some species in peril (e.g., those
listed under the Endangered
Species Act) will require active
management for the foreseeable
future. Such indefinite interventions reflect the inability of a
species to have a self-sustaining
wild population (i.e., without
assistance from humans).
Our own bird examples might
include whooping crane, which
demands monitoring, management, habitat expansion, and even
the establishment of “backup”
populations; black-capped vireo,
which needs constant cowbird
eradication in its brushy habitat in
Texas and Oklahoma; and Kirt-land’s warbler, which must have
relatively young jack-pine forest
ecosystems, fire, and cowbird control to survive.
Conservation reliance has also
been recently tweaked as a concept
to measure the degree to which
a species can survive in the wild
without human intervention.
Nevertheless, Rodewald points
to real and growing concern that
the concept of conservation reliance may be used as a political
tool to actually undermine the
conservation of imperiled species. For example, the removal
of federal protection from some
Threatened and Endangered species based on their successes with
respect to conservation reliance
would have dire consequences.
Rodewald calls for better funding for ongoing conservation but
BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • MAY/JUNE ’ 17 •
also warns that the term “conser-
vation reliance” itself be used more
carefully. She does not advocate
a particular new set of words to
define a care gradient nor a specific
vocabulary in carrying out ongo-
ing stewardship, but a new way to
measure and define a conservation
dependency for species in transi-
tion is probably necessary.
To read Rodewald’s original editorial, visit
Paul J. Baicich is co-author
with Margaret Barker and Carrol
Henderson of Feeding Wild Birds
in America (Texas A&M University Press).