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Encounters with wild animals are among the most significant relationships between humans and the natural world. Presenting a history of human interactions with wildlife in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan between 1870 and 1960, Wildlife, Land, and People examines the confrontations that led to diverse consequences – from the near annihilation of some species to the extraordinary preservation of others – and skilfully finds the roots of these relationships in people's needs for food, sport, security, economic development, personal fulfillment, and identity.
Donald Wetherell shows how utilitarian practices, in which humans viewed animals either as friendly sources of profit or as threats to their economic and personal security, dominated until the 1960s. Alongside these views, however, other attitudes asserted that wild animals were part of the beauty, mystery, and order of the natural world. Wetherell outlines the ways in which this attitude gained strength after World War II, distinguished by a growing conviction that every species has ecological value. Through a century in which the natural landscape of the prairie region was radically transformed by human activity, conflicts developed over fur and game management, over Aboriginal use of the land, and over the preservation of endangered species like bison and elk. Yet the period also saw the creation of national parks, zoos, and natural history societies.
Drawing on a wide array of historical sources and photographs as well as current approaches to environmental history, Wildlife, Land, and People enriches our understanding of the many-layered relationships between humans and nature.
Figures | ix
Abbreviations | xiii
Acknowledgments | xv
Preface | xvii
PART ONE - THE ANIMALS AND THE PLACE
1 The State of Things: Wildlife, Land, and People after 1870 | 3
PART TWO - THINKING ABOUT ANIMALS
2 Some Perspectives on Animal Behaviour | 35
3 Friends and Foes | 75
PART THREE - CONNECTIONS
4 A Pursuit of Utility: The State and Wildlife | 117
5 Eating Wild Animals | 158
6 Hunting as Sport: Ideals and Practice | 183
7 Reconstructing Nature: Acclimatizing Animals for the Wild | 227
8 It's a War: Farming and Wildlife | 252
9 First Nations, the State, and the Economy of Wildlife | 290
10 Economics and Nostalgia: Encounters with Fur-Bearers | 321
11 The Spectacle of Nature: Wildlife and the National Parks | 356
12 Rounding Out a Full Life: Traditions of Natural History | 404
13 Displaying Wild Animals | 434
Conclusion: Fitting and Not Fitting Together | 484
Notes | 505
Bibliography | 573
Index | 597
Donald G. Wetherell is professor emeritus of heritage resources management at Athabasca University.
"There is something in the tremendous loss of species at the hands of humans discussed here that invites comparison as a Prairies version of Farley Mowat's Sea of Slaughter."
– Darcy Ingram, University of Ottawa and Selkirk College