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Conservation: Examining the Myth of Abundance

As we try to manage species at certain population levels, are we basing our expectations on conditions that no longer exist?

Conservation: Examining the Myth of Abundance

While sage grouse populations have declined across the West, they may be settling at more sustainable levels given the current habitat. (Shutterstock image)

Think about the narratives we love to tell each other—and the non-hunting majority of our fellow Americans—about how we hunters and anglers brought back the nation's wildlife populations. We speak sort of defensively, ready to argue with those who can’t understand how we could chase down, kill and then eat something that we cherish.

But we're often stumped when a critic asks us about all those animals we didn't bring back, either to huntable numbers or at all. Those are the passenger pigeons, the trumpeter swans, the Atlantic salmon and the wild bison, among others.

We have a good reason to be caught flat-footed when confronted with fixing something that was...

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