On-line Book

Book Cover
A Brief History Of The National Park Service




National Park Idea

Early Growth

NPS Created






Plans and Design





Historic Conservation

Land Planning

State Cooperation


Work Camps

Recreation Study




Antiquities Act

Organic Act

Historic Sites Act

Recreational-Area Programs Act




The National Park Service is entrusted by the American people with protection, conservation, and proper management of characteristic portions of the country as it was seen by the early explorers. In fulfilling this stewardship, the Service is responsible for the protection of the animals which constitute the wildlife population of the parks.

The wildlife management policies of the Service are based upon three points:

1. That the wildlife of America exists in the consciousness of the people as a vital part of their natural heritage.

2. That in its appointed task of preserving characteristic examples of primitive America, the National Park Service faces an especially important responsibility for the conservation of wildlife. This is emphasized by the wholesale destruction which has decimated the fauna in nearly every part of the land outside of the park areas.

3. That the observation of animals in the wild state contributes so much to the enjoyment derived by visitors that this is becoming a park attraction of steadily increasing importance.

After wiping out vandalism and poaching in the parks, the Service realized that mere protection of the wildlife would not accomplish what was desired and necessary, and that an actual program of management was needed, to restore and perpetuate the fauna in its pristine state by combatting the harmful effects of human influence.

The problem of wildlife management was aptly set forth in Fauna of the National Parks of the United States—No. 1, by George M. Wright, Joseph S. Dixon, and Ben H. Thompson: "The unique feature of the case is that perpetuation of natural conditions will have to be forever reconciled with the presence of large numbers of people on the scene, a seeming anomaly. A situation of parallel circumstances has never existed before."

In considering its responsibility for the conservation of wildlife, the Service realized that mere protection was not enough. The need to supplement protection with constructive wildlife administration became evident with a steady increase of biological problems in many of the national parks and monuments. In 1929 a wildlife survey was undertaken in an effort to concentrate greater interest on the fundamental aspects of wildlife administration throughout the national park system. This survey involved a reconnaissance of the park system, to analyze and delineate the existing status of wildlife in the parks, to assist park superintendents in solving urgent biological problems, and to develop a well defined wildlife policy for the national park system. The results of this survey, together with proposed wildlife policies which have since been adopted by the Service, were published in the Fauna Series 1 and 2.

For two years, from 1929 to 1931, this work was financed entirely by the late George Wright who personally paid the salaries of two men while contributing his own services. In 1931 and 1932 the Government began contributing toward the budget, although Mr. Wright continued his support of the work. In 1933 the Government took over the financing entirely. It was in that year that a Wildlife Division was formally established within the Branch of Research and Education for the purpose of directing all activities pertaining to conservation and management of park wildlife. Prior to 1934 the staff consisted of a chief, a field naturalist and a supervisor of fish resources. In 1934 this staff was increased with trained biologists employed under the Emergency Conservation Work program. Wildlife technicians are assigned to each regional office and are assisted by technicians of the associate, assistant, and junior grades. In November 1939, the Wildlife Division was transferred to the Biological Survey, which bureau immediately assigned all staff members to the same Park Service duties which they had been performing.

The wildlife policies of the Service were recognized by the Biological Survey and subscribed to in the new inter-bureau relationships.

They follow:

  Relative to areas and boundaries—

1. That each park shall contain within itself the year-round habitats of all species belonging to the native resident fauna.

2. That each park shall include sufficient areas in all these required habitats to maintain at least the minimum population of each species necessary to insure its perpetuation.

3. That park boundaries shall be drafted to follow natural faunal barriers, the limiting faunal zone, where possible.

4. That a complete report upon a new park project shall include a survey of the fauna as a critical factor in determining area and boundaries.

  Relative to management—

5. That no management measure or other interference with biotic relationships shall be undertaken prior to a properly conducted investigation.

6. That every species shall be left to carry on its struggle for existence unaided, as being to its greatest ultimate good, unless there is real cause to believe that it will perish if unassisted.

7. That, where artificial feeding, control of natural enemies, or other protective measures, are necessary to save a species that is unable to cope with civilization's influences, every effort shall be made to place that species on a self-sustaining basis once more; whence these artificial aids, which themselves have unfortunate consequences, will no longer be needed.

8. That the rare predators shall be considered special charges of the national parks in proportion to the extent that they are persecuted elsewhere.

9. That no native predator shall be destroyed on account of its normal utilization of any other park animal, excepting if that animal is in immediate danger or extermination, and then only if the predator is not itself a vanishing form.

10. That species predatory upon fish shall be allowed to continue in normal numbers and to share normally in the benefits of fish culture.

11. That the numbers of native ungulates occupying a deteriorated range shall not be permitted to exceed its reduced carrying capacity and, preferably, shall be kept below the carrying capacity at every step until the range can be brought back to normal productiveness.

12. That any native species which has been exterminated from the park area shall be brought back if this can be done, but if said species has become extinct, no related form shall be considered as a candidate for reintroduction in its place.

13. That any exotic species which has already become established in a park shall be either eliminated or held to a minimum provided complete eradication is not feasible.

  Relative relations between animals and visitors—

14. That presentation of the animal life of the parks to the public shall be a wholly natural one.

15. That no animal shall be encouraged to become dependent upon man for its support.

16. That problems of injury to the persons of visitors or to their property or to the special interests of man in the park, shall be solved by methods other than those involving the killing of the animals or interfering with their normal relationships, where this is at all practicable.

  Relative faunal investigations—

17. That a complete faunal investigation, including the four steps of determining the primitive faunal picture, tracing the history of human influences, making a thorough zoological survey and formulating a wild-life administrative plan, shall be made in each park at the earliest possible date.

18. That the local park museum in each case shall be repository for a complete study skin collection of the area and for accumulated evidence attesting to original wild-life conditions.

19. That each park shall develop within the ranger department a personnel of one or more men trained in the handling of wild-life problems, and who will be assisted by the field staff appointed to carry out the faunal program of the Service.

Next >>>

go to top of page Top

Last Modified: Mon, Jun 16 2003 10:00:00 pm PDT

National Park Service's ParkNet Home