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Fall 2007



Polar Bears: Sinking or Swimming? Building Blocks of Professionalism Conservation Photography

Fall 2007 6 8 9

Editor’s Note Letters Leadership Letter



Science in Short Recaps of current research relevant to wildlife managers and conservation practitioners


State of Wildlife


Highlights of wildlife-related management challenges and achievements worldwide


Today’s Wildlife Professional


Karla Guyn: An Unlimited Life


18 Oh Canada!


A glimpse at selected issues in Canadian wildlife management


24 28 30 32 36 40

Health and Disease Ian Stirling and Andrew Derocher clarify myths about climate change and polar bears

Education Thomas Gorman and Jessica Homyack discuss the role grad students play in societies

Wildlife Imaging Cristina Mittermeier explores the critical niche of photography with a conservation purpose

The Conservation Biology Institute’s James Strittholt presents the new Boreal Information Centre NIH offers web tools for wildlife professionals

Commentary J. Edward Gates considers the role of consensus in professional societies Dale Hein reflects on the business of ethics


The Society Page News and happenings from The Wildlife Society

Gotcha! Photos of wildlife and humans submitted by readers

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Tools and Technology



Courtesy of Ian Stirling

Credit: Cristina Mittermeier

More Online! This publication is available online to TWS members at Look for the mouse icon throughout this issue to find topics with related online content.

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Vol. 1 No. 3

The Wildlife Professional (ISSN 1933-2866) is an official publication of The Wildlife Society (TWS) and a benefit of membership. Our goal is to provide timely, readable, and relevant news and analyses of issues and trends in the wildlife profession. For information on TWS membership, the Society, and other TWS publications, please contact The Wildlife Society headquarters (address below) or visit the TWS website at The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of The Wildlife Society. EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD


*Science Advisors

Philippa J. Benson Kathryn Sonant Divya Abhat Katherine Unger

Jonathan Adams Dan Ashe* Philippa J. Benson Richard B. Chipman* Raym Crow Mike Frame Carlos Galindo-Leal* Val Geist* Michael Hutchins* Matt Hogan Doug Inkley* Cynthia Jacobson Winifred Kessler* Devra Kleiman* Eric Kurzejeski* J. Drew Lanham Cristina Mittermeier Tony Mong John Organ* Theresa Pickel Tom Ryder Anthony Rylands* James Sanderson Sue Silver Art Smith Adrian Stanley Judy Stokes* Eric Taylor* John Wiens* Jiang Zhigang*

The Nature Conservancy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service The Wildlife Society USDA, Wildlife Services Chain Bridge Group U.S. Geological Survey World Wildlife Fund, Mexico University of Calgary The Wildlife Society AFWA National Wildlife Federation Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game USDA Forest Service National Zoological Park Missouri Dept. of Conservation Clemson University ILCP University of Missouri U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Allen Press Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. Conservation International Wildlife Conservation Network Ecological Society of America SD Dept. of Game, Fish, and Parks The Charlesworth Group (USA) Inc. NH Fish and Game Department U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service The Nature Conservancy Chinese Academy of Sciences

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TWS GOVERNING COUNCIL John F. Organ W. Daniel Svedarsky Thomas M. Franklin Robert D. Brown

President President-Elect Vice President Past President

Thomas A. Decker Bruce D. Leopold Gary E. Potts Thomas J. Ryder Bruce Thompson Winifred B. Kessler Marti J. Kie

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Copyright and Permissions: Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of any article published by The Wildlife Society for personal or educational use within one’s home institution is hereby granted without fee, provided that the first page or initial screen of a display includes the notice “Copyright © 2007 by The Wildlife Society,” along with the full citation, including the name(s) of the author(s). Copyright for components of this work owned by persons or organizations other than TWS must be honored. Instructors may use articles for educational purpose only. To copy or transmit otherwise, to republish or to use such an article for commercial or promotional purposes requires specific permission and a possible fee. Permission may be requested from the TWS Editorial Office (address below).

The Wildlife Society Headquarters: 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 200 Bethesda, MD 20814-2144 P: (301) 897-9770 F: (301) 530-2471


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

COVER: Recent TWS policy intern Brooke Talley studies tadpoles (Ptychohyla hypomykter) in a University of Florida lab. Credit: Anna Parker

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Oh Canada! Oh Cancun! Oh Kolkata! Oh Cairns! This issue of The Wildlife Professional celebrates the newly formed Canadian Section of The Wildlife Society (TWS) with a heavy dose of stories that review engaging people, issues, and places north of the 49th parallel. This focus on wildlife management outside the United States will continue in future issues in order to illuminate the similarities and differences in international approaches to wildlife conservation and management problems, from Mexico to India to Australia and beyond.

Credit: Ben Xu

Over the past few months, TWS’s headquarters has been busy soliciting and responding to members’ information needs. We’ve recently conducted an online survey, getting an enthusiastic response from over 2,000 members (see for more details). Although our survey wasn’t as rigorous as the one described in our last issue by Taylor and Lauber, we did learn a tremendous amount. About 48 percent of respondents have been members of TWS for over 10 years. Almost 75 percent of respondents are between 25 and 55 years old, and almost 25 percent are women. Members work in varied arenas, from environmental lawmaking to wildlife damage management, with the largest single proportion, over 10 percent, working in habitat management. Our survey also left room for open-ended comments and, boy, did we get them! TWS members want more information—more publications, policy updates, and educational resources. Many respondents wrote passionately about their desire for summaries of best practices and case studies. Many also sought more attention to approaches to wildlife management outside the United States. This issue of The Wildlife Professional is one step we’re taking to meet these varied information needs. But beyond TWS print and online resources, we are also reaching out by building collaborations and partnerships. I want to draw readers’ attention to several other activities related to this issue of The Wildlife Professional. First, we’ve added a new member to our Editorial Advisory Board, Dr. Jiang Zhigang, of the Chinese Academy of Science. Second, we’ve refined our design, reducing margins and some image space to allow for more textual information. We’re also increasing our efforts to work closely with two of our supporting partners, Wausau Paper and Allen Press, to make the production of all TWS publications Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) compliant. FSC is an international non-profit organization that that promotes responsible stewardship of the world’s forests. Getting FSC certification is a complex process that yields no monetary gain: Organizations that pursue FSC certification must be motivated by an active and sincere environmental ethic. TWS is proud to be working with organizations that share our values, including Wausau Paper, Allen Press, and the growing list of sponsors and supporters listed on the back page. I hope you enjoy this issue and please keep those cards and letters coming.

Philippa J. Benson, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief 6

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

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Dear Editor,

Vol. 1 No. 2

In reference to “The Future of Public Trust” (TWP 1/2): The importance of the public trust doctrine (PTD) to wildlife conservation is a myth perpetuated by environmental groups attempting to approach wildlife conservation with a top-down regulatory approach rather than with local control and economic incentives. Wildlife conservation is tenuously, if at all, associated with the PTD, the basis of which is found in navigation and commerce law (Simmons 2007). The Wildlife Society should be mindful of stretching the doctrine to broadly cover wildlife resources, as this could undermine the role of markets and private property rights in wildlife conservation. Wildlife stewardship (particularly in the eastern United States) is often realized on private lands with cooperative aid of government agencies. For example, effective conservation programs, like the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, National Wild Turkey Federation, Farm Bill programs, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and Safe Harbor agreements for endangered species are all cooperatively impacting wildlife conservation across private landscapes. In contrast, the PTD is best illustrated by the current status of Forest Service lands, which are managed as a “commons” for all American citizens (Hardin 1968). As cited in the following article “Slash and Burn” (TWP 1/2) these lands suffer from inadequate funding and stalemate law suits regarding basic habitat management actions. The wildfire pandemic on federal lands is an example of destroying property and habitat with benign neglect. A stronger PTD could lead to a reduction of the right to exclusion on private lands, and eroding wildlife stewardship on private property. Citizens’ ability to challenge and influence habitat management decisions is really the problem with governmental land management. Land management plans mired in law suits by supposed “green” groups constrain management, often to the detriment of wildlife.

Correction: An article about chronic wasting disease in the summer issue of the magazine included incorrect information in a caption on p. 32. The farm on which the photo of the elk was taken was not a known source of spread of the disease into wild deer populations.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

The authors cite Sax (1970), whose bias is towards moving natural resources away from private property into the commons. Resources placed in the public trust are political resources managed as a commons with an “I’ll get mine before you get yours” approach that often leads to overuse and exploitation of the resource. Rather than further codifying the PTD into wildlife conservation, we should substitute more private rights for public resources to create better stewardship and conservation. Individual Transferable Quotas (for fisheries), emission trading, purchase of grazing rights, and water trading have all been used to efficiently manage natural resources moving them out of the political commons into market regulated management to the benefit of wildlife. The ability to exclude and transfer property rights has proven an effective natural resource management tool and should be chosen over the command and control philosophy of the Public Trust Doctrine. Jonathan Stober Conservation Biologist J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center Newton, GA

Dear Editor, Concerning the article ‘Slash and Burn’ (TWP 1/2): my photo of maintenance backlog at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge on p. 24 fit well with the article, providing an illustration that there are consequences to the funding problems. The problem was fixed two weeks after the photo was taken; until then, however, refuge work was inhibited as staff couldn’t drive up that trail. Denis Mudderman Tamarac Interpretive Associations, Friends of the Tamarac NWR Rochert, MN

Letters may be edited for publication. Click on signature to link to full text.

Please send letters to: The Wildlife Professional The Wildlife Society 5410 Grosvenor Lane Suite 200 Bethesda, MD 20814

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Leadership in One World


e all live in one world. We always have. Yet our awareness of that reality has been heightened by photos from space, instantaneous communication with people everywhere, and the pervasive impacts of global climate change. At the TWS annual meeting in Anchorage, I hiked up to Exit Glacier (interesting name) near Seward and passed several marker signs en route noting the glacier’s edge at recent dates. Warming climates are affecting glaciers, plants, native peoples, polar bears, and much more. I may never see a polar bear in the wild but it’s important to a bunch of us that they’re out there. How do we understand, care, and act toward our one world? This country boy from the Missouri Ozarks had a very provincial world view before travel, books, college, and life experiences. Aldo Leopold said: “A dead Chinaman is of little import to us whose awareness of things Chinese is bounded by an occasional dish of chow mein. We grieve for what we know.” I did have that dish of chow mein, but I’ve now walked on the Great Wall (when cicadas were laying eggs on the oaks), toured Beijing, worked with a Chinese colleague, and learned much from a son who does business there. My awareness and caring about the people and resources on the other side of the world have simultaneously increased. I first “discovered” the continental dimensions of resource management when I learned of the flyway system of waterfowl management and, later, the full scope of concerns about neo-tropical migrants. Now, when upland sandpipers and bobolinks arrive on my Minnesota prairie, I think of Argentina and the land uses that could affect “my” birds. When we choose to buy bird-friendly coffee from Costa Rica, we’re supporting coffee grown in the partial shade of rain forest trees that provide for altitudinal migrant birds. Thus, resource management transcends political boundaries and must be effectively communicated to the public and the students we teach. State, provincial, and federal agencies, as well as NGOs, address international concerns as much as their missions and resources will allow. But a special communication and action role can be filled by professional organizations like The Wildlife Society. For example, this magazine with its continental and international dimensions helps amplify the oneworld reality, along with papers in The Journal of

© The Wildlife Society

By Dan Svedarsky

Wildlife Management and Wildlife Monographs. The International Wildlife Management working group provides a forum for TWS members to network with professionals on a wide range of wildlife issues and to seek technical assistance from other countries when local expertise is not available. Our International Wildlife Management congresses provide incredible occasions for wildlife professionals to experience other countries and share scientific information with others from around the world. A Canadian Section of TWS is in the formation stage and marks a very significant step towards internationalizing TWS. The plenary theme of this year’s Tucson meeting is, “Across the borderline: Challenges and opportunities for North American Wildlife Conservation” and features Canada and Mexico and their conservation relationships with the United States.

Courtesy of Dan Svedarsky

Dan Svedarsky is a professor and head of the Natural Resources Department at the University of Minnesota and President-Elect of The Wildlife Society.

After awareness comes action. René Dubos, the Pulitzer Prize-winning microbiologist and environmentalist, is credited with the oft-quoted maxim, “Think globally, act locally.” This proposes that global environmental problems can only be solved by considering ecological, economic, and cultural differences of our local surroundings. While local action and the power of the individual will always be important, we must strive to do more on the global scene by influencing international policies through various means, such as sciencebased position statements. Might we rephrase the Dubos maxim to “Think and act globally and locally,” as we consider our individual and societal activities in energy and resource use, design of our built environments, and educational priorities? We must expand our influence. How do we motivate people to global and local conservation action? Larry Kruckenberg wrote an article in 1981 about deer poaching in North Dakota, but the applications are quite broad. He noted that people will tolerate something if they believe that 1) it isn’t of much consequence, 2) they can’t do anything about it, or 3) it doesn’t affect them. How do we connect conservation issues to people in these three ways and inspire them to action? Finally, in the midst of each of us striving to make a conservation difference, it’s important to stay positive. We can be pessimists about tomorrow so long as we’re optimists about the day after tomorrow!

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The Incredible Disappearing Crows

Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature (v.447/7145), copyright 2007

Wild birds have been dying by the millions since the start of North America’s West Nile Virus (WNV) epidemic, according to a study in the journal Nature (v. 447/7145). Shannon LaDeau of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and her colleagues used 26 years of Breeding Bird Survey data to assess and analyze the impact of WNV on 20 species. Their analysis revealed that, subsequent to the 2002-2003 WNV epidemics, populations of seven species declined significantly, and in such a way as to implicate infectious disease. The drop was particularly shocking for American crows, whose populations in certain regions fell 45 percent from 1998 levels. Only two of the seven species that were significantly affected had recovered their numbers by 2005. The authors noted that their estimates of population hits are conservative, and suggested that serious ecosystem impacts are likely, not only with this latest invasive bug, but with ones to come.

