The goal is to actively engage with, and influence, commission decision making.
Establish yourself as a regular citizen participant in commission meetings. In some states the meetings are live streamed on the web and you can participate via the internet or phone.
If you can, coordinate with like-minded wildlife advocates and concerned citizens to attend each commission meeting, regardless of whether an issue of interest to you is on the agenda.
Find out who the commissioners are, what they care about, and if they represent a particular interest group (agriculture, hunters, etc.) Try to figure out if any of them might be allies and ask to meet with them between commission meetings to express your opinions and ask for their guidance.
If the commission asks audience members to identify themselves, be sure to say you’re a state resident and are attending to be a voice for your state’s wildlife.
Take part in the public comments portion of commission meetings. Many state wildlife commissions allow 3 to 5 minutes for members of the public to speak about non-agenda issues that are important to them, so take this opportunity to be a positive voice for wildlife. Some ideas:
Remind commissioners of what the public trust doctrine is, and of their responsibilities as trustees to protect ALL species of wildlife for ALL state residents and visitors, now and in the future.
Ask how the commission and agency are preparing for passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, how much matching funds the state will need to provide, where that money will come from, and how many non-game biologists the agency will need to hire.
Ask the commission to commit to more actions to protect species that are endangered, threatened, or imperiled in your state.
Discuss the rapidly increasing numbers of wildlife watchers and other non-consumptive wildlife users across the U.S., and how much revenue they bring into your state. Contact us at WFA for research into this topic.
Deliver a brief statement on the ecological and personal (to you) importance of wild carnivores in your state, including the most persecuted and underappreciated species like coyotes, foxes, and bobcats. Check out our “Myth Busters: Do Carnivores Need Management?” section for some handy talking points.
Don’t be afraid to express your values (e.g. “I believe that wildlife killing contests are wrong,” etc.) because values underlie every wildlife decision although they are not usually acknowledged. And, don’t forget, your values are more likely to be aligned with the general public’s than those of commissioners and agency staff.