The Wildlife Society
- Not to be confused with the Wildlife Conservation Society
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|The Wildlife Society|
|Motto||Excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education|
|Type||Non-profit scientific and educational association|
Founded in 1937, The Wildlife Society (TWS) is an international non-profit scientific and educational association dedicated to excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education. The Wildlife Society works to improve wildlife conservation in North America by advancing the science of wildlife management, promoting continuing education of wildlife professionals, and advocating for sound, science-based wildlife policy. The organization also encourages professional growth through certification, peer-reviewed publications, conferences, and working groups.
Society members are dedicated to sustainable management of wildlife resources and their habitats. Ecology is the primary scientific discipline of the wildlife profession; therefore, the interests of the Society embrace the interactions of all organisms with their natural environments. The Society supports the belief that wildlife, in its myriad forms, is basic to the maintenance of a human culture that provides quality living.
Mission and objectives
The mission of The Wildlife Society is to enhance the ability of wildlife professionals to conserve biodiversity, sustain productivity, and ensure responsible use of wildlife resources for the benefit of society. The mission is implemented through five goals:
- Develop and maintain professional standards for wildlife research and management.
- Enhance knowledge and technical capabilities of wildlife managers.
- Advance professional stewardship of wildlife resources and their habitats.
- Advocate the use of sound biological information for wildlife policy decisions.
- Increase public awareness and appreciation of the wildlife profession.
The principal objectives of the Society, as they appear in the current Bylaws, are to:
- Develop and promote sound stewardship of wildlife resources and of the environments upon which wildlife and humans depend;
- Undertake an active role in preventing human-induced environmental degradation;
- Increase awareness and appreciation of wildlife values; and
- Seek the highest standards in all activities of the wildlife profession.
Society purposes, objectives, and activities are guided by a strategic plan and implemented by:
- Disseminating current information through publications and other activities;
- Sponsoring or co-sponsoring wildlife and related natural resource conferences;
- Providing scientifically based information and recommendations to legislative leaders;
- Cooperating with other wildlife organizations and agencies to achieve mutual goals;
- Providing opportunities for wildlife biologists to enhance their professional credentials through a Certification Program, and Professional Development Program; and
- Increasing public awareness and appreciation of wildlife conservation and management.
The Wildlife Society was founded during the 1930s, a time of growing interest in the restoration of wildlife populations and the emergence of the new profession of game management. Influential leaders in the fledgling conservation movement – among them Aldo Leopold and J.N. (Ding) Darling – triggered by mounting concern over the decimation of wildlife caused by severe drought, widespread poaching, and deteriorating habitats, saw the need to gather and disseminate scientific knowledge.
The Wildlife Society, initially known as The Society of Wildlife Specialists, was launched at the North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, D.C., in 1936. A year later, in St. Louis, Missouri, the Specialists became The Wildlife Society. A constitution and bylaws were adopted in 1937, and the Society was incorporated on March 25, 1948. A 50-year history of the Society (1937–1987) can be found in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Over time, The Wildlife Society has broadened its programs beyond its original focus on scientific publications to include:
- Certification of wildlife biologists;
- Continuing education of wildlife professionals at an annual conference;
- Training opportunities through a network of over 50 chapters, 90 student chapters, and a dozen working groups;
- An awards program recognizing outstanding contributions to the profession of wildlife management;
- A leadership institute to train aspiring leaders in the wildlife field;
- A renewed and strengthened attention on advocating for science-based wildlife policy.
Just as the profession has evolved from a focus on game management to encompass all wildlife species and ecosystems, so too has the Society’s outlook broadened into these areas. Through it all, The Wildlife Society has remained dedicated to excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education.
The Society’s broad interests are depicted in its unique emblem, featuring Egyptian hieroglyphics. The figures, from top to bottom, represent mammals, birds, fish, and flowering plants. While The Wildlife Society generally doesn’t address fish conservation, which is recognized as a distinct science, the Society is actively involved in the conservation of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and ecosystems.
The Wildlife Society is governed by an elected Council of four officers (President, President-Elect, Vice President, and Past President) and representatives from each of the Society’s eight North American sections (Northeast, Southeastern, North Central, Central Mountains and Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Western, and Canada). A professional staff directs and implements TWS programs from the headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.
Many of the Society's programs rely significantly upon the dedication and expertise of members. Members serve on committees that prepare technical analyses of current conservation issues, recommend changes to Society programs, and select recipients for TWS awards. The Society's members also volunteer their time as scientific editors of Society publications and as hosts for the Annual Conference.
Members have an opportunity for greater involvement in TWS activities through a network of more than 50 chapters, 90 student chapters, and 19 working groups. Chapters and student chapters are organized by geographical boundaries (generally a state, province, college, or university), whereas working groups are organized by subject area (such as biological diversity, wildlife damage management, and wildlife toxicology). Five wildlife conclaves (Western, Central, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Southwestern) are informal assemblages of TWS student chapters that meet annually to expand students’ horizons and promote camaraderie. Conclave activities include seminars, field trips, a quiz bowl, and other events.