Mercury Hotspots

Credit: AIBS


Mercury has proven a wily pollutant, weaseling its way into the tissue of unsuspecting fish and wildlife. A research team led by David Evers of the BioDiversity Research Institute in Gorham, Maine, tries to nail down the precise locations where mercury has become problematic, choosing the yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and the common loon (Gavia immer) as indicator species. Examining databases of mercury levels in wildlife in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, the scientists found five biological mercury “hotspots” and nine areas of concern. Writing in Bioscience (v. 57/1), the authors report that in one area, 93 percent of loons had blood levels of mercury high enough to cause lethargy in chicks and decrease the number of fledged young per pair. Many factors, including local factories, reservoir water level fluctuations, and storm water runoff, influence the degree to which mercury deposits in an area. The authors argue for a coordinated national mercury monitoring system to detect problems and determine the impact of policies regulating mercury emission.

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

West Nile Sentinels

Credit: Society of Conservation Biology, Wiley-Blackwell

Dead crows have been the quintessential harbinger of the spread of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the United States. Now a new study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (v. 76/1) suggests wildlife managers look to a new sentinel of the disease: midsized predators. Kevin Bentler of the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, teamed with federal and academic researchers to determine the WNV infection rate in species such as opossums, foxes, skunks, and raccoons. The testing of 936 animals for WNV antibodies in 2003 and 2004 revealed that infection prevalence was high in areas where WNV infected large numbers of birds and humans (e.g. Ohio, where 60 percent of adult raccoons had antibodies) and low in areas where WNV wasn’t a problem (e.g. California, where no animals had evidence of the virus at the time of the study). Since many of these species are already regularly monitored for rabies, the authors note, surveillance for WNV could be as easy as one more lab test.

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New Elk Genes in the Neighborhood

Credit: American Society of Mammalogists, Allen Press, Inc.

Transplanting elk from one place to another to resupply declining populations doesn’t always work as it should. In a study in the Journal of Mammalogy (v. 88/1), Jason Hicks of the University of Idaho in Moscow and colleagues sought to determine the genetic diversity within and gene flow among two source populations of elk (Cervus elaphus) and five reintroduced populations from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In Yellowstone where there is high gene flow among populations, genetic diversity was high, even in the reintroduced herds. For comparison, the authors note that diversity is much lower in the eastern United States where reintroduced elk herds are highly isolated, underlining the need for gene flow opportunities and large founding groups in order to successfully reintroduce a species in a new area.

Protection, For Some

Credit: ASTMH

Why the Elk Cross the Road

Scaling Up

Credit: SpringerLink

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Policy-makers and ecological scientists often don’t see eye to eye. In a Landscape Ecology (v. 22/6) article, Carly Stevens of The Open University in the United Kingdom and colleagues try to make the case that ecologists should think big in order to make their science relevant to those who make law. The major obstacle, the authors argue, is scale: Ecologists often design their experiments to answer narrowly defined questions, while policies are typically implemented over broad areas. To apply scientific conclusions on a large scale, then, requires a process of scaling up, which increases the possibility for error. Stevens and her fellow authors offer several examples of situations where a finely drawn scientific conclusion failed when applied on a large scale. For example, farmers in the Netherlands were paid to implement changes to their lands to promote meadow birds, but some birds were found to actually avoid fields with these management agreements. The authors also encourage scientists to consider the viewpoints of social scientists, policy-makers, and the public in designing studies, and suggest that more government funds should be made available to promote interdisciplinary and “transdisciplinary” research.

Canadian fish and northern mammals may have precarious futures, according to an examination of Canada’s Species at Risk Act by Arne Mooers of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and colleagues. In an analysis of listing decisions, published in Conservation Biology (v. 21/3), the authors determine that species in the territories north of the 60th parallel (Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories), as well as marine species, are significantly less likely to be listed at risk than species in the provinces or those in other taxonomic groups. One reason for the bias, the researchers suggest, may be a prejudice against listing species with economic value. A resolution to this disparity would be to balance the benefits of recovering species against the species’ value to hunters, wildlife watchers, and others.

Credit: TWS

In general, elk avoid highways. But a new study in The Journal of Wildlife Management (v. 71/4) reveals that when appealing habitat flanks a busy road, they may make exceptions to that rule. Researchers with the Arizona Game and Fish Department led by Norris Dodd outfitted 33 Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) with Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver collars. The team tracked elk as they moved around a stretch of highway in central Arizona, finding that elk congregated closer to the road more than expected, and females were four and a half times more likely to cross roads than males. Upon closer inspection, Dodd and colleagues discovered that elk approaching the highway were frequently found in a riparianmeadow habitat where they could forage and drink. Managers, therefore, should pay close attention to the desirability of habitat when installing fencing and considering other strategies to diminish wildlife-vehicle collisions.

This department online at also includes a bonus summary, links to abstracts from last quarter’s The Journal of Wildlife Management, and citations of the articles recommended by TWP’s Science Advisory Board.

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Southeast FLORIDA — At the peak of the breeding season in June, over 200 greater shearwaters (Puffinus gravis) were washed ashore along Florida’s eastern coast from Hobe Sound to South Ponte Vedra Beach. All the shearwaters were either emaciated or dead. While scientists believed this exceptionally high number of seabirds died of starvation while migrating, they performed tests to rule out other possible causes such as algal toxins and avian influenza. Tests for avian influenza were negative. Although the greater shearwater deaths continued to be recorded through July, the numbers seemed to decrease as the sea birds migrated north toward South Carolina. Greater shearwaters spend their lives at sea and swim ashore to breed, nest, and rear their young. Often, severe storms at sea weaken the birds and cause them to dehydrate and die. Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southwest MEXICO — At the three-nation North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) meeting in June, the environment ministers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico formally pledged to protect the monarch butterfly News and events affecting wildlife and wildlife (Danaus plexippus). The monarch’s winter nesting grounds professionals from across North America in Mexico are threatened by illegal logging in the region. Every year the monarch makes its 3,400-mile journey from the forests of eastern Canada and parts of the United States to the central Mexican mountains. The nations also vowed Northeast to take joint steps to protect the most endangered marine BOSTON — Ships coming into Boston Harbor have shifted cetacean in the world, the vaquita marina (Phocoena sinus), course to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale a small porpoise endemic to the Upper Gulf of California. (Eubalaena glacialis). In the first-ever change of internationThe porpoises are sometimes caught in artisanal fishing gill ally recognized U.S. shipping lanes to protect an endangered nets while shrimp boats that trawl the sea floor disturb their species, vessels now travel about four miles north of their old overall habitat. The CEC is an intergovernmental organization path. Apart from recalculating electronic maps, reprinting navi- set up by Mexico, the United States, and Canada under the gational charts, and notifying mariners of the changed route, North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation U.S. Coast Guard cutters have also marked the new lanes with and addresses regional environmental concerns. buoys. Collisions between ships and whales are a well-known Source: North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation risk to the North Atlantic right whale. Prior to the lane change, ships crossed an area of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary where finback (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), and North Atlantic right whales reside throughout the year, in greatest numbers from March to November. The new lanes separate commercial vessels from the bulk of the whale populations and are expected to reduce the risk of collisions between large whales and ships by approximately 50 percent.

North America

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Coast Guard

In the first-ever change of internationally recognized U.S. shipping lanes to protect an endangered species, ships in Boston Harbor shifted course to avoid collisions with the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Credit: K. Sardi/Whale Center of New England


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

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North Central WISCONSIN — In June, a birder in Wisconsin discovered a nest of the highly endangered Kirtland’s warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii). This tiny songbird, which previously nested only in jack pine forests in northern Michigan, hasn’t resided outside of the state since 1940 when the birds were observed feeding a nestling in Ontario. Soon after the June discovery on the Plum Creek Timber Company’s land, two more nests were found in the area. The historic sighting may be the result of recovery efforts conducted by state and federal government agencies and conservation groups in Michigan. These include the management of nesting habitat, control of the parasitic brown-headed cowbird, and public information sessions on the importance of protecting the bird’s habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Wisconsin, and the landowner will explore ways to integrate measures to benefit the warbler, whose numbers have increased from 201 singing males in 1971 to just over 1,700 in 2007. Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Central Mountains and Plains

Credit: Lou George/USFWS

A birder recently discovered a Kirtland’s warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) nest in Wisconsin. The songbird hasn’t been known to reside outside of Michigan since 1940.


UTAH — USDA Forest Service officials announced a change in management plans for 18 national forests in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana to protect the threatened Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) and its habitat. The Canada lynx, listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a threatened species in 2000, ranges from the Northeast United States and the Great Lakes region to the northern and southern Rockies. In March 2007, Regional Foresters for U.S. Forest Service Regions 1, 2 and 4 signed documents to revise amend forest plans in the FWS’s Northern, Intermountain, and Rocky Mountain regions. The amendment replaces a conservation agreement between the Forest Service and FWS. The amendment, which comes after seven years of analysis and public involvement, applies to occupied lynx habitat and aims to protect the lynx and contribute to its recovery. Source: USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

MONTANA — The Montana Board of Livestock hazed 300 errant bison (Bison bison) back into the Yellowstone National Park as part of this year’s most aggressive herding operation in accordance with the Interagency Bison Management Plan. The Interagency partners, which consist of the Montana Department of Livestock, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the USDA Forest Service, the National Parks Service, and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service made the decision to herd the animals back into the park rather than capture and slaughter them based on requirements of the bison management plan. In an effort to manage the risk of brucellosis, the bison were moved seven miles into the park to prevent them from running astray. In May, seven domestic cows in Montana tested positive for brucellosis, however officials have yet to identify the source of the disease in the cows. Although there is no evidence yet of the spread of brucellosis from bison to cows, Montana’s $2 billion cattle industry has called for the forced reduction of the Yellowstone bison population. Source: Montana Department of Livestock

Western CALIFORNIA — Between April and May, a number of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) were affected by domoic acid poisoning in southern California. Domoic acid is a naturally occurring but deadly nerve toxin produced by sea algae. Experts are studying climate change and pollution

The Montana Board of Livestock decided to herd 300 errant bison (Bison bison) back into the Yellowstone National Park, as part of the most aggressive herding operation this year. Credit:

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A number of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) were affected by domoic acid poisoning in Southern California. Poisoned sea lions are often completely disoriented from the neurotoxin.

United States

Credit: iStock

as possible causes for high levels of sea algae. Authorities believe that of the 120 marine mammal strandings in southern California, about 70 were affected with domoic acid poisoning. Domoic acid causes seizures in sea lions and killed approximately 50 percent of the affected mammals this year. The number of sea lions range between 200,000 and 300,000, keeping them well off the endangered species list, however the most recent domoic acid poisoning event has concerned scientists. On April 26, reports showed the domoic acid toxin levels in plankton along the Los Angeles county coast as twice the previous recorded high. In addition to the sea lions, dolphins and seabirds were affected by the season’s potent algae bloom. Source: Whale Rescue Team, National Marine Fisheries Service

United States In June, the Supreme Court reversed a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, making it clear that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not necessarily take precedence over the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA states that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “shall” transfer permitting powers to the states if nine criteria are met. The ESA, on the other hand, states that a federal agency “shall” consult with other authorities to ensure that the agency’s actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species. The appeals court had ruled that the EPA must consider the protection of species listed under the ESA of 1973, in addition to the nine criteria laid out in the CWA, before transferring authority to administer the CWA pollution discharge permitting program to states. The Supreme Court ruled that the consultation requirement only applies to discretionary agency actions, not those required by law. It held that to decide otherwise was to allow the ESA to repeal provisions of the CWA by implication, a practice not favored by the courts.

A recent study released by the National Audubon Society revealed a significant decline of 20 common American birds. From the evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) to the boreal chickadee (Poecile hudsonica), numbers of many common birds are less than half of what they were four decades ago. Researchers who used the Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count to determine the status and trends in North America cited climate change, suburban sprawl, and invasive species as reasons for the decline. Populations of meadowlarks and other farmland birds have declined because of the increase and intensification of farming over the past 50 years, while tundra-breeding birds are falling victim to drastic changes to their breeding habitat, due mostly to temperature changes. Source: National Audubon Society

Canada Hunters in Saskatchewan are being encouraged to hunt the rapidly expanding population of the Richardson’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii), commonly referred to as gophers. This year the number of gophers on farmland is exceptionally high and farmers are urging local hunters and non-resident hunters to help manage these burrowing rodents. Crop losses range as high as 90 percent in many fields in southwest Saskatchewan, and the numerous holes made by the gophers can prevent farmers from being able to harvest their fields properly. In the southwest area of the province gophers are among the most common pests to harm crops. While some see gopher hunting as a popular means to control their population, others question the ethics and efficiency behind this method. Farmers may also use rodenticides to eliminate the critters. Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Richardson’s ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsonii) burrow holes that can prevent farmers from being able to harvest their fields properly.

