issues of the wildlife professional

TWS Conservation Affairs Network tackles policy issues

The Wildlife Society’s Conservation Affairs Network (CAN) met during The Wildlife Society’s annual conference in Spokane, Washington to discuss organization unit engagement in policy issues, spanning from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to the management of feral and free-roaming cats.

Comprised of representatives from TWS chapters and sections, and utilizing the expertise of TWS working groups, the CAN is a collaborative way for members to engage in wildlife policy issues from the local to federal scale.

Conservation Affairs Network Fellow Kelly O’Connor led the discussion during the 29th annual conference, informing the section and chapter representatives of the role TWS plays in policy and how to use the society’s available resources for effective, positive outcomes.

“The Conservation Affairs Network is integral to local and regional engagement in policy issues,” O’Connor said. “It provides an effective way of bringing TWS staff and membership together to ensure that wildlife professionals have opportunities to voice their expertise during the policy development process.”

TWS organization units were hard at work this year taking part in a variety of initiatives that heavily centered around rallying support for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773; S. 2372). The Central Mountains & Plains, Western, and North Central Sections provided updates on their congressional outreach, while the Southwest Section highlighted efforts to involve students in promoting the bill. Other units focused on more local issues, such as feral cat education, mountain lion management and developing comments on Endangered Species Act listings. Some units focused on developing resources and providing training to unit members in policy engagement.

Following engagement updates, sections participated in a cooperative activity outlining the process for developing policy priorities. Every two years, TWS headquarters requests input from units and working groups to identify federal policy priorities which inform where TWS Council and staff resources are best spent. Participants started by brainstorming current issues affecting wildlife and wildlife professionals and then refined the list to develop a specific, actionable policy priority.

Conservation Affairs Committee Chairs and TWS unit leaders are encouraged to work together to give input on TWS’ policy priorities for 2023-2024. Written feedback should be provided by emailing by Nov. 28, 2022.