Montana Chapter Annual Conference
“Cultivating Respect for Nature Without Destroying What We Seek”
February 6-9th, 2024
The best way to cultivate respect for and conservation of nature is for humans to be exposed to it, spending time in the outdoors. As wildlife professionals we highly value the ethos of conservation and educating people about the importance of the natural world. The ever-increasing population in Montana, especially since Covid-19, has resulted in more people on the landscape, including more hunters, shed hunters, anglers, recreationists, national park visitors, and motorized vehicles. With all of this comes travel management issues, noxious weeds, human waste along trails and at campsites, littering, and conflicts among recreationists as well as between humans and wildlife. Areas that received little human use are now being shared worldwide on social media and other platforms, making these places easier to find access to. Hunting shows and videos draw attention to certain areas and create interest in hunting the showcased species.
While we want people to respect nature and have a connection to it, the more people there are on the ground, the higher the potential for wildlife to be displaced and habitat degraded. It is a double-edged sword that we’re all a part of and a topic that provokes strong and opposing perspectives. Some believe that more people should be in the outdoors, brought to primitive, largely unknown places, as a way to engage people in activities, politics, and education that will lead to more conservation. On the other hand, some believe that bringing groups to areas and sharing locations and site information spreads like wildfire, quickly inundating areas with the issues listed above and more, to the detriment of wildlife and habitat.
How do we as wildlife professionals manage this intersection of nature and human responsibility? It is my intent with this conference theme to bring together plenary speakers with different perspectives, policies, and objectives. It is a passionate topic, and the conversation is not meant to be controversial, but openly and respectfully discussed.
Reserve Your Hotel Room Now!
Copper King Convention Center
Reserve your room now to get the state rate ($107/night).
CLICK HERE! to book directly on the website. OR call at (406) 533-6960 and mention the group name “Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society” to get the discount.
You can still register, but you’ll need to do it in-person at the registration desk!
Hope to see you soon!
Deadline has passed
Photo courtesy of Rick Yates
Douglas H. Chadwick is a wildlife biologist who carried out research on mountain goat ecology and social behavior atop the Rockies for years and has assisted other scientists studying harlequin ducks, wolverines, grizzly bears, and whales. He is also a natural history journalist who has produced 15 popular books and hundreds of magazine stories. Many of his articles have been for the National Geographic Society on subjects from snow leopards high in the Himalayas to lowland rainforests and the underwater kingdoms of coral. A founding Board member of the Vital Ground Foundation, a conservation land trust (www.vitalground.org), Chadwick serves as well on the Board of the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, which supports wildlife research and community-based conservation programs throughout the world (www.LCAOF.org.)
U.S. Forest Service Director of Recreation, Minerals, Lands, Heritage, and Wilderness Programs
Joe graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry and an emphasis in Range Management, in 1993. He started his career as a range management specialist on the Bitterroot NF and then on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. Joe then transferred to the Humbolt-Toiyabe NF and worked as an Operations Team Leader.
In 2006, Joe began working as a District Ranger on the Deer River RD of the Chippewa National Forest, in Northern Minnesota. The new challenges in the Eastern Region suited him well and the Deer River Ranger District is leading the way in multiple-use management on the Chippewa. Joe then moved to Cody, WY where he was the Forest Supervisor for the Shoshone National Forest. He was Forest Supervisor there for seven years where he completed Forest Plan Revision and travel management. Joe was also very involved in the issues surround the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including grizzly bear de-listing, elk and mule deer migrations, and tourism. Joe moved back to Missoula seven years ago and is now the Director of Recreation, Minerals, Lands, Heritage, and Wilderness Programs. He is excited for the opportunity to work with communities and local governments on outdoor recreation and healthy communities.
While Joe always enjoys work in the Forest Service, his true passion in life is his wife and kids and all of the pursuits the great outdoors has to offer. Joe is also an enthusiastic outdoorsman and any day he can spend in the boat or in the field with his family and friends he feels is truly a special day!
