Message from President Eric Maichak
It’s spring on the Wyoming steppe and snow gives way to bare ground. Warm rays of sunlight nourish plants and animals stirring from the doldrums of winter. On an isolated ridge on the edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a lone student, on the edge of graduation, pauses for a moment as movement catches her eye. In the midst of a 14-day self-quarantine, two golden eagles tustle with something just out of view. With nothing but the wind, rain, and virtual lessons to pass the time, the live action proves irresistible to investigate. As she approaches, the eagles take flight and several hundred elk shuffle into the distance. At the scene, a tiny elk lies dead among the sagebrush and sprouting grass. Pondering the gravity of the situation, she remembers something her granddad mentioned about an abortion disease, snaps some pictures, and makes a phone call.
Although numerous diseases and their management are well known to those who deal with them, there is always room to learn something new, even among the knowledgeable. Covid-19 has changed the way the world does business for the foreseeable future and WY-TWS is not immune to this. Despite the inability to meet and enjoy each other’s company in-person this spring; our Board, committee chairs, and dedicated members continue a virtual march forward. Thanks to Dan Thompson, Rhiannon Jakopak, and Daly Edmunds, our Science and Legislative Affairs Committees and Chapter submitted a letter of support to delist Brucella abortus as a select agent, signed a letter supporting RAWA, and along with several other organizations, signed a letter of support to Senator Liz Cheney to fund wildlife highway crossings. For those who appreciate good writing, Ashleigh Rhea and the Communications Committee are bringing back the Best Newsletter Article of the Year Award. Co-chairs, Harter and Blomquist, of the COWCH Committee are looking for ways to refine the many hours of interviews conducted with several of Wyoming’s notable wildlife professionals. And although relatively quiet lately, Ben Wise and the Nominations & Awards Committee are ready for your submissions as October/November elections will be here quickly.
Like many societies, large and small, in this pandemic we too are struggling with how to move forward safely. Our annual conference is the main event for all of us to learn and collaborate with one another, and hosting CMPS increases those opportunities. Thanks to President elect Tayler LaSharr, several other members of the WY-TWS and CMPS Boards, and all the members who took the time to complete the conference survey. These results will help us form the basic shape of our conference this year.
For the young lady, in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, it is somewhat ironic that her response to one disease helped initiate a response to another. Thoughtfully taking ownership of the situation not only helped prevent disease transmission to other elk, but just as importantly it helped strengthen relations between vested stakeholders from different backgrounds and interests. A good reminder that no matter who we are or where we are from, taking a moment to step up and make a difference helps not only ourselves, it helps us all.