Each year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of muskrats are trapped for their fur. State wildlife agencies typically set limits on trapping, hunting, and fishing based on “sustainable use” models—how many animals can be removed without causing the species’ population to dip below desired numbers. But this reliance on simple replacement numbers ignores the social and ecological contributions of the individual, and often results in a form of “unnatural selection”—an evolutionary monkey wrench that robs the gene pool of its fittest contributors. See page 14 for more on why sustainable use is a suspect concept for managing wildlife.
Photograph by Grzegorz Lesniewski/Minden Pictures