Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 33-40
Privileging Consumptive Use: A Critique of Ideology, Power, and Discourse in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
Andrea M Feldpausch-Parker1, Israel D Parker2, Elizabeth S Vidon1
1 State University of New York - Environmental Science and Forestry, New York, USA
2 Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas, USA
Israel D Parker
Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|Date of Web Publication||2-Mar-2017|
| Abstract|| |
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC) defines the unique style of conservation in the North American continent which is comprised of equal and ethical public access to natural resources that are ostensibly held in trust for them by the state. Since the NAMWC was first articulated as a concept, many wildlife specialists and curriculum developers in North America have adopted the seven tenets of the model as a representation of conservation history and an important component of future management strategies. In an ideological critique of the model, we argue that its narrow stakeholder focus and ideological representation limits both a broader spectrum of citizen involvement in wildlife management decisions and the future applicability of the model due to changing values toward nature. We draw on discourse and hegemony theory to critique written descriptions of the tenets from Geist et al. (2001) and other academic and popular literature addressing the model. We found that the NAMWC focuses its rhetoric on hunters and wildlife management practitioners, but excludes or marginalises non-consumptive users, policy-makers and other conservation practitioners. We argue for a broadening of the philosophical model to accommodate a variety of ideologies and diffuse powerful interests that have built up around the model.
Keywords: Conservation, critique, ideologies, NAMWC, power, stakeholders, wildlife
|How to cite this article:|
Feldpausch-Parker AM, Parker ID, Vidon ES. Privileging Consumptive Use: A Critique of Ideology, Power, and Discourse in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Conservat Soc 2017;15:33-40
|How to cite this URL:|
Feldpausch-Parker AM, Parker ID, Vidon ES. Privileging Consumptive Use: A Critique of Ideology, Power, and Discourse in the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Feb 26];15:33-40. Available from: http://www.conservationandsociety.org/text.asp?2017/15/1/33/201395
| Introduction|| |
The history of wildlife conservation in the USA and Canada has been fraught with successes and failures. Through lessons learned and achievements made, the USA and Canada have now become a model of successful wildlife management and conservation for wildlife management practitioners and user groups. In 1995, Valerius Geist articulated this belief in the North American approach to wildlife management in what he called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC). In 2001, Valerius Geist, Shane Mahoney and John Organ popularised the philosophical model, describing the system of wildlife management in the USA and Canada as characterised by protected areas, restricted commercial exploitation of wildlife, common laws and statutes dedicated to species and habitat conservation, state and federal wildlife and landscape management entities, and dedicated funding for wildlife conservation (Geist 1995; Geist et al. 2001; Geist 2006). The creation of a comprehensive and coherent system guided by laws and science helped the USA and Canada retain many of their native species on public and private lands (Geist et al. 2001). The NAMWC is supported by seven core tenets: 1) wildlife as public trust resources; 2) elimination of markets for wildlife; 3) allocation of wildlife by law; 4) wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose; 5) wildlife are considered an international resource; 6) science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy; and 7) democracy of hunting. These core tenets, also known as the 'seven sisters', serve as guiding principles for wildlife policy and management. Consumptive resource users, most predominantly hunters but also anglers and trappers, serve as central stakeholders to the NAMWC due to philosophical, legal, and economic criteria (Jacobson et al. 2010; Nelson et al. 2011).