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Credit: iStock


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

© The Wildlife Society

International News and events affecting wildlife and wildlife professionals from around the world outside North America

Wider Caribbean Region Turtles in the Caribbean are under threat from over-fishing and illegal exploitation, according to a report released by the wildlife trade-monitoring network, TRAFFIC. According to the group, which operates as a joint program of the World Wildlife Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation Union, turtles across the Wider Caribbean region are being exploited for eggs, meat, and, in some instances, shells. While in some areas turtles are legally protected, in others they are subject to legal fisheries that are largely unmanaged. The report urges governments of all Caribbean nations to collaborate in the adoption of stricter limits on exploitation as part of a regional plan to manage and conserve the turtles that move through their boundaries. Source: TRAFFIC

South America ECUADOR — The Ecuadorian president declared the Galapagos Islands at risk in April and called for an assessment of a temporary suspension of some tourist permits. At the World Heritage meeting in June, UNESCO also declared the Galapagos Islands at risk from invasive species, uncontrolled growth in tourism, and immigration. The committee expressed concern for giant tortoises (Testudo elephantopus) and blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii), two species that are unique to the islands. In the last 15 years tourism revenue has grown at 14 percent per year, diminishing the isolation of the archipelago. Source: Charles Darwin Foundation

Africa SUDAN — In June, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the government of southern Sudan announced results of an aerial survey of what is now believed to be one of the world’s largest animal migrations. A study of southern Sudan’s fauna revealed large numbers of gazelle and antelope, particularly the whiteeared kob (Kobus kob leucotis), together amounting to an estimated 1.3 million animals, a number that nears the greatest natural event on the planet: the Serengeti migration of wildebeest and zebra across east Africa. The last time an aerial survey was carried out in this war-torn region was 27 years ago, not long before a two-decade conflict erupted, claiming the lives of two million people and threatening wildlife habitat. In the southwest of the region most wildlife populations have been greatly reduced. This year’s survey revealed, © The Wildlife Society

however, the presence of gigantic herds of kob, an estimated 250,000 Mongalla gazelle (Gazella thomsonii albonotata), 160,000 topi (Damaliscus lunatus), a horned antelope, and reedbuck and ostriches (Struthio camelus) east of the Nile. Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

Asia CHINA — The first panda to be released into the wild after being bred in captivity died within its first year. The five-yearold giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), Xiang Xiang, died of severe internal injuries, which officials believe might have been the result of falling from a high place while fighting with wild pandas. Giant pandas are one of the world’s most endangered species—only 1,600 remain in the wild, while roughly 200 live in captivity. Prior to his death, Xiang Xiang spent three years in a special training compound at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in the Sichuan province being prepared for a natural habitat. The Center plans to continue to experiment releasing pandas into the wild. Source: WWF International

Europe MALTA — In March 2006, the European Commission began working towards legal action on Malta’s spring hunt of the turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) and quail (Coturnix coturnix). The Commission considers the hunt a breach of the European Union’s Birds Directive, which prohibits hunting during the spring migration. Furthermore, it has been widely documented that hunters do not restrict their shooting to those two species. This year the Maltese government closed the spring hunt season early after a flock of honey buzzards (Pernis apivorus) were shot during their migration from Africa to Europe. The Maltese government, however, insists upon its right to a spring hunt of the turtle dove and quail, on the grounds that their migratory path makes it impractical to hunt them in autumn. The Commission has rejected this argument, and the issue might be brought before the European Court of Justice later this year. Source: BirdLife International

For comments or suggestions, or to submit news briefs for the State of Wildlife section, contact Divya Abhat at More online at


An Unlimited Life KARLA GUYN

pins down plans for conservation in Canada

By Divya Abhat

Current Position Director of Conservation Planning at Ducks Unlimited Canada Favorite Book In the Land of White Death: An Epic Tale of Survival in the Siberian Arctic by Valerian Albanov Favorite Aspect of Job I feel like I can make a difference and that the actions I take actually see measurable gains on the ground. If I Were in Charge of the World People would have a better appreciation for wildlife and nature, the value of it, and how it impacts their lives. Quote to Live By Our power to disorganize the land is growing faster than our understanding of it, or our affection for it. — Aldo Leopold

Karla Guyn, Director of Conservation Planning DUC Credit: Ducks Unlimited Canada


s children, most of us responded to the question, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” with silence and wide-eyed wonder. Not Karla Guyn. She knew she wanted to be a wildlife biologist from as early as she can remember and was often surprised when others didn’t share in that sense of certainty for their own career path. According to legend, Confucius says, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Dr. Guyn, director of Conservation Planning for Ducks Unlimited Canada, lives and breathes that sentiment. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Calgary but I think my passion for wildlife came from the time that I spent at my grandparents’ cattle ranch in southern Alberta. What were some things you liked to do there? I liked to walk around, explore, and see the wildlife; there’s a diversity of wildlife – everything from grizzlies to badgers. I loved being outside. That’s where I wanted to be. So I knew I wanted to be a biologist from, I don’t know, grade five? Where did you go to school? I started at the University of Calgary when I graduated from high school. I was off to be a wildlife biologist and was pretty naïve, so I think


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

I was a little dismayed with things when I first started. The program wasn’t as applied as I hoped it would be so I transferred to a community college in southern Alberta called Lethbridge Community College, where I took a two-year course to be a wildlife technician. From there I went on to the University of Montana where I received a degree in wildlife biology. After graduating I got a job at Delta Waterfowl Research Station in Manitoba and ended up spending three summers doing wetland and waterfowl ecology work. It was then that I decided I wanted to do graduate work. So I went to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and worked with Dr. Bob Clark of the Canadian Wildlife Service and did both my master’s and my PhD working with him. Both of my degrees focused on waterfowl ecology, with my Ph.D. on northern pintail (Anas acuta) breeding ecology. You’ve been quoted as saying, “A lot of wonderful things have happened in my life.” What would some of those be? I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been able to do what I love. This profession has allowed me to contribute to wildlife conservation and to have some fabulous experiences. My current job with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) provides me with the opportunity to visit key waterfowl habitat all over Canada and to meet colleagues that have the same dedication to

© The Wildlife Society

the resource that I have. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. I gather you received the distinguished alumni award from Lethbridge Community College. I got that last year and it was a real thrill for me. My experience at Lethbridge resparked my desire and passion to go on to further my education, so it was a pivotal period in my life. How long have you been Director of Conservation Planning at DUC? For a year and a half, but I have worked for DUC for 10 years and was just promoted to this position last year. What does a typical day at DUC look like? My job is to direct our conservation planning at a national level within the company, so I spend most of my time either in meetings or in front of my computer. You start off because you love being outside and you love wildlife. I spent a good chunk of my career doing that. But as I have advanced in my career I have spent less time in the field. But I still travel quite a bit because the job is national in scope. Would you like to get out in the field more often? Ideally, that would be great! I still dabble in pintail research and so I try to make it out to our pintail research sites a couple of times a year. On the plus side, I am now able to help ensure that DUC’s annual budget is directed in a way that best benefits waterfowl. Did you ever have a mentor? Four people have influenced me in my career. While at the Delta Waterfowl research station I worked with Dr. Bruce Batt, Dr. Henry Murkin, and Dr. Michael Anderson. They’ve helped mentor me as a waterfowl ecologist and in my career with DUC. The other key person was Dr. Bob Clark from Canadian Wildlife Service, who was my advisor for both my master’s and PhD. Are there qualities in these mentors that you would like to have? Definitely! I think all of them have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to waterfowl ecology and management. They have also remained true to having science guide conservation actions. That’s always tough because there are often pressures to make decisions based on other things. My goal is to pursue my career with the same unswerving dedication they have.

Karla Guyn with a pintail at Ducks Unlimited Canada’s pintail research site in Frontier, Saskatchewan.

Credit: Ducks Unlimited Canada

What direction do you see wildlife conservation heading in? There are some encouraging trends. One of the most heartening things right now is that the issue of the environment is very high up on the Canadian public’s mind. And that always makes our job a little bit easier to know that the Canadian public is concerned about similar things that we’re concerned about. Although wildlife still faces tremendous challenges, I believe there is reason to be optimistic. Have you faced many roadblocks as a wildlife conservationist? Wetlands are the primary focus of DUC. In my work now, we’re seeing continuous, and in some cases extremely high, rates of wetland loss, particularly in the Canadian prairies and in areas surrounding urban centers. We’ve made some gains but it’s a long road. It takes tremendous and extended efforts to educate the public, landowners, and politicians about the benefits that wetlands have for waterfowl, wildlife, and people. That’s not something you can do overnight; it takes time. These days, how do you typically spend your weekends? I bought a horse when I started working with DUC. I spend as much time as I can on the weekends riding and showing my horse. What is your horse’s name? His name is Dollar, but my husband calls him “the money pit.” Divya Abhat is a science writer for The Wildlife Society.

© The Wildlife Society

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Moose in Lake Ontario Š

Oh Canada! By Katherine Unger

Glimpses into Canadian wildlife management


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

Š The Wildlife Society

The distinction of being “North American” is a tie that binds. The continent’s

two largest countries, Canada and the United States, sit on either side of the longest common border in the world, and share biomes, cultural influences, a language—even the same individual animals may scamper back and forth over the 49th parallel or the Yukon-Alaska border, oblivious to nationality. But despite superficial similarities, cultural, economic, and governmental differences exist between the two countries, owing to their vastly different histories, politics, and distribution of natural resources, including human beings. Take the two countries’ signature statements— the ones that assert the principles on which the countries were founded. The United States claims ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ while Canada’s is ‘peace, order and good government.’ Some interpret the divergence in these statements to reflect a fundamental difference between the countries: The United States champions the rights of individuals; in Canada, in contrast, order and collaboration are prized. That difference manifests itself in profound ways when it comes to managing natural resources. While American individuals and non-profit organizations can file a lawsuit against a corporation or even the government if they believe wildlife or ecosystems are being placed in danger, Canadians approach the situation in different ways, according to Winifred Kessler, a dual citizen and Director of Wildlife, Fisheries, Ecology, and Watershed Management for the U. S. Forest Service, Alaska Region. “If you or I take exception with something, we can sue, we can have standing,” she says. This confrontational option is infrequently exercised in Canada, however. Instead, Kessler says, Canadian nonprofits, government agencies, aboriginal groups, and other stakeholders rely on compromise and cooperation, forming alliances to make progress. Collaboration is a touchstone for wildlife professionals in Canada. Certainly, cross-border cooperation is common, with roughly 75 percent of Canadians living within 90 miles of the U.S. border. Presiding over the second greatest land area of any country on earth (9,970,610 km2) ensures that Canada’s natural resources biologists and managers juggle unique and diverse challenges. Canada is a federation of 10 provinces, which have jurisdiction over most wildlife management decisions, © The Wildlife Society

and three territories, which are largely subordinate to the federal government. Provinces take the lead in wildlife management, setting aside their own protected areas and, in many cases, establishing their own endangered species recovery programs. The territories must rely on Environment Canada, Parks Canada, and other federal agencies to lead wildlife management activities. The federal government also has jurisdiction in 11.8 million hectares encompassed by National Wildlife Areas, Migratory Bird Areas, and Marine Wildlife Areas. To shed light on the work of resourceful researchers and managers, and to recognize The Wildlife Society’s incorporation of a Canadian Section, The Wildlife Professional spoke with Canadian wildlifers representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, areas of interest, and geographic locations. This overview is an attempt to suss out the substantial challenges faced by Canadian wildlife professionals.

Aboriginals and Wildlife Management Treaties negotiated in Canada over the last three centuries have granted certain aboriginal peoples rights to their ancestral lands and the wildlife that lives there. And more recently, Canadian provinces and territories have negotiated with indigenous peoples to settle lingering “land claims.” With these old and reclaimed rights, native groups play a leading role in determining how their land and its resources are used by others. In the Northwest Territories, for instance, wildlife management boards wield tremendous influence over how animal populations are managed and studied. These boards consist of representatives from aboriginal groups as well as territorial government officials and biologists. Ray Case, a manager of technical support with the Wildlife Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Government of the Northwest Territories, sits on two of these boards, which preside over sometimes contentious issues. For example, mainland caribou herds have been decreasing of late. The boards’ deliberations help determine what harvest size will be allowed, and what research and monitoring programs should be implemented to track progress. Limited personnel and funds do play a role in the boards decisions, says Case. “It’s a balance between what really needs to be done and what can be done.” More online at


Oh Canada! In recent months, the Dehcho people have been in negotiations with the Canadian government to ensure that 20 million hectares of their land in the Northwest Territories does not succumb to development. The Dehcho land claim covers nearly half of the land in the path of the planned Mackenzie pipeline, and the Dehcho potentially have the power to block development on their land. With support from several non-profits, the Dehcho First Nations are asking the federal government to implement their land use plan, which would protect vital expanses of wildlife habitat from development.

The United States claims ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ while Canada’s is ‘peace, order and good government.’ Handling Rarities National legislation also works to maintain critical habitat for Canada’s rarest species. Prior to 2003, legislation including the Fisheries Act, the Protected Areas Act, and the Canadian Wildlife Act worked to protect specific species from going extinct. Canada’s 2003 Species at Risk Act (SARA), however, was the first law to provide any and all imperiled species protection on a national level. “This is really the emergency room of species, when other conservation measures have failed,” says Michele Brenning, director general of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS). SARA ratified the Commit-

tee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), an independent panel of experts who review available information and make recommendations to the government on the status each species under consideration should be given. COSEWIC also advises the government on recovery strategies and management action plans for species at risk. Since the measure’s birth, 539 species have been designated at risk. Many provisions of the Act, in keeping with the Canadian spirit of cooperation and compromise, are incentive-based, as opposed to mandatory or punitive. Notably, SARA provisions that mandate protection of listed species and their habitats apply only on federal lands, such as territories, parks, and wildlife areas, making it weaker in that sense than the United States’ own Endangered Species Act. Still, most provinces have developed their own plans for conserving endangered species living within their boundaries. In Ontario, for example, the Eastern cougar (Puma concolor) is considered provincially endangered, but nationally data-deficient.

Managing Overabundant Populations In some cases, the challenge is not that there are too few individuals of a species, but rather too many. Chip Weseloh is a wildlife biologist and advisor on wildlife toxicology for the CWS’s Ontario region. As part of his work, he studies doublecrested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) populations that line the shores of the Great Lakes.

Double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) gather in hoards on trees lining the Great Lakes, where their droppings have led to the degradation of trees and other vegetation. The species’ extreme population rebound in the last few decades has now put other species at risk.

