural habitats, wilderness areas and increased frequency with respect to human-wildlife conflict. Alberta is making changes with respect to how policies recognize patterns of human use in natural environments, one of which is the recognition of hunting and angling as methods by which we incorporate ethics and principle-based strategies to recognize and validate human use and the intrinsic value of nature. I identify several policy processes and case studies by which Alberta is incorporating these principles in to current management.

PO BOX 4990
Edmonton AB
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Professional refers to someone who works with wildlife and/or their habitats in a professional setting.

In this context, it is not in reference to a legal professional designation.