Current discourse on the NAMWC has been occupied by only a subset of the wildlife conservation community, predominantly wildlife managers and consumptive users. These groups draw upon the tenets of the NAMWC, impacting wildlife conservation and policy. Other members of the conservation community either mention the model in passing such as the interest group, Bear Trust International's linkage of the model to conservation science and education (2014), or do not participate in its discussion, such as the Society for Conservation Biology or The Nature Conservancy, which fail to reference the model in any of their online publications. The NAMWC is also commonly taught in wildlife management curriculums across the USA and Canada and has permeated many state and province-level government agencies. This demonstrates the importance of the NAMWC in modern conservation, but also highlights its exclusion of other conservation practitioners and non-consumptive users. In this paper, we provide a description of the NAMWC and critique the ideologies expressed in its foundational tenets to determine current constructs of exclusivity while suggesting some alternative directions for the model to achieve a more inclusive structuring of ideals related to wildlife conservation. Eagleton (2007: 5) describes ideology as “…legitimating the power of a dominant social group or class”. We contend that the NAMWC is part of a power-laden and ideologically driven discourse that serves to bolster the dominance of the consumptive use of ideology within the wildlife management sphere. Further, we argue that this ideological discourse, as exhibited through the model's tenets, is characterised by exclusivity and consequently will perpetuate a continued struggle to attract broader swathes of the public while further reifying a select set of values without fundamental changes.
The Seven Tenets of the NAMWC
Most wildlife research and conservation literature is fairly unified in the description of the NAMWC as both a historical descriptor and direction for future wildlife conservation (Geist et al. 2001; Decker et al. 2009; Organ et al. 2010; Organ et al. 2012). As European settlements were established and began to grow, and as the tentacles of Western civilisation spread west across the USA and Canada, wildlife declined in the face of market and subsistence hunting, habitat loss, and organised attempts to decrease Native American food supplies (Geist 1995). The progression of the nineteenth century witnessed this precipitous decline of wildlife but also an increase in human living standards that gave rise to a new group of leisure-based consumptive users near the end of the century (Geist 1995; Wellock 2007). These new middle and upper class hunters eschewed market hunting for a new conservation ethic that transitioned from the 'wildlife as commodity' to a 'wildlife as resource' philosophy that incorporated the common properties idea (Public Trust Doctrine) promulgated under the Roman Emperor Justinian in the 6th century CE and the Magna Carta in the 13th century CE (Sax 1980; Smith 2011). The Public Trust Doctrine (PTD) claims that some resources (e.g., free-ranging wildlife) are important and common enough to defy private ownership and thereby fall under public management. It is these resources that are held in trust for the public by the government under the mandate that they are to be conserved long-term. State and federal governments in the USA and Canada devote time, funds, and other resources to managing this trust. As such, a large part of state wildlife agency budgets (and hence the majority of wildlife management funds) come from excise taxes on firearms and ammunition sales, fishing equipment, trolling motors, and motorboat fuel sales (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act 1937, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act 1950; Jacobson et al. 2010). These views serve as justifications for the need and continuation of the NAMWC.
A set of seven tenets serve as the underpinnings of the NAMWC which was first proposed by Geist et al. (2001). This article served as the first published paper introducing the tenets as a model, though an earlier version was presented by Geist in a book chapter on North American policies of wildlife conservation (see Geist 1995). The following characterisations of the tenets are based on Geist, Mahoney, and Organ's multiple articulations of the model with supporting material from other wildlife organisations and individuals involved in its boundary maintenance such as The Wildlife Society and Sporting Conservation Council.
1. Wildlife as Public Trust Resources. – Geist et al. (2001: 176) described the transition from individual ownership of wildlife to a communal resource wherein wildlife is seen as a “common resource held in trust for the people” by the state. Organ et al. (2012: 13), in a publication for The Wildlife Society, built upon this notion as they described the challenges to this tenet as “inappropriate claims of ownership of wildlife,...unregulated commercial sale of wildlife,...unreasonable restrictions on access to and use of wildlife, and...animal rights doctrine...antithetical to the premise of public ownership of wildlife.”
2. Elimination of Markets for Wildlife. – This tenet states that wildlife should remain wild and free from commercialisation. The core belief is that market hunting must be prohibited in order to minimise wildlife population decline. As Geist et al. (2001) state, “Elimination of legal trafficking in meat, parts and products of game animals and nongame birds, while maintaining markets for less vulnerable furbearer species, was critical in halting what would have been a 'tragedy of the commons'” (p. 177). They also discuss how it has been shown with numerous species that wildlife population cannot generally support market hunting and commercialisation. This tenet also urges careful management of captive wildlife population to minimise risk to human and wildlife health (Mahoney et al. 2008).
