74th "North American" Announced

74th "North American" Announced

"Refining the Relevance of Resource Management" will be the theme for the 74th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, which will be held March 17 through 21, 2009, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, in Arlington, Virginia.

The Conference Steering Committee is pleased to announce the four Special Sessions that will follow the event's Opening (plenary) Session. The Opening (plenary) Session will take place from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 18. The Special Sessions, which will run concurrently from 9:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., are:

Measuring State Wildlife Action Plan Implementation

Chair: Matt Hogan (mhogan@fishwildlife.org)

In another historic milestone for wildlife conservation, every state fish and wildlife agency completed a wildlife action plan in 2005. The wildlife action plans complement existing management programs for abundant (game) species and endangered species by outlining the actions needed to prevent wildlife from declining to the point of becoming endangered. Because they focus on broad habitat conservation and were completed by every state, territory, and the District of Columbia, the wildlife action plans represent an unprecedented exercise in landscape-scale conservation planning.

The wildlife action plans were completed by states as a requirement of two new federal programs established in 2000, i.e., the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program of Pittman-Robertson and the annually funded State Wildlife Grants Program. Development of the wildlife action plans was originally conceived as a planning process to accompany dedicated funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. Along with the Wildlife Restoration and Sport Fish Restoration programs, it was established to represent a focus of management priority and resources. ?It was the long-standing goal of the Teaming with Wildlife initiative, an unprecedented, bipartisan coalition of wildlife agencies, sportsmen, sportswomen and other conservationists. Unfortunately, the federal funding originally envisioned by the initiative's proponents has remained unrealized; the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program of Pittman-Robertson remains unfunded, and State Wildlife Grants appropriations have hovered at a level approximately one-fifth the amount originally promised by Congress. Despite scarce federal funds, state fish and wildlife agencies have moved ahead with building programs to implement the wildlife action plans. These programs have used available federal funds, existing agency programs and partnerships with nongovernmental organizations to move the goals of the action plans forward.

This Special Session will examine the innovative approaches that state fish and wildlife agencies have devised to implement their state wildlife action plans. It also will outline the challenges to long-term success posed by persistently low budgets for wildlife conservation. Finally, the session will highlight opportunities for future funding for wildlife action plan implement.

The Coursework of Conservation: Are University Curricula on Target?

Chair: Steve McMullin (smcmulli@vt.edu)

Universities that offer wildlife-oriented curricula are caught in a dilemma. They recognize that traditional wildlife management curricula laid?the groundwork for wildlife science and that many of today's conservation leaders were well educated through the land grant university system and the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit Program. This successful partnership among universities, the federal government, and the?Wildlife Management Institute has served the nation, its people and wildlife resources well from its inception to recent times. ?However, the backgrounds and interests of many current students have shifted from a formerly rural orientation with strong interest in hunting to a more urban/suburban, protectionist perspective. At the same time, changing public concerns about the increasing impact of human activities on all species and habitats are redirecting the attention of funding entities to grants that focus on broad conservation theory rather than active wildlife management. Additionally, there has been a somewhat progressive?decrease in appropriated funding of traditional wildlife management research?that forces faculty to scramble annually for nontraditional research support that is primarily available?from private sector and corporate grant sources with directed research objectives and interests.

This Special Session will explore whether or how well university curricula are meeting the needs of wildlife agencies for skilled, informed and effective new employees. It will examine an apparent disconnect between what professionalism requires and what academia is able to deliver.


Mixed Messages: Media and the Environment

Chair: Phil Seng (phil@djcase.com)

Increasingly, public opinion about environmental issues and perceptions of conservation are being driven by the news media's treatment (print, broadcast and electronic) and characterization in documentaries, feature films, ads, cartoons, sitcoms, nature shows, hunting and fishing segments, and social media such as blogs and YouTube. At the very least, media has contributed to a blurring of the meaning and perceived role and status of the conservationist, sportsman/woman and environmentalist. It is not enough or particularly constructive to decry unfavorable media bias. Rather, it is necessary to consider how media might be "reprogrammed" to greater understanding, sensitivity and accuracy about conservation-related information and issues.

This Special Session will examine the ways in which media can and does influence natural resource management by the force, accuracy and diversity of its coverage. It will address the need for the resource management community to manage its own direct and indirect messages better in order to improve public understanding and perceptions; to identify and correct outreach shortcomings; and, more importantly, to take advantage of opportunities to use media more effectively to benefit the resource and its management and user opportunities.

Making the North American Model More Relevant to More Americans

Chair: Jeff Crane (jeff@sportsmenslink.org)

North America is blessed with an abundance of wildlife unimaginable 100 years ago, following several centuries of wanton exploitation. The restoration and recovery of desirable wildlife habitats and populations in the 20th century were the result of visionary thinking and activism, populous support, an evolving wildlife management profession and collaborative efforts. Those investments were supported by effective laws, regulations and policies, as well as by the trial, error and acceleration of resource management as a science. Even so, many people today, including some within the wildlife conservation profession, do not know how the current wildlife abundance came to be. Unfortunately, too many do not recognize that threats to the North American Model may undermine future abundance.

This Special Session will summarize recent efforts to highlight the importance of the North American Model and its future relevance, as well as explore additional, as yet untapped, collaborative efforts needed to ensure coordinated, effective conservation programs that build on the existing foundation laid by the North American Model.

Persons interested in being considered as presenters in a Special Session (and in submitting an authored or coauthored paper for the Conference Transactions) are urged to contact the appropriate chair as soon as possible. Additional information on the 74th Conference will be posted periodically on this site.

July 14, 2008