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The Society’s members are highly trained and dedicated professionals from a diverse range of wildlife disciplines and expertise. They are active in the pressing wildlife issues of today including: sustainable use of wildlife and ecosystems, management of public lands, conservation on private lands, recovery of endangered species, restoration of degraded habitats, and management of abundant wildlife.
TWS members recognize that humans, like all plants and animals, depend upon their environments for survival and well-being, and that wildlife, in its many forms, contributes to the quality of human life, both indirectly as an integral component of healthy environments and directly through traditional and modern roles in human cultures and economies. Their choice of a career in wildlife conservation is often motivated by an understanding of these ecological principles, a love of the outdoors, and a deeply rooted sense of the intrinsic value of wild creatures.
For the qualified wildlife professional, The Wildlife Society offers a peer-review Certification Program. Certification constitutes official recognition that a wildlife biologist meets the Society’s rigorous standards for education, experience, and ethics. The primary objective of the program is to provide private clients, employers, and the public with access to qualified professionals and reliable advice in matters concerning wildlife resources.
Certification by The Wildlife Society is based on a person’s education and experience. Three categories are offered:
- Certified Wildlife Biologist – The requirements for this certificate include:
- Completion of rigorous academic requirements at a college/university.
- Experience as a wildlife biologist for five years.
- Agreement to comply with The Wildlife Society’s Code of Ethics for Wildlife Professionals.
The applicant’s coursework and experience are thoroughly examined by the Society’s Certification Review Board, a group of long-standing and highly qualified members who represent a broad range of wildlife backgrounds. Once certified, the applicant must continue enhancing his or her knowledge of the most current wildlife management principles and techniques in order to recertify in five years.
- Associate Wildlife Biologist – The requirements for this certificate include:
- Completion of rigorous academic requirements at a college/university.
- Agreement to comply with The Wildlife Society’s Code of Ethics for wildlife professionals.
The applicant’s coursework is thoroughly examined by the Society’s Certification Review Board. Once certified, the applicant has 10 years to complete five years of professional work experience as a wildlife biologist. At that point, the applicant may apply for certification as a Certified Wildlife Biologist.
- Professional Development – The requirement for this certificate includes:
- Commitment to lifelong learning and enhanced professionalism.
- Agreement to comply with The Wildlife Society’s Code of Ethics for wildlife professionals.
Credit towards this certificate is earned by participation in activities such as attending symposia, short courses, distance learning courses, workshops, training sessions, technical sessions at professional meetings, and regular college courses provided by public or private institutions.
Through the years, one of the Society’s greatest strengths has been the high quality and scientific rigor of its many publications. Flagship publications include:
- Journal of Wildlife Management – the definitive source of wildlife science
- The Wildlife Professional – a quarterly magazine that provides coverage and analysis of current issues important to wildlife professionals
- Wildlife Society Bulletin – a quarterly, magazine-style journal covering all aspects of wildlife science and management (discontinued in 2007, with content incorporated into the Journal of Wildlife Management)
- Wildlife Monographs – extensive, single-subject papers on topics of wildlife science or management
- The Wildlifer – a membership newsletter reviewing recent TWS activities
- Wildlife Policy News - an online newsletter covering pertinent wildlife policy issues
- Technical Reviews – in-depth analyses of current issues in wildlife conservation
- The Leadership Workbook: Building Leadership Skills in the Natural Resource Professions and Beyond - an instructional volume aimed at natural resource professionals
- Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management in North America – a first-of-its-kind textbook on public participation in wildlife management
- Techniques for Wildlife Investigations and Management – a comprehensive textbook on wildlife management techniques
Through applying sound science to proposed wildlife conservation legislation and regulations, The Wildlife Society takes a leadership role in key federal wildlife policy issues in the United States. With its exceptional access to the expertise of thousands of professionals, TWS is uniquely qualified to develop comprehensive technical analyses of current wildlife management issues. Recent analyses have covered such timely topics as management and conservation of forests and wetlands, restoration of wolves, wildlife conservation options in agricultural policy, wildlife management in wilderness, wildlife fertility control, impacts of wind energy on wildlife, the public trust doctrine, and confinement of wild ungulates.
The TWS Government Affairs department publishes quarterly, online issues of Wildlife Policy News. Each issue features a series of articles intended to foster information exchange among Society leaders and wildlife professionals regarding policy issues.
Primary policy priorities for The Wildlife Society include:
- Federal budgets for wildlife and habitat conservation, management, research, and education.
