Group to host climate listening session at TWS Annual Conference

By David Frey

The loss of sea ice off the coast of Alaska is one of the most noticeable effects of climate change. Credit: USFWS

Working in Alaska for more than 25 years, Grant Hilderbrand has become intimately aware of the effects of climate change on natural resources.

“We’re looking at climate change every single day, and we feel it in the resources that we manage,” said Hilderbrand, the Northwest Section representative to TWS Council. “We feel it in the people who use the lands we manage, both subsistence hunters and sport hunters. It’s having economic impacts for Alaska. When I talk to peers from other places, they’re seeing the same things, whether it’s wildfires in the West or drought.”

Hilderbrand and other TWS members concerned about climate change have formed the Climate Change and Sustainability Committee to consider what the Society can do to address the issue. The group is hosting a listening session at the upcoming virtual TWS Annual Conference to share their ideas and hear the members’ thoughts on the topic.

“It’s just so apparent that every person who comes and shares their perspectives is so much value added,” Hilderbrand said.

The informal group began meeting monthly since the spring of 2021, after TWS member Gregg Servheen published an open letter in The Wildlife Professional calling on TWS to do more to advance climate action and sustainability.

“Climate change is something that a lot of us have talked about. For a lot of us, it’s part of our day jobs,” Hilderbrand said, but figuring out how to make a difference as an individual—or as an organization—and meshing with other organizations’ work isn’t easy.

TWS’ Global Climate Change and Wildlife position statement is due for review next year. Members are hoping Council will task them to work with the Position Statements Committee to help draft a new statement.

“Climate change and other human impacts on the environment limit our ability to sustain wildlife and their ecosystems that we all depend on,” the committee says in its description of the event. “This is a fundamental challenge to the mission and vision of The Wildlife Society, the wildlife profession, and the well-being of human society.”

The committee is hosting the listening session at the conference to recruit new members as well as to gather new ideas, particularly from more diverse voices.

“I know we’re not capturing every idea and voice and perspective that are out there,” he said.

For more information about the TWS Annual Conference click here.

David Frey is managing editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact him at dfrey@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about his article. Read more of David's articles here.

You can follow him on Twitter at @davidmfrey.


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