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Without Fences

Lessons from the past.

In the late 19th Century North American wildlife was hovering on the brink of extinction. Open market policies allowing hunting and sale of wild meat for profit had liquidated a continent of wildlife. Leaders of the day recognized something had to be done or the situation would become irreversible. For the first time wildlife and nature were looked at in an objective scientific way. Under North American law, wildlife is a public trust owned by the people, protected by government for the people. Under this authority leaders in Canada and the United States took the price off the head of wildlife by implementing laws to ban commercial sales and put in place regulations to insure healthy populations for the future. The concept of wildlife and habitat conservation arose from this time of great crisis. These initiatives eventually became knows as The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and stands as the world's most successful system of policies and laws to restore and safeguard fish and wildlife and their habitats through sound science and active management.

In the United States and Canada, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation operates on seven interdependent principles:

  1. Wildlife resources are conserved and held in trust for all citizens.

  2. Commerce in dead wildlife is eliminated. 

  3. Wildlife is allocated according to democratic rule of law.

  4. Wildlife may only be killed for a legitimate, non-frivolous purpose.

  5. Wildlife is an international resource.

  6. Every person has an equal opportunity under the law to participate in hunting and fishing.

  7. Scientific management is the proper means for wildlife conservation.

Ignoring the past.

The spread of Chronic Wasting Disease across North America


As a tribal leader we’re looking out for the next seven generations of our community. Our teachings and our culture indicate that that's what we should be concerned about foremost. So if we have deer that are out there on the landscape, in the wild, that are testing positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, if you look at what's showing up now in literature, in the newspapers and articles on Chronic Wasting Disease and how it can be transferred from plants to the soils from the deer you have to be concerned about that. Do I want to feed venison to my child if there’s Chronic Wasting Disease in that area, I don’t know if I want to do that.

Chris McGeshick

Chairman Sokaogon Chippewa 


The future of wildlife disease, the future of dealing with infectious disease, is the urban environment. The future has already begun for us. The focus needs to be on the urban environment. We have a major shift in the demography of people so that 80% of the human population now lives in cites. Because of our impact on wildlife habitat, wildlife, to survive have become great colonizers of the urban environment, and so now we are putting together people, wildlife, domestic animals in the urban environment all in close proximity to one another.


This environment has been basically untouched in terms of thinking about addressing wildlife disease and if we don't think about how to deal with these kinds of issues because of the changing human demography the changing colonization increasing numbers of wildlife in the cities, we’re looking at the perfect storm in terms of emerging infectious diseases. The time is now to deal with this not wait till crisis overwhelms us.

Dr. Milt Friend

Emeritus Scientist 

Founder, National Wildlife Health Center

Calgary, Alberta change over 50 years

Progression of CWD

From farm to city Chinook Centre Calgary

From Farm to City Calgary, Alberta

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