Texas Wildlife Resources and Land Uses.
On first glance one might be prepared to find this rework of a 1982 symposium of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society as only historically relevant. However, that initial impression would be quite wrong; this book has something important to ponder for everyone in the conservation field. Many of its chapter authors are leading figures in modern Texas wildlife conservation.
The book is introduced with an excellent summary of the ecological regions of Texas by Editor Telfair. Not only does Telfair include 57 reference sources to his Introduction, but every chapter includes a Literature Cited. As with most published symposia, readers are likely to pick and choose chapter offerings rather than read the book through. Appropriately then, chapters are grouped into parts: (I) Perspectives on Texas Wildlife Resources, (II) Future Expectations In Land Use, (III) The Public and Future Demands For Wildlife, (IV) Wildlife Management and Research, and (V) Wildlife Management on Public Lands. The book ends with a depressing but important prognosis for Texas wildlife.
Despite the updating of original 1982 papers, some information remains more dated than one would like. Data presented on game populations (chapter 13) and the analysis of wildlife research in Texas (ch. 17), for examples, are each 10 years old in these otherwise well-written chapters.
As a natural historian concerned with all of Texas' biota, this reviewer was prepared to find many of his vertebrates of interest labeled "nongame" or "furbearer". After all, wildlife management has its roots in a successful history of managing habitat and populations of largely wild vertebrates that we take for sport or food (game). Hunters and anglers continue to buy their interests from government agencies by putting over $2.7 billion annually into the state economy (ch. 9), and so hawks, lizards, armadillos and killifishes are codified as "nongame".
But what is really fascinating in this book is a give and take on the new directions and issues facing management of Texas' natural living resources. The growing conflict between the interests of largely nature-naive urban masses (80% of Texans, ch. 9) and the politically powerful private property rights rural landowners (ch. 11) is given data-rich coverage (all or parts of at least 9 chapters) and is a must read.
The rancher landowners plead for an understanding of the "true rancher--hunter--conservationist" with a poignant (and mostly sympathetic) longing for seclusion that usually allows only the seasonal visitation of "their" relatively few fee-lease hunters. Endangered species and wetlands concerns are only an excuse for big government seizure of private property "in the name of conservation."
In contrast, the professional wildlifers point out (7 chapters) the need for more nonconsumptive wildlife opportunities on Texas rural land. In a survey (ch. 12), up to 67% of respondents called for more access to rural Texas (97% privately owned) via establishment of public recreation areas. The call is a serious one considering that today only about 12% of Texas' citizens hunt but 25-55% enjoy hiking, camping and observing native plants, birds and other wildlife. The ranchers' disdain for this want of the urban nature enthusiasts is described (ch. 11) by once native range now "stocked by minivans and people in sneakers." This reviewer admires their courage, but questions their tactic in verbally razzing the thousand pound (and growing daily) gorilla of urban Texas. Certainly, a more sympathetic landowner concern is for the "increased incidence of litigation associated with ownership."
How is Texas to resolve the conflict between a call for a Texas land ethic (ch. 1) that acknowledges the end of frontier days and that would empower all Texans (including sneaker-clad minivan drivers) in management issues with the independence and private property rights advocacy of traditional rural Texans? Clearly, the modern wildlife manager faces a challenge to satisfy wildlife resource and land use needs of an urban 21st century Texas. This book is a good beginning to fact-based thought on the issues.
Terry C. Maxwell
Department of Biology
Angelo State University
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|Author:||Maxwell, Terry C.|
|Publication:||The Texas Journal of Science|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2000|
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