3. Allocation of Wildlife by Law. – The purpose of this tenet is to emphasise that all citizens have a legally protected right to use wildlife. For instance, Geist et al. (2001) state that “surplus wildlife is allocated to the public for consumption by law, not by the market, land ownership or special privileges... This process fosters opportunity for all citizens to become involved in the management of wildlife” (Geist et al. 2001: 177–178). Organ et al. (2012) go on to caution that “application and enforcement of laws to all taxa are inconsistent” and that “decisions on land use, even on public lands, indirectly impact allocation of wildlife due to land use changes associated with land development.” (p. ix).
4. Wildlife Can Only be Killed for a Legitimate Purpose. – According to this tenet, “wildlife can only be killed for legitimate purposes, such as for food, fur, self-defense or property protection” (Geist et al. 2001: 178). In a more recent presentation of this tenet, The Wildlife Society communicated it by stating, “take of certain species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians does not correspond to traditionally accepted notions of legitimate use” (Organ et al. 2012: 9). This document explained this tenet through reference to the 'code of the sportsman' which disavowed commercial and wasteful use of wildlife.
5. Wildlife are Considered an International Resource. – Geist et al. (2001) emphasised that species “transcend boundaries, and one sovereign state's interests can be affected by another's management” and this has “led to cooperative management among such states” (p. 178). These have often taken the form of international agreements such as the Migratory Bird Treaty (1916), a treaty between the USA and Canada (via Great Britain) to protect migratory birds from unregulated use. Mahoney et al. (2008) articulated three overarching goals in a paper for the Sporting Conservation Council: 1) ensure continuing support for coordinated international management approaches, 2) work to remove impediments to the continuing efforts to conserve, manage and hunt migratory species in North America and 3) apply lessons from international collaborations to safeguard wildlife conservation in North America” (pp. 18–19).
6. Science is the Proper Tool for Discharge of Wildlife Policy. – In this tenet, a belief that “science should be the determining factor in allocation of uses of natural resources” is strongly linked to the 'formation of the wildlife profession in North America' (Geist et al. 2001: 178). Mahoney et al. (2008) emphasised that “to be effective, relevant science must be utilised and integrated into decision-making” (p. 17). They go on to state that this decision-making process must include human dimension aspects including “broader societal input” in the “science base of the decision-making process” (p. 17). Organ et al. (2012) articulated many problems with this tenet including “rapid turnover rate of state agency directors, the makeup of boards and commissions, the organizational structure of some agencies, and examples of politics meddling in science” (p. ix).
7. Democracy of hunting. – The NAMWC requires that “all citizens have the opportunity to participate” in hunting and thereby “everyone is a stakeholder, not just the privileged.” (Geist et al. 2001: 179). In a publication by The Wildlife Society, they argue that, “the opportunity for citizens in good standing to hunt in Canada and the U.S. is a hallmark of our democracy” (Organ et al. 2012). They go on to discuss education of the electorate on hunting and gun control impacts on conservation.
Past and Current Critiques of the NAMWC
The dominant interpretation of the NAMWC (both the history and the justification) has potentially important problems. Though Decker, et al. (2009) emphasise that the NAMWC must appeal to a broader swath of the general public to remain functional, the popular history of the model largely ignores the role of non-consumptive users in the development of wildlife conservation in the USA and Canada. A critique of the model by Nelson, Vucetich, Paquet, and Bump (2011) finds fault with the NAMWC for vague foundational tenets focused primarily on recreational hunting and a flawed ethical design that requires future actions (i.e., hunting) based on historical practices. Additionally, the model emphasises the value of modern consumptive users with little acknowledgement of other important groups.