Credit: Brian Morin


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

© The Wildlife Society

In the 1950s, 1,000 pairs nested on the Great Lakes. Yet by the mid-1970s, the effects of DDT and other contaminants such as PCBs drove the population down to 125 pairs. Following the ban of these compounds in the 1970s and 1980s, however, cormorants rebounded to an astonishing degree. Now, Weseloh estimates, 115,000 pairs of cormorants live along the Great Lakes. While cormorants are now thriving, their effect on the surrounding ecosystem has not always been positive. “When cormorants nest in trees their guano tends to kill off vegetation,” says Weseloh. Besides detracting from the aesthetics of the area, the guano has also begun to deplete numbers of Kentucky Coffee and Tulip trees, as well as other rare species. “Islands go from being forested and vegetated to being denuded,” says Weseloh. “That’s also a problem for other species that nest in those trees.” Species like great blue herons (Ardea herodias) and black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) suffer from the loss of nesting habitat. In addition, some fishermen complain that the cormorants leave fewer fish to be caught, though most studies indicate that cormorants feed mainly on non-commercially significant fish species. Weseloh says managers have attempted to keep populations down by shooting the birds. This lethal technique has angered certain animal rights groups, but Weseloh says that the population culls help keep the ecosystem as a whole intact, especially where sensitive species are concerned. An added complication is the fact that shooting individual birds sometimes moves the overabundant populations from one location to another. Charles Maisonneuve, a wildlife research biologist at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife for Quebec, has studied the movement of cormorants by banding. “It is quite obvious that birds from managed colonies have a greater tendency to move elsewhere, contributing to the spreading of cormorants in areas where we do not necessarily want them to go,” he says. “We are trying to convince other jurisdictions to join in a more global management plan,” he says, “and stop working on a site-by-site basis without looking at the effects on neighboring sites.” Workshops with other wildlife biologists from Canada and the Great Lakes region of the United States have helped accomplish this cooperative planning. Cormorants are far from the only wildlife species considered a nuisance to humans and ecosystems. In New Brunswick, for example, furbearer manager Cade Libby with the Department of Natural Resources explains that an increasing beaver © The Wildlife Society

Credit:Dale Eslinger

A herd of more than 500 pronghorns (Antilocapra americana) migrated into Medicine Hat, Alberta, formerly a critical range for the species. Increasing development in the province threatens these animals.

(Castor canadensis) population has led to flooding in certain residential areas. Fortunately, Libby says, New Brunswick has a program in place to handle complaints from residents about nuisance wildlife. “It seems to be working fairly well,” he says. “But there [have] been some challenges.” Part of the problem may be that trapping and hunting in Canada are not as heavily promoted as the activities are in the United States. “License sales go into the general government coffers,” says Libby, eliminating the direct link between local wildlife agency budgets and hunting, trapping, and fishing revenues.

The Costs of Energy One industry that isn’t hurting for money is the energy sector. Some of Canada’s most valuable wildlife habitat sits atop large reserves of oil and natural gas. For three decades, energy companies have envisioned the construction of the Mackenzie pipeline—a 1,000 mile link between oil reserves in the Beaufort Sea to existing pipelines in northern Alberta. Much of the pipeline would cut through the Northwest Territories. The project has been tabled repeatedly, most recently in March, when Imperial Oil estimated the cost to build the pipeline at over $16 billion and delayed the project until 2014. While the delay in building the pipeline temporarily protects wildlife in the northern reaches of Canada from disruption, other energy projects elsewhere in Canada have moved forward swiftly. Alberta is a prime example. Oil exploration has More online at


Oh Canada! Jørgenson says that increasing development could select for non-migrating snakes, and eventually limit the region’s carrying capacity for the species. Alberta’s sage grouse, according to wildlife biologist Dale Eslinger with Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, number about 400 in Alberta, down from 3,000 in the 1960s. But their habitat is relatively intact and stable, Eslinger says, unlike other species that may be more affected by continuing habitat disturbance, like pronghorns, which make their home in large blocks of native grass prairies.

Credit: Ducks Unlimited Canada

Oil wells have been dug in the boreal forest, often at the expense of critical habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

exploded there in the last several years. Much of the prospecting takes place on land that technically belongs to the provincial government. The oil companies can buy mineral rights to the land, which means they are permitted to access resources beneath the surface. In Alberta’s Athabasca Tar Sands—the second largest oil reserve in the world, behind Saudi Arabia—this means digging countless pits to collect the oil-rich bitumen. “It’s not really clear what all of these impacts might mean for wildlife,” says Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) Director of Conservation Planning Karla Guyn (see profile, p. 16). DUC as well as other nonprofits and government wildlife agencies have been trying to work with oil companies to negotiate some protections for wildlife. “We’re trying to develop best management practices to lessen impacts that might be occurring,” Guyn says. Preliminary studies have suggested that development is taking its toll on wildlife such as sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and pronghorns (Antilocapra americana). While a master’s candidate at the University of Calgary, Dennis Jørgenson found that populations of the migrating prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) seem to be altering their behavior as a result of the increased traffic that has accompanied oil and gas exploitation. Now a program officer for the World Wildlife Fund’s Northern Great Plains region, 22

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

Research on how wildlife is directly impacted by oil and gas is sparse, possibly owing to the rapidity with which the industry expanded in Alberta. “This wave of energy development has hit us hard, we didn’t really predict it,” says Eslinger. Now, Eslinger and colleagues are developing land use guidelines for corporations to consider in their operations. Eslinger says that much of Canada’s prairie land is owned by cattle ranchers. “Because of the way things have been looked after they are quite a stronghold for a numbers of species at risk as well as more common species,” he says, making the guidelines necessary for protecting the grasslands’ biodiversity.

A Forest Haven in Danger North of Alberta’s oil fields lies one of the largest intact ecosystems in the world—the boreal forest. Stretching the length of Canada, from the Yukon to Newfoundland, and beyond, this haven of pine, spruce, aspen, poplar, and other trees harbors countless species of birds, insects, and plants. The boreal is characterized by a huge number of wetlands, making it “the second most important waterfowl habitat after the prairies,” according to Eric Butterworth, a manager with DUC’s Western Boreal Forest program. Unfortunately this resource is vulnerable, with just 10 percent currently sheltered from development in protected areas. Several different industries have interests in the other 90 percent. Each year, more than $400 million in government payments come from the forestry industry, with the boreal forest producing roughly half of the country’s haul of wood. In the last decade, however, forestry has transformed itself from a foe of environmentalists into a relatively “green” business. This makeover was helped along by the adoption of the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification program and others which emphasize sustainable harvests.

© The Wildlife Society

Unfortunately, forests once targeted by paper companies now face other pressures. Thousands of oil and gas sites can remove large tracts of forest, eliminating habitat and disturbing local wildlife. Along with this intensive prospecting, says Butterworth, comes road building and other development. When flying over parts of the boreal forest, Butterworth says that the view below resembles “a very badly designed subdivision, criss-crossed with roads, seismic lines, and well pads.” The fragmented landscape not only creates abrupt changes in habitat and potentially disrupts the water cycle, but, like development occurring in the prairies, can also disturb wildlife that require stretches of intact forest. Studies on songbirds have demonstrated that some species benefit from disturbance while others suffer. The iconic woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus), too, is sensitive to disturbance and is threatened throughout much of its range. Despite all this, Butterworth feels optimistic about the future of the boreal region. “There are lots of players on the landscape that are pushing for changes,” he says. “And I see the industry pushing for changes.” But in Alberta, where intensive oil and gas development has already occurred, “it doesn’t look as hopeful.” Butterworth notes, however, that lessons from Alberta have enabled other areas with valuable stretches of boreal forest to plan ahead, doing intensive biodiversity monitoring and developing regulations that will keep development proceeding at a more reasonable pace. In addition, collaborative projects like the Canadian Boreal Initiative, the Boreal Songbird Initiative, the new Boreal Information Centre (see p. 32), and many others are increasing the information available on this enormous and rich ecosystem.

The Great North The subjects discussed above are important, yet they only skim the surface of wildlife management issues in Canada. And changes may lie ahead. As polar bear (Ursus maritimus) experts Ian Stirling and Andrew Derocher report in this issue (see p. 24), Canada’s northern latitudes are already experiencing dramatic signs of a warming climate. Ray Case’s office in the Northwest Territories has received reports of a cougar sighting in Yellowknife and butterflies and robins being seen on Arctic islands—most unusual occurrences so far north. Some researchers have suggested that the forestdevastating mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) and spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) may also be bolstered by warming temperatures in the north.

© The Wildlife Society

Climate change presents a formidable challenge to wildlife managers, who must prepare for changes that are expected to happen. But a greater frustration lies in simply not knowing how ecosystems will change, says Case. “We’re faced with a greater level of uncertainty about what the future is going to look like,” he says. In addition, funding is a limitation. “We’re always scratching for money,” says Tony Duke, Manager of Wildlife Resources in Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resource’s Wildlife Division. Though the federal government uses tax revenues to fund national-level programs like the parks and endangered species conservation, very little of that money trickles down to the provinces. And provinces like Nova Scotia, which has less than a million residents, have less ability to raise funds for wildlife management than others. After paying for government health care, social services, education, and more, “the amount the Department [of Natural Resources] gets is a very small amount of money,” says Duke. Canada does have tools to fight these challenges, though. Partnerships—both formal, as with international treaties, with non-profits, or in professional societies like TWS, and informal networks among individual researchers—allow for information exchange, funding opportunities, progressive learning, and effective cross-border management. In Nova Scotia, for example, The Nature Conservancy-Canada purchased the provincial land on which an extremely rare coastal plant grows—land that the Department of Natural Resources did not have the funds to buy. The general public plays a role as well. “As somebody who has done professional and volunteer work in both countries, it’s my impression that Canadians as a culture are more concerned with the environment than Americans,” says Winifred Kessler. This quality, along with Canadians’ strong preference for solving problems amicably, should work to the advantage of wildlife professionals striving to manage wildlife and habitats in the face of myriad threats, from development to climate change. Katherine Unger is a science writer for The Wildlife Society.

To link to provincial and territorial wildlife management offices, studies on Canadian wildlife, and information on collaborative management efforts, see this article online at

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Melting Under Pressure THE REAL SCOOP ON CLIMATE WARMING AND POLAR BEARS By Ian Stirling and Andrew E. Derocher


Credit: G. Thiemann

Ian Stirling is a Senior Research Scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. He has studied polar bear ecology for 36 years and won a Special Recognition Service Award from The Wildlife Society in 1997 for his contributions to research and conservation of polar bears.

Courtesy of Andrew Derocher

Andrew Derocher is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton. He has studied polar bears for 24 years, was the polar bear project leader for the Norwegian Polar Institute for seven years, and is currently the Chair of the IUCN/ SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group.


ecent press coverage about the long-term survival of polar bears and the loss of sea ice in the Arctic due to climate warming has been substantial. In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in January 2007 to list polar bears as threatened because of the possibility that “all or a significant proportion of the total population will become endangered in the foreseeable future� (defined for the purpose of the assessment as 45 years). Habitat loss of sea ice is the central justification for the proposed listing. In response, contrarian articles continue to appear in the popular press, questioning climate warming in general and, more specifically, denying the potential negative effects on polar bears. Such articles generally exhibit a poor understanding of polar bear ecology and selectively use information out of context, which results in public confusion about the real threat to polar bears due to loss of sea ice. Further confusion was introduced in Nunavut, Canada, when local ecological knowledge reported sightings of more polar bears around certain settlements in recent years. This was interpreted as evidence that the populations were increasing, which led to allowable harvest levels being increased, despite scientific evidence that the populations were declining in two areas and a lack of current population data for a third population (Stirling and Parkinson 2006). Polar bears have home ranges that often exceed 200,000 km2 (Garner et al. 1991; Mauritzen et al. 2001) and roam far beyond the purvey of hunters based on or near the coast; therefore, it is simply not possible to develop a population perspective from anecdotal observations of polar bears. Further, regional observations may also be affected by factors difficult to measure locally, such as large-scale shifts in the distribution and abundance of prey species or of sea ice. Polar bears are the largest of the terrestrial carnivores and males are roughly twice the mass of females. Females first breed at four to six years of age, usually have two cubs born in snow dens on land (although some are born in dens on the sea

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

ice), and cubs stay with their mothers for two and a half years before weaning; therefore females cannot breed more often than every three years. Both sexes can live 20 to 25 years or more and, over most of their range, their primary prey is ringed seals and bearded seals. Polar bears are uniquely adapted to thrive on sea ice and are dependent on it as a platform for hunting seals, seasonal movements, summer refuge, traveling to ice or terrestrial refuge areas, finding mates, and breeding.