Grizzly Creek Ranch and co-founder of the Tom Miner Basin Association
Malou was raised and resides on her long-time family ranch in Tom Miner Basin, Montana, centered within the headwaters of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where the family has raised and managed livestock for nearly 70 years. The Anderson Family ranching values include adapting to and supporting natural systems, not dominating or imposing on them. Tom Miner Basin holds a thriving ranching community, as well as an abundance of all other wildlife from the Yellowstone region, including large carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves. With this abundance comes challenges in terms of coexistence, land health, community togetherness, and ranching in wild places, alongside elk and predators. To address these challenges as a community, Malou and her sister-in-law co-founded the Tom Miner Basin Association, which uses tools and techniques to reduce livestock loss and conflict as well as cultivating shared learning opportunities for community members. Malou and her husband Dre also manage Grizzly Creek Ranch and are raising their two daughters in the basin.
BLM Montana/Dakotas Travel and Transportation Management Program Lead and Chair of BLM’s National Travel and Transportation Management Team
Brad Colin is BLM’s Travel and Transportation Management Program Lead for Montana and the Dakotas and currently serves as the Chair for BLM’s National Travel and Transportation Management Team. He also serves as BLM’s National Motorized Recreation Subject Matter Expert. Brad’s previous BLM work experience includes 14 years as an Outdoor Recreation Planner in Butte, MT, as well as many years in Alaska, Utah, and California. He also worked seasonally for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado and Wyoming. Brad has an Associate’s degree in Forestry and a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Resources Management and a Minor in Wilderness Studies from the University of Montana – Go GRIZ!
Bear Management Biologist and Program Leader for the Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Office
Kerry A. Gunther received his B.S. degree in Biology and Earth Science from Northland College and his M.S. degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Montana State University. He began his career with the U.S. Forest Service working with black bears on the Superior National Forest in Minnesota and has also worked with Weddell seals in Antarctica. He is currently the Bear Management Biologist and program leader for the Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Office and a member of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Species Survival Commissions (SSC), North American Bears Expert Team (NABET). He has worked in grizzly bear and black bear research, monitoring, and conflict management in Yellowstone for 40 years. His interests include the conservation of bears and finding practical solutions for reducing human-bear conflicts.
Host of hunting TV shows, podcasts, and other digital media platforms; including Randy Newberg, Hunter; Fresh Tracks+; Hunt Talk Radio – Randy Newberg Unfiltered; and Elk Talk Podcast
Randy Newberg has spent the last fourteen years hosting his popular hunting TV shows, podcasts, and other digital media platforms, all focused on self-guided public land hunting in the Western United States. Randy currently distributes video content on his YouTube channel Randy Newberg, Hunter and via his proprietary video platform Fresh Tracks+ with his team of eight creative employees.
Randy’s podcast, Hunt Talk Radio – Randy Newberg Unfiltered is a companion to his wildly (pun intended) popular web forum, HuntTalk.com. Randy is co-host of the Elk Talk Podcast with Corey Jacobsen, the premiere elk hunting podcast.
Wild lands and wild animals are what drives Randy in his advocacy for hunters and the public lands of America. His platforms are designed to show average hunters the remarkable public land experiences that are available for the price of a tag, the gas to get there, and the effort invested. Whether it be bugling elk or speeding pronghorn, rifle or bow, Randy will travel the far corners of the west in search of food and adventure.
Randy lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife, Kim, where he volunteers for many national and regional conservation groups. When not hunting, Randy and Kim spend the summer traveling the high plains in search of western walleyes.
Research Ecologist, co-host of the Hunt Quietly Podcast, and founder of the Hunt Quietly movement
Matt Rinella is a research ecologist studying grasslands of the western U.S. He is a passionate hunter, co-host of the Hunt Quietly podcast, and founder of the Hunt Quietly movement. This movement is devoted to battling negative effects of hunting nonprofits, industry, and media on sportsmen, land access, and wildlife.
