Visual display of the Aldo Leopold papers : 9/25/10-1 : Correspondence

Sept; 2 ber 29, 1953.
Dear Harrist
Your query of the 27, asks for my "opinion as to the wildlifc
policy for the Huron Mountain Club".
I don't feel at all sure that anything I may suggest will prove
very pertinent or helpful, but the fact is that out of my rather
long and varied contacts with most of the major phases of
"Conservation", certain combinations have repeated so often that I
have come to expect them, and to have at least theories as to how
they may or should be handled.
Let me try to illustrate: The barber-shops seem to figuro it
thus: "From no pheasants at all, and then with one State Game-
farm, rearing and releasing several thousand birds a year, we have
gotten fair to good pheasant hunting. Well then it stands to
reason that with the Game-farm twice as big, or with two Game-farsa,
rearing and planting twice as many birds, we'd -et twice as -much or
twice as good hunting."
That seems entirely reasonable to the barber-shop biolo-ista -
and high-class hooey to another tribe of biologists. To these,
that line of logic reduces to something like this:  "If one bushel
of alfalfa seed gets a stand of plants which cuts 2 tons of hay
per acre, then using two bushels of seed should get a cut of 4 to>3
per acre, and 4 bushels of seed should get a cut of 16 tons..."
Applied to standardised farm crops such logic becomes obviouisly
preposterous, but as often applied to wildlife affairs it doesn't
seem to be so obvious. I suspect it will become so, as wildlife
management technic develops and, (as I think it must), as it
gradually works our wild4ife species into the crop categories.
Now just what is wrong with what I have called "barborsh'op
biology"?  Primarily, I think, it is a failure to understand the
fact of, and the nature of, the pertianent, inbuilt limiting factors
which affect or control the m3aintenanie or increaso of associations
of living things.
With genera and species and varieties with which much work has
been done - as apples, potatoes, corn, beef - an underbtanding of
many of these limiting factors has soaked in. Through thousands of
years of intensive trial-and-error farming, plus a century of
agricultural experiment stations etc. How many full-time specialists
with the best of current laboratory facilities have worked on potato
production, for instance? W-hat aggregate of man-years does that
total? Now what similar total of technical man-years has gone into
grouse, or deer or beaver and on terms equivalent to the apples,
beef and potatoes? Will It be 1 for wildlife as compared to 10,000
for the standardized crops?
We have just canvaased orth Amcrica to locate 4 now staff man
for our Game Division, really well trained in the best of modern
technology and competent to tackle our Michigan wildlife complexes;
beaver-trout; farm-game such as pheasants and quail; the mammals