Averting Extinction Reconstructing Endangered Species Recovery Susan Gail Clark

Publication date:
15 May 2005
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156mm

The black-footed ferret, once thought extinct, was rediscovered in Wyoming in 1981. In this book, Susan Clark tells the story of subsequent efforts to save the black-footed ferret, showing how it points up the necessity of finding new ways to conserve and restore species. According to Clark, the problems facing conservation are not fundamentally biological but stem from human systems-policy decisions, organizational priorities, and professional rivalries. The focus in conservation, he says, must shift from science to practical problem solving.

Clark first describes and analyzes efforts to restore the black-footed ferret after 1981 and looks at the processes, people, institutions, and programs that were involved in that endeavor. Finding that the ferret case illustrates many things that go wrong in the implementation of complex environmental policy, Clark then proposes fresh approaches to endangered species recovery. She gives guidelines for improving decision making and development of policies; for devising organizational strategies and structures that are more conducive to learning; and for a new civic professionalism that will raise the standards for performance and better meet society`s needs. This policy-oriented approach, he contends, will open up new avenues, methods, and hope for species recovery. 

Susan G. Clark is Professor Adjunct at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University. She is also president of the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Jackson, Wyoming, and works and consults in the United States and abroad (particularly Australia) on conservation issues.