Managing American Wildlife: A History of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

By Dian Olson Belanger | Go to book overview

FIVE
The Washington Presence

When you are fed up with the troublesome present, with being "very twentieth century," you take your gun, whistle for your dog, go out to the mountain, and, without further ado, give yourself the pleasure during a few hours or a few days of being "Paleolithic."

JOSÉ ORTEGA GASSET

Concern for enviromental quality continued to be a dominant theme in the 1970s, but emphasis shifted from faith in scientific and technological "progress" to a greater insistence upon social responsibility. The decade marked the heyday of congressional activity on environmental matters, beginning with the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The lawmakers seemed at times to act with more heart than mind, however, with implementation problems a result for wildlife managers who preferred a rational approach to an emotional one. Emotions ran high as antihunting and "animal rights" advocates gathered support and the attention of the press.

Other societal issues affected wildlife. Public morality and accountability became central questions as the Watergate scandal enveloped an ever larger and higher placed circle of federal officials, finally including the President of the United States. Representatives of government at all levels consequently came under suspicion and closer scrutiny. The energy crisis, brought about by manipulated distribution and skyrocketing prices of Middle Eastern oil, led to double-digit inflation and a shaken sense of

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