On-line Book
cover to Fauna 1
Fauna Series No. 1








Suggested Policy

Fauna of the National Parks
of the United States



Since he is in the parks permanently both as resident and seasonal visitor, man must henceforth be considered an integral part of those microcosms. The significant difference between himself and all other ecological factors is that he is conscious of his relationship to the other elements of the park world and hence can regulate, or at least modify, his influence to suit his own purpose. It happens that in the parks the purpose dominating man's relations to his environment is the maintenance of all the animal and plant life in an unmodified wilderness state. In order not to defeat his own ends, he contrives that his presence shall disturb the wild life to the very smallest degree that his ingenuity can manage.

This means that painstaking consideration for the welfare of the fauna must accompany the development of every phase of human occupation of the parks. Yet developments in the era just closed have not always been characterized by as much restraint as a delicate situation required. This was only natural in a time when the principal preoccupations were making the parks accessible, attracting the visitors to them, and making them comfortably at home while there. But in the era opening ahead, the critical faunal maladjustments that have already been created, as well as those just raising their heads, must be dealt with in a farsighted manner. For if the wild life continues to give back before the growing pressure, man will presently find that he has unwittingly destroyed the very thing which he came to the national parks above all other places to enjoy.

In considering the effects of man's intrusion in the total environment which is the park, it is apparent at once that certain faunal complications are inevitable, if for no other reason than the quantitative displacements which must take place. These problems are rooted in the conflict of the more fundamental needs of man and animals in the parks. As their cause is man's presence and that presence is not only continuing but constantly increasing, they must be treated accordingly. These problems are essential by-products of the sharing of a common habitat by man and animal.

There are other complications, however, which are not caused so much by man's actual needs as by his ideas of what wild animals are and how he should see them. Inasmuch as these are problems caused by human concepts which can be changed, they are subject to control at their sources. It is necessary to analyze these problems to fully realize that they arise from man's efforts to force the animal life to actually fit his concept instead of developing his concept to fit the wild life as it really exists in its natural setting.

These difficulties are more truthfully problems of human nature than of animal nature. In dealing with them it becomes necessary to enter the fields of philosophy and psychology, because, after all, the national parks are an experiment in these fields. Wherever he goes, man unconsciously tries to surround himself with the things to which he is accustomed. He abhors change. Consequently almost any labor in transplanting whole environments is found preferable to the effort of reconditioning to new circumstances and concepts. Coming from the city, man tries to approximate in the park the conditions he left behind. If his eye is met by a planting of his home flowers arranged in garden pattern, he praises it as a beautiful improvement unless his viewpoint has been reeducated to an appreciation of the park's own distinctive wild gardens, and then it becomes a jarring note on the landscape.

Generations ago man was accustomed to wild animals, but that has all been buried in city life. Whenever he has seen wild animals at all, they have been presented in some way compatible with dense populations. When he enters the park he is looking for the same concentration of animals he saw in the paddocks of the zoological garden, the same personal safety in feeding the tamed animals, the same convenience of driving to a known place at any convenient time to see what he wants. A galaxy of bears at the garbage platform approximates this concept and he is satisfied. Then comes a day when his heart skips a beat. Walking along a deep forest trail he comes upon a single bear eagerly peeling the bark from a log in search of fat white grubs. This is a fresh thrill and it brings the realization that the unique charm of the animals in a national park lies in their wildness, not their tameness, in their primitive struggle to survive rather than their fat certainty of an easy living. The new concept. involves an appreciation of the characteristics of a real wild animal, notably, that each wild animal is the embodied story of natural forces which have been operative for millions of years and is therefore a priceless creation, a living embodiment of the past, a presentiment of the future. It teaches the new joy of seeking out the wild creatures where they are leading their own fascinating lives instead of having them pauperized in camp where each individual animal becomes a bull in a china shop.

The change from urban to wilderness concept of the presentation of wild life will remove the cause of many wild-life problems. The Service has developed an educational branch dedicated to this very task of bringing to man a true appreciation of national-park values; and as its work becomes more and more effective, it will remove the desire to improve wild life where such improvement is detrimental not only to the fauna but, in the last analysis, to man's interests as well.

In the following treatment of some of the major types of problems it is granted that the actual maladjustments exist. Whether they are problems which could have been avoided or not, they all must be faced. It seems best to deal first with species which actually interfere with human occupation.

Black bears at feeding station
FIGURE 20a. – Black bears at a feeding station are spectacular but the scene
does not typify the finest park values.
Photograph taken September 11, 1929, at Canyon Lodge, Yellowstone. Wild Life Survey No. 448

Bear feeding naturally
FIGURE 20b. – A single bear feeding naturally on grass in a glade presents a more pleasing and,
because of the wildness of the whole setting, a more thrilling picture.
Photograph taken June 21, 1930, at Crescent Hill, Yellowstone. Wild Life Survey No. 962



Last Modified: Tues, Feb 1 2000 07:08:48 pm PDT

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