In December 2017, we celebrated 30 years of the Australasian Wildlife Management Society (AWMS) at the 30th conference in Katoomba. The first Australasian Wildlife Society conference was held in Canberra in 1988. Since then a conference has been organised every year either in Australia or New Zealand.
The history of AWMS began on Thursday 26 February 1987, when Peter O’Brien hosted a workshop on feral pig management in Trangie, in western New South Wales. That night a small group of Jim Hone, John McIlroy, Peter O’Brien, Glen Saunders, Clem Tisdell and George Wilson discussed the need for a new society focussed on scientific wildlife management. They considered there were enough societies for the study of vertebrates and ecology, but no society focused on the application of science to wildlife management.
The following morning, the idea of a new society still seemed a good one, and Jim and Peter agreed to conduct a survey where they discovered others felt likewise. As a result, the AWMS concept was developed and tested at the Australian Vertebrate Pest Control Conference in 1987. The official establishment of AWMS was assisted by a steering committee comprising Graeme Caughley, John Parkes, Sue Briggs, George Wilson, Tony Oliver, Peter O’Brien and Jim Hone. The aims of the Society were to provide a forum for discussion of scientific wildlife management and to support and advance the scientific basis of wildlife management, focusing on welcoming new students every year. People involved in AWMS include research scientists, educators, wildlife managers, and extension, interpretation and policy professionals.
The first members of the AWMS joined in 1988 and the first conference was held in early December in Canberra. Since then, conferences have constituted a major activity of the Society. The 2003 and 2007 conferences were incorporated into the International Wildlife Management Congress and the Fenner conference of the Australian Academy of Science, respectively. Amongst other activities that the AWMS performs are a published newsletter, providing support for students and early career researchers by granting awards, acknowledging contributions to wildlife management, and fostering relationships with other wildlife organisations around the world eg. The Southern Africa Wildlife Management Association.
The Society has also organised or helped fund several workshops over the years. In 2004 and 2008 AWMS contributed to an international symposium held in Queenstown and Wellington, respectively. The first symposium had 25 invited papers on “practical applications of ecological theory and modelling”, in memory of AWMS member Nigel Barlow who died in 2003. The second symposium, also with 25 invited papers, was on “search and detection issues in wildlife and disease management”. Nineteen papers were published in special issues of the NZ Journal of Ecology. The Society also sponsored and organised a workshop in Sydney in 2010 on how wildlife researchers can best influence managers and policy decision-makers.
Since AWMS was established some of the topics facing the most changes and challenges are vertebrate biological control, sophistication in research and development, scientific engagement and the contribution of scientists to society. Challenges include controlling native herbivory, conserving endangered species and managing exotic predators or agricultural damage. Other topics that have been recently explored are recovery programs, modelling and inclusion of new technology like camera trapping.
“Well done! I am very confident that the science and practice of wildlife management are in vastly better shape now than before AWMS – more professional, more multi-disciplinary, more theory and evidence-based, with better tools, models and understanding” Peter O’Brien.
“Congratulations to AWMS for 30 years of being a forum for discussing wildlife management. AWMS should look forward to more of the same, and even bigger and better activities in the future. Thank you to the many people around Australia and New Zealand, in public and private spheres for their contributions to AWMS” Jim Hone.
Now that you know more about the history of the AWMS, if you require more information on the ongoing research and projects or if you would like to join the AWMS, please visit the other tabs in this page where you can also find grants, newsletters, jobs board amongst other resources.
Jim Hone, Peter O’Brien, Peter Shaughnessy and John Parkes for the information provided.