Published since 1946
Book Review: Boone and Crockett Club's North American Wildlife Policy and Law
When I was in college and thinking about a career in wildlife, I knew that a field biologist wasn’t my path and that I was intrigued with the idea of wildlife policy. At the time, there were limited options to develop an educational background in that field so I cobbled together course work in general public policy (VERY different from wildlife policy) and took a Natural Resource Law course (which was outstanding but our text was a law book dense enough that it helped me recognize that I didn’t want to head off to law school!). While we got general background in key wildlife policies and laws within our core classes, I knew even then that having a text with comprehensive history and details specifically related to wildlife policy would have been useful. And not just to me with an interest in policy, but also to every other wildlife major because laws and policies affecting wildlife management would have an impact on every wildlife student’s future career.
Thankfully, the Boone and Crockett Club has resolved that issue by releasing North American Wildlife Policy and Law, a comprehensive volume focused solely on the subject. The Club developed the book because the organization and its regular and professional members have played a role in most of the policy and law development impacting wildlife and natural resources in North America. According to the Preface: “The Club’s contributions run like indelible threads throughout the fabric of North America’s conservation history. It is most fitting that this comprehensive treatise was conceived and created by the Boone and Crockett Club.”
This book opens with an in-depth review of the historical context of wildlife policy and law that laid the foundation for how we currently manage wildlife. Chapter authors then move on to outline how laws and policies are made, as well as the agency rule-making process, and describe enforcement of wildlife laws and policies. There is a section dedicated to the North American Model of Wildlife Management and Public Trust Doctrine and evaluations of federal jurisdiction in the United States Canada and Mexico as well as the key role of state fish and wildlife agencies and state laws. While focused on North America, the book does include chapters on international wildlife conservation policy and laws.
Beyond the detailed information about current laws and policies and the process on how they are made, there is a section focused on the role of the public and non-governmental organizations in developing or influencing laws and policies. There are recommendations about interacting with agency personnel, lobbying Congress, and how grassroots advocacy can impact policy and law. In addition, there is a section that outlines policy jobs in conservation, how professional wildlife managers play a role in policy and policymaking, and also discussions on how politics influence wildlife and natural resource management.
As the editors write within the introduction to the book: “A basic understanding of wildlife law and policy is essential knowledge for anyone who desires to work in the wildlife profession or other natural resource fields. No matter what job you may aspire to, your work will be defined, bounded, guided or enabled by the applicable wildlife laws and policies…
“Our primary purpose for this textbook is to provide students in wildlife and related fields with a comprehensive source for information on wildlife law and policy in North America. Coursework on policy is required in the curricula leading to degrees in natural resources as well as for professional certification as a Wildlife Biologist®. We intend this as a key textbook to satisfy those academic requirements. We also offer it as a comprehensive reference for diverse professionals working in the wildlife and natural resource fields.”
I know that my own wildlife policy education would have benefited from having a comprehensive policy and law book specifically related to wildlife conservation. I haven’t read a textbook in many years, but I’m finding myself working my way from cover to cover on this more than 600-page volume.
North American Wildlife Policy and Law was edited by Bruce D. Leopold, Winifred B. Kessler and James L. Cummins; individual chapters are authored by a variety of well-known players in wildlife conservation policy. The book is available in the Boone and Crockett Club’s online bookstore for $95 for the hard cover edition or $80 for the eBook edition.