Founded in 1937, The Wildlife Society
(TWS) is an international non-profit scientific and educational association dedicated to excellence in wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources. The concept of stewardship has been applied in diverse realms, including with respect to environment, economics, health, property, information, and religion, and is linked to the concept of sustainability...
through science and education. The Wildlife Society works to improve wildlife conservation
Wildlife conservation is the preservation, protection, or restoration of wildlife and their environment, especially in relation to endangered and vulnerable species. All living non-domesticated animals, even if bred, hatched or born in captivity, are considered wild animals. Wildlife represents all...
in North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...
by advancing the science of wildlife management, promoting continuing education of wildlife professionals, and advocating for sound, science-based wildlife policy
A policy is typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome. The term is not normally used to denote what is actually done, this is normally referred to as either procedure or protocol...
. The organization also encourages professional growth through certification, peer-reviewed publications, conferences, and working groups.
Society members are dedicated to sustainable management of wildlife resources and their habitats. Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...
is the primary scientific discipline of the wildlife profession; therefore, the interests of the Society embrace the interactions of all organisms with their natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....
s. The Society supports the belief that wildlife, in its myriad forms, is basic to the maintenance of a human culture that provides quality living.
Mission and Objectives
The mission of The Wildlife Society is to enhance the ability of wildlife professionals to conserve biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...
, sustain productivity, and ensure responsible use of wildlife resources for the benefit of society. The mission is implemented through five goals:
- Develop and maintain professional standards for wildlife research and management.
- Enhance knowledge and technical capabilities of wildlife managers.
- Advance professional stewardship of wildlife resources and their habitats.
- Advocate the use of sound biological information for wildlife policy decisions.
- Increase public awareness and appreciation of the wildlife profession.
The principal objectives of the Society, as they appear in the current Bylaws, are to:
- Develop and promote sound stewardship of wildlife resources and of the environments upon which wildlife and humans depend;
- Undertake an active role in preventing human-induced environmental degradation;
- Increase awareness and appreciation of wildlife values; and
- Seek the highest standards in all activities of the wildlife profession.
Society purposes, objectives, and activities are guided by a strategic plan and implemented by:
- Disseminating current information through publications and other activities;
- Sponsoring or co-sponsoring wildlife and related natural resource conferences;
- Providing scientifically-based information and recommendations to legislative leaders;
- Cooperating with other wildlife organizations and agencies to achieve mutual goals;
- Providing opportunities for wildlife biologists to enhance their professional credentials through a Certification Program, and Professional Development Program; and
- Increasing public awareness and appreciation of wildlife conservation and management.
The Wildlife Society was founded during the 1930s, a time of growing interest in the restoration of wildlife populations and the emergence of the new profession of game management. Influential leaders in the fledgling conservation movement – among them Aldo Leopold
Aldo Leopold was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac , which has sold over two million copies...
and J.N. (Ding) Darling
Jay Norwood Darling , better known as Ding Darling, was a Pulitzer-Prize winning American cartoonist....
– triggered by mounting concern over the decimation of wildlife caused by severe drought, widespread poaching
Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.It may be illegal and in...
, and deteriorating habitats, saw the need to gather and disseminate scientific knowledge.
The Wildlife Society, initially known as The Society of Wildlife Specialists, was launched at the North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, D.C., in 1936. A year later, in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...
, the Specialists became The Wildlife Society. A constitution and bylaws were adopted in 1937, and the Society was incorporated on March 25, 1948. A 50-year history of the Society (1937-1987) can be found in the Wildlife Society Bulletin
Over time, The Wildlife Society has broadened its programs beyond its original focus on scientific publications to include:
- Certification of wildlife biologists;
- Continuing education of wildlife professionals at an annual conference;
- Training opportunities through a network of over 50 chapters, 90 student chapters, and a dozen working groups;
- An awards program recognizing outstanding contributions to the profession of wildlife management;
- A leadership institute to train aspiring leaders in the wildlife field;
- A renewed and strengthened attention on advocating for science-based wildlife policy.
