Imperiled mammalian fauna of aquatic ecosystems in the Southeast: A management perspective: Chapter 15

Edited by:
G.W. Benz and D.E. Collins



Management of imperiled mammals associated with aquatic ecosystems in the southeastern United States ranges from almost no management for some species to intensive, high-profile programs for others. Aquatic mammals are notoriously difficult to census because they are often secretive, trap-wary, relatively rare, or have extensive movement patterns. As a result, conservation efforts aimed at these animals often have been greatly hampered by a general lack of comprehensive population data. Historically, certain high-profile, "flagship" species have been the primary beneficiaries of management efforts. One of the earliest examples involves beaver, Castor canadensis, which had been reduced to a low ebb due to unregulated harvest and were subsequently live-trapped by state game officials in the 1940s and repatriated throughout the southeastern states. The success of this restocking program has exceeded expectations, and today beaver numbers have reached what many consider to be nuisance proportions in most states. Similar restocking stories can be told for muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) and, to a limited extent, for river otters (Lutra canadensis).

Unfortunately, other imperiled species of lesser economic or recreational value have not been as fortunate. Efforts to conserve these lower-profile species have been minimal or conservation problems so immense that their complete recovery has been unsuccessful. Wilson (1992) suggested that 20 percent of all species on earth may be lost to extinction in the next four decades. If this disaster should occur, it would rival the greatest geological extinction episodes. Certainly, conservationists need to explore new methods for preserving mammalian diversity.

In this chapter we will discuss the resource management history of aquatic mammals which are imperiled in the Southeast. In doing so we define an aquatic mammal as any mammal that is directly or indirectly associated with aquatic ecosystems. Imperiled mammals are any mammalian species, subspecies, or population listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern on any state or federal list, and also includes mammals experiencing long-term population declines or significant range contractions.


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Book chapter
Imperiled mammalian fauna of aquatic ecosystems in the Southeast: A management perspective: Chapter 15
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Lenz Design and Communications
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Leetown Science Center, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
18 p.
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Aquatic fauna in peril: The southeastern perspective (Southeast Aquatic Research Institute special publication, 1)
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