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HE central function of the Fish and Wildlife Service is to effect
and maintain an equilibrium of our native animal resources that will be most profitable to the most men. Ever since European man first landed on this continent, the forces of progress—i.e., growth of the population of man, the development of industry, the expansion of cities, the spread of highways, the facilitation of contacts with the rest of the world—have all constantly worked and will continue to work to destroy that profitable equilibrium.
VALUE OF ANIMAL RESOURCES
It is well worth the struggle and expense we must make to oppose such negative results of progress, especially since we can do this without opposing progress itself. Our national resources of birds, beasts and fishes, with the conservation of which the Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned, are valuable far beyond what can be expressed in dollars and cents. But if money be set arbitrarily as the whole criterion of worth, there are the following estimates on the fraction of United States fish and wildlife resources that can be evaluated from quantitative knowledge:
Resource: (billions of dollars)
If now we take into account the unutilized resources, and such than a tenth of the grand total, which may therefore conservatively be set at somewhere around 140 billion dollars.
benefits as are rendered fields and forests by the insect control activi
ties of birds, for example, and all the imponderable values, such as
beauty and recreation, the amount derived above is perhaps no more
EFFECT OF THE WAR ON ANIMAL RESOURCES AND
Unlike the nonrenewable resources, our continental fish and wildlife have not, on the whole been adversely affected by the war. If anything, they have been benefited by it, since fishing (except for certain commercial species) and hunting have been below peace-time normals. Offshore wildlife, on the other hand, has suffered from the war. Many populations of birds and mammals which frequent the shore, the open sea, and the oceanic islands have been seriously decimated. Thousands of auks, murres, puffins, sea gulls, and ducks have perished from the effects of oil on the surface of the sea, which penetrates the feathers and ruins them as waterproof coverings. The transformation of small islands in the Pacific from jungles to war camps has seriously diminished the abundance of sea birds requiring those islands for nesting sites, and has perhaps even extinguished at least two species, the Laysan Island rail and Laysan Island finch. The use of certain coastal islands for bombing practice has destroyed the nesting grounds of many birds frequenting our shore. Unknown quantities of whales, the most valuable animal in existence, have been killed in the course of submarine warfare. It will take at least 5 years of observation to determine the extent of these losses and to effectuate measures for recovery wherever the possibilities of recovery appear hopeful. The most serious effect of the war on the conservation of our animal resources has been the loss of trained personnel by Federal and State agencies. This effect evidenced itself as soon as men began to be diverted to war occupations, several months before hostilities actually commenced. During the war years, so few young men were in a position to take the college training needed to turn out competent wildlife managers and conservationists that virtually none have been available for apprenticeship in the Fish and Wildlife Service. Consequently, there is now a wide gap between the beginning grades and those filled by such of the older, well-experienced men as have remained in conservation work during the war, and there are not enough of the latter to fill all the supervisory positions that will be required for vital postwar projects. With an ever-increasing number of returned war veterans seeking to establish themselves in civilian life, there is the opportunity as well as the need for the Federal Government to encourage those suitably inclined to take the college training required for any of the several
phases of conservation practice. This means that the Fish and Wildlife Service must cooperate with the universities in establishing and maintaining at a high standard of excellence, the kinds of courses which will produce the most effective men in this field.
During the war, the Federal Government has assisted in the training of visiting foreign students by granting generous traveling fellowships, paying living expenses and tuition in schools with curricula in fishery or wildlife biology. It is proposed here that similar fellowships be made available to United States citizens of promise. The choice of subjects for study and life work is exceedingly broad, as will be shown in the following account.
Among the activities of the Fish and Wildlife Service, none is more effective in wildlife conservation and restoration than a Nation-wide system of refuges. These are lands dedicated wholly to the propagation of wildlife by good management practices. From a modest beginning in the early part of the twentieth century, the system grew slowly for many years; and in the 1930's it was given great impetus by the allocation of special funds and by passage of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act. This act, which requires every duck and goose hunter over 16 years of age to buy a Federal migratory waterfowl hunting stamp, has provided annual funds ranging from half a million to nearly a million and a half dollars. Of this money, 90 per cent must be used for enlarging and maintaining the system; the remaining 10 per cent is available for the administration of the act.
In the past year, six areas, totaling in size over a million acres, were established as national wildlife refuges. These were located in Washington, Missouri, California, Florida, North Dakota, and Kentucky.
