Wild faunal resource managers and those interested in and supporting what they do must decide "what animals?" We cannot master the required knowledge of all animals, even a small subset. We must limit ourselves to large terrestrial vertebrates. We need to work hard to encourage and support a "faunal support base," experts in fishery, mollusks, crustaceans, and ... yes, insects. We may "like butterflies," but mastering all of the lepidopteran species, their life histories, and their specific needs opens needs and responsibilities that can never be met. Asserting that they can be met and mastering them is little more than naive hope and it generates an image not needed for workers responsible for the direct control of over 100 large species of animals on every area of Virginia (or any other large area of the world). We need to work within the vastness of the total environment, encourage experts, but we need to define ourselves narrowly and demonstrate our competence at doing just that.
We were once taught about and the table spread before us for the "Renaissance Man." Now that beautiful concept is sexist as well as limited, un-tethered in the swirl of Internet information, satellite images, and nano-scale technology.
In the past, we had objectives of increasing animal abundance. There have been some successes, but the costs have not been evaluated. We have not managed species or life-group systems, thus have ignored feedback, and now we have species with too great abundance, some being too few, and others about which we claim we are managers we do not yet have an estimate of their abundance or surety of our objective. We have forgotten that the animals are a resource and that that implies that they may have benefits (of many types) to people, and that greater abundance is not the only way to greater benefits. See the figure. We must re-connect with economic fundamentals, define "resource" in acceptable ways, and concentrate on the many actions that can be taken to increase benefits (often only loosely related to animal abundance).