The popular interpretation of North American conservation history is incomplete and downplays the importance and role of other ideologies. Certainly, hunters and management for hunters helped define wildlife management in North America (Leopold 1933). Still, some historians contend that environmental ideals and conservation laws occasionally had roots in contemporary ills such as elitism (e.g., exclusion of poor subsistence hunters), racism (e.g., some game laws in the southern USA), and gender inequities (Wellock 2007). Also, notably missing in this interpretation of conservation history are the very people many wildlife managers and researchers would argue must be educated about the system, convinced to care about conservation, and compelled to contribute to its maintenance for effective future conservation (i.e., general public; Decker et al. 2009). Women's and community groups, scientists and environmentalists, environmental organisations, naturalists, explorers, philosophers, students and teachers contributed to the philosophical (e.g., deep and shallow ecology, public trust) and practical (e.g., statutory laws) underpinnings of the NAMWC (Nash 2001; Wellock 2007). We also know that humans have diverse perceived relationships with and definitions of nature and wilderness (Kellert and Smith 2000; Nash 2001) beyond just consumptive use values. For instance, the proposed listing of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus; a hunted species) as 'threatened' under the Endangered Species Act 1973 elicited over 600,000 comments, most, in support of the action (Inkley et al. 2009).
Furthermore, the tenets of the NAMWC are challenged in modern society. Ongoing debates about hunter impact on wildlife populations and human communities (Lewis and Alpert 1997; Coltman et al. 2003), doubts about hunter commitment to wildlife stewardship (Holsman 2000; Treves and Martin 2011), and the costs and obstacles of exporting conservation systems to countries with unique political, social, and cultural structures (Peluso 1993; Matveytchuk 2011; Wilshusen et al. 2011) raise issues. Some are questioning the strength of the PTD as well as the co-existence of private property rights, economics, and wildlife privatisation with the concept of public trust (Naughton-Treves and Sanderson 1995; Blumm et al. 1997; Mozumder et al. 2007). Changing demographics (Lopez et al. 2005) and declining participation in hunting (Walter 2009; Schuett et al. 2009) necessitate a critical analysis of the rhetoric of the NAMWC to determine current and future applicability. This public is decidedly non-hunter as only 5-15% of the American public reported hunting in research conducted from 2000-2006 (Kellert and Smith 2000; Schuett et al. 2009).
Many proponents of the model argue that the NAMWC represents a highly desirable strategy for effective wildlife conservation but relies upon critical foundational tenets (primarily wildlife held in trust for the public and democratic access) now under threat in the USA and Canada. Wildlife scientists and managers understand, that effective wildlife conservation now and going forward, requires understanding and participation from a much broader proportion of the public. Even staunch proponents acknowledge that the hunter-focus of the NAMWC poses a fundamental problem of inclusivity and undercuts the PTD, a key part of the NAMWC. For instance, in a recent publication analysing internet-based references to the PTD and NAMWC, we found that very few non-consumptive groups referenced the NAMWC (Feldpausch-Parker et al. 2016). Of thirty organisations that discussed the NAMWC in the online text, only six could be described as non-consumptive. Although the PTD ostensibly refers to all citizens, in practice, wildlife conservation often favors certain groups (e.g., managing wildlife for hunting; Jacobson et al. 2010). The consumptive-use focus of the NAMWC supercedes the broader application of the PTD; thus, creating and reinforcing an insider-outsider paradigm where non-consumptive users are diminished as contributors to wildlife conservation. For instance, Ducks Unlimited (2014) stated in their online NAMWC position statement that, “In addition to their financial contributions to resource management, sportsmen and sportswomen have traditionally formed the backbone of organizations that provide political support for protection of fish and wildlife habitat and promotion of the NA Model.” This utilitarian ideology dominates much of the foundational rhetoric, thereby creating a sort of hegemonic institutionalisation of one set of ideas over all others.
