During the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA) winter meeting in early January, Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO Joel Pedersen joined colleagues from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Wild Sheep Foundation to help state wildlife commissioners understand critical conservation issues. The panel focused on the key challenges facing the groups’ respective species populations, challenges facing management of the species, and the opportunities to improve conservation of these species.
Appointed by governors, wildlife commissioners play a critical role in the wildlife management process by approving regulations and setting management direction for the agencies. While some commissioners have a deep background in fish and wildlife conservation, increasingly commissioners bring a broader perspective and do not have a wildlife science background. Commissioners need to consider the biology, economics, sociology, and public opinion on a variety of issues faced by state fish and wildlife agencies. Fully understanding the complexity of these issues is critical for commissioners to fulfill their obligation in directing fish and wildlife management and recreational use.
The WAFWA Commissioners Meeting was intended to help provide attendees with training sessions so that commissioners have the information they need to make good decisions; 25 commissioners were registered for the meeting. The panel Pedersen participated in allowed commissioners to hear from big game species groups to add to the information they receive from their agency’s biologists and other agency staff. As a host to the annual meeting of the WAFWA Mule Deer Working Group during the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo, MDF provides an important perspective as a non-profit organization supporting the work being led by the state and federal agencies.
“State wildlife commissioners are a critical piece in the wildlife management puzzle, and it is essential that they understand the challenges and opportunities involved with mule deer conservation,” Pedersen commented. “We work closely with WAFWA through the Mule Deer Working Group and regularly engage with the agency directors. Interacting directly with wildlife commissioners through this training session builds on engagement with WAFWA and allows MDF to be a resource to these important decision makers as they consider regulations that will impact the future of mule deer in their state.”
MDF is hosting the first ever Mule Deer Summit during this year’s Western Hunting & Conservation Expo on Friday February 11th. The public is invited to attend the morning sessions of the Summit where guest speakers will provide additional insights into the issues that were shared with the commissioners.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.