Plenary Session and Keynote Address

Plenary Session

  • 1:30-4:30pm, California 1 & 2

Digging into the Roots of Conservation Conflict: 

twslogo-solidlaysanTransforming the process of conservation to create sustainable solutions 


The fields of conservation and wildlife management have somewhat recently recognized the importance of human dimensions. The approach usually follows the traditional scientific pathway of identifying problems, studying to find ways of mitigation, and implementation of technology, compensation, or other management solutions to address the problem. However, in many cases, the conflicts do not go away, and often get worse. With solutions often created by government or other official management authorities, and focused only on the superficial problem, underlying and deep-rooted conflicts are usually not addressed, so the problems persist and compound. Furthermore, conflict can center not only on the substance of the issues, but on the relationships involved, and processes through which conservation takes place. Many conservation practitioners are now realizing that focusing only on the tangible parts of human-wildlife conflict ignores the social, economic, political, historical, and cultural contexts that can be the real drivers of conflict.

This year’s theme for the annual conference of The Western Section of The Wildlife Society is “Digging into the Roots of Conservation Conflict.” Through the plenary session, contributed papers, and other parts of this conference, we will look deeper into the roots of human-wildlife and conservation conflict.  We will think about how we as practitioners and managers analyze the reasons for conflict, how we can build relationships, and how we can design our conservation and management processes so that they reduce, rather than fuel conflict. Transforming conflict requires that we not only change what we do to reduce conflict, but how we go about the process of conservation. Small changes in most systems can result in significant positive effects in relationships and outcomes for conservation.  Francine Madden, Executive Director and Founder of Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration, will lead the plenary discussion.  Other distinguished speakers, including Jill Lewandowski (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), MJ Mazurek (Island Conservation), Marc Kenyon (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) and Donny Martorello (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife), will share and discuss tools, conflict case study examples, and lessons learned.  The audience and plenary panel will also talk together about conflict scenarios and how to best transform these situations – be prepared for some audience participation!

Plenary Schedule:

1:30pm – Welcome and Introduction – Rachel Sprague
1:40pm – Introduction to Conservation Conflict Transformation – Francine Madden:  Conservation Conflict Transformation: Rethinking Conservation’s Approach to Conflict  
2:00pm – Conflict Case Studies:

– Donny Martorello (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife):  Grey wolves
– MJ Mazurek (Island Conservation):  Vertebrate predator eradications
– Marc Kenyon (California Department of Fish and Wildlife):    Mountain lions

3-3:20pm – Break
3:20 – Conflict Case Studies (Cont):

– Rachel Sprague (Pūlama Lāna‘i):  Hawaiian Monk Seals
– Jill Lewandowski (U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management):  Marine mammals and anthropogenic sound

4:00-4:30pm – Discussion


Plenary Speakers

Francine MaddenFrancine Madden is the co-founder and Executive Director of HWCC—a global nonprofit organization integrating best practice standards in analyzing and transforming deep-rooted social conflict in the conservation field. Recognizing the “missing link” in conservation practice, Francine has pioneered efforts to adapt and integrate conflict transformation into the field of wildlife conservation through HWCC. Francine leads HWCC’s Conservation Conflict Transformation (CCT) capacity building, strategic guidance and conflict assessment and intervention work.  Francine has successfully facilitated conflict intervention, planning, and capacity building processes in many of the world’s most fragile hotspots from Bhutan to Botswana, from the Galapagos to the Republic of Georgia and from Uganda to the United States.  Francine Madden has two masters’ degrees from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and is the author of numerous publications.  Her most recent peer-reviewed publication in Biological Conservation is titled: Conservation’s blind spot: The case for conflict transformation in wildlife conservation (available through a creative commons license at


Rachel Sprague is currently the wildlife biologist for Pūlama Lāna‘i, the private company that owns and manages 98% of the island of Lāna‘i in Hawai‘i. She has been working in conservation and management of coastal and island wildlife for the past 17 years, from the Bay of Fundy in Canada, to the Channel Islands, to Hawai‘i. She received her Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana studying hormone physiology and behavior in Laysan albatross on Kaua‘i and Midway Atoll. After graduate school, she led the San Clemente loggerhead shrike release program on San Clemente Island for the U.S. Navy and the Institute for Wildlife Studies and worked in Hawai‘i as the assistant recovery coordinator and recovery coordinator for Hawaiian monk seals with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. Rachel joined the board of the Hawai‘i Chapter of The Wildlife Society as the vice president in 2012, was the president and chapter rep to TWS-Western Section from 2013-2015, and is currently the president-elect of the Western Section of The Wildlife Society.