| Methodology|| |
Tenets, or a set of guiding principles, are broad by nature in their attempt to be holistic while accommodating for social change. The seven tenets of the NAMWC are no different in their attempt to capture the unique circumstances and style of wildlife conservation in the USA and Canada. Our critique encompasses the model as outlined by Geist et al. (2001), as well as discussions by proponents of the model (in print materials and online text), most notably academics and professionals in wildlife management as well as professional societies, sportsman's associations and conservation groups contributing to the wildlife conservation discourse (e.g., The Wildlife Society, Sporting Conservation Council, Boone and Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation). In this context, discourse is defined as a “specific ensemble of ideas, concepts, and categorizations that are produced, reproduced, and transformed in a particular set of practices and through which meaning is given to physical and social realities” (Hajer 1995: 44). Discourse is also intimately tied to power and notions of truth and is thus steeped in ideology. According to Foucault (1977, 1978), discourse is power. Power and ideology work in tandem through discourse to legitimate the power of a dominant group in particular circumstances (Eagleton 2007). As Thompson (1984: 4) writes, “to study ideology…is to study the ways in which meaning (or signification) serves to sustain relations of domination”. NAMWC's proponents are not the 'dominant fundamental group' (Gramsci 1971) in North American conservation, but organisations and individuals in support of the model and the ideology that underpins it constitute the dominant group among wildlife management professionals that are responsible for managing wildlife for the public trust. Consumptive use ideology is privileged over others within the model tenets and its successful dissemination points to the power of those who support the model. It also indicates the power of discourse in shaping what constitutes 'truth' and 'knowledge' (Foucault 1976) in the wildlife management community. Further, Eagleton (2007: 9) suggests, “…ideology is a matter of 'discourse' rather than 'language'.” Discourse, then, is ideologically driven, written and disseminated by those with power and knowledge in order to maintain and further propagate the dominance of a particular group in a specific context (Foucault 1976, 1977, 1978; Eagleton 2007). Foucault describes discourse as the principal mechanism through which power is exercised, and attends to the ways in which power, truth, and ideology operate in the creation of both the subject and his/her reality. Rose (2012) further notes that for Foucault, discourse is so powerful because it “…disciplines subjects into certain ways of thinking and acting…” (p. 192) by actively creating the subjects operating within it as well as what constitutes reality for these subjects. Rose (2012) continues, noting, “… discourse produces the world as it understands it” (p. 192). Further, while there exists a multiplicity of discourses in competition with each other, some are more dominant than others. For Foucault, this dominance results largely because these discourses claim absolute truth. Rose (2012) concurs, stating, “the construction of claims to truth lies at the heart of the intersection of power/knowledge” (p. 193). Thus, it is through powerful and an ideologically laden discourse that our understandings of the world are fashioned, and it is through this theoretical lens that in the following section we critique the NAMWC's promoted exclusion of non-consumptive stakeholders and specialists.