Just as the profession has evolved from a focus on game management to encompass all wildlife species and ecosystems, so too has the Society’s outlook broadened into these areas. Through it all, The Wildlife Society has remained dedicated to excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education.
The Society’s broad interests are depicted in its unique emblem, featuring Egyptian hieroglyphics. The figures, from top to bottom, represent mammals, birds, fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...
, and flowering plants. While The Wildlife Society generally doesn’t address fish conservation, which is recognized as a distinct science, the Society is actively involved in the conservation of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and ecosystems.
The Wildlife Society is governed by an elected Council of four officers (President, President-Elect, Vice President, and Past President) and representatives from each of the Society’s eight North American sections (Northeast, Southeastern, North Central, Central Mountains and Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Western, and Canada). A professional staff directs and implements TWS programs from the headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda is a census designated place in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House , which in turn took its name from Jerusalem's Pool of Bethesda...
Many of the Society's programs rely significantly upon the dedication and expertise of members. Members serve on committees that prepare technical analyses of current conservation issues, recommend changes to Society programs, and select recipients for TWS awards. The Society's members also volunteer their time as scientific editors of Society publications and as hosts for the Annual Conference.
Members have an opportunity for greater involvement in TWS activities through a network of more than 50 chapters, 90 student chapters, and 19 working groups. Chapters and student chapters are organized by geographical boundaries (generally a state, province, college, or university), whereas working groups are organized by subject area (such as biological diversity, wildlife damage management, and wildlife toxicology
Toxicology is a branch of biology, chemistry, and medicine concerned with the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms...
). Five wildlife conclaves (Western, Central, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Southwestern) are informal assemblages of TWS student chapters that meet annually to expand students’ horizons and promote camaraderie. Conclave activities include seminars, field trips, a quiz bowl, and other events.
The Society’s members are highly trained and dedicated professionals from a diverse range of wildlife disciplines and expertise. They are active in the pressing wildlife issues of today including: sustainable use of wildlife and ecosystems, management of public lands, conservation on private lands, recovery of endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...
, restoration of degraded habitats, and management of abundant wildlife.
TWS members recognize that humans, like all plants and animals, depend upon their environments for survival and well-being, and that wildlife, in its many forms, contributes to the quality of human life, both indirectly as an integral component of healthy environments and directly through traditional and modern roles in human cultures and economies. Their choice of a career in wildlife conservation is often motivated by an understanding of these ecological principles, a love of the outdoors, and a deeply rooted sense of the intrinsic value of wild creatures.
For the qualified wildlife professional, The Wildlife Society offers a peer-review Certification Program
. Certification constitutes official recognition that a wildlife biologist meets the Society’s rigorous standards for education, experience, and ethics. The primary objective of the program is to provide private clients, employers, and the public with access to qualified professionals and reliable advice in matters concerning wildlife resources.
Certification by The Wildlife Society is based on a person’s education and experience. Three categories are offered:
- Certified Wildlife Biologist – The requirements for this certificate include:
- Completion of rigorous academic requirements at a college/university.
- Experience as a wildlife biologist for five years.
- Agreement to comply with The Wildlife Society’s Code of Ethics for Wildlife Professionals.
The applicant’s coursework and experience are thoroughly examined by the Society’s Certification Review Board, a group of long-standing and highly-qualified members who represent a broad range of wildlife backgrounds. Once certified, the applicant must continue enhancing his or her knowledge of the most current wildlife management principles and techniques in order to recertify in five years.
- Associate Wildlife Biologist – The requirements for this certificate include:
- Completion of rigorous academic requirements at a college/university.
- Agreement to comply with The Wildlife Society’s Code of Ethics for wildlife professionals.
The applicant’s coursework is thoroughly examined by the Society’s Certification Review Board. Once certified, the applicant has 10 years to complete five years of professional work experience as a wildlife biologist. At that point, the applicant may apply for certification as a Certified Wildlife Biologist.
