A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
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
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
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 StatesNo. 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
Relative to areas and
1. That each park shall contain within itself the
year-round habitats of all species belonging to the native resident
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
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
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
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
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
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.