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When compared with control fields with no wildlife habitat patches , the overall yield was comparable, which indicated that the benefits derived from the wildlife friendly approaches, in terms of increased yield, compensated for any loss incurred from taking portions of land out of production. This effect is due to improvements in the delivery of natural services provided by wildlife and from the fact that the land sacrificed could be considered less productive or lower yielding for instance, at field edges where there is increased compaction, competition from trees and hedgerows for light and water, and greater stress from pest species.

It is also expected that time will be needed for populations of some wildlife species to recover from current low levels. Thus, whilst some benefits may be observable in the short term, it could be expected that as populations will continue to improve, then beneficial influences on yield and ecosystem service delivery, will continue to strengthen.

Other studies have demonstrated increased yield in grassland as a result of increasing plant diversity by sowing species rich seed mixtures. Whilst overall costs associated with restoration would need further consideration, and some thought should also be given to field and soil preparation as soil nutrient status is likely to dictate the success of sowing species rich mixtures, this demonstrates the potential for increasing habitat availability whilst reducing environmental impact and cost of production to the farmer, by reducing fertiliser input requirements.

Any benefits associated with the enhancement of wildlife will need to be weighed against the cost of such approaches in the context of farm management.

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These could include land lost from production, or the cost of any upkeep or maintenance of set-aside or wild areas. However, evidence to date suggests that providing habitat and food for wildlife on farms, may have positive effects on potential production yield, as well as improving the potential for ecosystem service delivery. In the long term, such actions may become even more important due to current rates of environmental change, which are likely to add additional pressure to this already pressurised ecosystem.

By changing approaches to farming to conserve biodiversity by providing for wildlife, it may be possible to enhance the potential for resilience in the agroecosystem, helping to future-proof it against expected shifts in climate. Click here to download a PDF version of this article. Skip to main content.

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Home Technical Articles The importance of biodiversity and wildlife on farmland. AWA supports living wildlife economies that promote the conservation of wildlife populations in their natural environment and as a public resource. Living wildlife economies are economies that depend on living wildlife, such as camping, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. AWA is opposed to the privatization, domestication and commercialization of wildlife, including game farming. Game farming of wildlife is neither economically nor environmentally viable.

Brings together extensive scientific learning on what makes a good farm for biodiversity.

It is antiethical to wildlife, our system of conservation and our living wildlife economies. Game farming brings costly problems such as disease, parasites, genetic pollution, habitat loss, and increased poaching.


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Game farming has no legitimate place within Alberta and should be phased out and prohibited by law. In line with this, the shooting of captive wildlife for a fee is considered to be an unethical and unacceptable method of hunting by AWA and various hunting and fishing groups in the province. Animals that have evolved in dispersed populations are especially susceptible to disease when kept in close proximity.

Many of these diseases are transmissible to traditional livestock and to wild animals across fences, through flowing streams and through escaped animals. Although scientific and economic evidence indicated that game farming would have a negative impact on wildlife, would not be economically viable and would require government subsidization, the Alberta government legalized game farming in without a public review and without environmental or economic impact assessments. In recent years, Chronic Wasting Disease CWD has generated tremendous media attention and public concern surrounding the game farm industry.


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CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalitis TSE of elk and deer, and is caused by a variant prion similar to that of the devastating Mad Cow disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy. CWD is generally transmitted through body fluids, though research has indicated that prions may enter soil from diseased live animals and be preserved in soils. Currently, CWD is not able to transmit across species barriers, but both in-vitro and in-vivo experiments indicate that, while unlikely, transmission of CWD to humans may be possible.

The importance of biodiversity and wildlife on farmland

CWD was first found on several elk farms in Saskatchewan in Following this, 7, elk, bison, cattle and 50 white-tailed deer were destroyed. Since September 1, the Alberta government has tested nearly heads through their hunter surveillance program, and detected sixteen 0. These statistics are unsettling and indicate that in Alberta, we are no closer to resolving this problem.

The establishment of such operations has been actively opposed nationally by fish and game associations, farmers and ranchers, animal rights activists, conservationists, government officials, and concerned citizens. Advocates of this practice have suggested it as a way to maintain control of biological diversity and viability, through the creation of controlled environments for hunting to take place, as a way to discourage poaching, and as a way for disabled persons to hunt and to teach children how to hunt.

In fact, the sole reason for offering this service is for profit.

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Test results from indicated 86 new cases of chronic wasting disease in 74 mule deer and 12 white-tailed deer. Alberta game farms continue to struggle with chronic wasting disease outbreaks, including in elk. In , it is further entrenching along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Management release information regarding chronic wasting disease testing.

Preliminary results confirm CWD in twenty-four cervids inclusive of 19 mule deer, 4 white-tailed deer and one moose. This marks the first detection of CWD in moose in Canada. Updates to the Government of Alberta SRD website state that testing of heads from the fall hunting season is nearing completion. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Volume 15 , Issue 3 September Pages e9-e9.

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