- Professional Development – The requirement for this certificate includes:
- Commitment to life-long learning and enhanced professionalism.
- Agreement to comply with The Wildlife Society’s Code of Ethics for wildlife professionals.
Credit towards this certificate is earned by participation in activities such as attending symposia, short courses, distance learning courses, workshops, training sessions, technical sessions at professional meetings, and regular college courses provided by public or private institutions.
Through the years, one of the Society’s greatest strengths has been the high quality and scientific rigor of its many publications
. Flagship publications include:
- Journal of Wildlife Management
The Journal of Wildlife Management is a peer-reviewed scientific journal devoted to the ecology of non-domesticated animal species. It is published by The Wildlife Society....
– the definitive source of wildlife science
- The Wildlife Professional – a quarterly magazine that provides coverage and analysis of current issues important to wildlife professionals
- Wildlife Society Bulletin – a quarterly, magazine-style journal covering all aspects of wildlife science and management (discontinued in 2007, with content incorporated into the Journal of Wildlife Management)
- Wildlife Monographs – extensive, single-subject papers on topics of wildlife science or management
- The Wildlifer – a membership newsletter reviewing recent TWS activities
- Wildlife Policy News - an online newsletter covering pertinent wildlife policy issues
- Technical Reviews – in-depth analyses of current issues in wildlife conservation
- The Leadership Workbook: Building Leadership Skills in the Natural Resource Professions and Beyond - an instructional volume aimed at natural resource professionals
- Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management in North America – a first-of-its-kind textbook on public participation in wildlife management
- Techniques for Wildlife Investigations and Management – a comprehensive textbook on wildlife management techniques
Through applying sound science to proposed wildlife conservation legislation and regulations, The Wildlife Society takes a leadership role in key federal wildlife policy issues in the United States. With its exceptional access to the expertise of thousands of professionals, TWS is uniquely qualified to develop comprehensive technical analyses of current wildlife management issues. Recent analyses have covered such timely topics as management and conservation of forests and wetlands, restoration of wolves, wildlife conservation options in agricultural policy, wildlife management in wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...
, wildlife fertility control, impacts of wind energy
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air in motion; see also wind power.Total wind energy flowing through an imaginary area A during the time t is:E = ½ m v2 = ½ v 2...
on wildlife, the public trust doctrine
The public trust doctrine is the principle that certain resources are preserved for public use, and that the government is required to maintain them for the public's reasonable use.-Origins:...
, and confinement of wild ungulates.
The TWS Government Affairs
department publishes quarterly, online issues of Wildlife Policy News
. Each issue features a series of articles intended to foster information exchange among Society leaders and wildlife professionals regarding policy issues.
Primary policy priorities for The Wildlife Society include:
- Federal budgets
The Budget of the United States Government is the President's proposal to the U.S. Congress which recommends funding levels for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1. Congressional decisions are governed by rules and legislation regarding the federal budget process...
for wildlife and habitat conservation
Habitat conservation is a land management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore, habitat areas for wild plants and animals, especially conservation reliant species, and prevent their extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range...
, management, research, and education.
- Development of renewable energy sources on federal lands
Federal lands are lands in the United States for which ownership is claimed by the U.S. federal government.-Primary federal land holders:*Bureau of Land Management*United States Forest Service*United States Fish and Wildlife Service*National Park Service...
- Farm Bill
In the United States, the farm bill is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government. The comprehensive omnibus bill is passed every 5 years or so by the United States Congress and deals with both agriculture and all other affairs under the purview of the United States...
- State wildlife agency nongame funding (Teaming with Wildlife)
- Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of the dozens of United States environmental laws passed in the 1970s. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973, it was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and...
- Global climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...
- Federal employee participation in professional societies
- Science policy for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is a federal government agency within the United States Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats...
and the United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...
Biological Resources Discipline
- Wetlands conservation
- Wildlife baiting and feeding
- Wildlife disease
Wildlife, domestic animals and humans share a large and increasing number of infectious diseases, known as zoonoses. The continued globalization of society, human population growth, and associated landscape changes further enhances the interface between wildlife, domestic animals, and humans,...