Assessing the Facts Superficially, polar bears might appear secure. They are widely distributed throughout the icecovered seas of the circumpolar Arctic, especially in their preferred habitat, the annual ice over the biologically productive waters of the continental shelf where ringed seals are most abundant. They still inhabit the majority of their original habitat and their worldwide abundance, in 19 subpopulations, is estimated at 20,000 to 25,000 (IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group 2006). Historically, the conservation of polar bears, as well as other arctic marine species, has assumed the arctic marine ecosystem to be relatively stable and ecologically predictable over the long term (MacDonald et al. 2003). Thus, until recently, once estimates of population size and demographic parameters were made for a subpopulation and estimates of sustainable harvest were made, it was assumed that little other than harvest monitoring was required until another population estimate could be made. In Nunavut, the jurisdiction with the largest harvest of polar bears worldwide, most populations have not been monitored long enough to assess a trend in numbers, let alone possible effects of climate change. Further, because the inventory cycle for population assessment in Nunavut is every 15 years, most populations lack two estimates made sufficiently far apart to allow determination of whether they are increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. Additional concerns arise from using model projections to estimate future population trends in relation to harvesting, based on shortterm mark-recapture studies, because they cannot account for unknown but likely fluctuations in environmental conditions. Š The Wildlife Society

Inuit and scientists agree that climate warming is having a significant negative impact on sea ice in the Arctic. In a 2006 study, Josefino Comiso, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, reported low ice extents in the Arctic during winter and other seasons in 2005 and 2006. Overall, the winter ice anomalies correlated well with both surface temperature anomalies and wind circulation patterns, and because historical satellite data indicated a positive trend in winter temperatures and a negative trend in the length of ice growth period, Comiso concluded it is likely that the winter ice cover will continue to retreat in the near future. In a recent review of long-term trends in ice cover and causative mechanisms, Serreze et al. (2007) also reported negative linear trends in arctic sea ice extent in the polar basin from 1979 to 2006. The trends were negative in every month and most dramatic in September, with a decline of 8.6 ± 2.9 percent per decade. The authors wrote, “Given the agreement between models and observations, a transition to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean as the system warms seems increasingly certain (p. 1536)” and “Although the large scatter between individual model simulations leads to

much uncertainty as to when a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean might be realized, this transition to a new Arctic state may be rapid once the ice thins to a more vulnerable state (p. 1533).” If these projections are correct, such a significant loss in the total ice habitat will have profound negative effects on polar bears. In several polar bear populations in the Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin and Eastern Arctic areas of Canada, the ice melts completely in summer, forcing all bears in those populations to spend several months on shore until freeze-up in autumn (Stirling and Parkinson 2006). Toward the southern extent of polar bear range, in Western Hudson Bay, polar bears feed extensively on the sea ice during spring and early summer before the ice melts. Then, all bears in the population fast while on shore for at least four months until the sea ice refreezes and the bears can resume hunting. Pregnant females fast for eight months, during which time they give birth to cubs weighing approximately 0.6 kg and nurse them up to 10 to 12 kg when they leave their maternity dens and return to the sea ice to hunt seals again. Gagnon and

Andrew Derocher and Ian Stirling study the population dynamics, behavior, and biology of populations of polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay. Courtesy of Ian Stirling

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Gough (2005) reported that in Western Hudson Bay, between 1971 and 2003, the mean annual temperatures increased at most weather stations with trends varying from a minimum of 0.5°C per decade at Churchill to 0.8°C per decade at Chesterfield Inlet. Further south in James Bay, the temperature has warmed at about 1°C per decade. Skinner et al. (1998) reported that during April through June, the temperature near Churchill and over the adjacent offshore ice had warmed at a rate of 0.3 to 0.5°C per decade from 1950 to 1990. Comiso (2006) reported a similar warming trend from data collected from 1981 to 2005. Apparently in response to this well documented warming pattern, breakup of the sea ice in Western Hudson Bay now occurs about three weeks earlier on average than it did only 30 years ago. (Stirling et al. 1999, Stirling et al. 2004, Gagnon and Gough 2005, and Stirling and Parkinson 2006).

Polar bears are large animals and they got that way by eating seals, not berries. Signs of Decline The trend toward progressively earlier breakup of the sea ice has had significant effects on the polar bears of Western Hudson Bay. The most important time for polar bears to feed on ringed seals is from late spring to breakup, when newly weaned ringed seal pups, up to 50 percent fat by wet weight and still naïve to predators, are abundant. Thus, over the last 30 years, the polar bears in Western Hudson Bay have been forced to abandon hunting

seals on the sea ice at the most important time of year and begin their fast on land following breakup at progressively earlier dates. There is a significant negative relationship between the date of breakup and the condition of both adult male polar bears and adult females accompanied by dependent young (Stirling et al. 1999). Also, as a consequence of steadily declining conditions, the average mass of lone (and suspected pregnant) adult female polar bears has declined from approximately 290 kg in 1980 to about 230 kg in 2004 (Stirling and Parkinson 2006). Derocher et al. (1992) reported that no female weighing less than 189 kg in the fall was recorded with cubs the following year, suggesting that polar bear females below that mass will no longer reproduce. More recently, Regehr et al. (2007) (In Final Review) demonstrated that the decline in survival of cubs and subadults was significantly correlated to breakup date, i.e., the earlier the breakup, the poorer the survival. The progressively earlier breakup brought on by climate warming, in combination with the failure to adjust a harvest rate that was no longer sustainable, caused the population to decline from about 1,200 animals in 1987 to 935 in 2004. A similar pattern of earlier breakup of sea ice is now evident in southern Hudson Bay (Gagnon and Gough 2005), and a corresponding decline in the condition of polar bears of different age and sex classes between mid-1980s and the mid-2000s has been reported (Obbard et al. 2006). A decline in population size will likely follow, if it has not already started. The renewed prediction of continued climate warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in January 2007 indicates that the long-term negative changes to the sea ice will continue to be unidirectional in the foreseeable future. However, the effects of climate warming on sea ice and polar bears will vary in timing and rate of change in different regions. For example, in Hudson Bay/Foxe Basin and the Eastern Canadian Arctic (Baffin Bay and Davis Strait region), the sea ice melts completely each summer. Bears survive the summer using their stored fat with opportunistic augmentation by scavenging, feeding on vegetation, and sometimes hunting other marine mammals. Polar bears, however, obtain the vast majority of their annual energy intake by hunting seals from the sea ice surface. Thus, suggestions that today’s polar bear populations will be able to obtain replacement energy sources are fanciful: Polar bears on land in Western Hudson Bay are in

Polar bears now spend more time on the shore as their sea ice habitat melts. Credit: Russell A. Mittermeier


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

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a hibernation-like physiological state of fasting (Ramsay and Stirling 1988). Since their most important feeding period is from mid-April until breakup, bears in these populations are likely to be affected before other areas by progressively earlier breakup caused by climate warming. In comparison, in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas (part of the polar basin), ice is breaking up earlier and freezing later, although some multi-year ice remains throughout the summer, up to a few hundred kilometers offshore over the deep polar basin and near the north-western islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (Serreze et al. 2007). Climaterelated effects on populations of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago have not yet been identified, but Nunavut does not maintain a research program that would be capable of detecting such change. Claims by some that climate warming has increased the size of the subpopulation in Davis Strait, Canada, are unsupported by data. An ongoing mark-recapture study indicates that the population of polar bears there is larger than previously thought. However, polar bears are probably more abundant in Davis Strait because of the combined effects of a large increase in the harp seal population and the conservative harvest level, which has been in place for decades (Stirling and Parkinson 2006). Yet neither possible factor that could stimulate an increase in numbers is related to climate warming. At this point, it is uncertain how the documented and predicted patterns of seasonal ice reduction and permanent loss will affect all the different populations of polar bears or their distribution and movements. The pathways through which polar bears in different ecological circumstances are, or will be, affected are only partly understood and should be investigated through multi-disciplinary research. However, if the climate continues to warm and negatively affect the duration, extent, and thickness of arctic sea ice as predicted, it will ultimately have a negative effect on all populations.

Media Mix-ups Against this extensive backdrop of long-term studies that document the negative effects of continued climate warming on sea ice and polar bears, and projections by the IPCC that those trends will continue, the press continues to cite minority contrarian opinions as if they have equal credibility. One oft repeated example is, “Of the 13 [polar bear populations] in Canada, 11 are either stable or increasing in size� (e.g., Edmonton Journal, 31 December 2006, among other publications). In fact, at the 2005 meeting of the IUCN

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Credit: iStockPhoto/JohnPitcher

Recent research indicates that melting sea ice has seriously affected the reproductive ability and survival of polar bears.

Polar Bear Specialists Group in Seattle, scientists and managers from the five Arctic nations with polar bears unanimously agreed to a status report that concluded that of the 13 populations within Canada, or shared with Greenland, two were severely depleted from previous overharvesting and were being managed for recovery, five were declining, and the rest were recorded as stable, except for one which was reported as increasing based on a computer projection model using extrapolated demographic data. Another regularly repeated statement is that climate warming may be good for polar bears and that they will just adapt somehow and switch to terrestrial diets, including berries. It is possible that in the short term, the sea ice habitat of polar bears in the heavy ice of the farthest northern areas of Canada and Greenland, over the continental shelf, may improve temporarily as the climate continues to warm. However, as the patterns of ice loss mirror those in more southerly areas, the bears will ultimately be negatively affected as well. Similarly, even if there is little ice remaining, some continued on page 43

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Graduate Students and the Building of Professional Communities


raduate students fill an important niche in many advanced academic programs, and the field of wildlife management and conservation is no exception. Throughout their training, graduate students work diligently to develop their skills as scientists in the field and in the lab, collaborate with their colleagues to develop materials for publication, and often provide the unique insights and energy of (relative) youth. As these students move through their programs, they undertake additional roles beyond student, such as leaders in their discipline, developers of conservation programs and projects, and teachers. Across the sciences, graduate students play critical roles in educational institutions, although their value is often under-recognized and underutilized. In the wildlife profession, the role of graduate students in building the core of professional societies is even more underappreciated.

Many universities with wildlife-related degree programs have student chapters of professional societies; these chapters are often catalysts that help students learn the value of professional societies and plant the seeds of lifelong personal and professional affiliations with peers. As discussed by Eric Taylor and Bruce Lauber in the Summer 2007 issue of The Wildlife Professional, scholarly societies are critical mechanisms through which experts keep current with technical, scientific, and policy information and sustain their interest in professionalism and advancement in their field. Students become the energizing young professional members within these societies. They can be the forces that move the organizations forward, envisioning the changes that are necessary in the context of tradition. The Wildlife Society (TWS) has a history of longtime members; a 2007 survey shows that over 65 percent of current TWS members have belonged to the Society for more than five years, and over 48 percent have been members for more than 10 years. Today, students—particularly graduate students, those who have made a clear commitment to the wildlife profession—can play important


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

roles in energizing student chapters, recruiting undergraduate students into the Society, feeding new members into professional chapters (e.g., those not affiliated with educational institutions), and driving attention and resources to the challenges and achievements of local and regional wildlife management and conservation activities.

Graduate Students and Student Chapters TWS has more than 100 student chapters, with more forming every year; students currently make up 16 percent of the TWS membership. Similarly, students make up 26 percent of the membership in the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and at least 6 percent of the Society of Conservation Biology (SCB). Although ESA and SCB have some overlapping interests with TWS, TWS’s mission is distinct, philosophically and practically focused on science-based management and conservation of wildlife. Positive experiences in TWS’s student chapters can provide young professionals with concrete evidence of the benefits of being connected to a broad network of wildlife professionals throughout their careers. Some employers acknowledge the benefits of membership in professional societies and support—sometimes even require—membership and/or certification as prerequisites for career advancement. However, student chapters can be difficult to lead and sustain. As students, we have noted great variation in the success and motivation of TWS student chapters that we have encountered. Many chapters go through phases during which a committed group of leaders faithfully plans activities, recruits members, and generally provides guidance and enthusiasm. However, when those students graduate, the chapters often wane. When new students with leadership skills and aspirations come on board, they go through a time-consuming learning curve.

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Taking Advantage of Student Status In a 2000 article in the Wildlife Society Bulletin (v. 28, n. 2, 468-470), then-student Mitschka Hartley attributed success of student chapters to enthusiastic and involved faculty advisors. However, from our own experience, we know that graduate students also can play a decisive role in the success of student chapters. To get an accurate reflection of the roles that graduate students play in TWS student chapters, we surveyed the faculty advisors of 90 student chapters across North America, receiving responses from 49 faculty advisors—a response rate of 54 percent. More than 80 percent of faculty respondents indicated that graduate students were involved in their local student chapter in some way, and in 39 percent of chapters, graduate students were both officers and active members. Despite this level of activity, however, faculty also indicated that in nearly half of all student chapters, many graduate students did not frequently attend student chapter meetings. This lack of participation was true even though almost all chapters (89 percent) allowed graduate students as officers and 14 percent of these had a specific position on the executive council for a graduate student. As both undergraduate and graduate students, we have observed direct benefits to all members of student chapters when graduate students participate. They serve as role models and leaders, contributing their growing knowledge on how to run organizations and how to focus discussions and learning opportunities on topics and issues that are important to the field. Graduate students have often started to build professional networks of students, faculty, and peer experts in other fields. Undergraduate students look to more seasoned young professionals for ideas about professionalism, networking, writing and communication skills, opportunities for research or employment, and much more. In turn, more experienced students gain confidence in their leadership and mentoring skills as they watch undergraduates transform into colleagues and friends. Although graduate students are often involved in their local student chapter as undergraduates, we suggest that continuing their participation in student chapters as master’s or doctoral students can add important dimensions to their professional development. First, as leaders of student chapters, graduate students benefit their fellow students by

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Credit: Jessica Homyack

Virginia Tech undergrad students Sara Sharp (left) and Staci Hudy (right) collect data for an independent research project on territorial interactions of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus). The undergrads met graduate student Jessica Homyack (center), who is overseeing the project, through the Virginia Tech chapter of The Wildlife Society.

sharing their knowledge of how to acquire university funding or develop service and research projects for chapter activities. Second, graduate students who take on the role of student leaders gain opportunities to refine their mentoring and leadership skills and identify future undergraduate technicians or volunteer field assistants for their research. Of course, all leaders of student chapters receive earlier and richer opportunities to develop skills in professional communication, organizational planning, and budget management, which may lead to better jobs and stronger networks, as well as future leadership positions. Many chapters would benefit from additional involvement from graduate students, and adding a specific leadership position to the executive council for a graduate student, such as a liaison, increases the probability of the chapter performing consistently over time. The benefits of having involved graduate students in student chapters cannot be overstated, but perhaps the greatest advantage is the feeling of community that is fostered within the academic department.

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The Power of Conservation Photography By Cristina Mittermeier

This is the first in a series of articles on wildlife photography by Cristina Mittermeier.

