The government is us; we are the government, you and I. -Theodore Roosevelt

B&C Position Statement - Defining Wildlife Conservation

First Adopted March 12, 2014 - Revised: 8/19/2014 - Reviewed 7/11/2014

Situational Overview

Conservation and preservation are two different philosophies. Since the early 20th century, conservation has meant the wise and prudent use of natural resources without waste. Preservation means protection from use.

The diverse and abundant wildlife populations that exist in Canada and America today are primarily the result of conservation and not preservation, as many are now being led to believe. Preservationists are calling themselves conservationists and the preservation organizations that have emerged are being referred to in the media as conservation organizations. Consequently, the successful track record of conservation is being confused with and undermined by preservationist philosophies that alone, can never achieve effective wildlife conservation. 

When the Boone and Crockett Club was founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, they introduced an overall philosophy of ethically using natural resources in a limited but sustainable way. This conservation philosophy was actually counter to the prevailing belief at the time that natural resources, especially wildlife, were inexhaustible, there for unlimited take, and by any means possible. As a result of widespread market hunting of many species of wildlife and outright extinction of some, a new governing principle was needed for the human-natural resources relationship. Some proposed that non-use or preservation—preserving wildlife and other natural resources without consumptive use by humans—was the answer. The Boone and Crockett Club believed this view was unrealistic, and that attempting to remove humans from the equation would devalue and thereby diminish wildlife resources even further. The Club championed an approach that would balance human needs with those of wildlife, and would create a concept of sustainable use.

With the support of the Club and through his presidential administration, Theodore Roosevelt nationalized the concept of conservation. Wise and prudent use backed by laws and science became the widely accepted model for the treatment of natural resources, including wildlife, timber, water and soils. 

Preservationists think that our current wildlife and natural resource diversity and abundance happened by accident and not by active management, commonly referred to as “the balance of nature” or letting nature take its course. This belief is based on the notion that if we remove human access, use and active management from the equation and set aside protected areas; wildlife and natural systems will thrive on their own. This may have been true 10,000 years ago; not so in today's human-dominated landscape.

Preservationists further believe that wildlife is not a resource to use, that wildlife should only have an esthetic and not an economic or consumptive value, and that killing wildlife through regulated hunting or any active management is unnecessary. Unfortunately, the “balance of nature” that produces pristine wilderness is a myth. Science has shown there is no such thing as a balance of nature. The wildlife and natural resource diversity and abundance that now exists in countries that embrace conservation is the result of hands-on active management and sustainable use of ever-changing ecosystems, not in spite of it.


The Boone and Crockett Club believes that conservation and conservationist organizations should not be confused with preservation and preservationist organizations and that the two distinctly different concepts and their respective ethics should not be confused either. The Club supports the definition of conservation as wise and prudent use, without waste. The Club supports the principle, as did our founder, Theodore Roosevelt, “that conservation means development as much as it does protection.” 

The Club adopts the view that complete preservation of wildlife and other natural resources from ethical and sustainable consumptive uses by humans breaks the fundamental roles that humans have always played in the ecosystems they inhabit and depend upon for meaning and well-being. The Club further finds that conserving wildlife and other natural resources into the future will require the same advocacy and funding for active management that historical access to regulated, ethical and sustainable uses of wildlife and other natural resources has proven to provide. 


The Boone and Crockett Club publishes position statements to inform and educate people about conservation and hunting issues. Thus, there is no charge for personal and non-commercial use of its position statements, but reprinting or re-use of any portions of a position statement shall credit the Boone and Crockett Club as the source. Any such use shall remain subject to all rights of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Support Conservation

Support Hunting

Support Conservation

Support Education

"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt