Wilderness management objectives and wildlife conservation objectives often conflict with each other, despite conservation being one of six basic reasons for which wilderness is established. Most wilderness areas appear to have been established as the result of political or societal desires, but in the absence of critical ecological thought. In an era of increasing anthropogenic impacts to wildlife populations and to wildlife habitat outside of wilderness, those ostensibly “pristine” areas in and of themselves will become less and less effective as conservation tools, particularly for large, vagile mammals. Impacts occurring outside of wilderness areas have ramifications for wide-ranging animals that use those areas during portions of their annual cycles, thereby affecting wilderness character. Similarly, impacts occurring inside of designated wilderness also have ramifications for large, vagile mammals that also utilize proximate lands. There is a need to re-ignite the debate over the value of wilderness, both in the context of its societal role, as well as that of a conservation strategy. It is essential that wildlife conservation be elevated to the same level of importance that is accorded solitude and other subjective attributes of wilderness.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2