Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of the 18 member Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. Appointments last for three years and consist of a mix of new and returning council members. One returning council member is Dr. Winifred Kessler, past president of The Wildlife Society.
Dr. Kessler earned her PhD from Texas A&M, held faculty positions at three universities in the U.S. and Canada, and spent 20 years with the U.S. Forest Service before serving as president of TWS from 2012-2013. She has represented TWS on the Council for the past three years. Before her fulltime membership on the Council, Dr. Kessler served as an alternative member.
The Council’s primary goal is to provide recommendations to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to promote and preserve America’s wildlife and hunting heritage for future generations. Established in 2010, the Council has advised the departments on a variety of issues including management of the greater sage-grouse, improving recreational access on federal lands, and increasing enrollment into conservation programs.
Council members represent a wide variety of conservation organizations such as the Boone and Crockett Club, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation along with state agencies and universities. In addition to the 18 appointees, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies all appoint organizational members to the Council. This diverse group of conservation experts equips the Council to provide expert advice on projects that benefit wildlife resources and recreational hunting as well as to encourage partnership among the public, conservation organizations, states, Native American tribes, and the federal government.
The Council convened for a meeting on September 1-2. Topics discussed ranged from chronic wasting disease to the impact of mining activities on sportsmen. Significant attention was given to determining the Council’s priorities for the next 16 months with focus gravitating towards funding programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund and increasing recruitment of hunters and fishers. The Council agreed to send letters to the Secretaries regarding wolf and grizzly bear listing actions, creating a national recreational shooting policy, wild horse and burro management, and impacts of mining on federal lands. They also agreed to send a letter thanking Secretary Jewell for expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on refuges.
The Council will meet again in January. Meeting details and a list of their recommended actions are available through the council website.
Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Welder Wildlife Foundation
|Zachary Sheldon is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.