Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Strategist: Fall 2018 Edition

Articles include brief updates on the 2018-2019 AFWA Officers & Executive Committee; Legislative Updates; 2018 AFWA Annual Awards; Recovering America's Wildlife Act; International Updates, and Business Meeting Resolutions.

Download the Fall 2018 Edition of The Strategist here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

21st International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, October 27-31, 2019

International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS) 2019 will be the premier scientific conference on aquatic invasive species issues that will offer new experiences for all participants, plus unique professional development opportunities for students and young professionals.

Key topics that will be covered during next year’s conference include:
  • Conservation and restoration
  • Predictive ecology and risk assessment
  • Ecophysiology and adaptive evolution of invaders
  • Advances in invasion theory
  • Effects of multiple stressors on invasion success and impact
  • Impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems
  • New developments in management and control
  • Policy and public outreach

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Science Does Guide Wildlife Management in North America: Scientists and Conservation Leaders Respond to Artelle et al.

October 3, 2018

Today, Science Advances publishes a formal response entitled ‘Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management’. This response, authored by a broad group of scientists, wildlife managers, and conservation professionals in the United States and Canada, reveals the unfortunate errors in the Artelle et al. article which inaccurately concluded that state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies in North America are managing wildlife without using science. 

“We are happy to report that state and provincial fish and wildlife management is indeed guided by a broad range of scientific information, deployed by individuals who have extensive scientific training, in order to conserve our nations natural resources for future generations,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  “Our state fish and wildlife agencies use all means at their disposal to manage and conserve their most valuable resources, our fish and wildlife, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us.”

Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management highlights several key errors in the original Artelle et al. paper.  First, Artelle et al. confuse the process of conducting scientific research with the process of managing wildlife or other natural resources: while wildlife and natural resource management is informed by science, management activities may not always conform to the same principles and format as a scientific research project.  Furthermore, the primary source of information for the Artelle et al. paper was a series of wildlife management reports and documents that they downloaded from agency websites; these authors did not actually meet with state and provincial wildlife agency managers to learn how science is applied in real-world wildlife management.  Artelle et al. identified a set of “hallmarks of science” and then examined their collection of documents and reports from agency websites to see if these “hallmarks” appeared in these management documents.  Artelle et al. mistakenly concluded that an absence of their “hallmarks of science” from agency documents meant that these documents are not grounded in science, when in fact scientific information is considered by wildlife managers at each step in the decision-making process.   

The Association would like to acknowledge the authors of Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management: Jonathan R. Mawdsley (AFWA), John F. Organ (USGS), Daniel J. Decker (Cornell University), Ann B. Forstchen (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Ronald J. Regan (AFWA), Shawn J. Riley (Michigan State University), Mark S. Boyce (University of Alberta), John E. McDonald Jr. (The Wildlife Society), Chris Dwyer (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Shane P. Mahoney (Conservation Visions).


The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.

Job Announcement- Open Recruitment for Director of Leadership Development

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is seeing a Director of Leadership Development based out of the AFWA offices at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. The selected candidate will lead the Association’s leadership development offerings focusing on three key areas: (1) State agency multi‐level leadership products and services including online offerings and regional adaptive leadership workshops; (2) State agency focused leadership level consulting and training; (3) Conservation community‐wide engagement through the National Conservation Training Center. The selected candidate will ensure that these offerings are meeting the needs of AFWA’s members and our conservation partners and that they are successfully implemented through effective operations, management and staff leadership.

Click here to download the full Director of Leadership Development Job Announcement.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, founded in 1902, represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies. It promotes sound management and conservation and speaks with a collective voice on important fish and wildlife issues. The Association is a nonprofit, 501(c)(6) trade association. See for more information.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Ed Carter Elected 2018-2019 President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

September 21, 2018

The membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies elected Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), as its new president during its 108th Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

In accepting AFWA’s Presidency, Carter reflected on the critical importance of the Recovering America's Wildlife Act as well as all the accomplishments made by the Association over the past year under the leadership of Past-President Virgil Moore, Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

“Thank you for this opportunity and honor to serve in this capacity,” said Carter. “I am looking forward to personally working with all of the state and federal agencies, partners, and friends towards our common conservation goals. It is of great importance that we work together to conserve the fish and wildlife that are among this nation’s most valuable resources, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us.”

Other priorities on Carter’s agenda include passage of The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, engagement with federal ESA issues, and Chronic Wasting Disease. Carter also plans to continue efforts towards strengthening partnerships and increasing our efforts on hunting, shooting sports, angling and boating recruitment, retention and reactivation initiatives.