Assistant Administrator of the Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Beth Shumate is Assistant Administrator of the Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. In her current role, she helps oversee the management of 55 state parks, 350 Fishing Access Sites and visitor use management on 80+ Wildlife Management Areas, as well as 7 Outdoor Recreation Programs that provide funding and resources for all outdoor recreation and trail-related projects. Throughout her career she has gained extensive familiarity with Montana and developed a dynamic approach to building working partnerships with agencies, organizations, volunteers, and user groups. She believes that time spent outdoors provides all of us, regardless of age or ability, the opportunity to heal and care for ourselves and these precious resources through the powers of the natural world. Before her current position, Beth served as the Parks Division Administrator for 4 years and the Montana State Trails Administrator for 9 years as well as the Hell Creek State Park Manager near Jordan, MT for 3 years. Prior to her time with FWP, she was a wildland firefighter (Hotshot) based out of Arizona and fought fires throughout the Rocky Mountain West from AZ to Washington.
Now you see them, now you don’t: using occupancy models for wildlife management. Click here to register for the workshop
Tuesday, February 6th, 9AM-3PM.
Cost ($35 professional, $15 student)
Max Capacity (30)
Dan Walsh, University of Montana. In this workshop, participants will learn the statistical underpinnings of occupancy models and how they can be used to answer wildlife management questions. The course will be presented from a Bayesian perspective. We will also provide a laboratory session where participants will be able to gain experience creating and making inference from occupancy models. The workshop will conclude with an open session where participants can work with their own data and be able to ask questions of the instructors.
Wildlife Tracks & Sign: A skill set for noninvasive wildlife monitoring. Click here to register for the workshop
Tuesday, February 6th, 9AM-3PM.
Cost ($35 professional, $15 student)
Max Capacity (25)
Sara Lamar, Swan Valley Connections. Identification of wildlife tracks and sign is a practical skill set for wildlife biologists that isn’t often formally taught in wildlife biology programs. Correctly interpreting tracks and sign can not only confirm an animal’s presence but also reveal behavior, habitat use, inter and intra-species interactions, and more. This workshop will cover common gait patterns, foot morphology, scat identification and common sign such as scent marking and feeding behavior. We will spend a few hours in the classroom building foundation knowledge and then apply these skills in the field for the rest of the afternoon. Snowshoes will be provided, but participants are welcome to bring their own if preferred.
Burnout, stress, and why science says they matter: What modern neuroscience can teach us about the physiology of stress, its concerning consequences, and practical solutions. Click here to register for the workshop
Wednesday, February 7th, 8-10AM
Cost (Free!!) We want you to take advantage of this workshop. We all deal with so much pressure and stress in our lives. Having a few tools to help out are worth your time!
Max Capacity (Unlimited)
Anna Rapson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Modern neuroscience reminds us that our brains are malleable and its elasticity has a longer trajectory than what was once believed. Therefore, there is no set point; we can change our brains, and the way we live our lives, whenever we choose. Evidence indicates overall health and happiness are not only impacted by external experiences, but also by our internal relationship to stress, thought and behavior patterns, and emotional and nervous system regulation.
This workshop will draw upon neuroscience and the science of mindfulness to learn practical, evidence-based tools to manage common work-life struggles with issues such as:
- Impacts of stress on the brain and the body
- Managing stress so it doesn’t become chronic stress
- Expectations that may contradict with what is realistic and sustainable (self or supervisor imposed)
- Burnout – how to catch it and what to do with it
- Imposter Syndrome – how to work with self-doubt and/or comparative judgment
- Work-Life balance – how to keep work from leaking into your off-time or sleep-time!
- Dealing with a difficult or tense work environment
- How to identify and change patterns that ultimately contribute to dissatisfaction and disappointment
Lead-free Ammunition in Montana: Current Research, Outreach, and Opportunities. Click here to register for the workshop
Wednesday, February 7th, 10AM-12PM
Cost ($35 professional, $15 student)
Max Capacity (Unlimited)
Michael McTee, MPG Ranch; Hannah Leonard, Sporting Lead-Free; Vince Slabe, Conservation Science Global; Kate Stone, MPG Ranch; Robert Domenech, Raptor View Research Institute; Adam Shreading, Raptor View Research Institute; Brian Busby, Raptor View Research Institute; Becky Kean, Montana Raptor Conservation Center; and Jordan Spike, Montana Raptor Conservation Center.