During the war years, the refuges have been operated on a strictly maintenance basis. With two thirds of all refuge personnel in the armed services, with construction at a standstill, and with maintenance reduced to the very minimum, water-control structures, patrol trails, buildings, etc., are deteriorating. An extensive program has been prepared for the rehabilitation of many of these developments, and for continuation and completion of the continental waterfowl refuge program.
It is estimated that about 25 percent of the ducks, geese, and swans in North America inhabit these Federal refuges. The value to the people of the United States in having these resources protected from the critical danger of extermination and in having them maintained in areas where conditions are most favorable to restoration, is estimated to be worth about 3 million dollars annually. The value of maintaining all of the other forms of wildlife in these areas—the non
game birds, the mammals, the fish-cannot be measured from any quantitative basis, may amount to as much as an additional 3 million dollars annually.
FEDERAL AID TO STATE CONSERVATION AGENCIES Of equal benefit to wildlife conservation has been the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, designed primarily to increase and improve conservation work by the States. Under the terms of this act, the Federal Government may pay a grant to any State which has enacted certain legislative measures to promote conservation. This grant contributes 75 percent of the cost of work performed on approved projects concerned with the purchase and development of lands, the restoration of natural environment, and the prosecution of research into problems of wildlife management. The source of this money is the revenue from the tax imposed on firearms, shells, and cartridges. The amount thus collected is set aside in a special account, known as the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Fund. The amount unused in any year may be left in the fund for future use.
As a consequence of wartime shortages of personnel, equipment, and materials, this program has proceeded on a greatly reduced scale during the last 4 years. Last year, for example, the total Federal grant was only $900,000 —the lowest to date; and by June 30, 1945, nearly $11,000,000 had accumulated in the fund.
Judging from experience after the First World War, it is anticipated that the number of hunting licenses sold will increase by about 30 percent during the next few years, and Federal and State programs of wildlife management will have to be intensified accordingly. The International Association of Game, Fish, and Conservation Commissioners at its June 1945 meeting in Chicago passed a resolution favoring the appropriation of the aforesaid accumulated funds over a 5-year period, in addition to the regular annual deposits put into that fund.
EFFECT OF DDT ON WILDLIFE
World War II has brought into production and use a new insecticide known popularly as“DDT,” dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane. This potent material has been used widely by the Army and Navy for control of pest- and disease-carrying insects in war theaters, chiefly in the Pacific. Unfortunately DDT has been found to be an unselective poison. It may kill, under certain conditions, a great variety of animal life, including birds, reptiles, and amphibians; and preliminary indication of this from laboratory tests has led to intensive studies to evaluate the damage that may result to wild animal life when forest, marsh, and agricultural areas are sprayed with DDT solutions. The
Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine of the United States Department of Agriculture has recognized the potential hazard in widespread use of DDT and has entered into a cooperative agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service to aid in appraising the biological consequences of applying it. Various types of applications in various concentrations have been tried on experimental plots, some of which have been as large as 3,000 acres. Biologists of the Service are now intensively studying the effects of these experimental treatments on fish, birds, mamals, and other vertebrates. The objective of these studies is to find out what doses and formulae can be used with minimum damage to fish and wildlife.
DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW RODENT POISON Notable progress was made during the year in the search for new rodenticides through the development of a compound which already has become widely known under its laboratory serial number, "1080.” This material, sodium fluoroacetate, is extremely toxic to rodents as well as to certain other mammals and birds. It is readily soluble in water, has only a slight taste in the dilutions in which it is commonly used, and lends itself well to most of the methods used in bait preparations for domestic rats and mice and for field rodents.
In the Southern States “1080" already has made an excellent record in the experimental control of Norway, black, Alexandrine, and frugivorus varieties of rats.
There still remain many aspects of the use of "1080” to be investigated. Its high toxicity portends possible dangers not only to persons who handle it but also to beneficial forms of wildlife that might be endangered in its field application. Studies are being pressed to the limit of available personnel and with the generous help of cooperators throughout the country, as well as of members of the armed services engaged in problems of rodent control abroad.
Correlated with the search for new rodenticides has been the continued effort to make the use of poisons as safe for beneficial or harmless wildlife as is humanly possible. Research is in progress in the use of color to make rodent bait unattractive to seed-eating birds without impairing its attractiveness to rodents. Results so far appear promising and already are being given practical application in field operations.
RED SQUILL At the close of the fiscal year the national and international situation with respect to red squill, the source of the most important rodenticide for domestic use, was materially improved over that of a