Carter will serve as AFWA President through September 2019.

“Ed Carter is a true leader in conservation with a wealth of knowledge and experience,” stated Virgil Moore, Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and 2017-2018 President of the Association of the Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Ed brings new energy and insights that will be invaluable to the Association and its members as we forge ahead through the challenges of today.”

Carter’s career began with the TWRA in 1972. He served as an education representative, hunter education coordinator, education and law enforcement training officer and a Region II assistant regional manager over the 25 counties of middle Tennessee. . He became TWRA’s Chief of the Boating Division when the division was formed in 1990. TWRA is the sole state agency charged with the responsibility for boating safety and law enforcement. Carter was named the Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in 2009.

“Ed Carter has been a true champion of wildlife and conservation for more than 46 years,” said Kurt Holbert, Vice Chair of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. “I have no doubt that he will continue to make Tennessee proud by leading the advancement of those interests on a national scale. “

Ed carter has chaired numerous AFWA committees and task forces during his tenure in Tennessee. He will also receive the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Meritorious Award, the Institute’s highest and most prestigious award, later this month.

A native of Hawkins County, Carter is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He and his wife of 44 years, Karen, have three adult children Mark, Tracie, and Christie.

The full list of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies elected 2018-2019 Officers and Executive Committee:

President: Ed Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Vice President: Glenn Normandeau, New Hampshire Fish & Game Department

Secretary/Treasurer: Gordon Myers, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Past President: Virgil Moore, Idaho Fish & Game Department

Chair: Bob Broscheid, Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife

Vice Chair: Sara Parker Pauley, Missouri Department of Conservation

Mark Reiter, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Jim Douglas, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
Kelly Hepler, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department
Carter Smith, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Cathy Sparks, Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management
Tony Wasley, Nevada Department of Wildlife

EX OFFICIO VOTING MEMBERS Canada: Travis Ripley, Alberta Environment & Parks

Midwest: Terry Steinwand, North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Northeast: Jim Connolly, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

Southeast: Chuck Sykes, Alabama Division of Wldlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Western: Curt Melcher, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

AFWA Applauds Interior’s Reaffirmation of States' Primary Role in Fish and Wildlife Management

September 19, 2018
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies applauds the memorandum issued by Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke, on September 10, which reaffirms the primary authority of state fish and wildlife agencies to manage fish and wildlife within their borders, including on DOI land.  The Memorandum states ‘The Department recognizes States as the first-line authorities for fish and wildlife management and hereby expresses its commitment to defer to the States in this regard except as otherwise required by Federal law.’
The memorandum is based on a policy, adopted in 1983, that recognized the primary state authority regarding fish and resident wildlife in the absence of specific, overriding federal law (43 C.F.R Part 24). The memorandum was announced last week by DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Aurelia Skipwith, at the annual meeting of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.  In this announcement, Skipwith stated that this memorandum is intended to clarify the relationship between the states and the DOI bureaus and offices, to strengthen the joint state-federal conservation partnership, and to enhance public opportunities to enjoy the benefits of the Nation’s fish and wildlife.
The memorandum includes three key action items:

  • Within 45 days of this Memorandum, all Bureaus and Offices complete a review of all regulations, policies, and guidance that pertains to the conservation and management of fish and wildlife species on lands and waters under their jurisdiction that are more restrictive than otherwise applicable State provisions for the management of fish and wildlife, including all such regulations, policies, and guidance that pertain to public recreational use and enjoyment of fish and wildlife species;
  • Within 90 days, each Bureau and Office referenced provide the Deputy Secretary a report containing detailed recommendations for the respective Bureau or Office to better align its regulations, policies, and guidance with State provisions.
  • After receiving the reports containing detailed recommendations, the Deputy Secretary shall appropriately consult with the State fish and wildlife agencies regarding the recommendations and deliver an implementation plan to me within 120 days of this Memorandum.
Ed Carter, President of the Association, expressed gratitude for this important statement and that “he is looking forward to working with the DOI bureaus in furthering our collaborative commitment to our nation’s great outdoor recreational heritage and conservation stewardship.”

