Wildlife managers attending the annual meeting of the Utah Chapter of the Wildlife Society last week were told they have a bad reputation among some state groups.
The group, which met at the Provo Excelsior Hotel, was chastised by Bob Hasenyager, administrator and research consultant for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who told members that some lawmakers and agricultural groups would like to run the other way when the see wildlife managers approaching."You folks have a reputation. You're a threat to people," Hasenyager said. "You're willing to enter into confrontation (over wildlife issues) and you're good at it. You threaten people, but it doesn't have to be that way."
With conflict comes resentment and retaliation, he said. Wildlife advocates would aid their cause more by seeking compromise and consensus with their adversaries.
"You shouldn't seek combative situations. Consensus does work, and that's what you should go for. You can pick up a victory for wildlife and you don't have to make other people losers in the process," he said. "You have to be innovative if you're going to get consensus. You have to be objective instead of emotional."
One way to avoid confrontation is to bring together groups with competing interests, such as sportsmen, wildlife managers, medical researchers and agricultural people, and work toward a consensus in a cooperative environment, he said.
Wildlife managers can lead the way in such an effort and come out ahead if they remember members of adversary groups have interests to protect too and that they are basically good people.
"If you can't make that assumption, you're carrying baggage that's going to hold you back and you're probably not going to accomplish your objective," Hasenyager said. "You have to be aware of the pressures other people are under and put yourself in their shoes. Go into the situation to create a better state of peace rather than to defeat."
Hasenyager's address was one of more than a dozen given by wildlife experts during the two-day conference.
The Wildlife Society is the nation's largest group of professional wildlife biologists. Several organizations were represented at the conference, including the Utah Wilderness Association, the Utah Wildlife Coalition, the U.S. Forest Service, the Cattleman's representative to the Board of Big Game Control and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.
They covered topics such as elk feeding and transplanting, predator control, wildlife and environmental toxicology and black bear populations in Utah.