A Bright Future for the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program

USGS Cooperative Research Unit Corner

A Bright Future for the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program

The USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units program (CRU program) is pleased to provide you with the “2020 Year in Review” report. You will find brief descriptions of just a few highlighted activities of unit scientists, students, and cooperators in support of our joint mis­sion. Although space precludes us from highlighting every single activity from every unit and state, that in no way diminishes our appreciation of the excellent work that is conducted by each of our collaborators and partners and the value that this program places on each and every cooperative.

A female Kodiak brown bear at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska

Fiscal year 2020 was an interesting and challenging year owing to the global pandemic that forced many of our host universities and state agencies to change the way they operate, and it also required all CRU program personnel to work from their homes for a significant portion of the year. Nevertheless, the program remained very productive and maintains a bright future. One of the things contributing to that bright future is a $5.6 million increase in our most recent congressional appropriations. This amount will help us meet longstanding programmatic needs, such as filling the vacancies in our scientific workforce and providing much-needed upgrades to our research equipment.

Our Headquarters staff has been working diligently with collaborators to fill vacancies as quickly as possible. Jonathan Mawdsley, who many of you may already know through his work at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and The Heinz Center, has been selected as the new permanent Chief of the CRU program, coming on board right at the end of the fiscal year. We look forward to working with you all to continue the great work of this program. The CRU program staff is composed of excellent scientists, dedicated leadership, and an outstanding administrative staff that all work together to meet the program’s mission. None of this work could be accomplished without the tremendous support from each cooperator.

Established in 1935, the CRU program is a unique cooperative partnership among State fish and wildlife agencies, universities, the Wildlife Management Institute, the USGS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The mission of the CRU program has three parts: (1) develop the conservation workforce of the future through applied graduate education, (2) fulfill the training and tech­nical assistance needs of the cooperators, and (3) deliver actionable science to cooperating agencies and organizations.

Designed to meet the scientific needs of natural resource management agencies and the necessity for trained professionals in the growing field of wildlife management, the program has grown from the original nine wildlife-only units to a program that today includes 40 Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units located on university campuses in 38 states. The partnerships that form each unit are some of the USGS’s strongest links to federal and state land and natural resource agencies as mandated by the Cooperative Research and Training Units Act of 1960 (P.L. 86–686).

Details about the program follow:

  • Each unit is staffed by two to five federal research scien­tists employed by the USGS.
  • If fully staffed, the units would together be served by 119 federal employees. Unit scientists hold faculty rank at their host university, teach graduate-level courses, and conduct research on a wide variety of fish and wildlife issues.
  • Research projects typically support graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
  • USGS employees in the units work with state fish and wildlife agencies and federal natural resource agencies, providing them with the science used in management decisions to support sustainable fish and wildlife popula­tions, thus helping to maintain biodiversity, encourage healthy ecosystems, and enhance wildlife watching and fishing and hunting.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) serves as the research arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior and has established a series of strategic goals that focus its efforts on serving the American people. Within USGS, the Ecosystems Mission Area is responsible for conducting and sponsoring research that addresses the following thematic objectives under the overarching strategic goal of “Science that Supports Our Resources in Wild and Urban Spaces, and the Landscapes In-Between”:

  • Science supporting a legacy of sustainable fish and wildlife,
  • Social science and human components in land, water, and wildlife conservation,
  • Trusted science supporting hard decisions on at-risk species,
  • Science to battle costly biological threats,
  • Providing science for managing risks and responding to extreme events,
  • Science for preservation and restoration of iconic landscapes, and
  • Science to support adaptation and address impacts of climate and land change.

Find us on social media or learn more about the CRU program.

View the 2020 CRU Year in Review story map.

The ONB features articles from U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units across the country. The Units are leading exciting, new fish and wildlife research projects that we believe our readers will appreciate reading about.

Photo Credit
Joshua Blouin, USGS Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, used with permission
March 15, 2021