Special Sessions Announced for 83rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference

Special Sessions Announced for 83rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference

The program steering committee for the 83rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference has announced the event's four special sessions. The conference will be held March 26-30, 2018, at the Hilton Norfolk the Main, in Norfolk, Virginia. The four special sessions will be held concurrently on Wednesday, March 28 and will directly follow the conference's opening session that morning.

Hilton Norfolk

Anyone interested in participating as a presenter at one of the special sessions should contact the appropriate chair or co-chairs.

SPECIAL SESSION 1 - Conservation Built to Last: Advancing Engagement, Inclusion, and Shared Purpose to Address the Challenges of the Future

Ali Duvall
Assistant Coordinator, Intermountain West Joint Venture
Noreen Walsh
Regional Director, USFWS Region 6
Tony Wasley
Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife

Escalating pressures related to species protection, management, and biodiversity conservation are complicated by social and ecological change due to human population growth, land use change, increasing food and energy demands, and climate change. While global consequences of human activity are accelerating—at rates, scales, and combinations that are different from what we have known—we are also beset by numerous social challenges. Two key challenges for effective conservation include a crisis of relevancy and potential polarization between state fish and wildlife agencies, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

Collaborative conservation is one key approach that has been implemented to achieve balance and determine acceptable trade-offs between diverse human interests, ecosystem health, and the conservation and management of wildlife. The purpose of this special session is to create an interactive and participant-based session that discusses current wildlife management and conservation challenges; foster learning about the factors that propel us forward or hold us back from successful, durable, multi-scale, collaborative conservation; encourage authentic and courageous conversations with diverse perspectives about conservation relevancy and ways to connect; and, develop key concepts or principles that will be required to effectively implement the next era of system-wide, collaborative conservation.

SPECIAL SESSION 2 - The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy: A Model for Collaborative Conservation

Susan Gibson
DoD Regional Environmental Coordinator, USACE South Atlantic Division
Chris Goudreau
SECAS Coordinator,NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) is an approach to conservation at multiple scales that is generating both momentum and early successes. SECAS strives to unite the conservation community around a shared, long-term vision for the future of natural and cultural resources in light of the dramatic changes sweeping the Southeastern United States, including urbanization, competition for water resources, and extreme weather events. Our surroundings provide a wealth of benefits in the form of goods like food and fiber, clean water and air, and services like water purification and habitat for our fish and wildlife resources. Balancing the provision of these goods with economic drivers and the needs of society is a daunting challenge – particularly in a landscape where greater than 90 percent of the land is privately held.

The SECAS effort is based on collaboration and was initiated by states of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) and the federal Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group (SENRLG) with support from Southeast and Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), the Climate Science Centers, and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP). The unique role of SECAS is to identify and support the steps necessary to regionally plan, implement, and evaluate actions that sustain habitat, mitigate threats, and adapt to future conditions.

This session will appeal to those interested in conservation planning at a regional level, strengthening collaboration across diverse partners, and connecting conservation and the working landscape – be they lands held to generate economic growth, recreation properties or military installations. Specifically, the session will: (1) highlight the need for SECAS; (2) explain the development and use of the SECAS Conservation Blueprint Version 2.0; (3) provide examples of multi-partner success stories – or case studies; and, (4) identify how to get engaged – both in the Southeast and more broadly across North America.

SPECIAL SESSION 3 - The Chicken or the Egg: Broader Support or Broader Significance

Dr. Karl Malcolm
Regional Wildlife Ecologist, Forest Service, Southwestern Regional Office

There is growing consensus among fish and wildlife professionals that the “some users pay model” supporting most state fish and wildlife agencies and associated conservation programs faces uncertain long-term sustainability. In many cases funds dwindle while management challenges become more expensive, varied, and complex, and urbanizing majorities become further disengaged from the natural world.

De-emphasizing agency service to non-paying segments of the public results in missed opportunities to nurture a more broadly knowledgeable citizenry motivated and empowered to invest personally and fiscally in environmental stewardship – the very foundation of continued and expanding success in our nation’s conservation enterprise.

In the absence of alternative sources of revenue there are few remaining options to develop programs aimed at enlisting a broader base of engaged conservationists. This session will explore several emerging and increasingly fundamental questions including, 1) to what extent are license buyers who currently and historically foot the bulk of the bill for state fish and wildlife agencies willing to invest their dollars and share their influence in the interest of enhancing future conservation capacity, 2) what specific steps can be taken to build bridges with and generate support from segments of the public that do not currently pay, and 3) what alliances are necessary to secure progressive alternatives to the “some users pay model?”

SPECIAL SESSION 4 - Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the 21st Century: How Poaching, Trafficking, and Illegal Trade are Endangering the North American Model for Wildlife Management

Dr. Kristie R. Blevins
Professor – Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eastern Kentucky University
Dr. Jonathan Gassett
Southeastern Field Representative, Wildlife Management Institute

State and federal fish and wildlife agencies have a duty to conserve, enhance, and protect wildlife held in the public trust. State agencies do this primarily by funding provided by hunter and angler license revenue and federal excise taxes on equipment, rather than general tax dollars, while federal agencies are primarily funded with a mixture of federal general tax and excise tax revenue. Wildlife laws and regulations are designed to protect and conserve natural resources, with a subset of those defining requirements for legal take of fish and wildlife, most of which address the issue of commercialization.

While the true cost of wildlife commercialization is a complicated, multifaceted construct, the actions of violators undoubtedly produce significant economic and societal burdens on our system of conservation that greatly outweigh the realized revenue from fines and penalties. Wildlife crimes also create negative societal perceptions of hunters and anglers and the agencies that support and regulate them. Ultimately, these economic and societal factors result in increased costs for state and federal agencies and the public in terms of license dollars, replacement costs of resources, federal excise tax revenue, increased enforcement efforts, more stringent regulations, and ultimately a loss of public support.

This special session will examine the economic impacts and true costs associated with commercialization of wildlife through 1) case studies from state and federal fish and wildlife agencies focusing on intrastate, interstate, and international wildlife crime; 2) reviews of the successes or failures of the Wildlife Violator Compact, and 3) examinations of the societal views projected on legal participants due to the illegal activities of violators.

October 16, 2017