- Federal land management agency planning and land-use regulations
- The North American Model and Public Trust Doctrine
The TWS Leadership Institute was established in 2006 to provide a select group of TWS members with leadership training that will help them move into leadership positions, both in their workplace and in the Society. With 77 percent of the leaders in the wildlife profession projected to retire in the next decade, TWS has a responsibility to prepare our members to meet this pressing need.
Participation in the Institute is geared toward young professionals, those individuals who are 2 to 3 years out of school and currently working full or part time in a professional position in wildlife management or conservation. A small number of slots are available for recent graduates who have shown strong evidence of their leadership potential. All applicants must be members of The Wildlife Society and a Chapter or Section of The Wildlife Society.
The selection committee seeks to select a diversity of participants, representing gender, ethnic, and regional diversity. Selection is based upon:
- An excellent academic record.
- Demonstrated leadership capability or potential.
- Demonstrated level of excellence in current position.
- Preference is to individuals that are currently employed by a state or federal agency, research organization, or relevant non-governmental organization and who are working on some aspect of wildlife management or conservation.
From May through September, the ten members participate in a variety of distance learning and hands-on projects, which include reading and interpreting leadership materials, presenting to peer groups, working collaboratively with each other, leading discussions, and developing summary documents regarding professional leadership. The experience culminates at the TWS Annual Conference, with intensive mentoring activities and leadership workshops.
Although The Wildlife Society’s membership is international, most of its members reside in the United States and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
. To keep abreast of international issues and welcome international participation in its programs, the Society engages in several international forums, most notably, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ICUN), the International Union of Game Birds (IUGB), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Society also takes the lead in organizing an international wildlife management congress approximately every five years in a different region of the world. The first three congresses were held in Costa Rica (1993), Hungary (1999), and New Zealand (2003).
The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference
is a forum for networking and continuing education available to students and wildlife professionals. It is attended by as many as 2,000 biologists from around the world, making it an excellent setting for developing professional contacts, investigating employment opportunities, and initiating and renewing friendships with fellow wildlifers.
Over five days, sessions on a wide range of research and management topics are presented. One of the highlights is the plenary session, where prominent and award-winning scientists address current environmental topics. The conference is further augmented by workshops that provide a hands-on opportunity to learn new methods and technology. Conference attendees also benefit from the opportunity to stay on top of and help influence national and international wildlife issues. And for many, the chance to present their own work to a large audience of their peers at the conference is especially rewarding.
The Wildlife Society recognizes outstanding achievements and distinguished service in the wildlife field by conferring the following annual awards:
- Aldo Leopold Memorial Award – Honors distinguished service to wildlife conservation and is the highest honor bestowed by the Society
- Chapter of the Year and Student Chapter of the Year - Awarded to encourage and recognize exceptional achievements
- Student Chapter Advisor of the Year - Recognizes exceptional mentorship of a TWS student chapter
- Conservation Education Award - Honors outstanding accomplishments in the dissemination of conservation knowledge to the public in the categories of writings, media, programs, and audio-visual works
- Ethnic and Gender Diversity Award - Honors innovative programs and individuals that promote diversity in employment, academic enrollment, and membership
- Group Achievement Award - Recognizes an organization’s outstanding wildlife achievement that is consistent with and/or assists in advancing TWS objectives
- Honorary Membership - Recognizes continuous outstanding service to any area of concern to TWS
- Jim McDonough Award – Recognizes a Certified Wildlife Biologist significantly contributing to the profession as an active TWS member
- Donald H. Rusch Memorial Game Bird Research Scholarship - Assists a graduate student studying upland game bird or waterfowl biology and management
- Special Recognition Service Award - Honors a member who has made an outstanding contribution to the wildlife profession
- TWS Fellow - Recognizes members who have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to the wildlife profession
- Wildlife Publication Awards - Recognizes excellence in scientific writing (Article, Monograph, Book, and Editorship)