Effective engagement in the wildlife policy arena in an official capacity for your Chapter or Section of TWS requires that you pursue issues for which you have a perspective backed by sound wildlife science. We advocate for the use of science in policy making – you need to be sure to ground your policy statements in scientific facts.
Involvement of your Conservation Affairs Committee will depend on the specific charge and goals established by your Chapter or Section’s Executive Board. Generally speaking, issues that 1) involve the ability of wildlife professionals to conduct their work, 2) impact wildlife populations, 3) impact wildlife habitats, or 4) impact how wildlife or their habitats are managed by an agency may warrant your committee’s involvement.
Ask yourself these questions; if the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes”, then you might consider engaging your committee on the topic.
Does the policy…
- relate to one or more of our identified policy priorities?
- impact wildlife professionals in our region?
- impact the capacity of wildlife professionals to perform their work?
- impact wildlife populations in our region?
- impact wildlife habitat in our region?
- impact how society views and values wildlife resources?
Remember that it is important to not only voice your opposition to those policies that negatively impact wildlife professionals or wildlife conservation, but to also voice your adamant support for those policies which advance wildlife professionals and wildlife conservation.
Establishment of Priorities
Policy priorities are specific topics that are tracked by a CAC. The identification of policy priorities helps maximize the effectiveness of the CAC by providing focus for policy activities.
Priorities for the Section or Chapter can be identified in several ways. Consider surveying your membership for issues they feel are of current and future importance or discussing policy topics with members of your Executive Board. The Wildlife Society has established policy priorities (e.g. Wildlife Health, Invasive Species, etc.) that help dictate our activities – consider stepping down these priorities to your regional focus. For example, TWS’s priority of “Energy & Wildlife” can be tailored to energy development occurring in your specific region – “Solar Energy & Wildlife”, “Wind Energy & Wildlife”, or “Oil and Gas Development”.
Identified priorities need to be broad enough to allow for action, yet specific enough to provide focus and direction for your CAC.
Establishing Objectives for Priorities
Once your policy priorities are established, it may be helpful for determining some objectives for those priorities to direct your actions and give you a goal to work forward. This can enable your CAC to be more proactive, and work toward certain policies, rather than reactive and constantly responding to policies already in action.
Start by asking yourself what your vision is for this policy area. What is the desired outcome? Once you have this goal for how you would like things to be, you can start to develop ideas on how to get it accomplished.For example, if the policy priority is “Invasive Species”, you might establish a vision that says something like,
“We desire policies that prevent the spread of invasive species and enable natural resource professionals in their efforts to eradicate these harmful species.”
Once you determine and agree upon what you want, it is easier to determine how to get there. Objectives for this goal could be:
- Introduce and support legislation that regulates or restricts the spread of invasive species
- Encourage and support actions by agencies to control and remove invasive species
- Meet with legislators to make them aware of the issue and encourage their action on invasive species
The more specific you can make the objectives, the better.
The establishment of objectives may be supported by the formation of policy position statements that are developed by your committee (see Section 4.1).