BOOKS: America’s National Wildlife Refuges
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2003:
America’s National Wildlife Refuges:
a complete guide
by Russell D. Butcher
Roberts Rinehart Publishers in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited
(c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 4501 Forbes Blvd.,
Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706), 2003.
714 pages. $29.95.
Published in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding
of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge system, America’s National
Wildlife Refuges: a complete guide exists, like the refuges
themselves, in part because of funding from Ducks Unlimited.
Hunter/conservationists help to finance the acquisition of
wildlife refuges through taxes on hunting and fishing gear, as well
as through grants by organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and The
Nature Conserv-ancy–and view this as entitling them to have extra
say in how the refuges are managed.
Though many of the rest of us view the hunter/conservationist
contribution as at best inadequate reparations for the harm hunters
do to wildlife, public officials largely agree with the
hook-and-bullet set. Thus 311 of the current 540 refuges allow
hunting and 280 allow trapping, contrary to the belief of 78% of
Americans that hunting on national refuges is illegal, according to
a 1999 survey by Decision Research Inc.
The Fund for Animals, the Animal Protection Institute, and
Beavers, Wetlands & Wildlife, among other groups, marked the
anniversary of the founding of the National Wildlife Refuges with
press releases calling attention to the contradiction between the
public perception of what a refuge should be and the role of too many
refuges as tax-supported blood sports preserves. The Fund on March
13 also filed suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service for
allegedly improperly opening 37 refuges to hunting since 1997.
Ducks Unlimited meanwhile helped to produce the most
comprehensive guide to the refuge system yet, which will be read and
used by tens of thousands of refuge visitors in coming decades. It
is predictably filled with mentions of how hunters have helped to
build the refuge system, though it occasionally admits the role of
hunting in depleting some endangered species.
It is, overall, a propaganda tour-de-force, of potentially
enduring influence in the struggle for public opinion.