It was a fall day in the mid-1980s, and then 15-year-old Joshua Millspaugh had just read in the news that researchers in upstate New York had immobilized a moose and fitted it with a radio collar. “I remember being fascinated by the idea that these researchers had the capacity to remotely monitor where these animals were going and what they were doing,” Millspaugh said. And in that defining moment, young Millspaugh saw his future career flash before his eyes: “I wanted to be a wildlife biologist.”
This fall, Millspaugh will join the University of Montana as the next Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation. There have only been three others at the university before him: Paul Krausman, the late Hal Salwasser and the late Jack Ward Thomas — all past presidents of The Wildlife Society and accomplished wildlife professionals. Krausman is current editor of the Journal of Wildlife Management.
“Partnering with the Boone and Crockett Club is very exciting to me because it is a wonderful opportunity to integrate research, management and policy and also to train future professionals to be effective leaders,” Millspaugh said.
The Boone and Crockett Club — one of the oldest conservation organizations in the United States — launched its partnership with the University of Montana in 1992 as a way to not only promote conservation research and integrate research with policies but also — and perhaps most importantly — to educate future professionals. The club also partners with Michigan State University, Texas A&M and Oregon State University.
Applying Research to Practice
Millspaugh has spent the last 17 years of his career at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He is currently a professor of wildlife conservation and interim director of the university’s school of natural resources.
A longtime TWS member, Millspaugh has also received many TWS accolades including the TWS Fellows Award, the E. Sydney Stephens Professional Lifetime Achievement Award and, most recently, the North Central Section of The Wildlife Society Professional Award of Merit — presented for outstanding professional accomplishments in wildlife conservation.
Anyone who has ever taken a class taught by Millspaugh has a story on how he shaped their careers, says TWS member Jon McRoberts, a former student and current colleague of Millspaugh’s who will accompany him to the University of Montana. “He’s a busy man, but you never feel like he is because he always makes time for mentoring students,” McRoberts said. “I felt that way as an undergrad; and now, 10 to 15 years later when we’re working together, he still personifies that quality.” As a postdoctoral fellow at the University, McRoberts collaborates with Millspaugh on white-tailed deer research, which he will continue at Montana.
While Millspaugh’s research over the years has primarily focused on elk and other large mammals including bison, he has also tackled other issues such as the impact of ecotourism on Africa’s elephants as well as the effects of forest management on amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. A common theme in his work, Millspaugh says, is the integration of research with management — a theme that he expects to apply in his new position. “We want to promote the best available science, while producing the highest quality research to help inform decisions on the ground and in the policy arena,” Millspaugh said. “And my plan is for students to be trained within that broader framework.”
It’s an expectation that TWS member Chad Bishop, director of the University of Montana’s wildlife biology program, shares. “Josh has a tremendous track record of accomplishing applied wildlife research in close coordination with partners, most notably state wildlife agencies, to advance the management and conservation of North America’s wildlife,” Bishop said. “With Josh’s arrival, I look forward to a variety of new opportunities for [the University of Montana] to connect and engage with students, professionals and policy-makers across the country.”
|Divya Abhat is managing editor of The Wildlife Professional and an editor of wildlife.org.|