The Wildlife Society produces fact sheets on issues related to wildlife management and conservation. TWS members as well as non-members are encouraged to print and distribute the fact sheets below to educate decision-makers, the public, and other stakeholders on issues that affect wildlife.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 to preserve unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values. The 1002 Area of the refuge may contain substantial amounts of oil and gas, but is also of vital importance to many wildlife species. Potential impacts of oil and gas development in the Alaska-based refuge on wildlife needs to be considered.
Expanding commercial demand for members of the family cervidae (e.g. deer) and their products has prompted growth of a for-profit captive industry that raises animals in privately-maintained facilities with the purpose of producing cervids to be sold as breeding stock for “farming” operations of for “canned shoots.” Issues related to these practices include spread of wildlife disease; genetic mixing; privatization, commercialization, and domestication of public wildlife resources; misperceptions of fair chase and hunting; and a potential future decline in ecological stewardship.
Domestic cats (Felis catus) have no native range and are considered an exotic species throughout the world. This species poses a threat to native ecosystems as a reservoir for disease, competitor with other predators, and because of its habit of killing even when not hungry. TWS strongly opposes the existence of feral cat colonies and urges owners to keep their pets indoors or on a leash.
Although many now-extinct horses evolved in North America, feral horses (Equus caballus) today are the descendants of horses introduced to the Americas in the 1500s by Spanish conquistadores. These horses are non-native and damage native ecosystems by trampling vegetation, hard-packing soils, and over-grazing. With no natural predators, horse populations continue to increase and current management options cost taxpayers millions annually.
Feral swine (Sus scrofa) have taken hold in the U.S. as a result of accidental escapes and purposeful releases. Their ability to quickly reproduce and persist under many different habitat conditions has resulted in the species being a degrader of native ecosystems, an agricultural nuisance, and a carrier of disease. Management of this species is particularly difficult, as authority is divided between several different federal, state, and provincial departments with different management priorities.
Bighorn sheep conservation efforts in North America are hampered by the spread of disease. Domestic sheep and goats grazing on rangelands carry pneumonia and other diseases which can spread to wild bighorn herds and cause mortality events and reduced recruitment into the population.
Lead ammunition and fishing tackle poisons wildlife that inadvertently ingest the substance left behind by hunters and anglers. Bans in the 1990s on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl in North America were successful in reducing lead exposure to waterfowl species. However, the continued use of lead tackle and lead ammunition in other hunting pursuits maintains some risk for wildlife. Alternative, non-toxic shot and tackle is available, but their use is not mandated universally, and in some cases, wildlife species are still negatively affected by continued use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle.
Wind energy is one of several renewable energy options that can replace traditional fossil fuel energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Wind turbines can also cause direct and indirect impacts to wildlife through collisions, construction activity, and habitat loss and fragmentation.
The Rocky Mountain region plays a substantial role in meeting the growing energy needs of North America. The region also supports a variety of wildlife species. Energy development can impact wildlife through displacement, reduced recruitment, and direct mortality.
Wolves once roamed throughout most of North America. Due primarily to conflicts with humans, however, both the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and red wolf (Canus rufus) were eradicated throughout much of their historic ranges. Although protected in the lower 48 states, wolf conservation and management continues to be a contentious topic because of the possibility of conflicts with people.
Rattlesnake roundups have been a popular practice in the Midwest and Southern U.S. since the 1930s. Roundups were originally created to promote the elimination of local venomous snakes in an effort to limit the threat of snake bites on humans and cattle, now they persist as traditional community events. Two traditional methods of rattlesnake hunting, gassing and digging have the potential to negatively impact the ecological habitats of rattlesnakes, particularly burrow micro– habitats. Burrow micro-habitats are used by several species including the federally protected Gopher tortoise and Burrowing owl.
Natural habitat is quickly disappearing across the North American landscape, largely due to habitat fragmentation. Fragmentation occurs when connected natural areas are disjointed by habitat removal, converted to urban or agricultural land, or physical barriers such as fences and roadways are constructed. Habitat fragmentation bisects the landscape and leaves smaller, more isolated land for wildlife, causing local and population level changes to native flora and fauna.
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