In 1961, The Wildlife Society’s North Central Region had the largest regional membership in the United States not already organized into a formal “section” of TWS. To evaluate options, a Steering Committee conducted an organizational meeting in conjunction with the 23rd Midwest Wildlife Conference at Lincoln, Nebraska, 4-6 December 1961. Eight States within the region were represented – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Besides a large regional TWS membership (695), there were other reasons that justified organizing a new section:
(1) There were no formal means for instructing the Regional Representative about members’ wishes;
(2) A section might encourage formation of additional state chapters (only 5 of the region’s 8 states had chapters in 1961);
(3) Members needed more opportunity for direct participation in Society affairs;
(4) Section activities might strengthen relationships between state, federal, university, and private interests; and
(5) Future section committees might be able to improve upon promotion of members’ interests in local, state, and regional problems.
The first organizational meeting at Lincoln was not without controversy. The very active Minnesota Section (as the chapter was then known) was concerned about how its work might be affected by the reorganization. The conferees accepted, however, that aside from a name change from “section” to “chapter”, Minnesota’s fine work would otherwise continue as it had. Another group concern was the potential for the proposed section to assume organization and planning of the annual Midwest conference, a task thought best left to the host state. This fear was also dispelled through discussion. A motion was then made and seconded to proceed with organizing a section, and no further opposition was voiced. Nominated by the Steering committee for initial officers were Harvey K. Nelson for President and Frank H. King for Vice-President. These individuals were unanimously elected.
David B. Vesall agreed to serve as Secretary-Treasurer for the first year. Approval of the North Central Section organization was sought and received at The Wildlife Society’s annual meeting held 11 March 1962, prior to the North American Wildlife Conference at Denver, Colorado.
The North Central Section has been involved in a variety of action programs over the years. Perhaps most notable among the Section’s achievements has been biennial sponsorship of symposia on various wildlife management and research topics. These symposia are usually held every other year in conjunction with the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, and are sometimes cosponsored by state chapters of the Society. Proceedings are normally published and sold by the Section in years following each symposium. Symposia sponsored or cosponsored by the NCS and the years held were:
1965 – Wood Duck Symposium
1967 – Canada Goose Management: Current Continental Problems and Programs
1969 – Predator Ecology and Management
1970 – Wild Turkey Management – Current Problems and Programs
1973 – Biology and Management of Pheasant Populations in North America
1977 – Waterfowl and Wetlands – An Integrated Review
1979 – White-tailed Deer Management in the North Central State
1981 – Midwest Furbearer Management
1983 – Ruffed Grouse Management: State of the Art in the Early 1980’s
1985 – Management of Non game Wildlife in the Midwest – A Developing Art
1987 – Pheasants: Symptoms of Wildlife Problems on Agricultural Lands
1989 – Management of Dynamic Ecosystems
1991 – 2020 Vision: Meeting the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Challenges of the 21st Century
1993 – Urban Deer – A Manageable Resource?
1995 – Management of Midwestern Landscapes for the Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds
1997 – Double-crested Cormorant: Population Status and Management Issues in the Midwest
1999 – None
2001 – Public Trust in Wildlife Conservation Symposium at the Midwest
2003 – Ribbons of Life in the Heartland: Riparian Ecosystem in Transition
2005 – Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies Across the Midwest: Linking State and Federal Agency Visions for the Future
2007 – The Impacts of Lead Poisoning to Fish & Wildlife
The first activity ever sponsored by the Section was “Operation – Natural Feature Preservation”, in 1964. In 1966, the Section sought to establish a speaker register. In 1983, a new conservation affairs procedure was established to increase the effectiveness and frequency of activity on conservation issues. It was hoped this might facilitate communications on high priority items with members, chapters, and the Society. In 1984, a continuing education program was established to be held in alternating years with Section-sponsored symposia. The program was designed to provide advanced educational training for wildlife biologists. Our first topic was “Waterfowl and Wetland Management.”
Another program involves providing financial contributions to student chapters for assistance with “wildlife conclaves” held at various universities in the region. Financial assistance is also provided for other worthwhile endeavors. In 1987, encouragement and monetary support was provided for the conference “Women in Natural Resources: Moving Toward the 90’s.”
Resolutions and public statements have also constituted a part of the Section’s action programs. Among the more notable efforts were the Section’s strong resolutions to urge the Secretary of Defense to evaluate biological effects of “Project Sanguine” in 1969, and statements of support in 1982 for continued funding of the Cooperative Fisheries and Wildlife Research Units. The Section also strongly supported the Dingell-Johnson expansion bill and commented on legislation pertaining to agricultural land retirement programs, nontoxic shot, diversion of Pittman-Robertson funds, transfer of animal damage control responsibility, USFS and BLM land exchange, the Indiana bat/Meramec River project, the Lock and Dam 26 project, and recognition of Aldo Leopold.