Two days ago I wrote an article titled “The Etymology of ‘Conservation Biology’”. The transmittal e-mail was titled “Word Games”. In that article I attempted to explain the origin of the term “Conservation Biology” 100 years ago as a description of the American effort to describe practical fish and wildlife research and management to be used to guide federal and state government programs to conserve and manage fish and wildlife resources of the United States.
I explained in the article that the reason the term was important was that the inevitable advent of laws and property set-asides were to be justified and explained as the result of “scientific” facts obtained from “biological research” conducted in wild places on wild animals.
Further, I described how the modifier, “Conservation” was meant to describe a particular branch or mode of biology that attended specifically to the management of fish and wildlife resources amidst the Constitutional government, capitalism, and life styles of the USA.
Finally, I described how, until the emergence of the environmental/animal rights takeover of federal and state wildlife agencies in the 1960’s, “Conservation” was synonymous with the proactive management of a diversity of fish and wildlife to (among other things):
- Maintain sustainable levels of sport fish and wild game to generate license revenue to fund wildlife programs of all sorts,
- Cooperate with businesses, Local communities and Local; governments to provide compatible fish and wildlife populations,
- Minimize wildlife depredations, damage and threats to citizens,
- Manage ALL fish and wildlife and their habitats on government lands for societal benefit,
- Influence, as requested, the presence of fish and wildlife on private lands and the continued availability of fish and wildlife throughout the state and the nation.
A reader has recently informed me of their umbrage at me being so cavalier as to say that “Conservation” was a term used to describe wildlife management only for people, or that it was a term used 100 years ago to describe wildlife programs that differ from today. The reader is mistaken.
1.) Anyone with the interest should review the writings and speeches of Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot and even the semi-poetry of John Muir and John Burroughs. The word “Conservation” is as common as desert flowers after a rain. Indeed, on the flyleaf of my copy of Aldo Leopold’s nature classic, A Sand County Almanac appears the following, “He died in 1948 while fighting a brush fire on his neighbor’s farm. His death cut short an assignment as an adviser on conservation to the United Nation.”
2.) It is not far-fetched to say that the term fell into disrepute with the advent of the current wildlife philosophy ruling government and our Universities that the killing of wildlife is wrong, the use of wildlife is wrong, the management of wildlife is wrong, and human conflicts with wildlife from death and injuries to loss of property and rights should always be decided in favor of wildlife and the human element in the equation be eliminated as a last resort.
3.) From the 1930’s to the 1960’s most state wildlife agencies adopted names as “Conservation Departments” or “Fish and Game Departments”. At the same time many state wildlife agencies changed the title of their “Game Wardens” to Conservation Officers. Both names denoted organizational and personal titling to suggest the origin of the applied science of “Conservation Biology”. This was the period so despised by environmental/animal rights ideologues: it was the period of big game management and restoration or deer and elk and moose. It was the period of introduction of chukars and the proliferation of introduced game species like brown trout and pheasants. It was the period of stocking striped bass in the West, and rainbow trout below dams, and muskies in Southern waters, and salmon in the Great Lakes – all for sport and human enjoyment and enrichment. In short it was everything the new philosophy detested and the new employees hated. As they gained control from the 1960’s on, is it any wonder that the term “Conservation Biology” and the word “Conservation” was rejected and ignored?
4.) Finally, I consulted my complete 1960’s-era collection of state (and Provincial) Wildlife Uniform Shoulder Patches. In 1960, 21 states still either called themselves “Conservation” Departments or had the word “Conservation” in their title, or called their Game Wardens – “Conservation” Officers.
5.) Today, in our politically correct world of Orwellian terms where “war is peace” the wildlife rulers are no different than their education peers or their global warming “scientists". Words matter and we need look no farther than that state leader of idiocy, California. The state that bans any management of cougars and ignores human dangers and property destruction from coyotes and wolves, has removed any vestige of the old “Conservation Biology”/managing wild animals for state residents crowd. As a final touch, I offer the following news item:
“Call them words of war between hunters and wildlife activists: Starting Jan. 1, California's Department of Fish and Game will become Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The change, hunters say, reflects a move away from traditional hunting and fishing values and is part of a bigger push by the Humane Society of the United States to eliminate hunting across the nation.
Environmentalists and animal activists say it reflects a move to manage all wildlife in the state, not just "game" for hunters.
California's change will leave just 12 states using "game" in the name of the agency overseeing wildlife, according to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. (Those are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming.)
Eighteen states use "wildlife," while the others use "natural resources" or "conservation."
Moreover, data from the association and the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates the shift away from "game" is accelerating, the Associated Press reported.”
What’s in a word? The question arose because those affected by growing federal abuse using wildlife “needs” as an excuse have seen “Conservation Biology” cropping up in news items, Federal Register Notices, government-generated “reports and papers”, and even in court transcripts.
To repeat what I said in the earlier article:
- There is an election coming up and the feds want to set minds at ease and quell any negative news about what they are doing. It is all “Conservation Biology” don’t you know?
- They are keeping the great unwashed (that’s you Mr. & Mrs. Rural America) off balance. The more they baffle you and the courts, the more you think them good guys just like grandpa’s old Conservation Department and all those legendary Conservation Officers he used to talk about. The more you stay docile and forego challenging them; the deeper their hold on you.
- Remember it is their game and their rules and your money paying for it.
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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.
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