16. - Recommend improvements for controlling species that have detrimental impacts on hunting and fishing opportunities and targeted species

Text from the Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan, 2008, Page 17

Objectives of this effort will, among other possible approaches:

  • Assess the extent and severity of habitat loss and degradation resulting from outbreaks of native pests, diseases, or invasive species encroachment.
  • Assess the existing infrastructure and capacity to combat the most prevalent threats.
  • Identify the issues most relevant to hunting access and game species conservation.
  • Draft recommendations for addressing the threats identified.
  • Target specific conservation education programs for urban landowners and ranchette owners; use the National Association of Conservation Districts to help these owners become conservationists; introduce them to Aldo Leopold’s essay, “The Land Ethic.”

Assessment of Status: Partially Complete

Wildlife sickened by disease and habitats invaded by exotic plants and animals have become significant problems. Throughout the United States, invasive exotics are destroying or displacing native plants and diminishing habitat quality on approximately 150 million acres. Disease is killing – or necessitating the slaughter – of thousands of deer and elk.

Rangelands in the West are significantly altered by the spread of spotted knapweed, cheatgrass and other noxious weeds that displace native plants and seriously degrade habitat. Wetlands throughout the country are compromised by purple loosestrife and tamarisk, which can drastically alter wetland structure and function. Forests are plagued by the emerald ash borer, which has killed 30-40 million ash trees in southern Michigan alone.

Wildlife diseases, such as West Nile virus, can devastate local populations and also be transmitted to humans with serious implications. Diseases of game species, such as chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, and pneumonia in wild sheep threaten susceptible populations, hunting traditions, and local economies. Among non-game species, white-nose syndrome is notorious for its unprecedentedly rapid spread to bats in 19 states, estimated to have reduced bat populations in the northeast by 80%.

For some of these problems, federal agencies have authorities to implement known solutions such as separating domestic livestock and native wildlife on public lands to preclude contagion. In many other cases, however, the federal role in disease control is limited by current science or proper limitations on federal jurisdiction.

Federal agencies and the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force have laid plans for controlling invasive species, particularly on the aquatic front. However, action has been taken based upon broader ecological impacts rather than specific impacts to hunting and fishing opportunities and targeted species. In addition, there has not been a coherent and directed effort for hunted animals.

Supporting documentation and findings

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