Chatting About the Ethics of Wildlife Management

After my recent blog on the ethics of wildlife management, I got a call from Bob Duchesne.  Bob is a birding tour guide, Legislator, and host of the weekly radio show Bob Duchesne’s Wild Maine.  Bob suggested that we sit down and discuss some of the issues that my blog raised for him.  I think we both had an enjoyable time and I am happy to share with you the show that ran on Saturday morning November 28.

Chatting with Bob reminded me of the many good books on this issue that I had the delight of exploring with UMaine students over many years.  I think all such conversations are rooted in the debates between John Muir and Gifford Pinchot over a century ago.  One of the best books covering this bit of American environmental history is Roderick Nash’s Wilderness and the American Mind.  Some people argue that the differences between Muir and Pinchot were reconciled by Aldo Leopold, considered to be the father of wildlife management.  Leopold’s classic on ethics and wildlife is A Sand County Almanac.  I am always surprised by the way in which people with fundamentally different views on wildlife cite Leopold as the basis of their thinking.  Contemporary environmental philosophers have been engaged in wide ranging discussions of these issues.  For my money one of the best is Bryan Norton of Georgia Tech.  A good place to start with his work is the book Toward Unity Among Environmentalists.

Of course, Alfred Hitchcock had important things to say about the ethical questions around human use of wildlife.

One goal of the chat Bob and I had was to explore how we see the world of wildlife differently.  Only by understanding each other in this way and getting differences in our fundamental values out on the table can we have good conversations and ask the right questions.  I hope you enjoy listening to our chat and I urge you to have some of your own with people who do not necessarily think the way you do.

Mark W. Anderson

About Mark W. Anderson

I am proud to be a Mainer, born in Caribou and schooled at Brewer High School, Bowdoin College, and the University of Maine. I am grateful for a 35 year career at UMaine, the last decade in the School of Economics.