Predators and biodiversity in North America

CEC member Ron DeArmond communicates the need for biodiversity that will allow predator species their proper place in North American ecosystems.

CEC member Rod DeArmon holds black bear cub in Iowa, USA

By Ron DeArmond, CEO of Pella Wildlife Company

Predator species continue to have difficulty dispersing into their former range as current habitat continues to shrink. Cougars and wolves are on the move and controversy follows them. The number one question, should these species be allowed to disperse? What I have found is that most people would say “no”. The main reason for this answer is a lack of education about wildlife and wildlife management. When a person’s wildlife education is based on “Little Red Riding Hood”, and “The Three Little Pigs”, it is easy to see why people have this fear and legislators as well have this level of education. In talking with other wildlife conservation groups I have felt their frustration in trying to educate and pass legislation that would protect dispersing predators. I have found that those that oppose the dispersing of wildlife predators are against protection of these species. However, when you discus the health of wildlife ecosystems based on biodiversity, people will listen.

Biodiversity is a term most people want to embrace. In 2011 I have presented programs about biodiversity in Iowa as well as Florida in regards to biodiversity in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and most recently at the Cincinnati Zoo at the new cougar exhibit explaining the role of biodiversity and that all species are needed in order to have a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Terminology like sustainability and simple concepts like wildlife living in wild places are terms that are easy to understand. Wildlife management based on sustainability and or carrying capacity are also terms that people can understand. The good news is that this approach has opened the possibility of new legislation in Iowa that would allow all wildlife species identified within the state to be allowed to gain sustainability and be managed by the Department of Natural Resources. This potential bill which has been identified as the Iowa Biodiversity Act would stop the indiscriminate killing of all wildlife species within the state, including predators. In speaking with the chairman of the DNR committee for the Iowa senate, it was agreed that biodiversity would benefit Iowa wildlife ecosystems and enhance the lives of Iowans and conservation tourism. An act like this would allow species to disperse into areas they can gain sustainability as well as allow wildlife managers information on tracking these species through corridor states and identify what elements wildlife needs to reach suitable habitat where these species can become viable.

2012 could be a breakthrough year for wildlife biodiversity if this act becomes law in Iowa. It could also be used as a template for other states where dispersing wildlife comes into conflict with an uneducated general public and legislators. The call for biodiversity when broken down to the local level around the world can achieve the goal of sustainable and healthy ecosystems and tolerance for all wildlife species. 

For more information, contact Ron DeArmond

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