A few giants and visionaries have formed Western Wildlife Conservation, including one you may not have heard of – Valerius Geist.
Geist, who died on July 6, has been Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Calgary, Alberta, since 1977. He has written countless scientific papers and more than 14 books, including “The Abbey of the World: Their Evolution, Behavior, and Ecology.” He was also a longtime contributor to Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine and Bugle, the official publication of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Geist was born in Ukraine, raised and educated in Germany and Austria. His love for the 7×57 Mauser was born, which was his only rifle in it. Europe has also inspired Geist’s appreciation for the ethics of North American wildlife management, which recognizes the game as a public resource in which the public has a legitimate stake.
When he moved to Canada in 1953, Geist became a tireless advocate for public hunting, which he believed was the key to healthy, sustainable game groups.
Geist has been controversial for many reasons, including his fierce opposition to privately owned wildlife. He vehemently rejected the game farms and correctly predicted their role in spreading the chronic wasting disease.
His views on wolf return are also unpopular among modern environmentalists who believe that wolves and mountain lions are better than humans for controlling wildlife. Geist believes that hunters who practice ethical hunting are the most humane means of controlling wildlife populations because they tend to kill their prey quickly. On the contrary, wolves terrorize prey while slowly tearing apart their victims.
Although his complex theories are among the most quoted in wildlife management circles, Geist condenses the North American wildlife management model into seven key principles.
• Wildlife is an international resource.
• The meat of wild animals cannot be sold.
• Wildlife is allocated to the public by law
• Wildlife can only be killed for lawful purposes.
• Science dictates the terms of wildlife management.
• The wildlife management is publicly owned and managed through taxes paid by citizens. This “tax” is generally in the form of fishing licenses.
• Fishing rights are democratically determined.
Geist rightly believes that the future of wildlife depends on the numbers of poachers. The strength lies in the strength of the many and it takes the strength of numbers to keep game animals unruly and free.
In “The Hunter’s Bond,” published in Bugle magazine, Geist wrote, “If many citizens insist on hunting elk or deer, it translates into a political will to keep the mountains and forests wild and free. Take away the citizens’ right to acquire elk or deer by legal means. , as in the Middle Ages, elk and deer slipped back into the dominion of little power, to be enjoyed and often plundered for frivolous pleasures.Ironically, the multitude who cared for wildlife but received very little material gain from him proved to be the best protector for its prey and its habitat.
These are the risks of decreasing the number of hunters. Wildlife management agencies lament this trend primarily with lower revenues to fund programs and salaries. Its existence depends on the abundance of wildlife that the public has access to in abundance.
We are of a certain age remember a fairly recent time in Arkansas when deer and turkeys were rare outside of specially managed game reserves. This is why it is so important to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to return public green tanks to peak condition, to increase the availability of high-quality public duck hunting.
On my nightly walks through neighborhoods in the hills overlooking the Arkansas River, I rarely count fewer than 20 deer feeding on ornamental plants.
Geist noted this inconvenience in February 1994 while addressing a southeastern deer study group in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Your ancestors established a system of wildlife conservation, which is the sheer envy of civilized people elsewhere,” Geist said. “This model has brought the continent’s wildlife back to the point where problems of excessive abundance are born. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d rather deal with problems of success than problems of failure.”