Wildlife Management

August 2, 1985

Report Outline
Fight for Survival
Government Role
Continuing Threats
Special Focus

Fight for Survival

Saving a Rich Heritage from Extinction

In places, the United States still abounds with fish and wildlife. All over the country, sportsmen take to the wilds each summer and fall to fish for trout and bass or hunt deer, grouse, ducks and other game. Backpackers, photographers and bird watchers explore the nation's forests, deserts and shorelines in growing numbers, on the lookout for a fleeting glimpse of North America's rich and varied wildlife heritage.

On visits to their ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif., President and Mrs. Reagan “enjoy seeing the hawks, the black-tailed deer, and raccoons and possums,” Reagan told National Wildlife editor John Strohm in a recent interview. Black bear and mountain lions have also been spotted in the Southern California mountains where Reagan's ranch is located. White-tailed deer have reoccupied forests that have reclaimed abandoned farms in the South and East, while the adaptable coyote, the “song dog” of the Western plains, has extended its range from the Los Angeles suburbs to the sheep-farming country of New England. For the time being at least, a 1972 ban on the pesticide DDT may have saved the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and brown pelican. Lake trout are back in the Great Lakes, and Atlantic salmon spawn in New England rivers where they disappeared more than a century ago. The buffalo are gone from the Great Plains, but beaver, elk, wild turkey and pronghorn antelope have been brought back from the brink of extinction.

But other American wildlife is in deep trouble. The California condor may be about to vanish, and the whooping crane remains in peril. Stream-blocking dams and over-fishing have depleted Pacific salmon runs, and state and federal officials in 1984 imposed a moratorium on harvesting the declining Atlantic striped bass. Despite protection under the Endangered Species Act, it may be too late to preserve the red wolf, black-footed ferret, Florida panther, Wyoming toad, dusky seaside sparrow and a host of other birds, mammals, insects and plants in the wild. The grizzly bear, gray wolf and bighorn sheep have retreated to a few last strongholds in the lower 48 states or Alaska and Canada. “What I'm effectively doing,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Charles J. Ault lamented, “is documenting the demise of wildlife resources.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Wildlife and Endangered Species
Dec. 15, 2017  Species Extinction
Feb. 17, 2012  Invasive Species
Oct. 2010  Wildlife Smuggling
Jun. 03, 2005  Endangered Species Act Updated
Sep. 15, 2000  Mass Extinction
Oct. 01, 1999  Endangered Species Act
Apr. 19, 1996  Protecting Endangered Species
Aug. 28, 1992  Marine Mammals Vs. Fish
Jun. 21, 1991  Endangered Species
May 24, 1991  Animal Rights
Feb. 12, 1988  America's Biological Diversity
Aug. 02, 1985  Wildlife Management
Sep. 16, 1977  Protecting Endangered Wildlife
May 10, 1967  Wildlife Preservation
Water Pollution
Wildlife and Endangered Species