Welcome to 2019! I’m very pleased to be your elected President for the next two years and I look forward to working closely with the committee and our membership to continue making AWMS relevant to its members, other wildlife professionals and the general public.
2019 didn't start out so well for our Australian wildlife communities. We had a difficult summer with bushfires, droughts and floods ravaging parts of the country. Almost 6% (93,000 ha) of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was fire affected. The northern Queensland floods had a devastating effect. Described as the worst agricultural disaster in Australian history, the floods decimated wildlife communities. The habitat of the endangered Julia Creek dunnart was impacted and it is unknown if any of the remnant population survived. Land managers reported an “abscence of living wildlife” – no kangaroos, no echidnas, no small marsupials, no birds. It’s impossible to know how many animals were lost. Meanwhile, drought continued to ravage the more central parts of the country with record breaking extreme heat events over January and February. The three fish kill events at Menindee, which have been described by one independent panel of scientists as “…the coral bleaching event for the mainland” are thought to have been caused by drought, and insufficient water flow. These can be challenging times to be involved in wildlife management and research. To those of you working directly in these affected areas, please take care of your mental health through these tough times.
In positive news, our New Zealand counterparts may be celebrating lots of births this year! The Kakapo mating season is off to an early start and a record number of chicks are expected. Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work and effort to save this endangered bird.
Our conference last year in Tassie was a great success. Thank you very much to our conference liaison officer Konnie who did an outstanding job as always. Thank you also to the local organising committee for putting on a great event. You can find out how successful the conference was by reading Konnie’s full report in this newsletter. I'd particularly like to thank SAWMA president Dan Parker for attending and his generous offer of free registration for any financial member of AWMS attending the 2019 SAWMA conference!
Aside from me becoming president, we had a couple of other committee changes at the AGM. I’d like to thank Lily van Eeden for her work as secretary and welcome Mel Snape into the role. I’d also to welcome our NZ student rep Rebecca French. Finally, a big thank you to our immediate past president Trish Fleming. Thank you for all of your work and effort over the last two years. You have set high standards to meet!
Finally, on a personal note, I am very much looking forward to this year’s conference in Darwin. I know the humidity isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely for me, so I’ll be in my element. :D Preparations are well underway (you know I’m already coming up with costume ideas!) and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you up there.
Evaluating wildlife management workshop report - Jim Hone
The Australasian Wildlife Management Society (AWMS) has several aims, of which the first is to identify appropriate wildlife management principles and practices. As a step towards this aim, members of the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) at the University of Canberra organised a one-day workshop on using principles to evaluate wildlife management. The workshop was held at the 2018 AWMS annual conference in Hobart and attracted 19 participants from around Australia and New Zealand.
Several years ago Emeritus Professor Jim Hone, Dr Alistair Drake and Professor Charles Krebs of the IAE started investigating whether a set of general principles of applied ecology (which includes wildlife management) could be identified. After reviewing an extensive literature they proposed 22 prescriptive and 3 empirical principles. Prescriptive principles are guidelines for developing and reviewing management plans. Empirical principles are general patterns that arise in the practice of wildlife management. The 25 principles which have been described in three scientific papers focus on the why, how, when and where of wildlife management efforts to achieve particular conservation, sustainable harvest, or pest control aims.
The workshop was run by Jim and Alistair with assistance from Dr Peter Fleming of the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The participants were given an overview of the principles, then shown how they have been used to evaluate particular wildlife management programs. The participants then applied the principles to evaluate a wildlife program of their choice working either in small groups or individually, with assistance from Jim, Alistair and Peter. Topics examined ranged from threatened species recovery, management of introduced deer, to control of pest birds. The participants were enthusiastic in their discussions, with good exchange of examples, ideas and insights.
For further details see the conference page on the AWMS website (www.awms.org.au), or contact Jim Hone (firstname.lastname@example.org) including for copies of the three background papers.
Another fantastic conference is over. The AWMS2018 conference was held at the University of Tasmania Campus in Hobart, TAS and attracted 176 delegates. The theme for the conference was ‘Wildlife Management – Integrating wildlife management, nature conservation and production in land-, river- and seascapes’.
We held two workshops on Monday, Drones in Wildlife Management (22 participants) and the Evaluation in Wildlife Management Workshop (25 participants) sponsored by Jim Hone. The highlight of our Monday Icebreaker event was the address by the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC. On Tuesday, Dr. Sally Box, the Threatened Species Commissioner gave the opening speech followed by our Keynote Speaker Prof. Chris Johnson. In the evening we held a great poster happy hour with 30 posters to look at, followed by an Early Career Networking Event sponsored by ESA and the student dinner. On Wednesday we held the AGM followed by a wonderful conference dinner with the ‘Ice age’ theme. On Thursday the evening field trip took the 12 participants to Bonorong where they had the opportunity to meet Tassie Devils and enjoy a dinner with drinks. On Friday we finished our program with a Writing Workshop (10 participants) and a field trip to Bangor (10 participants).
The conference was a pleasure to organise due to the fantastic work by the local conference committee and the generous time commitment of volunteer mentors and presenters for the workshops! I would also like to thank our Platinum Sponsor Ecosure, trade stall exhibitors, Student Dinner, Student Presentation Prize and symposium sponsors. Without their support and participation this conference would not have been possible. With nine trade exhibitors at the conference we had the biggest trade exhibition for a long time.
Sponsors for AWMS2018
Trade exhibitors at AWMS2018
Based on the status of the accounts on the 30/6/2018 the AWMS financial position is in a stable and improving position. The total assets were $239,883.13, which is an improvement since 2017 ($212,415.92). A full breakdown is below. Note that the total current assets includes the public fund, which is audited separately (total $125,030) – the remaining balance is $114,853.13. Total income in the 2017-2018 financial was $114,930.46. Expenses totalled $85,846.85 which provided a net profit of $29,083.61.
Major changes over the current and previous financial years include:
a. Term deposit for Public Fund surplus
b. Stop using conference calling and switch to another provider (~$500)
c. Banks charges; this year the PayPal charges were included (>$2K), but this is probably unavoidable.
Our membership numbers have increased slightly from last year. The current membership numbers stand at 230. This compares to 210 for 2017 and 213 for 2016. As usual, we had an increase in new memberships prior to this year's conference (38 Full, 23 Students).
The automatic renewal option has been in place since the last AGM and we have some uptake (5 full memberships and 3 student memberships). Remember this option when you are next renewing your membership!
The draft minutes from the 2018 AGM can be found here.
New Office Bearers:
SAVE THE DATE! December 3-5, 2019
This newsletter reflects the opinions of the author(s) but not necessarily those of the AWMS Committee or membership. AWMS makes no claim as to the accuracy of stated claims and any party using this information does so at their own risk.