Overkill and Sustainable Use

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Science  21 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5614, pp. 1851-1853
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079823

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Periods of overkill--a conspicuous decline in a population of hunted animals without prospect of stabilization or recovery--are well known from the prehistoric and historic record. In his Perspective, Murray argues that overkill is it not the inevitable consequence of human utilitarianism in relation to hunting. He describes examples of sustainable harvesting and concludes that times of overexploitation may punctuate rather than dominate human history. He stresses the importance of a sense of ownership and urges the wider incorporation of traditional beliefs, values, and knowledge in contemporary conservation and development.