| Argument|| |
Constructing and Reinforcing Ideology
In order to better understand the ideological construction of the NAMWC as well as its shortcomings, it is important to situate our critique within the larger context of ideology and power. Ideology and power are important socio-cultural factors in how we approach wildlife conservation. We employ Foucault's (1977, 1978) notions of truth, power, and discourse as a means to better understand the ideological nature and exclusionary function of the NAMWC. While Foucault tends to eschew the term 'ideology' in favor of 'discourse', 'knowledge' or 'power', we nevertheless find function in Foucault's formulations as a way to attend to ideology as it operates in tandem with power through discourse. For Foucault (1976), truth, power, and discourse are intimately connected. He contends, “Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power” (in Faubion 1994: 131). Further, Foucault points to what he calls each society's “regime of truth”, which consists of the “…types of discourse it accepts and makes function as true…” (Faubion 1994: 131), as well as the mechanisms and power relations inherent in determining what constitutes truth in each instance. Proponents of the NAMWC promote the model's tenets as truths to be followed by wildlife managers and to be disseminated to a broader populace through formal education. Indeed, even the use of the word 'Tenets' in the model is illustrative of its ideological and power-laden character. A tenet is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary (2002) as “a principle, doctrine, or belief held as a truth, as by some group” (p. 651). Thus, the model's 'tenets' are held up and privileged as truths to be followed; yet the exclusionary discourse in which they are couched impede broader applicability of the model. Further, proponents of consumptive-use wildlife conservation assume a privileged and dominant status in sanctioning the model's tenets as truths to be widely propagated and adopted. As the Arizona Game and Fish Department (2014) stated in their online position statement, “There is no alternative funding system in place to replace the potential lost funds for conservation. If hunting ends, funding for wildlife conservation is in peril.” In this way, the NAMWC stands as a symbol of the underlying ideology, and its discourse serves to bolster the connection between conservation and consumptive use that is so important for the persistence of hunting and angling within wildlife management. For example, according to Heffelfinger et al. (2013), “Today, hunters are the cornerstone of North American wildlife management not only because of the funds and advocacy they bring to the table, but also because they remain the most effective logistical agents of actual population management” (p. 401). This statement places hunters on a conservation pedestal over other conservation practitioners and reinforces hunting as an important conservation practice. In addition, groups or entire apparatuses within society often propagate these ideologies through the powerful and strategic use of discourse, which serves not only to disseminate their ideology but also to make their messages appear accepted, natural, and ubiquitous (Gramsci 1971; Foucault 1977, 1978; and Althusser 2008). Discourse acts as the mechanism through which the subject (i.e., human beings as contributors to and receivers of discourse) and ideology are joined and influenced by each other (Foucault 1978). Discourse therefore has the ability to act as a divisive force with the power to establish insider from outsider and to alienate those individuals and groups who are excluded from the message. These theoretical constructs play out in the NAMWC by showcasing a consumptive use ideology that is dominant among wildlife managers but is inflexible based on its current construction.
Ideological Dominance and the Perpetuation of Exclusivity in the NAMWC
Geist et al. (2001) refer to all citizens in the context of the PTD, implying the importance of both consumptive and non-consumptive users. Descriptors of the NAMWC quickly depart from a broad plurality to a much narrower interpretation of public as seen in the tenets. We argue that the ideology presented in the NAMWC through its discourse limits the ability of the model to carry out its full mission (i.e., to conserve wildlife for the benefit of the public) and create a gulf with other ostensible allies (e.g., non-consumptive use conservation organisations). The NAMWC ideology further complicates already complex and fractious relationships. For example, The Wildlife Society is a research- and management-oriented wildlife conservation organisation that has made disagreement with the animal rights philosophy a core organisational position.
The Wildlife Society (TWS) regards science as the framework necessary to understand the natural world and supports the use of science to develop rational and effective methods of wildlife and habitat management and conservation, as one of the pillars of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Society recognizes the intrinsic value of wildlife, the importance of wildlife to humanity, and views wildlife and people as interrelated components of an ecological-cultural-economic complex. The Wildlife Society supports regulated hunting, trapping, and fishing, and the right of people to pursue either consumptive or non-consumptive use of wildlife. The Wildlife Society is concerned that foundational elements of the animal rights philosophy contradict the principles that have led to the recognized successes of wildlife management in North America (The Wildlife Society 2011).