Cristina Mittermeier is Executive Director of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

“In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing. Finally, the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads—as an anthology of images.” Susan Sontag; On Photography


e they the snapshots of the millions of enthusiastic nature-seekers, or the wellcrafted images made by gifted professionals, photographs of wildlife and its often breathtaking habitat inspire us and enrich our soul. For those people who will never have the time, resources,

or luck to view such wild places and majestic creatures, seeing these images is the next best thing to being there. In this way, photographs also serve as a necessary and constant element of conservation communications, reaching out to those people who are concerned about protecting wildlife—particularly those creatures they will never observe in their backyards. The late Susan Sontag once wrote that “to photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge—and, therefore, like power.” Although nature photography can appeal to a viewer’s aesthetic sensibilities, the truth is that photography has much more potential to play a role in conservation than has yet been realized. When photographic skills, creative talent and scientific understanding converge on a subject,

Cristina Mittermeier shares her photographs with the Kayapo indigenous people in the village of Kenjan in the Brazilian Amazon. Credit: Cristina Mittermeier


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

© The Wildlife Society

the outcome can be powerful. In the case of conservation efforts, photography currently serves two very different, yet complementary purposes. On the one hand, conservation organizations can make wonderful use of spectacular images to attract donors, and wildlife reserves and parks use them to entice tourists to come visit. Both groups rely on images that illustrate striking natural areas and rarely seen wildlife in a romanticized and attractive way. Open a travel book or a brochure or visit the website of a conservation nonprofit, and the carefully crafted images will beckon you to visit, or to make a financial contribution. Making these types of images may seem simple, but it is far from a casual endeavor. Creating a successful image requires training and experience, and though the ability to make excellent photographs comes naturally to some, for most, it takes years of work, training, frustration, and failure to become a professional photographer. These “architects of images” are the masters at selecting the most delectable pieces of the landscape and embellishing their frames with exquisite light and composition. The other side of the equation is the fast-growing interest in photography as a hobby. The recent advent of ever more affordable, user-friendly digital equipment permits everyday people to aspire to recreate the perfect images found in glossy magazines. Today’s ecotourists can be found everywhere from the Alaskan wilderness to the African savannah, many hauling around all the latest photographic equipment. They set out to capture a digital masterpiece that resembles the beautiful brochures that served as their travel inspiration in the first place. Whereas not so long ago the opportunity to photograph whales, grizzlies, zebras, and giraffes in their natural habitat was pretty much the privilege of the wealthy traveler or the talented on-assignment photographer, today many within the ever-expanding global middle class can aspire to visit these previously remote and exclusive locations. It doesn’t matter that the end product is less than perfect; to the earnest novice photographer, wildlife photography allows one to become the fabled African hunter of days gone by. The trophy will be just as cherished, except for the happy fact that no creature will have to die to obtain it. The images brought home are so much more than mere statements of our travels; they are more like physical pieces of the experience itself, snippets of reality available for anyone to take. It is the task of professional photographers to keep inspiring amateurs to travel to wild places, because when done right, a portion of every dollar spent on tourism goes to benefit the local wildlife and the local people. © The Wildlife Society

That said, there are those among professional photographers who worry about the effect of this overabundance of images on the global mass consciousness. Images are like evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it. How can there really be a shortage of wolves or cheetahs when you can see thousand images of them in magazines and books? If truth be told, we may have seen ten times more images of endangered wildlife than there are animals left in the wild. The real challenge within wildlife photography is not that there are too many images, but that the images taken as a whole fail to reflect the true diversity of the natural world. The goal then should not be to produce more or fewer images, but to make images that tell stories about the wilderness drama, the human spirit, and our struggle to connect to the natural world in an ever more urban and technological planet. More and more, professional photographers, especially those concerned about conservation, find themselves challenged to bring to light extraordinary images hidden within more familiar landscapes. We think we have seen it all, but when it comes to photography, we are just getting started. Photographers should strive to maintain the impression of wild forms and places in every image, instead of making the world appear domesticated and approachable. Conservation demands the preservation of the underlying vitality of wild nature—wildness, rather than a cultivated landscape. So, the question really is: Do we need any more pictures of wolves and cheetahs? The answer is yes, as long as we can find a way out of the maze of sameness that infects so much contemporary nature photography. To do this, a distinction must be made between the creation of images for the sake of photography, and the creation of images to serve the purpose of conserving nature. This fresh approach to photography—conservation photography—showcases both the beauty of our planet and its vanishing spirit, and it represents the “pictorial voice” used by many conservation organizations to further their messages. Although traditional nature photography is often adequate enough to do the job, the creation of images that move people to change behaviors and take action requires an understanding of the issues necessary to tell the story; this is the job of a conservation photographer. Anyone can purchase the equipment, travel to interesting regions and learn the secrets of animal behavior. What cannot continued on page 43

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The Boreal Information Centre: Harvesting Forest Data By James R. Strittholt, Ph.D. and Peter Lee


Credit: James R. Strittholt

James R. Strittholt, Ph.D. is founder and Executive Director of the Conservation Biology Institute in Corvallis, Oregon.

Credit: Jeannette Gysbers

Peter Lee is the Executive Director of Global Forest Watch Canada in Edmonton, Alberta.

he North American boreal forest is widely recognized as one of the last remaining large wild regions of the world and is the focus of global conservation efforts. As much as 70 percent of the remaining forest is considered intact or free from modern development. The boreal forest, located throughout the northern part of the continent, functions as a nursery for billions of breeding songbirds and waterfowl and provides habitat for the world’s largest remaining populations of woodland caribou, gray wolves, wolverines, grizzly bears, and lynx. The region contains countless freshwater lakes and streams harboring valuable fisheries. The vast forest also cleans the region’s air and water and functions as an important global carbon sink, making it a valuable buffer against climate change. In addition, this forest is an important source for timber and energy resources that support demands from a growing global human population. The southern portion of the boreal zone has already been heavily impacted by industrial development, and expansion into the remaining intact regions is proceeding so rapidly that it is likely the fate of the boreal forest will be determined within the next decade or two. The immediate risks facing the boreal are extensive and far-reaching, yet there is still an incredible opportunity to develop and implement an effective comprehensive conservation strategy for the region. One of the major barriers to effective resource planning is the lack of relevant spatial data and information. The Boreal Information Centre was created to provide a one-stop location to efficiently obtain spatial data and information for a variety of planning efforts being carried out across the North American boreal. The Centre has been formed by a diverse user community to provide a credible science foundation for informed decision making. Partners and users of the Centre include the conservation community, forest product suppliers and buyers, energy firms, lending institutions, aboriginal peoples, government agencies, academics, and others. The data will assist these users in making policy and management decisions that will protect the ecological integrity of the boreal forest.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

The technical development and maintenance of the Centre is being carried out through a close collaboration between scientists from the Conservation Biology Institute (located in Corvallis, Oregon) and Global Forest Watch Canada (located in Edmonton, Alberta). The primary mission of the Boreal Information Center is to build and maintain relevant and objective boreal conservation planning data and information of the highest possible standards to as many users as possible.

How does the Boreal Information Centre work? The Boreal Information Centre is an Internet-based service linking data to users. Launched in May 2007, the site ( has received numerous visits and data queries. Currently, spatial data and information for nearly 50 different themes can be easily reviewed and downloaded at this site, which is viewable by ecoregions, according to a common ecological framework. This ecosystem focus, based largely on the National Ecological Framework for Canada, differs from the more common administrative focus since many of the conservation issues facing the boreal are ecological in nature rather than political. Visitors who come to the site have the option of reviewing data and information by location or by topic. If the “select location” option is chosen, the user can easily navigate the entire region on an electronic map, allowing for viewing of hosted themes with the means to zoom in and out between the larger ecoprovinces and ecoregions (with download options provided at the ecoregion level) or to pan across the various ecoregions while viewing a particular theme. Examples of current themes include current and historic land cover, intact forest blocks, forest composition and structure, human infrastructure (e.g., roads, cities, mines, wells, and dams), and protected areas (See table for a complete list). In addition, three different sources of recent satellite-based imagery are also provided using simple visual tools to review and retrieve satellite images of interest. All the themes provided

© The Wildlife Society

come with clear descriptions (or metadata) and often link to original sources. Users are given the option to “select topic� and review theme descriptions directly. And if users know what themes they wish to download, they are given the option to go directly to an easy-to-use selection menu.

Status and Next Steps Since 2005, the Conservation Biology Institute and Global Forest Watch Canada have been working in close collaboration in assembling and summarizing important spatially explicit data layers or themes needed to carry out effective conservation planning throughout the Canadian boreal. Early work has focused on themes that are national in scope. Another major and ongoing task is to continue adding new data themes and updates as they become available. Among the highest priorities for new themes include heritage data, which needs to be obtained from each Canadian province and U.S. state, distribution maps for important focal species such as woodland caribou, and fisheries data. We also are beginning to identify regional datasets that are becoming available (e.g., forest age and composition) that will eventually replace the national themes because of their greater levels of completeness, resolution, and timeliness. As with any large data venture, establishing and maintaining effective partnerships is critical and will remain an important aspect of the Boreal Information Centre. Without the cooperation and trust of data providers, the Boreal Information Centre will not achieve its desired goal. Part of a continuing work plan is dedicated to building the relationships to acquire and include new datasets that better serve users.

Current and Future Uses Assembling and maintaining spatially explicit data and information pertaining to the condition of the boreal forest in North America is fundamentally important to a wide range of users. Practical advantages to the Centre are: (1) the most useful data themes are chosen and routinely updated, establishing a high quality data standard, (2) uses of the data lead to greater scientific credibility and consistency, (3) multiple scales can be readily examined, which is often difficult or impossible for many users, (4) themes are easy to acquire and use via the Internet, and (5) a tremendous cost savings is realized since themes assembly does not have to be continuously replicated by every user for every

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The new Boreal Information Centre will make data on the boreal forest available to a broad swath of stakeholders.

new project or application. Below are examples of potential applications of the Boreal Information Centre organized by sector. All of the applications highlighted require the same basic data and information, but it may be desirable for some users to have special tools developed that synthesize the themes to address their specific needs. Forest Products Suppliers: Forest products companies are routinely developing management plans for their land holdings and tenures. Often, harvest plans attempt to conserve sensitive biological components (species and communities), especially those locations striving for certification. The Boreal Information Centre provides contextual data and information to forest planning and provides some important data layers not typically tracked by the companies (e.g. intact forest landscapes and forest fragments). Forest Certifiers: Third party forest certifiers require considerable spatially explicit data and information about forest conditions and conservation value in carrying out their work. Having a single site that provides high-quality data on forest certification criteria allows for more complete, speedy, and consistent reviews. Forest Products Buyers: Major buyers of paper (including catalog companies, publishers, household products manufacturers, and paper retailers), packaging, and building supplies are becoming increasingly interested in directing their purchasing to promote ecological sustainability. The Boreal Information Centre provides the data and informa-

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Credit: Conservation Biology Institute

CBI has completed the entire allocated portion of Canada (purple) and is in the process of uploading the rest of the northern ecoregions (medium green). One of CBI’s next steps is to include the boreal regions of the United States (dark green), making the site truly North American.

tion needed to assure these decisions are fully informed and accountable. Finance Sector: Environmental risk assessment is becoming increasingly important to various finance institutions. One aspect of risk assessment pertains to the risk to high-value forests. The Boreal Information Centre provides the themes needed to map these forests. Another extremely important use of the Centre is in assessing and monitoring carbon through34

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

out the boreal region, which is of global significance from both a science perspective and financial one (e.g., carbon trading). The Centre has assembled meaningful themes with respect to carbon, but considerable enhancements pertaining to this important subject is being planned at this time. Our goal with the Centre is to provide a tool that will assess the likely impact on carbon levels from proposed development spurred by investment leading toward

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science-supported verification and accurate forecasting. Energy Producers: Energy development throughout the boreal continues to have a major impact on the ecological integrity of this region. Energy companies can use the Centre to develop plans to help minimize or mitigate these negative impacts. Government Agencies: The Boreal Information Centre can be used as an outreach vehicle to advance and report on ecosystem monitoring. The Centre already includes a number of agency-generated themes and combines them with other sources of pertinent data. The Centre provides a data-driven platform for an effective government-private-NGO partnership. Conservation Organizations: Conservation organizations share a mission to see that the many ecological values in the boreal forest region remain complete and functional in perpetuity. Themes collected and housed at the Centre provide valuable inputs on routine planning and assessments by conservation organizations to help advocate for conservation and to help prioritize their own activities. Academia: The Centre provides a resource for researchers to conduct ecological studies in the boreal region while also providing a showcase of results from some of these studies. General Public: In any civil society, it is important to have an informed citizenry. The Centre provides a wealth of credible data and information about the condition of the boreal forest region in a form that is easily assessable to everyone.

You Can Help One of the current deficiencies in the Boreal Information Centre is the lack of species data. Large national and regional datasets are typically assembled and maintained by governments. Sometimes the work by agency scientists is compiled in such a way as to make it easily accessible. Other times, valuable data simply gets lost or never makes it into spatial clearinghouses. A similar problem arises in academia where valuable datasets are published on but the actual data is not made available to others. Wildlife professionals can help us by providing spatially explicit data on fish and wildlife species important to a functioning boreal forest. If you have data or questions, please contact Jim Strittholt at Š The Wildlife Society

Current Data Themes at ABORIGINAL LAND First Nations Lands Communities CLIMATE CHANGE Fire Severity ENDURING FEATURES Enduring Features Representation Results FIRE FOCAL SPECIES Species At Risk Important Bird Areas FOREST COMPOSITION Percent Forest Dominant Genus Forest Species FOREST PRODUCTIVITY Site Quality Timber Volume Net Primary Production FOREST STRUCTURE Age Range Percent Old Dominant Age Mean Age GEOLOGY, SOILS AND WATER Hydrography Organic Carbon Surficial Geology HISTORIC LAND COVER HUMAN FOOTPRINT Cumulative Forestry Mining Oil and Gas IMAGERY Modis TM TM7 INTACT FOREST LANDSCAPES Large Small LAND COVER Canopy Cover Land Cover LAND MANAGEMENT Forest Production Mills Logging Tenures Protected Areas POPULATED PLACES RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT Dams Mining Activity Reservoirs Well Sites ROADS AND RAILROADS Roads Roads & Linear Road & Linear Density Railroads Transportation Footprint WETLANDS Peatlands

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W Cynthia Love, M.L.S., is a medical librarian at the National Library of Medicine specializing in environmental health information.

ildlife professionals need to find objective and reliable information about the effects of the environment and toxic chemicals on both the health of wildlife and on their own personal on-the-job health. The National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NLM), offers a number of useful web resources for professionals working in wildlife management and coming in contact with animals. Wildlife specialists know that animal health is impacted by many of the same environmental issues affecting human health, such as pesticides and other toxic chemicals, oil spills, and air and water pollution. Examples of areas of interest might include:

Judy Kramer, M.P.H., is a public health consultant with Lockheed Martin Information Technology.