Hunters are increasingly going lead-free, whether to reduce lead exposure in wildlife, eliminate lead fragments in game meat, or gain a desired ballistic performance. Wildlife biologists and conservation professionals stand on the front lines of this topic, so it is important we understand the nuances behind this sometimes controversial issue. In this workshop, participants will rotate through stations centered around 1) the problem of lead poisoning in wildlife, 2) the ballistics of lead-free bullets, and 3) effective messaging. This Montana-focused workshop will be a fantastic opportunity to network and help spread the awareness of lead-free ammunition across the state.
We are seeking submissions from students for the design of our program cover. We prefer the design fits the conference theme, but is not mandatory. If you would like to have your design considered, e-mail the design to Katie Benzel at email@example.com. The winner will receive free registration to the conference and $100!! Deadline has passed.
Rebecca Mowry has worked as the Bitterroot-area wildlife biologist with Montana FWP since 2014. She came to Montana via Texas Parks and Wildlife, University of Idaho (B.S.), and University of Missouri (M.S.), as well as a dozen or so odd tech jobs ranging from woodpeckers in the Black Hills to grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Rebecca was also your Montana Chapter secretary from 2020-2022, and is a TWS Leadership Institute alumnus (class of 2016).
Having served on the MTTWS board recently, Rebecca understands the challenges with making MTTWS more impactful and accessible to professionals and students. She would especially like to increase the Chapter’s influence on current political and conservation issues, hoping to lean heavily on National TWS to change things for the better for Montana wildlife and its stewards.
When not fielding hunter phone calls, catching bighorn sheep, or mentoring local high school and college students, Rebecca enjoys doodling wildlife on meeting agendas (some of which become MTTWS t-shirts), writing novels, and backpacking the nearby wildernesses with her dog Willow.
Lindsey Parsons is the Helena Area Wildlife Biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). Lindsey grew up in Boulder, Montana, and her affection for the outdoors developed early in life through experiences of camping, hunting, hiking and fishing. This affection has continued to grow throughout her education and career. She attended Dawson Community College for one year before transferring to Montana State University, where she received a B.S. in Ecology in 2010.
Following several years of technician work for FWP and Idaho Fish and Game/University of Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, Lindsey returned to school to earn a M.S. in Secondary Education from Black Hills State University (2015) and a PhD from South Dakota State University in Fish and Wildlife Management (2019). In 2019, Lindsey became the first Deer and Elk Coordinator for FWP where she led a statewide effort to update Montana’s Elk Management Plan. Lindsey is married with two children and a springer spaniel.
Lindsey values the principle of using sound biological data to inform management decisions. When decisions also necessitate social input, she believes in finding and building on common ground amongst stakeholders. Working through the complex combination of biological data and social input to arrive at meaningful management actions is something Lindsey has found challenging yet also rewarding during her career thus far. If elected as TWS president, Lindsey would value her leadership role in advancing and advocating for Montana’s wildlife science profession.
Heather was born and raised in Northern Ontario, Canada, spending most of her time outdoors where she developed an interest in wildlife and conservation. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Trent University and a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Mississippi State University.
She started her career with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) in 2014 as the Region 6 Nongame/Furbearer Biologist. In this role she gained a deep appreciation for the grassland and sagebrush ecosystems and their associated species. In summer of 2021 she transitioned to the statewide Grassland/Wetland Coordinator for FWP based in Glasgow. In this role she works with private landowners, FWP staff, state wildlife agencies, federal partners, and NGO’s to deliver conservation programs, with a focus on supporting sustainable ranching operations. She has been a member of TWS for over 10 years and is involved with multiple TWS working groups. In her 10-year career with FWP, she has witnessed the tireless conservation efforts of wildlife professionals and the role TWS plays in not only promoting wildlife conservation but also serving as a venue for exchanging ideas and forming collaborations. She would like to serve as treasurer to contribute to these efforts.
In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, birding, dog training, and hunting with her cocker spaniel, Riggs.