The Importance of Policy Changes Regarding the Species Conservation Issue

Synth Author(s): Genevieve Emerson, Freshman, Spring 2013, Nora Casey, Freshman, Spring 2013, Julian Varah-Sikes, Freshman, Spring 2013, Ian Umphrey, Freshman, Spring 2013
Comparison: One Topic in Multiple Sites
Research Site(s): East Africa, ENVS 160, International Locations, Report, US Locations, US Pacific Northwest
Question: What are the significant differences between wildlife reserves/conservation efforts in the United States and in East Africa?

Included Projects

  • Culture of Wolves in Northeast Oregon
    Wolves once roamed all throughout Oregon. Then, as westward immigrants began settling in the state, wolves were put under increasing pressure, and eventually were extirpated entirely in the 1940's. Wolves remained absent in Oregon for nearly 60 years, until a lone wolf trotted across the border from Idaho in 1999. The number of wolves in Oregon increased from 2000 to 2004, as did the amount of concerns surrounding wolves. Then in 2005, ODFW enacted the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management...

  • Conservation-Reliant Species and the Northern Spotted Owl
    Although Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973, few endangered and threatened species have recovered. Scott et al. (2005, 2010) propose that the lack of delistings is a result of the prevalence of conservation-reliant species. This term describes species which due to the constant nature of the threats against them require management in perpetuity even following an attainment of their recovery criteria. In addition, Scott et al. (2005) propose Recovery Management Agreements (RMAs) to manage conservation-reliant...

  • Turtle Conservation and Management in East African Reserves
    Governments, local groups and organizations all over the world establish Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for the purpose of protecting biodiversity, increasing resources and a variety of other reasons. Many of these MPAs, however, are set up with little forethought into the interactions between humans, other animals and abiotic factors within the ecosystem. Since the 1970s, Tanzania has established a series of MPA on its coast. Past studies of these reserves have discovered little improvement in resource protection, and have suggested...

  • Consequences of Poaching in East African National Parks
    The Serengeti is a very vast and complex ecosystem, but throughout time humans have altered this ecosystem (usually negatively) in the form of poaching. This poaching is usually induced either by the want or need of food, or the promise of valuable trade resources (i.e. ivory). In order to further explore poaching’s effect in this ecosystem, as well as on the people that reside in and around it, we came up with the following research question: How much of an...


We are now living in what has been coined “the Anthropocene”, a world in which humans have earned the title of most prevalent and dominant species in existence largely due to the war that has been waged with every other species on Earth in a fight for more space to support a growing human population, and humans have won every battle we have begun. However, what does this mean for the nonhuman species that we are displacing? What consequences occur with the loss of habitat? According to Taylor Riso’s study regarding the discrepancies in the endangered species act, “As of November 2011, only 51 species have been taken off the list, and only 23 of those 51 have been labeled fully recovered.” 23 out of 51! Habitat loss, poaching, and a lack of an efficient recovery management system has resulted in the degradation of thousands of species across the globe, but the studies we are synthesizing look to improve the status of the species’ through fundamental changes in policy.

One study we chose examines “the Culture of Wolves in Northeast Oregon”. While wolves once roamed throughout the state of Oregon, the effects of increasing westward settlement distressed wolf populations, causing a decline in species numbers until their extirpation in the 1940’s. After nearly sixty years of wolf population absence in Oregon, in 1999 a lone wolf crossed the state’s border from Idaho. Since then, wolf populations within the state have been steadily increasing, along with the degree of concern surrounding Oregon’s wolves. In 2005, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) instated the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Since its enactment, wolf reintroduction has become a highly debated topic statewide, largely due to subsequent devastation of livestock. Recently, the ODFW has been utilizing a range of non-lethal control methods; however, wolves and packs identified as repeated livestock assailants typically face lethal control.

In an effort to foster a more comprehensive understanding of this issue and in hopes of shaping better future control policies, Lewis & Clark senior Evan Stanbro began a research project to analyze the relationship between wolf pack size and livestock damage. In a current study initiated in 2011, Stanbro formulated the research question: “How can a better understanding of the relationship between livestock depredation and wolf pack size help shape better wolf control policies in the future?” He postulates that lethal control of wolves may prove counter-productive to decreasing livestock depredation; Stanbro theorizes that larger packs may be more prone to and capable of hunting outside the parameters of human habitation, whereas lone wolves or small packs may depend on livestock kills for survival. If the ODFW strives to effectively re-introduce and protect state wolf populations and simultaneously reduce issues concerning loss of livestock, a more extensive and in depth understanding of wolf culture is needed. Lethal control of Oregon’s wolves may provide a short-term solution, but it is not anticipated to resolve this issue definitively. This project seeks to promote the study of wolf behavior, within the pack and on an individual basis, as a means to gain insight on how policy may be improved to cultivate a healthy and peaceful existence between humans and wolf packs.

