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Wildlife Conservation and its Effects on River Otters Topic of AMK Ranch Talk

June 25, 2015
an otter on a log in water
The North American model of wildlife conservation and its effects on river otters is the topic of discussion during the weekly Harlow Summer Seminars Thursday, July 2, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service Research Center. (Tom Serfass Photo)

The North American model of wildlife conservation (NAM) and its effects on river otters is the topic of discussion during the weekly Harlow Summer Seminars Thursday, July 2, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

Tom Serfass and Kelly Pearce will discuss “River otters as flagships for aquatic conservation: Why this approach doesn't fit the ‘North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,’” at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, located north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue, at a cost of $5 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. For more information, call the UW-NPS Research Center at (307) 543-2463.

Serfass is a professor of wildlife ecology in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University, and adjunct professor at the Appalachian Laboratory-University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Pearce is a doctoral student in the marine, estuarine and environmental sciences program at the University of Maryland, and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University.

Over the last decade, NAM has been among the most widely and repetitively portrayed wildlife conservation groups in North America, and has achieved virtually unconditional support within the wildlife profession despite a small number of critical reviews. The re-establishment of native-predator populations in many areas of North America often has been received negatively by some segments of the hunting community, which contrasts with NAM’s portrayal of hunters as uniformly supporting conservation, Serfass and Pearce say.

“The North American river otter is an example of a predator widely reintroduced in the United States that has, in some cases, been negatively depicted among some segments of the consumptive-use community because of its predatory habits (fish eating),” they add. “However, the river otter is generally considered positively by outdoor enthusiasts. The intention of our program is to initiate critical review of current paradigms regarding wildlife conservation in North America.”

They will review the origins, dissemination and promotion of NAM; question the appropriateness of NAM’s portrayal of recreational hunting/trapping as the equivalent of conservation, especially in relation to river otters and other carnivores; and discuss whether NAM was conceived to promote a holistic form of wildlife conservation or recreational hunting/trapping.

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and government scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the greater Yellowstone area.


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Chad Baldwin

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