AFWA Honors its 2018 Annual Awards Recipients

September 19, 2018
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) recognized nine individuals, two state agencies, one cooperative agency, and one private landowner for their dedication to advancing fish and wildlife conservation at the Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony held on September 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Keith Sexson received AFWA’s top honor, the Seth Gordon Award for lifetime achievement in conserving North America’s natural resources in the public trust and contributing to the programs of the Association. 
Keith Sexson has dedicated 50 years to the advancement of professional wildlife management in Kansas and beyond. First and foremost, within his career, there has been a dedication to Kansas and the heritage and traditions of natural resource management in the state. He found ways to advance wildlife conservation under varying administrations, ever-changing social and political pressures, and technological and industrial progress.  
As Mr. Sexson saw opportunities to impact larger areas and ever increasing complex issues of regional and national importance, he expanded his horizons and became a leader on the regional and national stage. He has been active within the Midwest, Western and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and continuously works to find acceptable compromises which advance natural resource conservation.
Bruce Culpepper, CEO, Shell, United States, of Houston, Texas, received AFWA’s John L. Morris Award which recognizes a lifetime commitment to fish and wildlife stewardship by citizen conservationists who have exhibited exemplary leadership at the highest level and demonstrated a steadfast commitment to large scale natural resource challenges.
An avid outdoorsman, Bruce Culpepper, grew up on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama and was a typical country kid. His keen interest in land and water conservation laid the foundation for the conservation ethic he’s brought to his professional career.   Mr. Culpepper was a founding member of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Building Conservation Trust marine habitat program, which has put millions of dollars into restoring coastal marshes and building critically important oyster reefs. He was a member of the national Blue Ribbon Panel  on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources.  He has also been a Board leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the nonprofit funding partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Through his time on the Board, the Foundation acquired the iconic 17,351-acre Powderhorn Ranch for establishment of a state park and wildlife management area, as well as secured vital funding for the Texas Game Warden Training Center.
Mr. Culpepper has created a lasting legacy in the conservation arena though his unique ability to organize and galvanize corporate and private partners for the cause of natural resource conservation.
The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study received AFWA’s Earnest Thompson Seton Award for leadership in scientific management. The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) has afforded state fish and wildlife agencies with far greater capabilities for wildlife health monitoring and investigation than could be attained singularly.
The research accomplishments of SCWDS have been recognized nationally and internationally. The parasites and diseases affecting every major game mammal and upland game bird, as well as numerous nongame species, in the Southeast have been studied by researchers at SCWDS. These studies have practical application in wildlife management, domestic livestock and poultry production and public health policy.
The achievements of SCWDS are most impressive, and they provide great value to wildlife professionals, agricultural interests and public health officials throughout the country. Dr. John Fischer, Director for SCWDS, accepted this prestigious award on behalf of SCWDS.  
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) for their ‘Protect The Lakes You Love’ Aquatic Invasive Species Public Awareness Campaign, is the recipient of this year’s Boone and Crockett Award, which honors an agency and team leader for outstanding achievement in promoting and encouraging outdoor ethics.
The ‘Protect The Lakes You Love’ Aquatic Invasive Species Public Awareness Campaign whose goal is to prevent the spread of invasive species, specifically Zebra Mussels and Giant Salvinia, to un-infested water bodies by motivating boaters to always properly clean, drain, and dry their watercrafts after they leave the lake and before traveling to another lake.
The campaign has been very well-received and has increased awareness amongst boaters of the importance of doing the right thing and always practicing “Clean, Drain and Dry” every time they leave a waterbody. In two instances boaters have also reported zebra mussels to TPWD and attributed their awareness of the invasive species to TPWD’s boater awareness campaign. TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith and Nature Tourism Manager Shelly Plante accepted the award on behalf of team leader Carly Montez.
Devin DeMario with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is the Mark Reeff Memorial Award recipient for the outstanding young wildlife management professional under age 35. Ms. DeMario has done tremendous job of establishing relationships with key individuals and becoming familiar with important (and complex) issues. Importantly, this person also acts as a catalyst for communication and relationship building amongst fishery chiefs and other agency staff, while demonstrating remarkable courage when engaging challenging issues. Devin’s leadership and dedication is a true asset to AFWA and the state’s fisheries program’s throughout the United States.
This award goes to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement, specifically the hard work of South Region Bravo, “Operation Thimblerig”, Lieutenant Jose Escabi, Lieutenant Jeremy Munkelt, Investigator Danielle Munkelt, and Officer Adam Garrison.
Numerous Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers played key roles in the two-year undercover operation dubbed "Operation Thimblerig," which exposed a large-scale fraud, theft and forgery operation responsible for a complex web of criminal activity centered around the South Florida commercial fishing industry.
This year’s recipient of AFWA’s Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award is Dr. Kent Forney and the Forney Ranch for their proactive conservation and environmental practices and exhibiting outstanding stewardship of fish and wildlife resources.