Marc Kenyon currently works at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Investigations Lab where he coordinates the Human-Wildlife Conflict, Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Mountain Lion Conservation Programs State of California. He has worked with the Department for six years after working as a private lands biologist for Ducks Unlimited, a bear biologist for the National Parks Service in Yosemite and as a Wildlife Specialist with the Cooperative Extension Program in Montana. Marc has also been an adjunct professor at American River College in Sacramento for four years, where he enjoys challenging the next cohort of aspiring biologists. Marc has a B.S. Degree in wildlife and conservation biology from UC Davis and an M.S. Degree in Animal and Range Sciences from Montana State University, Bozeman. Marc enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting and camping with his wife and two wonderful children.


Jill Lewandowski Jill Lewandowski currently serves as Chief of the Division of Environmental Assessment in the Headquarters Office (HQ) of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) where she oversees BOEM compliance with environmental statutes and regulations ranging from air quality to protected species to historic and cultural preservation. Previously, Jill served as the BOEM national lead biologist handling marine protected species, including marine mammals, endangered species and ocean sound. Prior to BOEM, Jill worked at the National Marine Fisheries Service’s and the National Wildlife Federation. Jill received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University where her research centered on transforming conflict on complex environmental issues, particularly the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals.


MJ MazurekMJ Mazurek has over 15 years’ experience working in applied conservation research primarily on protected species conservation in northwestern California and for the last three years on invasive species issues in Micronesia and Hawaii.  MJ is currently employed by Island Conservation (IC) as the Hawaii Program Project Manager in the IC Honolulu office.  Prior to working with IC, MJ spent two years on Guam as the USGS Brown Tree Snake Research Manager and six years with the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station in Arcata, California.  MJ has an M.S. in Natural Resources Management from Humboldt State University with a focus on wildlife management and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Central Florida.


donny_martorelloDonny Martorello works for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where he has managed a variety of species over the last 16 years, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, black bears, cougars, and, most recently, gray wolves. Currently, Donny is the Wolf Policy Lead for the Department, where he strives to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people. Donny has a BS degree from the University of Idaho, and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where his research focused on black bear ecology and management. When not working, Donny enjoys recreating outdoors with his family.


Keynote Address  

  • Wednesday, 10:00am to 12:00pm, California 1 & 2

Conservation 360: Quick Presentations about Topics that Matter

Join us for a conservation conversation at the 2016 Annual Meeting! This year, instead of 1 speaker, we are joined by a group of presenters, each representing an organization who previously received our “Conservationist of the Year” award. Each will give a quick, structured presentation lasting only 360 seconds (yes, that’s 6 minutes) and each will share only 9 slides. The format is inspired by “Pecha Kucha” 20×20 presentation style, founded in Tokyo Japan by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. Western Section has modified the format to be 9×40 as a factor of 360 because wildlife professionals need to take in the whole picture, a 360-degree view, when addressing complex conservation issues. The presentations will be followed, as in previous years, by a moderated conversation driven by audience-submitted questions.

Theme: “Conflict in Conservation: A 360 View”

Speakers & Affiliation (year in parentheses denotes year awarded)

Vic Leipzig
Amigos de Bolsa Chica (1995)

Wayne Spencer
Conservation Biology Institute (2008)

Ed LaRue
Desert Tortoise Council (2004)

Frazier Haney
Mojave Desert Land Trust (2011)

The Conservationist of the Year Award is presented by the Western Section to a person or group, engaged in wildlife conservation either as a profession or as an avocation, who has made an outstanding contribution to wildlife conservation in California, Nevada, Hawaii or Guam. The nominee can be any individual or group who has demonstrated an active concern for wildlife conservation by accomplishing projects or programs that have significantly enhanced wildlife resource conservation within the Western Section geographical area.

NOTE: The 2016 Conservationist of the Year will be awarded TONIGHT at the banquet. Who will join this illustrious group of committed conservationists?