The purpose of wildlife management is to maintain populations of wild animals at levels consistent with the best interest of wildlife and the public. Reaching this goal is somewhat difficult. Many agencies are involved in wildlife management. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service are agencies that are involved at the national level in wildlife management. Each of the 50 states has an agency responsible for wildlife within its borders. In Idaho, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has this job.
A wildlife manager's job is to make sure we have enough members of a species, but not too many! Can there be too many animals? How does this happen? Disease, loss of habitat, improper hunting management, drought and invasive species are some of the reasons why numbers of animals can change.
How Wildlife Management Boosts Biodiversity
The incredible variety of life on earth is called biodiversity. It is neccesary to maintain the biodiversity of an area. Variety is important and our quality of life depends on it! Find out how at why at Biodiversity and Nature and in this TED Ed video. Also, check out Wildlife Web Part One and Part Two for more information.
Find out how Yellowstone National Park boosted their biodiversity by re-introducing gray wolves after being exterminated eight decades ago.
Predator and Prey
The balance of predator and prey is important in wildlife management. Sometimes the predators eat all the prey! Sometimes there are no predators and the prey numbers keep growing. Quick Frozen Critters takes a look at predator/prey relationships. Lessons from the Plateau will shed more light on the subject.
Fast Food: A Predator's World is a video available through Idaho Dept of Fish and Game. Call 208-287-2889 to purchase or borrow a copy.
Carrying Capacity and Habitat
One of the terms wildlife managers must know is “carrying capacity,” which means the number of animals a given area can support. Biologists use this idea of carrying capacity to determine how much habitat must be conserved to maintain healthy wildlife populations.
Another word to know is habitat, which is any place on the earth that contains everything an animal needs to survive and reproduce such as food, air, water, shelter, rainfall, temperature, soil type and space.
You can be a "wildlife manager" by creating and maintaining a backyard wildlife habitat that will attract birds, bees, butterflies and amphibians to your yard.
What about niche? Animals and plants all have very special jobs to play in their communities. The niches they fill help keep their habitats healthy. “What's My Role?” is an activity from NatureWorks that will help you understand niches. Test your niche knowledge!
By now you know that loss of or change in habitat and ecosystems can lead to a decline in biodiversity. It can also lead to the complete loss of an entire species!! This is called extinction. Animals that are in danger of becoming extinct are called endangered animals. Check out the Science TrekEndangered Species site to find out what endangered means, how you can help, and learn about species in the spotlight.
Extinction is a natural process, but the current extinction rate is not. Endangered can mean that there is still time to reverse the process. The National Wildlife Federation has some amazing success stories that tell how species in the United States have been brought back from near extinction.
The Father of Wildlife Management
Aldo Leopold is considered the “father” of the profession of wildlife management in America. Read a biography of Leopold, one of the country's authorities on native game animals.
Role of Hunting
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has a responsibility to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage all wildlife in the state and to provide continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping. The role of hunting can be a controversial and emotional topic. View the Fish and Game Getting started hunting, a beginner's guide page.