• Status of research on chronic wasting disease in deer and elk; • Effects of toxic chemicals, such as lead, mercury, and pesticides, on wildlife; • Impact of environmental pollution on wildlife reproductive health; • Causes of death in unexpected fish kills or other die-offs; • Prevention and clean-up of chemical spills affecting public lands; • Impact of agricultural and industrial runoff on water quality in the surface waters on which wildlife depends. There are also occupational health hazards for those who come in contact with wildlife or do fieldwork. While many diseases are speciesspecific, zoonotic diseases pose real health threats to wildlife managers and research biologists who work with or handle animals. Potential diseases from animal or insect bites or animal handling include rabies, hantavirus infections, plague, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and coetaneous anthrax.

Why Use NLM Resources? NLM is the world leader in providing high quality, free online resources in medicine. Many of these resources also include information relevant for wildlife managers and research biologists. The best known is PubMed (also known as MEDLINE),


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the index to the world’s biomedical literature. NLM also offers TOXNET, a collection of environmental health and toxicology databases that can be used to learn about toxic chemicals and their impact on ecosystems, animal life, and humans. NLM resources like PubMed and TOXNET are designed primarily for professional use. Others, such as MedlinePlus and Tox Town, are useful for finding information written for consumer needs. This article presents “information” case studies to illustrate how these NLM resources may prove useful for wildlife professionals.

PubMed PubMed ( is the key NLM resource for wildlife managers interested in research literature. It contains citations from medicine, veterinary medicine, toxicology, and life sciences journals, including approximately 100 current veterinary medicine journals, and enables users to access the latest information from these scientific journals. PubMed can be searched by topic, author, or journal title. Thanks to recent work by veterinary medical librarians, PubMed search results can be limited to veterinary topics and journals. A new Veterinary Information Resources page at veterinarymed.html allows users to search only the veterinary and animal health literature in PubMed, more than 1.4 million articles. The page also links to free veterinary databases, organizations, and consumer-level information on animal health.

TOXNET TOXNET ( is a group of databases covering toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and related areas. Typically used by toxicologists and health professionals, this site also covers wildlife toxicology and veterinary concerns. Similar to PubMed, TOXNET search results may include journal citations. Unique to TOXNET, search results also include exhaustive information compiled from many sources on toxic chemicals, including common pollutants, pesticides, drugs, ingredients in household products, and poisons.

© The Wildlife Society

Getting the most out of PubMed and TOXNET PubMed and TOXNET search results for journal articles give a basic description of each article and include its abstract but do not include the full text of the article. For some articles, there are links to websites that have the complete article. Articles not on the Internet can be requested from a library. For information on how to obtain full-text copies of journal articles through interlibrary loan, contact the National Network of Libraries of Medicine ( at 800-338-7657. The National Network also offers free PubMed and TOXNET training in many U.S. cities, in addition to training at the NLM in Bethesda, Maryland.

Case Study: Chronic Wasting Disease Prion diseases, such as chronic wasting disease in elk and deer, are certainly of interest in wildlife management and are even studied as a possible threat to humans in the event of animal-to-human transmission. A wildlife manager working in an area where deer or elk hunting and consumption are common may need to know about chronic wasting disease both for herd management and to answer questions from hunters, farmers, news media, and the local public health department. PubMed cites scientific journal articles on chronic wasting disease from molecular research to its impact on a species population. To find the latest research on prion diseases and the possibility of chronic wasting disease transmission to humans, the user can search on the broad term “prion diseases” or the more specific “chronic wasting disease” and include a species. Results can be further limited to articles that give a review of a

TOXNET ( searches a collection of toxicology and environmental health resources. © The Wildlife Society

Start here ( to learn more about National Library of Medicine resources on environmental health.

topic, articles only in English, articles only on humans or only on animals, or only recent articles. Search results will include articles such as these published in 2007: “Colorado surveillance program for chronic wasting disease transmission to humans: lessons from two highly suspicious but negative cases” and “Prion protein genes in caribou from Alaska.”

Case Study: Urban Fish Kill Uncommon environmental incidents may require wildlife managers to find information both for their own use and for informing the public. NLM databases may prove useful in responding to incidents such as one that happened in 2000, when neighbors living in the Washington, DC area reported that numerous fish were found dead in Rock Creek Park, a national park that runs the length of the city. With no idea what the problem was, park officials tested the creek water and identified cypermethrin, an insecticide. Park officials then traced possible pathways from the creek to businesses that might use cypermethrin and discovered the source was a pest control company. A worker had been hosing down a truck that was leaking cypermethrin into the company parking lot. The contaminated water ran into the storm drain and ended up in the creek where it poisoned the fish. More online at


To learn technical details about cypermethrin, a user can search the chemical name in TOXNET. The search results will include a lengthy record on cypermethrin in the Hazardous Substances Data Bank ( htmlgen?HSDB). This 42-page report not only includes information on cypermethrin effects on human health but also has sections on environmental fate and exposure, chemical safety and handling (including haz-mat response), and environmental standards and regulations. The fish kill in Rock Creek occurred near a playground where children and pets play in and along the creek. In a situation like this, parents and neighbors want to know about possible health effects from the pesticide, and park officials may need non-technical materials for community outreach. NLM’s Tox Town website at http:// provides an abundance of information for the general public on toxic chemicals and everyday environmental health concerns. Park officials could direct the public to Tox Town to learn about pesticides and their impact on human health. For example, a search on “pesticides” in Tox Town gives background information on pesticides and where they might be found in an imaginary town, city, or farm. There are also links to resources with consumer-level fact sheets on specific pesticides from the National Pesticide Information Center and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Tox Town ( Environmental health and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge and nearby facilities ( reporting toxic chemicals.

Case Study: Toxic Chemical Manufacturing and Releases Near Public Lands Wildlife, wildlife management, and research are affected by the “built” environment created by human endeavor. TOXMAP (http://toxmap.nlm., another resource from TOXNET, provides access to information on a very specific part of the built environment: manufacturing facilities that release toxic chemicals into air, water, or soil, and abandoned sites contaminated with chemicals from past industrial uses. These kinds of facilities may be located near, or even on, public lands such as former military bases converted to wildlife refuges. To find these facilities, a user can search on TOXMAP by zip code, city, or state. For example, a search on Laurel, Maryland, shows 32 facilities (such as paint and asphalt manufacturers and federal research agencies) near Patuxent Research Refuge and the National Wildlife Visitor Center. Knowing where these facilities are located near public lands and what chemicals they are handling could be crucial in the event of a fire or chemical spill and is vital for regional disaster planning. The information would also be important in deciding what releases should be monitored for possible effects on local air, water, and human and animal health. TOXMAP is a Geographical Information System (GIS) that creates maps that show data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Superfund Program. TOXMAP identifies “Toxics Release” facilities and shows multi-year chemical release trends, starting with 1987. The maps also show locations included

© The Wildlife Society

in the Superfund Program with lists of toxic chemicals found at those sites. In addition to location, TOXMAP can also be searched by chemical name.

Case Study: Wildlife Workers— Is Your Health at Risk? Every job has work-related health hazards, whether at a desk at headquarters or doing research outdoors. What risks are especially important for wildlife workers and related occupations? What precautions are important for those working outdoors, in a lab, or in an animal care facility? NLM can answer these questions with health materials written for a general audience. These materials can be used for staff training on worker safety, instructions for visitors to wildlife areas, and for understanding one’s personal health. To learn about job risks, for example, the Haz-Map ( resource from TOXNET lists work hazards for zoologists and wildlife biologists, veterinarians, animal caretakers, laboratory researchers, hunters and trappers, fish and game wardens, and many similar occupations. Haz-Map can be searched by disease symptoms, toxic exposure, and type of job. Its resources can be especially helpful in identifying disease causes and diagnosis for health professionals who are not specialists in occupational medicine.

Haz-Map ( Occupational health information on the connection between work exposures and disease.

For information on health precautions outdoors, and hundreds of other health topics, MedlinePlus ( has the facts on human health. MedlinePlus is written for the general public and its materials are well-suited for staff training and public information. Outdoor health topics include drinking water, sun exposure,

© The Wildlife Society

Lyme Disease – one of over 700 health topics at

hypothermia, and more. Topic pages on diseases from animals include rabies, Lyme disease, tick bites, animal bites, Monkeypox virus infections, insect bites and stings, West Nile Virus, and Plague. MedlinePlus is also a one-stop resource for personal health information on everything from common concerns like poison ivy or sunburn to life-threatening diseases. MedlinePlus includes daily news, a medical dictionary, drug guides, surgery videos, tutorials, and a version in Spanish at

Use the NLM The National Library of Medicine is committed to improving health through information. Wildlife workers and researchers can all benefit from the NLM’s key online resources: PubMed, for published biomedical research; TOXNET, for information on environmental health and toxicology; and MedlinePlus, for personal health information. NLM resources include information and research on many aspects of wildlife health and management, as well as on the interplay of human activities and animal health and the impact of animals on human health. NLM can assist in locating local library services through its National Network of Libraries of Medicine and encourages information partnerships to enhance access to biomedical information for those involved in wildlife management. For more information, contact the National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894; 888-FIND-NLM;

More online at


Consensus Building and the Democratic Process: TWS position statements By J. Edward Gates


Credit: Donna Gates

J. Edward Gates is Associate Professor of Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Treasurer of The Wildlife Society’s Working Group for the Steady State Economy.

evelopment and approval of position statements can often be a contentious process, involving differences of opinions. Based on my and my colleagues’ perspective as expressed in the article “Perspectives on The Wildlife Society’s Economic Growth Policy Statement and the Development Process” (Gates et al., Wildlife Society Bulletin (v. 34/2)), I offer the following commentary as insight on the relationship between consensus building and the democratic process (Brown, RD, Wildlife Society Bulletin (v. 34/2)).

Consensus Difficulties in reaching a consensus on controversial issues often arise because of divergent beliefs about how to conserve wildlife. The Wildlife Society (TWS) has certainly evolved beyond the narrow foundation of game management, recognizing that without involvement in other societal issues and disciplines, our goals for wildlife conservation are doomed to fail. Societal issues, such as economic growth, energy depletion, and climate change, among others, have direct implications for wildlife conservation and, as wildlife professionals, our ability to do our jobs. As such, we should not shy away from such problems, but confront them directly. The use of the term “consensus” to describe support, or lack thereof, for a position statement can often be used to deflect opposition. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, consensus is: 1) an opinion or position reached by a group as a whole; or 2) general agreement or accord. Criticism of the phrases “consensus of opinion” and “general consensus” has been persistent and widespread. These phrases now occur infrequently in edited formal writing. They are almost meaningless unless one knows how the consensus was reached and whether it is a “consensus of opinion” or a true consensus by tally of votes.

Substance To ensure a democratic process, gut feelings should be avoided and only facts included in developing position statements. Instead of feeling our way toward a perceived “consensus,” we should allow 40

The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

members to choose for themselves among legitimate options. TWS members can either approve or reject a position statement, and this can be determined by majority vote. Revising position statements to ones that are “felt” to represent members is an example of second-guessing and disempowering the membership. Proposed position statements are typically published in The Wildlifer for consideration. To avoid any confusion as to wording, prior versions should be identified clearly. Position statements typically go through an evolutionary process before the general membership actually has an opportunity to read them. However, if a TWS group is heavily involved in the development of a position statement, it should continue to be part of the process. The group’s inclusion is appropriate, in addition to being good politics, and hopefully a way to avoid any perceived disenfranchisement. It is also important that all the information necessary for an informed vote be made available to membership in a timely manner. In commenting on responses of membership to the wording of draft TWS position statements, Council members and others should avoid making qualitative statements, such as saying that “many, if not most,” were supportive or critical. It is also important to avoid any outside influences, from other societies or groups, on the democratic process within TWS. From time to time, members may be asked to approve position statements in areas that some think are outside the purview of TWS. Societal issues, in particular, appear problematic for some members. However, if members are properly informed via technical reviews and publications about the appropriateness of a position statement, they should be less inclined to object. Furthermore, lack of formal training in a particular discipline should not be used as the sole criterion for questioning why certain position statements are being considered by TWS, particularly if a specific issue has been shown to impact wildlife conservation and cannot be adequately addressed by other professions. For example, when it comes to the relationship between economic growth and wildlife conservation, would we want the public and policy makers to hear exclusively from economists? © The Wildlife Society

Ethics Aren’t Easy By Dale Hein


ac called me from the check station at his public hunting area. “Doc, I need advice. My boss called. He wants to hunt ducks here opening day, but he won’t be here at 5 a.m. when the hunters draw for blinds. He told me to pull the chip for blind 9 before the drawing and give it to him when he gets here later. I told him that I didn’t think I should do that because hunters expect a fair drawing. He said that it’s just a simple favor, that the hunters won’t know, and there’s no rule against it. ‘So, have chip 9 for me, Mac.’ Doc, what should I do?”

ployment and treatment for wildlife professionals. This code mainly concerns goals and standards for professional competence; it is not a set of ethics. However, Leopold’s land ethic addresses moral values rather than activities or abilities.

