BOOKS: Wildlife Protectors Handbook: How You Can Help Stop The Destruction of Wild Animals and Their Habitat

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1993:

Wildlife Protectors Handbook: How
You Can Help Stop The Destruction of
Wild Animals and Their Habitat, by
Donald Heintzelman, Capra Press (P.O. Box 2068,
Santa Barbara, CA 93120), 1992, 160 pages, $9.95
This handy guide to wildlife issues is the most
concise and practical review of this complex topic to date.
Donald Heintzelman, president of the Wildlife Information
Center, pulls no punches, whether he’s describing human
influences on wildlife population or the efficacy of efforts
to protect wild animals.

Heintzelman states his purpose clearly: to pro-
tect wildlife from any human interference, be it hunting,
habitat destruction, or simple carelessness. His tech-
niques are refreshingly free of ideology and pretense.
Rather, he offers basic guidelines for a wide range of
practical action. “Instead of wasting time, money, and
energy on actions that don’t produce results,” he writes,
“we must learn to identify what works, and then do it!”
The book abounds with proven examples of
workable actions undertaken by the Wildlife Information
Center. While the WIC work focuses on raptors, the
guiding principles are easily adapted to work on behalf of
other species in other situations. Perhaps Heintzelman’s
most practical advice concerns opportunities for public
education. Included are detailed instructions for dealing
with the media, developing personal contacts with various
agencies, and influencing legislation.
Heintzelman also stresses the importance of
preparation, since successful actions require both infor-
mation and quality presentation. He offers some back-
ground on most major wildlife issues, with sources for
obtaining more details. Especially informative are his
myth-busting chapters on hunting and trapping. Examples
of useful presentations range from designs for public
information displays to scripts for publicity releases.
Other chapters describe actions that individuals
can take to help their local wild species. In everyday situ-
ations, Heintzelman notes, we can reduce our dependence
on lawn chemicals, and we can avoid causing roadkills.
Included also is a comprehensive list of strategies for pre-
venting human/wildlife conflicts in urban areas.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the
Wildlife Protectors Handbook is Heintzelman’s cogent
argument that wildlife must have economic value to be
saved from eventual extinction. He gives examples of the
effects of ecotourism on local economies that would other-
wise survive by trapping, logging, or other destructive
practices. Bluntly, he states, “Wildlife must pay its way,
or it will be destroyed and replaced with other commercial
ventures.” Nonetheless, while Heintzelman strongly rec-
ommends patronizing alternative wildlife programs, he
insists that whenever they conflict with the needs of wild
creatures, “Wildlife protection always comes first.” He
further notes that boycotting wildlife-derived products can
be effective in giving wildlife the equivalent of economic
value, even if it is not actually used to generate revenue.
Appendices of protection organizations and refer-
ence sources offer the means to obtain much more infor-
mation than Heintzelman could pack into this one pocket-
sized volume. Even so, the amount of information includ-
ed here would be overwhelming but for the grace and clari-
ty with which he presents it. Indeed, it’s nearly impossible
to read the Wildlife Protectors Handbook without being
inspired to act upon at least a few of its suggestions.
––Cathy Young Czapla
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