The reality of conservation: deciding whether to save or ignore endangered species

When fall arrives, interactions with wild animals tend to be more numerous. As the temperature drops, animals ramp up for winter and mating season. This time of year, hunting seasons open and bring forward the importance of conservation. Research from the University of British Columbia was released regarding conservation efforts throughout Canada. These findings show the reality of life on Earth.

In Saskatchewan, they’ve come to recognize the threat of extinction to 15 of its endangered species. For years, conservation efforts have been focused on any and all actions that could lead to potential recovery without fully understanding where conservation funds are being spent. Researchers decided to create and use a new tool to determine the best ways to spend conservation funds. The team found that if they funded the recovery of all 15 species, only 2 would reach their recovery goal. Alternately, they found that changing strategies resulted in the potential recovery of 13 out of 15 species.

The unfortunate reality of those findings is that some species will never fully recover, regardless of time and effort. What does this tell us? A lot! First of all, it forces us to accept that we can not save all species. Long before humans evolved into what we are today, species came and went. Our ecosystems are fragile but also resilient in many ways. Secondly, this study brings attention to how wasteful some actions can be, even when these actions are completed with the best intentions. With a limited amount of time and resources to help species recover, those resources are better put towards those having the greatest impact.

The best defense in preventing species extinction is education, whether it be in a formal school setting, hunter education courses, or modern approaches such as social media advertising. Each year, more hunters are choosing not to hunt while more people are recreating and viewing wildlife. This shift has resulted in a decrease in conservation funds. Without an increase in financial contributions, more areas of the world will have to decide which species to help and which to ignore.

With conservation funding in decline, researchers have begun studying its impact. Deciding to save a species from extinction has become reality.
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