Mac had been an idealistic student in my wildlife classes. His dilemma concerned ethics, which is not covered in wildlife classes. I was fairly noncommittal and finally told him to do what he thought was right. I hung up feeling that I had failed to help him. Thirty years later, I now believe that I inadvertently did the right thing. Each person must determine her/his own ethics. A “one-size-fits-all” code of ethics won’t work. What, then, are ethics?

It is easier to describe unethical behaviors than to prescribe a code of ethics that rejects them. Mainly we want to deter untruths such as plagiarism, faked data, claims for unearned credit, padded resumes, false or incomplete testimony, defamation of character, etc. We can all recognize the untruths inherent in these. Such intrinsic lies are rejected by an ethic stated by Jack Ward Thomas, the 13th Chief of the U.S. Forest Service: “Tell the truth, the whole truth, all the time.”

Ethics have their origin and foundation in philosophy, not in laws and rules. A search on “ethics” brings up this definition: A branch of philosophy that deals with morality; moral principles; individual moral values; virtuous vs. non-virtuous actions; ideas of right and wrong; a theory or system of moral values.” I believe that a code of ethics for The Wildlife Society (TWS) should focus on desired, normative ethics of individuals, not on behavior of a society. The personal ethics sector concerns principles of moral behavior that are largely voluntary. Neither morals nor personal ethics can be legislated, regulated, or easily codified. Recently, I asked wildlife colleagues whether TWS had a code of ethics; most didn’t know but surmised that probably it did. It does, and, paraphrased, TWS’s code of ethics states: recognize the importance of research and science; participate in public outreach; improve wildlife management with sound biological information; support standards in wildlife education and employment that improve competence; and support fair em-

© The Wildlife Society

Renowned statements purporting to guide behavior—such as the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, the Bill of Rights, and the Seven Deadly Sins—don’t help much with ethics. How many items on these lists could you remember, let alone recall all of the items now in TWS’s Code of Ethics?

Courtesy of Dale Hein

Dale Hein is Professor Emeritus of Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University and a life member and fellow of The Wildlife Society.

This simple, memorable statement offering an ethic of truth could be most effective. We are a relatively small sister/brotherhood of dedicated wildlife professionals. More than most careers, wildlife management attracts persons who value the mutual reliance and respect they share with their peers. Cases of poor behavior are usually soon widely known among peers in wildlife. Admonishment and counsel by colleagues can be more successful than a list of standards for job performance or “thou-shall-not” rules to enforce. A direct, gentle approach to fostering ethics appeals to me. Draw on the ethical proclivities of wildlifers. TWS should encourage ethical behavior, rather than strive to punish poor behavior. I believe that few members would agree to participate in a morass of quasi-legal procedures to investigate and punish possible violators as described in section VII of Wildlife Biology Certification Requirements and in the Code of Ethics section of TWS Bylaws. Research on socially unacceptable behavior supports education and prevention more than post facto intervention and punishment. Threats and coercion have problematic value at best. More online at


The lure of an exciting job in another state was too great for Libby. She left graduate school with only her thesis to write and publish for her master’s. She promised to soon send me a draft. Five years later, Libby had new life interests; there were no replies to my inquiries and requests for thesis or a manuscript. The research results would be useful to others. I could publish them from the backup copies of data and analysis that she left. However, my name as author would be a lie, claiming credit for Libby’s work. She funded the study, did the research, and analyzed the results. My assigning her name as author would also be a lie, for she hasn’t authorized release of her work. I find no satisfactory solution in TWS’s code of ethics nor in those of other societies I have examined. A little white lie might do more good than harm. But the next lie might be light gray, and the next might be….? Perhaps I should ask an esteemed colleague for advice. She would probably advise me “to do what I think is right.” Ethics aren’t easy.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

© The Wildlife Society

Melting Under Pressure continued from page 27

polar bears may be able to augment their diets and survive for variable periods of time by scavenging, preying periodically on larger marine mammals such as walruses, and eating vegetation as available. However, research has shown that the large size of coastal Alaskan brown bears cannot be attained solely by eating berries (Welch et al. 1997) and, further, that large body mass is closely related to the amount of animal matter in the diet (Hilderbrand et al. 1999). It is particularly telling that the smallest black bears and brown bears in the world are found in the Arctic tundra near the coast of northern Labrador and the Beaufort Sea, respectively, because terrestrial food resources at high latitudes are meager. Polar bears are large animals and they got that way by eating seals, not berries. Their survival in anything like the large numbers present today is dependent on large and accessible seal populations and vast areas of ice from which to hunt.

Dire Reality Using both field observations of hunting behavior and size-specific metabolic requirements, Stirling and Øritsland (1995) estimated that, on average, a polar bear requires 45 ringed seals (or ringed seal equivalents) per year to survive (larger bears would require more and smaller bears less). Hunting of harp seals, bearded seals, and walruses would reduce the number of ringed seals needed but the message is clear that large numbers of polar bears require enormous numbers of ringed seals or equivalents (most species of which also require ice for pupping and molting). In crude numbers, 20,000 polar bears would require about 900,000 ringed seals (or ringed seal equivalents) each year, the majority of which would be pups. Although the total population size of ringed seals is unknown, estimates range between 5 and 7 million, making them one of the most abundant seal species in the world. Like polar bears, however, they are highly evolved to live and breed in association with sea ice so that their reproductive success and total population size will almost certainly decline as the sea ice disappears. In the long term, the loss of an iconic species such as the polar bear is but a symbol of much larger and hugely significant changes that will occur in many ecosystems throughout the world if the climate continues to warm and especially if, as projected by the IPCC, such warming is largely a consequence of excess anthropogenic productivity

© The Wildlife Society

of greenhouse gases. For polar bears, habitat loss is the most critical single concern. The symptoms of climate warming on polar bears are becoming clearer. Highly specialized species are particularly vulnerable to extinction if their environment changes, and polar bears fit that prescription. If the population of the planet is truly concerned about the fate of this species, we need to collectively reduce greenhouse gas production significantly and quickly.

The Power of Conservation Photography continued from page 30

be purchased is the empathy and sense of urgency necessary to create awe-inspiring images that move people to take actions to ensure that the wild world persists. So, although the similarities between traditional nature photography and conservation photography are many, the most outstanding difference lies in the fact that the latter is born out of purpose. From the early achievements of Ansel Adams in capturing the imagination of the American public with his well-crafted images of wild America, to the brilliantly executed images made by National Geographic’s “Nick” Nichols during the epic trek made by Dr. Michael Fay across the Congo (which has recently led to the creation of an entirely new protected area system in Gabon), conservation photography has a well-established, yet seldom recognized record. In traditional nature photography the subject is defined by aesthetics; in conservation photography the subject must also be defined by conservation priorities. Beyond documenting nature, conservation photography answers to the mission of protecting nature. This is a discipline limited by specific places and issues and its purpose is to elicit concerns and emotions that affect human behavior. We need to advocate for shooting the whole scene and not just the select pieces that we, the architects of the image, choose to show the public. As conservation challenges continue to grow around us, the need for the kinds of images that touch people’s hearts and change people’s minds is also growing. Photographers of great conviction have already traced the path for us. It is our job to show the way to the legions of new photographers who are not yet a part of the conservation movement.

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The Wildlife Society wishes to thank the following organizations for their financial and in-kind support of The Wildlife Professional.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

Š The Wildlife Society

Bruce D. Leopold Elected Vice President Dr. Bruce D. Leopold, Chair, Wildlife and Fisheries Department, Mississippi State University, has been elected Vice President of The Wildlife Society. Bruce will serve one year as Vice President, one year as President-Elect, and will be installed as President in September 2009 at the annual conference in Monterey, California. Alan Crossley, CWD Project Leader, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, was elected representative of the North Central Section; Ellen Bruce Leopold G. Campbell, recently retired as Terrestrial Ecology Program Leader for the Alaska Region of the USDA Forest Service, was elected to represent the Northwest Section; and Donald A. Yasuda, Biological Scientist, Stewardship and Fireshed Assessment Regional Cadre, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, was elected Western Section Representative. All will be formally inducted onto Council at the 2007 Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona, in September. We sincerely thank outgoing representatives Gary Potts (North Central Section) Winifred Kessler (Northwest Section), and Marti Kie (Western Section) for their dedicated service on TWS Council. They will be missed. Many thanks also to Shane P. Mahoney, John H. Schulz, Jonathan B. Haufler, and Steve Juarez for their willingness to serve the Society by running for office.

TWS Offers New Technology The Wildlife Society has upgraded its membership database (iMIS) to include e-commerce for members. TWS’s online store is now housed on its own server and connected to its live database. This will allow members to see and change their address or demographic information, pay their dues, register for conferences, and access the member directory. All information is protected by robust firewalls and high security. Members have recently been informed by email of their log-in and password. If you do not have this information, please contact Lisa Moll at

Credit: Michael Hutchins

TWS Government Affairs staff Megan Cook (left), Laura Bies (second from right), and Brooke Talley (right) met renowned conservationist “Jungle” Jack Hanna at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ annual reception on Capitol Hill in April.

TWS Student Chapter News n TWS officially approved Paul Smith’s College (NY) Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society on June 15, 2007. n 2008 Student Conclaves have been decided. The Western Conclave will be hosted March 14 to 17, 2008 by Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. The Eastern Conclave will be held March 28 to 30, 2008 by Penn State University at Hawk Mountain. The Central Conclave will be held in April, 2008 by Michigan Tech University. The Southeastern Conclave will be held by University of Tennessee — Martin from March 13 to 15, 2008 at Paris Landing State Park. More details will be available soon. n TWS announced its Student Member Campaign this summer, and TWS Student Chapters received their recruitment packets. The campaign runs August 1 to September 30. The five schools that recruit the most new TWS student members will receive prizes. n Elections for TWS Canadian Section are ongoing. Once officers have been determined, a top priority will be forming new chapters and student chapters throughout the Section. If you have any questions or comments about TWS Subunit News, please contact Shannon Pederson, Subunit and Certification Coordinator, at

The Wildlifer Is Available Electronically TWS now automatically sends members The Wildlifer electronically unless they specifically request a print copy. You’ll conserve natural resources, keep TWS printing and postage costs low, and you’ll be able to quickly access additional information of interest online! Check it out now at Contact Lisa Moll at or (301) 897-9770 about subscription changes.

© The Wildlife Society

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Join TWS in Tucson this September Join us in Tucson, Arizona for TWS’s 14th Annual Conference from September 22 to 26. While you’ll come for the chance to update your wildlife knowledge and network with colleagues, you’ll find much more to enjoy in Tucson. An exciting technical program will offer a wide diversity of program content, including a plenary session on wildlife conservation across the borders. For an in-depth training opportunity, sign up for a pre-conference workshop. For full program information, explore the online program planner to browse all aspects of the conference program and build a personal itinerary. You’ll find it under ‘Program in Detail’ on the conference website. On the lighter side, you’ll enjoy the welcome reception on Saturday evening and the farewell barbecue at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum—a unique botanical garden, zoo, and natural history museum set on 100 acres of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. You won’t want to miss field trips to spectacular desert, canyon, and mountain attractions. Space on these field trips is limited and advance reservations are required, so be sure to sign up early. Conference hotels include the headquarters Hotel Arizona (sold out) and Doubletree Tucson Reid Park (800-222-8733; group: Wildlife Society). If both hotels sell out, please check our website for additional hotel options. Special rates are available from American Airlines (, code: A6797AH) and Hertz Car Rentals (, code: 03270004). Come to Tucson to learn firsthand how others are tackling wildlife management problems, meet your colleagues, and explore the desert. Take advantage of substantial savings by registering by the August 24 early registration deadline! Register today at

Combined Federal Campaign Attention Federal Employees! The Wildlife Society is a participant in the U.S. Government’s Combined Federal Campaign. This program encourages easy, charitable giving. Federal employees choose the nonprofit group(s) to which they want to make a contribution and how much they want to donate


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2007

per pay period. The government deducts that amount from your paycheck and forwards it to the appropriate charity. Donors avoid the hassle of writing checks and addressing envelopes. And by giving a small amount from each paycheck, you often are able to give more than if you made a single, once-a-year contribution. The result is increased support of important charitable work such as the wildlife conservation activities of The Wildlife Society. If you are a federal employee, please consider The Wildlife Society in your charitable giving. Look for it on the Combined Federal Campaign list of National/International Organizations (New ID # 10247). Please contact your personnel office for assistance in signing up this fall. Thank you!

In Memoriam Barry A. Garrison died unexpectedly on June 8, 2007. Barry worked for the California Department of Fish and Game and was an active member and leader of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society. Paul F. Springer, a life member of The Wildlife Society and Certified Wildlife Biologist, died on May 2, 2007, at the age of 85. He spent his entire career, since 1947, employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a research biologist.

TWS 15th Annual Conference Miami, Florida, November 8-12, 2008 Call for Proposals Deadline: November 30, 2007 Proposals for workshops, symposia, panel discussions, breakfast roundtables, and special poster sessions are invited for the 15th Annual Conference of The Wildlife Society. Proposals should focus on topics of wildlife science, management, conservation, education, or policy within the broad theme of Excellence in Wildlife Stewardship Through Science and Education. Instructions for preparing and submitting proposals can be found on The Wildlife Society’s website,, under Annual Conference.

© The Wildlife Society

This female prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) discovered a western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) nest near Medicine Hat, Alberta, complete with four chicks that had not yet fledged. With the birds’ parents nowhere to be found, the snake proceeded to eat three of the chicks, one by one, before departing to bask in the sun and digest. The fourth chick hopped away and was spared. Credit: Dennis Jørgenson

The J.R. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida, is home to a stunning blend of plants and animals. The best way to reach this barrierisland paradise is by canoe. Visitors enjoy hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching, like the American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) featured here at sunset. Credit: George Gentry

Send your high-resolution photographs to, or mail to TWS headquarters.

© The Wildlife Society

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The Wildlife Professional 2007 Fall Issues  

Building Blocks of Professionalism Conservation Photography Polar Bears: Sinking or Swimming? Fall 2007

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