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The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy

U.S.—Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties in the Progressive Era

by Kurkpatrick Dorsey

Publication Year: 1998

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. xi-xiv

It is customary these days to speak of "global environmental change" as if it were a new problem, a phenomenon unlike anything ever before faced in human history. Certainly we have every reason to be concerned about the effects of greenhouse gases on world climates, the long-term destruction of ecosystems and gene pools that threaten biological diversity, and a host ...

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pp. xv-xvi

It is impossible to thank everyone who deserves mention, and I apologize to those whom I have forgotten. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, I was fortunate to have Walter LaFeber as a professor in three classes. His excellence as a teacher encouraged me to choose u.s. diplomatic history as my field of study. I first began to combine my interests in history and birds as a graduate student at Northwestern University, where I met Arthur ...

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Introduction: The Intersection of Diplomacy and Conservation

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pp. 3-18

As we near the end of the twentieth century and begin to comprehend fully the impact of the end of the Cold War, environmental protection has emerged as an important item on the world's diplomatic agenda. At the Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992 and in national discussions about the impact of free trade on the environment, Americans have been trying to find an appropriate place for environmental protection in our dealings with ...

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Part I: The Inland Fisheries Treaty

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pp. 19-21

Nothing has caused more tension in U.S.-Canadian relations than disputes over fishery rights. With voracious appetites for seafood on both sides of the border, adjoining coasts on two oceans, and steadily improving fishing methods, Americans and Canadians have been in constant competition for fish. This competitive use of aquatic resources has often pushed the relationship to the breaking ...

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1. A Problem of Scale, 1892-1897

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pp. 22-50

he fisheries along the Canadian-American border are a diverse lot. On either coast, they include bays and rivers, with species that move between salt water and fresh. Between the coasts, lakes of varying sizes and depths straddle the border, from tiny Lake Memphremagog to giant Lake Superior. Each body of water has its own ecosystem, with differing carrying capacities and species mixtures. ...

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2. The Jordan Rules, 1898-1909

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pp. 51-75

After submitting their report, Richard Rathbun and William Wakeham left the next move to diplomats. They could follow the lead from the commission and attempt to create strict regulations; they could hand the problem back to scientists for further review; they could aim for a political solution that buried the underlying scientific concerns; or they could ignore the problem and hope that it went away. The last two options were the most ...

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3. The One That Got Away, 1909-1914

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pp. 76-104

Edward Prince and David Starr Jordan's report forced their governments to choose between the short-term interests of fishermen and the long-term interests of the fisheries. In Ottawa, the Dominion government quickly brought its laws into compliance with treaty stipulations. In Washington, D.C., however, President William Howard Taft led a government that resisted the scientists' efforts. ...

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Part II: The North Pacific Fur Seal Convention

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pp. 105-107

Simultaneous with, but separate from, their doomed efforts to regulate the boundary water fisheries, Canadians and Americans searched for a diplomatic means to save the North Pacific fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus). As with the fisheries, the conflict involved issues of ownership and use of a migratory, valuable resource exploited by various nations. The seals in question ...

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4. Conflict in the Bering Sea, 1886-1899

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pp. 108-132

Wen the United States and the British empire first clashed over sealing rights in the North Pacific in the 1880s, both relied on international law to justify their positions. Great Britain, with full support from Canada, stood fast on the principle of free use of the seas, which had long been the gospel of the empire's naval might. The United States countered with a number of weak arguments meant to exempt the seals and their habitat from accepted ...

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5. Conciliation and Conservation, 1900-1912

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pp. 133-164

The failure of the Joint High Commission temporarily obscured the progress that the United States and Canada had made toward an equitable solution to the fur seal dilemma. So long as Canada held out for some important concession on another issue, there would be no progress; in fact, at times the crisis seemed to worsen. But the momentum for conservation was building on both sides of the border and in the Old World, and both governments ...

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Part III: The Migratory Bird Treaty

Like the fish and fur seal treaties, the Migratory Bird Treaty was a response to a distressing decline in valuable wildlife that migrated across international boundaries. Migratory birds faced increasing hunting pressure and damage to their ecosystems, and by the 1880s many knowledgeable observers believed that wild birds were declining to the point that irreversible ...

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6. Of Mallards and Men, 1883-1913

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pp. 167-191

Long before anyone thought of using treaty power to protect migrants, conservationists were at work combating those forces in society that threatened bird life. Writers and scientists, hunters and nature enthusiasts found in birds a noneconomic value that was unique among wildlife. They feared that Americans would drive many species of birds to extinction, and they ...

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7. Coordinating Science, Diplomacy, and Public Relations, 1913-1916

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pp. 192-214

The constitutional problems with the Weeks-McLean Act forced conservationists to look for a means to guarantee permanent federal control of migratory birds. With few alternatives before them, they embraced Senator Root's treaty proposal. As the bird protectors entered this uncharted territory, they found that the strength of their arguments had no effect on diplomatic machinations, although at times ...

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8. Protecting the National Interest, 1916-1920

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pp. 215-237

The final ratification of the Migratory Bird Treaty in December 1916 brought bird protectors within two steps of finally having a reliable law for their cause. First, Congress had to pass enabling legislation, and then conservationists had to win the inevitable court battle. To the surprise of treaty supporters, the opponents of federal control of migratory birds were able to put up a determined fight in Congress that combined with American entry ...

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Epilogue: Implications of the Progressive Treaties

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pp. 238-246

In July of 1995, while driving to Mount Rainier to search for the dipper, a nonmigratory bird of western mountain streams, I scanned across the radio spectrum just in time to hear Paul Harvey criticize the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Law-abiding citizens, he complained, could be subject to arrest simply for picking up an eagle feather from the ground; this law was simply another example of the grasping power of the federal government in ...


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pp. 247-285


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pp. 287-296


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pp. 297-311

E-ISBN-13: 9780295989792
E-ISBN-10: 0295989793
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990033
Print-ISBN-10: 0295990031

Publication Year: 1998