Bruce Johnson, Bob Garrott, and P.J. White — Bruce Johnson, Bob Garrott, and P.J. White provided us with an objective view of how habitat, nutrition, weather, carnivores, and human harvest can influence elk populations. They synthesized and contrasted data on elk population dynamics and limiting factors in Oregon, a relatively mild and variable weather environment with a limited complement of large carnivores, and the Greater Yellowstone Area, a harsh weather environment with a full complement of large carnivores.
Eric Bergman, Andy Holland, and Mark Hurley — Eric Bergman, Andy Holland, and Mark Hurley provided a similar overview of how habitat, nutrition, weather, carnivores, and human harvest can interact to drive mule deer population dynamics. They synthesized and contrasted data on mule deer population dynamics in Colorado, a relatively mild weather environment with a limited complement of carnivores and management focused on quality hunting experiences, with data from Idaho, a variable weather environment with a full complement of carnivores and management more focused on providing hunter opportunity.
Ken Hamlin and George Pauley — Ken Hamlin and George Pauley provided us with a historical synopsis of the history of deer and elk management in Montana, which once again hosts the full complement of native carnivores after decades of extirpated or very small carnivore populations. They emphasized how our knowledge of habitat, nutrition, weather, carnivores, and human harvest, gained through scientific study, has been incorporated into the Montana deer and elk management program.
Jim Allen — Jim Allen provided us with a similar review of the history of deer and elk management in Alberta, where the full complement of large carnivores was never extirpated. Alberta has been managing deer and elk in this context throughout the history of professional wildlife management, and we learned the degree to which their approach contrasts with other jurisdictions without such a history.
Susan Flader — Susan Flader is a recognized Aldo Leopold scholar and Professor Emerita of History at the University of Missouri. Among numerous writings, Professor Flader is a co-editor of “The River of the Mother of God and other Essays by Aldo Leopold,” as well as author of the book “Thinking Like a Mountain: Aldo Leopold and the Evolution of an Ecological Attitude toward Deer, Wolves, and Forests.” This latter work, an analysis of the back-story of Leopold's essay of the same title, explores how and why he changed his thinking on issues of predation and the interrelationships between deer, wolves, and forests, and will be the basis for her presentation. Leopold’s approach to wildlife management and conservation evolved during his experiences restoring deer populations in the Southwestern United States, his study of the German system of forest and wildlife management, and his efforts to combat the overpopulation of deer as a conservation commissioner in Wisconsin, prior to wolf extirpation. Professor Flader’s presentation will draw directly from Leopold's papers, including published and unpublished writings, correspondence, field notes, journals, and commission documents to place Leopold in his historical context. How different is deer and elk management in the western States and Provinces today than what Leopold dealt with in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, and what can we learn from his experience?
On the final day of the workshop, we took advantage of this biennial coming-together of deer and elk researchers and managers by giving wildlife managers the floor to articulate how research can help them with management decisions. We assembled a panel of wildlife professionals responsible for deer, elk, and carnivore management, including hunting season proposals, habitat conservation and management, surveys, and public involvement. These managers left us with a sense of current, real-world instances of managing top-down and bottom-up limiting factors on deer and elk populations, how research is informing these approaches, where management programs need to head, and where future research should be directed to help inform management programs. The goal of this discussion is to tie research and management together, and their presentation will help us do that.