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A Review of Wildlife Management Practices in North Dakota

Effects on Nongame Bird Populations and Habitats


Currently opinions of some wildlife managers and biodiversity proponents differ regarding the effects of wildlife management practices on nongame wildlife species, especially birds. The debate centers on whether traditional and current wildlife management techniques, primarily intended to benefit waterfowl and ground-nesting game birds, are beneficial or detrimental to nongame wildlife.

Across the country there is growing concern over neotropical migrants and other nongame bird species. In response, conservation agencies are stressing a more broad-based approach to wildlife management and are requiring that nongame wildlife be given con-sideration in developing and implementing management practices. This approach, while long overdue, may be critical of current and traditional management methodologies, with the implication that nongame species do not benefit or are even harmed by these practices.

Wildlife managers, on the other hand, promote the concept that habitat protection, enhancement, and creation are beneficial to all wildlife and not just game species. They are also quick to point out, and correctly so, that hunters and anglers have almost exclusively paid for most current and past wildlife conservation efforts. In addition, managers cite the lack of specific recommendations designed to benefit nongame species.

This debate has unfortunately little basis in fact or substance. In order to move this issue into a more reasonable discussion, we have attempted to conduct an independent analysis of those management practices in question. This effort attempts to determine the effect of management practices on nongame bird populations and habitats in North Dakota.

The effects run the spectrum from very beneficial to very negative to unknown. We believe that the outcome of this analysis will serve to provide a basis for constructive dialogue addressing specific issues and techniques rather than differences in philosophies.

This report and its contents are not a final product but simply a beginning. The authors fully expect critical review and a challenge to their findings. If that occurs we have accomplished our primary goal of getting biodiversity proponents and wildlife managers to focus on the real issues that will ultimately conserve the wildlife resources which mean so much to all of us.

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