84th North American Conference Special Sessions Announced

84th North American Conference Special Sessions Announced

The steering committee for the 84th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference has announced the topics of its four special sessions that will be held concurrently on Wednesday, March 6th from 10:00 am to noon at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

Denver Skyline

America’s Shifting Wildlife Values Are Affecting the Trajectory of Wildlife Management in the U.S.

Fish and wildlife agencies face rising social conflict and unprecedented scrutiny. Issues such as declining hunter participation, public controversy over wildlife management actions, disagreement over human-wildlife conflict and diminishing funding pose growing challenges.

The America’s Wildlife Values study explores the concept that these issues have emerged as a result of the shifting social context in the United States. The effort uses data from three sources: the 2004 Wildlife Values in the West survey (n = 12,673 respondents, 19 states), the 2018 national wildlife values survey (43,949 respondents, 50 states), and the 2018 agency culture survey (n = 9,770 respondents, 28 states). The study is built on a systems model that proposes modernization after World War II changed the social-ecological context that in turn affected people’s awareness of and experience with wildlife.

Combined with an expansion of anthropomorphic tendencies, this gave rise to mutualist values and a shift away from more traditional utilitarian values toward wildlife. This shift has a critical effect on attitudes toward wildlife-related issues and, we propose, will ultimately have an effect on the character of fish and wildlife agencies.

This session breaks down the components of the study. Individual presentations will provide overviews of: the theory of social value change; the methods and methodological issues in data collection; the current composition of wildlife values in the U.S. and effects on attitudes; longitudinal trends of value shift; and the apparent effect of value shift on agency culture. The session will conclude with a panel discussion of the implications of these findings for the future of wildlife management.

Session Co-Chairs: Michael J. Manfredo, Professor and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department Head, Colorado State University; Tara Teel, Professor, Colorado State University

Wildlife Management in Canada: Uniqueness and Alignment of Indigenous Rights, Policy, and Funding

In principle, wildlife management in Canada and the United States follow the tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. However, the historical foundations and the evolution of policies and funding mechanisms have taken very different paths.

Most state fish and wildlife agency directors, conservation organization leaders, and other wildlife professionals have a robust understanding of the rich historical background and current policies of fish and wildlife management in the U.S. However, many often assume that similar approaches, policies and funding mechanisms exist in Canada. The fact is that both the history and policies of wildlife management in Canada are very different from the U.S. There is very little written about Canadian wildlife policy or law and the topic is often lumped with law related to fisheries, and it is characterized by a rich early jurisprudence that delineated federal and provincial constitutional authorities. Differences between Canadian and U.S. conservation governance, policy, funding, and land management authority offer key insights into how the overall North American Model of Wildlife Conservation might be modernized to address the ever-changing future needs of natural resource management.

This session will review the unique history and current policies and practices of wildlife management in Canada and explore opportunities for future collaboration between U.S. and Canadian wildlife management agencies.

Session Co-Chairs: Travis Ripley, Executive Director, Fish and Wildlife Policy, Government of Alberta; Virgil Moore, President AFWA, Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game; Ron Regan, Executive Director, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies; Dean Smith, NAWMP Director/Wildlife Liaison (Canada), Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Landscape Connectivity and Wildlife Corridors: Linking Science, Practice, and Policy

The fragmentation of ecosystems ranks near the top of contemporary conservation’s most critical issues and threatens the biodiversity of species and their habitats in ways few other conservation challenges have.

Recognizing the need to conserve biodiversity of a region by providing corridors and linkages that maintain ecosystem function is, in its broadest sense, the aim of landscape connectivity. While connectivity at a landscape scale addresses and facilitates the movement of multiple species of plants and animals between patches of large intact natural lands, wildlife corridors address the requirements for the movement of specific animals or species within landscapes. Given their crucial role in species and population health, the identification and conservation of landscape connectivity and wildlife corridors are moving rapidly from theoretical models and broad-based mapping efforts to specific guidance and real world, on-the-ground conservation actions. Researchers and managers now have access to new, powerful technologies that allow the collection of location data through GPS collars which can identify when and where animals are at regular intervals. Even with these new tools, however, a lack of understanding on how to maintain functional corridors and movement routes, antiquated approaches to land management, and emerging threats from climate change have resulted in the misalignment of resources and increased risk from detrimental impacts to these important landscapes.

Like our knowledge and technology, land management policies at local, state and federal levels have also been rapidly evolving. If these new policies are carefully constructed and are aligned with the best available science, they can open up opportunities to support on-the-ground work to maintain connectivity and corridors with funding, authorization where needed, and compilation of the relevant science. However, new information on landscape connections and movement routes often cannot inform policy making fast enough to ensure the correct conservation measures are applied to maintain function. From recent management and policy related to reptiles, birds, and big game, the science of landscape connections and wildlife movement conservation has many examples to learn from and help guide future policy and management.

In this session, participants will have the opportunity to hear from scientists, practitioners, and policy makers on how this new focus is bringing together data, technology and experience to advance this critical area of wildlife conservation in policy and practice.

Session Co-Chairs: Miles Moretti, President/CEO, Mule Deer Foundation; Steve Belinda, Executive Director, North American Grouse Partnership; John Kanter, Senior Wildlife Biologist, National Wildlife Federation

Broadening the Tent: Valuing Wildlife Conservation

State fish and wildlife agencies have long been interested in diversifying their funding sources beyond the traditional model which relies heavily on hunting and fishing license fees to support wildlife and lands managed by the state. For some agencies like the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, additional funding sources have been developed over time such as Great Outdoor Colorado (GOCO)/lottery funding, a tax check-off program, and a license plate program. Unfortunately, these revenue streams generate less than 30% of the agency’s wildlife management budget, with hunting and fishing license fees and associated excise taxes still dominating most of the agency’s remaining budget needs.

It is no secret that as the nation’s population expands and becomes more urbanized, demands on the wildlife management agencies for recreation opportunities will surge, wildlife-human conflicts will multiply, and wildlife management will become increasingly difficult. It is clear that the long-term viability of state fish and wildlife agencies depends on their ability to develop new sources of funding to respond to increased public interest in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation activities.

In this session, speakers from multiple state agencies will present findings of landmark studies and pilot initiatives that explore new opportunities to fund wildlife conservation by more constituents. Presenters will review alternative funding sources (both potential and realized), analyze alternative conservation funding approaches, evaluate the efficacy of those approaches in terms of their economic and political feasibility, and identify user-group preferences about and attitudes toward alternative funding mechanisms. This session will provide a factual basis for attendees grappling with funding for wildlife management and it will introduce concepts of value theory and other considerations typically omitted in agency funding conversations.

Session Co-Chairs: Madeleine West, Asst. Director Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources; Rob Southwick, President/CEO, Southwick Associates; Bob Broscheid, Director, Colorado Parks and Wildlife

November 16, 2018