- Development of renewable energy sources on federal lands
- Farm Bill reauthorization
- State wildlife agency nongame funding (Teaming with Wildlife)
- Endangered Species Act reauthorization
- Global climate change and wildlife
- Federal employee participation in professional societies
- Science policy for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Geological Survey Biological Resources Discipline
- Wetlands conservation
- Wildlife baiting and feeding
- Wildlife diseases
- Federal land management agency planning and land-use regulations
- The North American Model and Public Trust Doctrine
The TWS Leadership Institute was established in 2006 to provide a select group of TWS members with leadership training that will help them move into leadership positions, both in their workplace and in the Society. With 77 percent of the leaders in the wildlife profession projected to retire in the next decade, TWS has a responsibility to prepare our members to meet this pressing need.
Participation in the Institute is geared toward young professionals, those individuals who are 2 to 3 years out of school and currently working full or part-time in a professional position in wildlife management or conservation. A small number of slots are available for recent graduates who have shown strong evidence of their leadership potential. All applicants must be members of The Wildlife Society and a Chapter or Section of The Wildlife Society.
The selection committee seeks to select a diversity of participants, representing gender, ethnic, and regional diversity. Selection is based upon:
- An excellent academic record.
- Demonstrated leadership capability or potential.
- Demonstrated level of excellence in current position.
- Preference is to individuals that are currently employed by a state or federal agency, research organization, or relevant non-governmental organization and who are working on some aspect of wildlife management or conservation.
From May through September, the ten members participate in a variety of distance learning and hands-on projects, which include reading and interpreting leadership materials, presenting to peer groups, working collaboratively with each other, leading discussions, and developing summary documents regarding professional leadership. The experience culminates at the TWS Annual Conference, with intensive mentoring activities and leadership workshops.
Although The Wildlife Society’s membership is international, most of its members reside in the United States and Canada. To keep abreast of international issues and welcome international participation in its programs, the Society engages in several international forums, most notably, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the International Union of Game Birds (IUGB), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Society also takes the lead in organizing an international wildlife management congress approximately every five years in a different region of the world. The first three congresses were held in Costa Rica (1993), Hungary (1999), and New Zealand (2003).
The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference is a forum for networking and continuing education available to students and wildlife professionals. It is attended by as many as 2,000 biologists from around the world, making it an excellent setting for developing professional contacts, investigating employment opportunities, and initiating and renewing friendships with fellow wildlifers.
Over five days, sessions on a wide range of research and management topics are presented. One of the highlights is the plenary session, where prominent and award-winning scientists address current environmental topics. The conference is further augmented by workshops that provide a hands-on opportunity to learn new methods and technology. Conference attendees also benefit from the opportunity to stay on top of and help influence national and international wildlife issues. And for many, the chance to present their own work to a large audience of their peers at the conference is especially rewarding.
The Wildlife Society recognizes outstanding achievements and distinguished service in the wildlife field by conferring the following annual awards:
- Aldo Leopold Memorial Award – Honors distinguished service to wildlife conservation and is the highest honor bestowed by the Society
- Chapter of the Year and Student Chapter of the Year - Awarded to encourage and recognize exceptional achievements
- Student Chapter Advisor of the Year - Recognizes exceptional mentorship of a TWS student chapter
- Conservation Education Award - Honors outstanding accomplishments in the dissemination of conservation knowledge to the public in the categories of writings, media, programs, and audio-visual works
- Ethnic and Gender Diversity Award - Honors innovative programs and individuals that promote diversity in employment, academic enrollment, and membership
- Group Achievement Award - Recognizes an organization’s outstanding wildlife achievement that is consistent with and/or assists in advancing TWS objectives
- Honorary Membership - Recognizes continuous outstanding service to any area of concern to TWS
- Jim McDonough Award – Recognizes a Certified Wildlife Biologist significantly contributing to the profession as an active TWS member
- Donald H. Rusch Memorial Game Bird Research Scholarship - Assists a graduate student studying upland game bird or waterfowl biology and management
- Special Recognition Service Award - Honors a member who has made an outstanding contribution to the wildlife profession
- TWS Fellow - Recognizes members who have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to the wildlife profession
- Wildlife Publication Awards - Recognizes excellence in scientific writing (Article, Monograph, Book, and Editorship)
- The Wildlife Society. July 2006. Bylaws of The Wildlife Society. Article I, Section 2, App. 2.1a.
- The Wildlife Society. July 2006. Bylaws of The Wildlife Society. Article I, Section 2, App. 2.0.
- The Wildlife Society. July 2006. Bylaws of The Wildlife Society. Article I, Section 2, App. 2.523.
- The Wildlife Society. July 2006. Bylaws of The Wildlife Society. Article I, Section 2, App. 2.524.
- Swanson, G.A. 1987. Creation and early history. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 15(1):9-14.
- "2012 Wildlife Policy Priorities". The Wildlife Society. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- McMullin, S.L. 2004. Demographics of Retirement and Professional Development Needs of State Fisheries and Wildlife Agency Employees. Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.