Although certainly fraught with various disagreements and divergent philosophies, The Wildlife Society's dedication to the underlying hunting philosophy of the NAMWC certainly makes collaboration with anti-hunting animal rights activists difficult. The problem is that organisations such as The Wildlife Society and animal rights organisations are all ostensibly concerned with conservation. We contend that the model itself serves as the symbol that allows for the communication of the practices and beliefs that justify and signify the model's underlying ideology (see Althusser 2008; Knudsen et al. 2014). This is evident when considering the individuals and organisations targeted by the model, and the ways in which these parties embrace and support it. Foucault (1978) argued that discourse powerfully shapes reality at the level of the subject. The rhetoric of the NAMWC has helped solidify the idea that the NAMWC is the definitive description of wildlife conservation in North America. Important groups have coalesced out of this ideology; those with hunting and management proclivities (i.e., insiders such as the Boone and Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, The Wildlife Society) and those without (i.e., outsiders such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Society for Conservation Biology). Several of the tenets highlight this dominant ideology, including Allocation of Wildlife by Law, Legitimate Use of Wildlife, and Democracy of Hunting which focus on consumptive use; two of those speaking directly to hunting. Interestingly, the only active and involved citizenry as seen by the NAMWC tenets are 1) consumptive users such as hunters; and 2) wildlife managers and scientists. This is important in that the discursive nature of this consumptive use ideology and the tenets' status as truths protect both the model and its underlying ideology. Because power and ideology operate diffusely, and do so predominantly through discourse, they are more difficult to locate and thus to challenge. Consequently, the consumptive use ideology and the model that symbolises it are not easily made more inclusive (Foucault 1978). Through the NAMWC, dominance is exercised by a group or class that promotes an ideology of wildlife conservation defined and determined by consumptive use ideals. That consumptive use proponents aim to disseminate this 'consumptive use ideology' throughout the wildlife management community vis-à-vis the NAMWC speaks not only to the power of this dominant group and its chosen ideology, but also to the power of discourse in naturalising the consumptive use ideology among wildlife managers.
Furthermore, the propagation of this ideology is not executed by a dominant monolithic or unchallenged entity; there is no head of just one central organisation. Instead, the proponents of the NAMWC exercise their authority in complex ways and through multiple organisations and individuals in a system. Power works in a complex and discursive fashion, and the ideology that serves that power is disseminated by organisations as well as individuals (Foucault 1977, 1978; Rose 2012). In sanctioning the model's tenets as 'truths', as ultimate goods in wildlife conservation, the model's proponents establish their dominance in the wildlife management community and discursively spread their message to other organisations and individuals. In so doing, they effectively create other ideological subjects who then continue ideology's work and further bolster the power of the dominant group through their own adoption of the model's tenets as truths and their own discourse in support of the model and its ideology. In the case of the NAMWC, multiple influential organisations within the system (i.e., professional, consumptive use-based and educational organisations) are important actors in Foucault's discursive operation of power and ideology, exercising their power through the promulgation of the model. This power is then supported by individuals who themselves adopt the model and disseminate the ideology through their own discourse and practice. However, while the model enjoys a place of privilege within the wildlife management community, its ideological nature alienates those who do not adhere to the consumptive use ideology that underpins it (i.e., other members of the greater wildlife conservation community). This can be seen in the verbiage of the NAMWC which largely lacks relevance to non-consumptive users or citizens uninterested or unknowledgeable about wildlife management because they are rarely mentioned as important players in its development. Only two of the NAMWC tenets reference citizenry in general terms (Wildlife as Public Trust Resources, Wildlife are Considered an International Resource). The NAMWC's uneven adoption, its acceptance by particular segments of the population and refusal by others indicate the exclusionary nature of its design and its schismatic ideological foundation.
In addition, the privileging of one social group/class over another within the verbiage of the model must also be considered in the context of the ideology in question. The core tenets of the NAMWC emphasise the superior position of scientists and consumptive users in policy creation and maintenance. The intrinsic but shallow inclusion of policy-makers in the tenets indirectly supports the importance of a broad public and diverse value systems, but even these assumptions largely incorporate only the consumptive users (e.g., hunter importance in creating the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937). The tenet that refers to policy directly (Science is the Proper Tool for Discharge of Wildlife Policy) ironically focuses on scientists but not policy-makers. As Foucault points out, this discursive creation and reinforcement of subjects' roles and privileged positions in society is a powerful draw for some, yet we contend that it also serves as an equally powerful alienating force for others. We see this with the NAMWC, as it is consumed and rebroadcast by many experts and professionals in the wildlife conservation field (e.g., The Wildlife Society 2007; Boone and Crockett Club 2014; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 2014), while individuals and organisations in other, more non-consumptive fields (e.g., Society for Conservation Biology, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife) may either fail to embrace all or some of its tenets or interpret those tenets differently (Wuerthner 2013).