The Forney ranch was homesteaded in 1906 by Hubert Forney and eventually passed on to son Don Forney. The ranch was incorporated in the 1960s with the stockholders being Don and Oliva Forney's children: Kent (Veterinarian), Glen (Surgeon, ret.), Bruce (Doctor), Dean (Attorney) and Joann (Rancher). Today it encompasses approximately 34,000 acres. The land use today includes agriculture, ranching, wildlife and fisheries. The management effects to the overall productivity and aesthetics are impressive.  Abundant wildlife inhabits the properties including Mule deer, Whitetail deer, elk, Mountain lion, turkey, bobcat, pronghorn, pheasant, waterfowl, coyote as well as many other furbearers, game/non-game species. Sandage prairie is a Tier 1species in the Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan and the largest known population of these species in the state is on the Forney property.   
Past and current property uses have involved the public through youth turkey, deer and pheasant hunts. Limited hunting and fishing is also allowed on much of the property. The Forney family has been committed to the conservation of wildlife over many years both on their ranches and in their willingness to serve on local, state, and national conservation boards. They have worked hard to find the balance of a working ranch with the benefits to wildlife and have consistently provided advocacy of conservation minded stewardship both on their own land and sharing their passion with others.
The Association presented three special recognition awards for outstanding commitment to the work of AFWA to Dr. Stephen Torbit, the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.
Over the past several years, Dr. Torbit has strived to collaborate with state resource management partners to identify and support shared wildlife management priorities and facilitating the ability for the USFWS and the States to obtain key scientific information across the 8-state Mountain-Prairie Region, as well as the broader 11-state sagebrush ecoregion- one of the most significant ecosystems in the west. Specific examples of Dr. Torbit's conservation leadership include multiple collaborative efforts working with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to coordinate science within and across agencies, fill key data gaps, and provide decision support capability for both the Service and State agencies. His exemplary efforts and dedication to science-based cross-agency collaboration, Dr. Stephen Torbit's work is especially relevant to AFWA's mission to advance sound, science­ based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.
The Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program demonstrated outstanding commitment to the recovery of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot through the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  After each event, without hesitation, even after personally suffering the impacts from the hurricanes on their families and property, these Service employees stepped up working tirelessly under harsh conditions and with limited resources to safe guard the captive parrot population at the lguaca Aviary, restored the damaged facilities and conducted surveys to locate wild parrots.  They also provided assistance to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, struggling to repair its own aviary after the storm.
In December 2017 Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (HR4647). This legislation is a top priority of the Association and would implement the first recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife. If the Act becomes law, it would provide states with $1.3 billion in annual funding to implement State Wildlife Action Plans. Congressman Fortenberry and Congresswoman Dingell have worked diligently to secure more than 90 co-sponsors on the bill. They worked with House Natural Resources Committee leadership to hold a hearing on the bill in February 2018. The Association and many of its partners have been working on securing dedicated funding to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife for more than four decades. Passage of this legislation would fulfill that long sought goal and be a game changer for state-based fish and wildlife conservation aimed at preventing endangered species.
Introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is only the latest example of Congressman Fortenberry’s and Congresswoman Dingell’s leadership on conservation.

U.S. House Passes The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act

September 14, 2018- The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies applauds passage, in the U.S. House of Representatives, of bipartisan legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (HR 2591). Without increasing taxes or existing user fees, this bill clarifies that the Pittman-Robertson fund can be used by state fish and wildlife agencies for outreach, communication, and education of hunters and recreational target shooters, including focused efforts on the recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and recreational shooters through R3 initiatives. 
“HR 2591 will give state fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility to meet the needs of our constituents while allowing us to continue to meet our wildlife conservation objectives,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “This bill with help ensure that funding for wildlife conservation will keep pace with the demands of our citizens and our communities.”
“With a national decline in outdoor recreational activities, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I have been fighting to give states more flexibility in how they use their PR funds and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process,” said Rep. Scott. “I am very pleased the House passed my PR modernization bill, and I thank Chairman Rob Bishop for his commitment to this legislation as well as to sportsmen and women across the country. As this bill heads to be considered in the Senate, I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding model receives the critical updates it deserves.”
The Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (HR 2591) passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources by unanimous consent on May 8, 2018. The full House approved the Bill on September 12, 2018. A companion bill awaits action in the Senate.