Grappling with wildlife management and conservation

Species threaten by climate change, habitat loss

Billy Baker’s April 18 front-page feature, “Our backyard wildlife sanctuaries,” rightfully celebrates the impressive range of birds and other wildlife being observed as their Massachusetts populations increase, thanks in part to evolving practices to protect and manage our lands.

As noted in the article, the return of white-tailed deer, bald eagle, black bear, and wild turkey populations are examples of how strong environmental policies, coupled with wildlife habitat conservation and restoration, can result in measurable conservation gains.

Unfortunately, as Baker also points out, many other species are in decline due to the dual threats of climate change and habitat loss.

Mass Audubon’s most recent “State of the Birds” report (2017) warned that chick by mid-century, nearly 60 percent of species evaluated will be highly or vulnerable to climate change, including our state bird, the black-cappedadee.

Compounding the problem is that Massachusetts loses 5,000 acres of forest every year, in part because we rank last in all states in per capita spending on the protection of open space and parks, according to a state Department of Conservation and Recreation Special Commission report from 2021 .

Yet we can each make a difference — in our yards, by planting with native species and reducing or eliminating pesticides; and by using our voices to advocate for policies that support wildlife and promote meaningful climate action. Together, we can ensure that future generations will look back on this time as a golden era for wildlife and for nature.

David J. O’Neill

President

Mass Audubon

Lincoln

A program that caters to hunters is not conservation

I was surprised to see the Globe cover the inordinately pro-hunting North American Model of Wildlife Conservation without presenting any of the many arguments against it.

The model is criticized for giving hunters sole credit for the work of many wildlife organizations that have played key roles in bringing back and protecting America’s iconic species. It also credits hunters with funding habitat restoration other initiatives when those efforts are largely funded by nonhunters. Less than 4 percent of the US population hunts, and the 96 percent who enjoy nonlethal outdoor recreation spend large sums at parks and wilderness areas in addition to volunteering to help maintain them. Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management analyzed funding for US wildlife programs and found that about 95 percent of federal funding, 88 percent of nonprofit funding, and 94 percent of total funding for wildlife conservation and management come from the nonhunting public.

Wildlife management that caters to hunters results in too many animals that they like to kill (such as deer) and too few of the natural predators (such as wolves and coyotes) who maintain the vital balance of the ecosystem.

Just a few of the many reasons you can’t “conserve” species by killing them.

Michelle K. Reynolds

Senior writer, wildlife and hunting issues

The PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Va.

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