- considers all elements in an ecosystem as interconnected, and allows for elements which may be unknown or poorly understood;
- perceives nature as a constantly changing, adapting and balancing force;
- allows wildlife and vegetation to balance itself by reducing human interference.
- is driven by licensing bodies which ensure target animals for hunting/trapping/fishing;
- ignores other elements which are non-consumptive (such as wildlife viewing) and considers them valueless;
- strives to control nature and treats it as a commodity;
- is based on the perception that nature is a force which must be controlled.
Ecosystem Management vs Wildlife Management
Natural resource management in Ontario focuses on resource extraction, and ignores the effects on wildlife. To cite only one example, management plans do not provide large corridors of protected land for large roaming animals, thereby endangering their survival.
Most people understand 'protection' for wildlife to mean protection from being hunted. In Ontario however, hunting of wildlife is allowed across the landscape, including within municipal boundaries, private property and within most provincial parks and conservation reserves. Even when vulnerable species are protected, as is the case for red wolves in Algonquin Park, many of them are killed as they cross over the park's boundaries and into unprotected areas.
The recent reinstatement of snow goose hunting is an illustration of wildlife management not allowing for natural population fluctuations.. Wildlife managers claimed that the geese, which were damaging their northern habitat, should be controlled by shooting. In fact, their population increases and decreases have always occurred as part of a natural cycle, a significant variation being the abundance of human food crops on the birds' migration paths. Hunting groups, rather than the "conservationists" they claim to be, are in fact disrupting this natural cycle. Critics claim these groups are merely looking for more targets for spring hunting, when other types of hunting have been banned.
Focusing only on target species can have devastating effects on other species. For example, predatory animals such as wolves are being hunted out of existence with very few controls. Proponents of wildlife management claim the killing of wolves is necessary because they prey on target animals such as deer, which are prized targets for sport hunters. This practice has major effects on ecosystem balance as wolves historically weeded out the weaker deer, ensuring a strong gene pool and keeping the populations under control. The drive to eliminate wolves as natural predators in Ontario effectively gives 'sport' hunters an excuse to 'control' deer populations and upsets this balance.
Wildlife management also includes stocking our streams and lakes with fish to encourage angling. The introduction of non-native species can dramatically affect an ecosystem, in some cases displacing entire native populations. Nearly all accessible lakes and streams in Ontario have been altered by this sort of pressure from the wildlife management system, driven by profits from fishing licenses. The food needs of surrounding wildlife appear to be ignored.
Wildlife management perceives animals that get in the way of human pursuits as 'nuisance' animals. These animals are sometimes relocated but often destroyed, without regard for their contribution to ecosystem balance.
In ecosystem management, by contrast, human activities such as setting out 'buffets' of garbage and providing extensive monoculture crops are analyzed for their impact on wildlife. Algonquin Park, for example, has eliminated many wildlife problems by providing animal proofed garbage containers. Similarly, beekeepers in some local wilderness areas have prevented bears from vandalizing hives by keeping the hives on a high deck inaccessible to predators. The University of Waterloo solved the problem of Canada goose droppings on their manicured lawns by planting foliage along the shoreline to make the area less goose friendly.
Parks and wilderness areas may be the last refuge for our wildlife neighbours. If we allow this important part of our priceless inheritance to be destroyed through greed, self-interest and blood lust, we are very poor indeed.
Humans need to learn how to live cooperatively with wildlife and nature.