Unlike the wolf population in Oregon, The Northern spotted owl were placed on the Endangered Species list in 1990, but since then the species’ numbers have continued to decline, moving increasingly farther and farther away from recovery. As of November 2011, only 51 species have been taken off the list, and only 23 of those 51 have been labeled fully recovered. However, full recovery is difficult to achieve for many species because of the ever present threats to their species. For example, the northern spotted owl is continually threatened by the barn owl’s expansion into their territories. Thus, Scott et. Al suggest that conservation reliant species should be continually managed under Recovery Management Agreements (RMAs). However, the conservation community is unwilling to accept these conservation-reliant species because of the extra costs they will require. Unlike Stanbro’s aforementioned study, Riso’s completed study took a closer look at the policy changes that may be required in order to help remove endangered species from the list versus the culture of the species itself. However, the two are similar in that both studies are attempting to look at conservation policy to establish a healthy balance in wolf species and a comeback for the Northern spotted owl.

In this next study titled “Turtle Conservation and Management in East African Reserves”, Eli hopes to puzzle out the differences between government-managed and locally-managed marine reserves intended particularly to protect turtles. His question is “What is the comparative effectiveness of a government established, cash-motivated reserve versus a locally established, capacity building  reserve in protecting East African turtle populations and the interests of community resource users?”. The motivations of the two groups are very different, with government-managed reserves hoping to conserve the turtle population while the locally-managed reserves hope to expand fishing operations by preventing massive species die offs due to over exploitation. The two groups use similar methods, however, preventing exploitation of turtles with a cash incentive program. The government-managed reserves have a higher payout while the locally-managed ones focus more on community responsibility, but both methods have proven effective. The amount of poaching on the 5 endangered species of sea turtle was reduced, however is still a massive issue. While the study is still in the data-collection phase, much of the background information Eli collected proves useful to answering our posed question. The main issues faced by these MPAs are all due to human interactions with the sea turtles, including habitat loss, accidental bycatch, and intentional poaching of the turtles for eggs, shells, and meat.

Our last  project by Kyle Tibbett and Colin Carver addresses biodiversity and ecosystem health in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Unlike national parks in the United States, the Serengeti has been subject to substantial human impacts from tourism and illegal hunting of various animals, especially big game animals that provide protein for undernourished populations in proximity to the national park. These unsustainable methods call for researchers like Kyle and Colin to deepen their understanding of the social and ecological dynamics at play where the population is rising and an increased demand of poached meat seems probable.

This project’s task of analyzing the Consequences of Poaching in East African National Parks is complex. In light of the demand for meat from about a million people living within 45 km of the park boundaries, poaching in the Serengeti seems to be a local problem driven by local needs. However, larger-scale factors such as national and international policies and treaties are also part of the equation.

The main difference between the problems East African species face and the problems faced by the species studied in the United States is in the nature of their interaction with humans. Whereas in the United States animal species suffer due to being “pushed out” by expansion, in Tanzania the turtles are deliberately sought after and killed. The wolves in Oregon are largely left alone except for when they disturb livestock, an act which turtles are notoriously incapable of, and suffer primarily from habitat loss and human stigma. The Northern Spotted Owl suffers from similar issues, though it also has to deal with the encroachments of the Barn Owl. As a whole, endangered species in the United States don’t have anything to fear from an active public aggression towards them but rather a disinterested apathy towards preserving them. The Northern Spotted Owl may be allowed to die out simply because saving the species would require too much effort or money, and the same could be said about innumerable other unnamed species. The real problem these species face from the US is a passive one, and that is the fact that there simply is not room for them in our lifestyle. In East Africa, however, the problem for endangered species is more active: humans deliberately seek out and kill animals for profit or other gains. Despite the fact that this is motivated by poverty, the active attention to the destruction of species (whether endangered or plentiful) is of a different sort than the passive destruction enacted by the US.