Enabling legislation—that which gives appropriate officials the authority to implement or enforce the law—impacts management of ungulates in national parks of
Canada and the United States (U.S.). The initial focus of such legislation in both countries centered on preserving natural and culturally significant areas for posterity. Although this objective remains primary, philosophies and practices have changed. A Canadian vision for ungulate management emerged during the latter half of the 20th century to protect and maintain or restore the ecological integrity of representative samples of the country’s 39 distinct landscapes, and to include provisions for traditional hunting and fishing practices representative of past cultural impacts on the environment. The current ungulate management approach in the U.S. relies on natural (ecological) processes, as long as normal conditions are promoted and there is no impairment of natural resources. Emphasizing natural processes as the basis has been a challenge because ecosystem dynamics are complex and management is multi-jurisdictional. Additionally, natural regulation typically will not prevent ungulates from reaching and sustaining densities that are incompatible with preservation or restoration of native flora and fauna, natural processes, or historical landscapes.