Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

89th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference

By Tony Wasley
B&C Professional Member, Wildlife Management Institute President 

The Wildlife Management Institute hosted the 89th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Grand Rapids, MI on March 25-29, 2024. A record of approximately 1,400 conference attendees, which included leadership of federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and academia met to discuss the current and emerging issues facing fish and wildlife conservation. Several international organizations were also represented by their leadership including the CIC (International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation), Jamma International, and FACE (European Federation for Hunting and Conservation).

On Wednesday, March 27th, Scott Bowen, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, welcomed conference attendees to the great state of Michigan. WMI President, Tony Wasley, provided opening remarks and then turned the podium over to 3 distinguished speakers. Mark Madison, the national historian for the US Fish and Wildlife Service since 1999, shared a brief history of conservation highlighting key achievements, important figures, and critical moments in our conservation history. Leeann Sullivan, social scientist, then explored the uniqueness of the sociocultural climate which currently exists and how it relates to our current wildlife governance. Francine Madden, principal and founder of Constructive Conflict and Executive Director of the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding (CPeace), then shared process insights for consideration of meaningful and durable outcomes for conservation. The title of the plenary was Old Wine in New Bottles, and it explored the value of “stealing like an artist” from our conservation predecessors and repacking those past successes in ways that can ultimately lead to a broader and more successful conservation vision for the future as we tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and cultural conflicts.

  • Special sessions, workshops, and related meetings included:
  • Improving Conservation Outcomes through Collaboration, Technology, and Endangered
  • Species Act Policy Innovations
  • Getting Conservation Relevancy Work on a Firm Foundation
  • Conservation Strategies Informed by Wildlife Values (social science)
  • Conservation’s Reflection Deficit Disorder; the Value of Looking Back to Plan Ahead
  • The Wildlife Society Council Meeting
  • American Wildlife Conservation Partners Meeting
  • Regional and National Flyway Council Meetings
  • Boone and Crocket Club’s Spring Meeting

In addition to the Special Sessions and Workshops, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association conducted more than 100 committee meetings, along with numerous related meetings. As in the past, the Boone and Crockett Club conducted their spring business meeting in conjunction with the North American Conference. During Wednesday’s Conservation Administrator’s Luncheon, WMI President Tony Wasley presented Ken Elowe with the George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resources Conservation.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by WMI. WMI thanks all of the Conference co-sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees for their support of this conference. We invite you all to participate in the 90th North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Louisville, KY. As always, WMI would like to thank the Boone and Crockett Club, its regular and professional members, for making this Conference a great success.

During their recent spring meeting, the Boone and Crockett Club presented Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, with its Conservation and Stewardship Award. The Club’s most prestigious award for conservation partners, the Conservation and Stewardship Award is given annually to the organization or individual that best exemplifies excellence in natural resource conservation and stewardship—core values of the Boone and Crockett Club and its founder, Theodore Roosevelt. Bonnie accepted the award after presenting keynote remarks during the Club’s annual spring dinner on March 27 at the 89th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt