The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 169
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Wildlife Conservation in Late Nineteenth-
Century Texas: The Carp Experiment
ROBIN W. DOUGHTY*
IN EIGHTEENTH- AND EARLY NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA, INDIVIDU-
al initiative, skill, and productivity was directed at taming the
wilderness by exploiting bountiful mineral, forest, soil, and wildlife
resources. Beginning in the 185os, however, increasing numbers of
people became aware that a growing and industrializing society was
blighting the nation's landscapes and interfering with many complex
relationships in the natural world. Citizens knowledgeable about tim-
ber, fish, and other products began to call for restraints. Public figures
and scientists tended to argue, however, for the husbandry and "cul-
ture" of certain wildlife: that is, for the reorganization of production
rather than the prohibition of traditional patterns of exploitation.,
The history of Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus), commonly called the "Ger-
man" carp, illustrates this approach to animal utilization; and Texas
residents were eager to undertake carp rearing to supplement poultry
and livestock production and to offset dwindling supplies of native fish.
In December, 1870, a group of wealthy, educated New Englanders,
who had experimented with techniques of fish reproduction and man-
agement and who made a hobby of transplanting fish species and intro-
ducing them to new waters, formed the American Fish Culturists'
Association. Shortly after the establishment of the American Fish Cul-
turists-on February 9, 1871-the United States Congress took official
note of the fish problems and authorized the appointment of a com-
missioner of fish and fisheries (at no pay). According to the commis-
*Robin W. Doughty is associate professor of geography at the University of Texas,
Austin. He appreciates the aid he received from the University Research Institute, Uni-
versity of Texas, Austin; helpful comments made by Dr. Clark Hubbs, Department of
Zoology, University of Texas, Austin; and the assistance of Kay Montgomery and Joan
1Susan L. Flader, "Scientific Resource Management: An Historical Perspective," Trans-
actions: Forty-first North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, ed. Ken-
neth Sabol (Washington, D.C., 1976), 17-30o.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/205/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.