Wildlife management has been defined as the art and science of applying scientific knowledge and ecological principles to manage wildlife populations for human objectives. Historically, wildlife managers have sought to maintain or increase desirable wildlife species (e.g., game fish, birds, and mammals) to meet human food and recreational needs by directly manipulating their habitats or the populations themselves. However, many contemporary rural and urban environments are inhabited by much larger populations of wildlife than were present a century ago. As local wildlife populations increase, so can the damage caused by them. Additionally, because many rare species inhabit private lands, the potential exists for increased land-use regulatory conflicts. Thus, public concerns regarding negative experiences associated with overabundant and nuisance species of wildlife are increasing. If wildlife management is to grow as a profession, managers may need to change their traditional emphasis from that of managing to sustain or increase populations to one of mitigating conflicts. Increased agency emphasis on managing human–wildlife conflicts may afford wildlife management professionals a new forum to engage the widest range of stakeholders in conservation. To make this transition, wildlife managers will need better information about how and why human–wildlife conflicts occur, the magnitude and type of damage occurring, the techniques to manage challenges posed by locally overabundant or rare wildlife populations, and the communication strategies that can be implemented to more effectively involve the capacity of local governance in seeking viable solutions.
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