The Pacific Northwest has seen its share of major environmental battles. Now a new historical study of the fur trade indicates that early Europeans and Americans in the region struggled with similar issues nearly two centuries ago as they sought to exploit and preserve the areas natural resources.
In a pilot study examining the historical record for the National Park Service, a University of Washington researcher has found that the Hudsons Bay Company, the dominant outside force in the region during the early years of the 19th century, set the stage for later environmental struggles through its own sometimes conflicting policies.
Brian Schefke, a UW history doctoral student, said the firm failed as a force for conservation because it was constrained by its business strategy and the constant demand for profits. "The company tried, but the very nature of the fur trade ultimately meant its conservation efforts couldnt succeed. It had to expand because its old beaver trapping grounds were in decline and this expansion brought ecological stress to new territory," he said.
Joel Schwarz | EurekAlert!
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