Government Affairs Program Mission
Ensure that wildlife professionals, and the knowledge they provide, play an active role in the formation of wildlife management and conservation policies, laws, and regulations, thereby ensuring that these are scientifically-based and practical.
The Program seeks to achieve this goal through:
1. Providing timely, useable, science-based input to policy makers;
2. Ensuring that all members of the wildlife profession are aware of the impact of policy on their work and are knowledgeable of current issues in wildlife policy; and
3. Serving as an unbiased reviewer of wildlife management and conservation policy and strategies.
The TWS Government Affairs Program covers a broad range of policy issues related to wildlife research, management, and conservation. Communicating with Congress, the Administration, and relevant state, provincial and federal agencies, preparing position statements, and educating our members on policy issues are among the program’s highest priorities. The Program also engages in local/regional issues deemed to be of national significance as many local/regional issues can have national implications and how they are handled in one state, province or region can set a national precedent.
The issues that are addressed by the program generally come from one or more of the following categories.
Policy priorities are specific issues that are tracked by the Government Affairs staff and reported on in TWS’s various publications. They often receive more detailed consideration by TWS, including letters to legislators and executive branch staff, or other actions, when appropriate. Each year, the Council approves a list of policy priorities, based on staff’s recommendation and member input.
Wildlife Policy News
Wildlife Policy News (WPN) reports on important recent developments in conservation policy, and aims to include issues that provide an opportunity for public comment. WPN is intended to foster information exchange among Society leaders regarding policy issues and serves as a forum for engaging in local/regional issues deemed to be of national significance.
Position Statements are adopted by The Wildlife Society Council, following a period of review and comment by the membership. TWS will often engage in these issues, and when appropriate, these statements are provided to decision makers, the news media, and the public.
Technical Reviews are scientific analyses related to prominent topics and issues in wildlife science, management, conservation, and policy that are written by panels of experts and are often used in preparing TWS position statements. TWS will often use these reviews as a basis for formal positions, and when appropriate, these more technical analyses are provided to key decision makers and managers to facilitate a stronger integration of science into the decision making process.
Fact Sheets are concise summaries of the background, impacts, scale and science of specific issues related to wildlife management and conservation, which may accompany position statements the Society adopts on a particular topic. TWS members as well as non-members are encouraged to print and distribute the fact sheets in support of efforts to educate decision-makers, the public, and other stakeholders on issues that affect wildlife.
Procedures for TWS Action at the National Level
- Once an issue has been identified as appropriate for TWS action, staff prepares a brief statement of TWS’ position. No further review is necessary if TWS has a pre-existing policy that is consistent with the proposed statement. For issues without existing policy, staff works with appropriate members to prepare a suggested response or other action, which will be reviewed and approved by Council. The statement can then be distributed to the appropriate agency, legislative body, news media, etc.
- Wildlife policy issues of local or regional concern will normally be handled directly by local or regional units (chapters, sections and working groups) of TWS. When chapter policy statements are consistent with existing TWS policy, then chapters need only inform TWS national of their actions. However, when no policy exists, chapters should coordinate with Government Affairs staff. If a local/regional issue has national implications, the Government Affairs office will consider becoming involved. Under any circumstances, however, Government Affairs staff is available to assist chapters with policy-related activities.
Many emergency situations will require immediate action. In such cases, the President or their designate, usually the Director of Government Affairs, will take action after consultation with the Executive Director/CEO and Executive Committee of TWS Council. Our actions on policy related issues are varied and depend on the situation. They may include:
- Developing Fact Sheets or other communication pieces to accompany TWS position statements that provide additional information or technical expertise on a specific issue;
- Submitting comments to state, provincial or federal agencies on proposed policies or regulations, wildlife management issues, or funding allocations during a public comment period;
- Preparing comments on Environmental Impact Statements, Comprehensive Conservation Plans, etc.;
- Educating legislators through personal visits, letters, position statements and/or technical reviews on issues of importance to TWS.