The interest in the NAMWC by consumptive users is understandable as the model focuses on the importance of hunters to wildlife conservation, seeks to cement the place of consumptive use in the modern world using conservation ideals, and promotes personal rights now and in the future. These fundamental tenets are often foreign to an increasingly non-hunting public. Certainly, proponents of the NAMWC have argued that it must appeal to more of the public; often with the explicit idea of bringing more people into consumptive use activities or impressing upon these outsiders the importance of consumptive use to conservation. It may be that the current underlying ideology of the NAMWC resists that mandate. It may also be true that much of the American and Canadian public may never hunt to the extent seen in history. This implies that the current incarnation of the NAMWC will likely falter in conserving wildlife in the future due to the economic and ideological dependence of conservation on consumptive use.
| Conclusion|| |
The exclusive ideology of the NAMWC is increasingly anachronistic to a public with low and declining participation in hunting, diverse interest in the mechanisms of conservation, and a broad spectrum of ideologies; thus creating a problem for its future success. The stark reality is that although a great deal of the conservation dollars flow from hunting interests (Jacobson et al. 2010), future funding depends on a public who is increasingly estranged from the current construction of the NAMWC as a vehicle for consumptive use values and support. Even as they often state that the NAMWC must appeal to a greater segment of the public, supporters of the currently accepted interpretation of the NAMWC emphasise protecting the right to hunt and increasing the number of hunters. Certainly, we agree that hunting is an extant and reliable source of funding and a useful management tool.
Unfortunately, the NAMWC reflects an ideology that, while dominant within a subset of the American populace, is not widely applicable to the general public, thus currently making true conservation cooperation across society unlikely. The devotion to consumptive users is understandable but presents a dense stakeholder-driven ideology that may prevent broader applicability. As presented, the NAMWC requires non-consumptive users and citizens unengaged in wildlife management to accept the model on its terms. Efforts at more effective wildlife conservation seem to focus on attracting more hunters and preserving the place of consumptive use in American and Canadian culture. In this sense, the NAMWC is a special interest that competes directly and indirectly with other conservation ideals and organisations that espouse non-consumptive or anti-hunting values. With such close ties between a dominant interest group (i.e., consumptive users), a few important laws (e.g., Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act 1937) and a vision of wildlife conservation, any change in the values of the North American public towards consumptive use impacts conservation.
At this stage, proponents of the NAMWC must consider its future course in light of the exclusivity critique. Potential avenues for future relevance of the model include: 1) broadening the model's tenets by speaking specifically to non-consumptive users and policy-makers as important stakeholders in the same way that hunters and wildlife scientists are treated, 2) acknowledging the NAMWC as a conversation starter about conservation and funding but not a strict roadmap for the future (Jacobson et al. 2010), and 3) repositioning the NAMWC as a part of the conservation movement but subsuming it into a broader strategy to engage the public in conservation action along-side efforts such as community-based conservation and public participation in issue-based conservation. Alternatively, the nuclear option is to move away from the NAMWC as a path for future conservation success and re-vision a new trans-disciplinary strategy to invigorate public engagement that includes a diversity of ideologies present in the USA, Canada, and other conservation partners. All of these options have the potential to increase inclusivity and diffuse powerful interests that have built up around the model, thus moving the NAMWC closer to its conservation goal of promoting wildlife management for the public good.
| References|| |
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