2017 Election

2017 Annual Election

Voting is open through February 3, 2017.  The following items are on the ballot this year:

Link to online ballot


Matthew Bettelheim

Nominee for:  TWS Western Section President-Elect, 2017Education:  Bachelor’s of Science, U.C. San Diego, Biology: Ecology, Behavior, & Evolution (2000)

Present Position:  Senior Wildlife Biologist – AECOM (formerly URS) (2007-Present)

Former Positions:  Wildlife Research Biologist – Nomad Ecology (2006-2007); Wildlife Biologist/Project Analyst – Sycamore Associates, LLC (2002-2006); Sports Fisheries Port Sampler – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (2002-2002); Fish and Wildlife Scientific Aide – California Department of Fish and Game (2001-2002)

Wildlife Society Activities: Taxa-Derby, The Wildlife Professional (Editorial Board), The Wildlife Confessional (anthology), WildC.A.T. Workshop (2015), Western Pond Turtle Workshop: Ecology and Conservation (2005, 2015), Gourmet Greens & Beasts Feast (SFBA Chapter), S.F. Bay Area Chapter President (2013), S.F. Bay Area Chapter Representative to the Western Section (2014-present)

Other Professional Affiliations:  National Association of Science Writers, International Society for the History and Bibliography of Herpetology, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Principal Professional Interests: Herpetology (western pond turtle), History/Natural History, Science Writing

Views:  It’s been three years since you’ve last heard from me; in 2013, I unwittingly threw my hat into the running for Western Section president against the esteemed Don Yasuda. Losing was the best thing that happened to me. Recognizing what a great opportunity a role on the Board meant to me, I instead stepped in as the Chapter Representative for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter where I’ve served the last three years. And in that time, I’ve taken strides towards building a reputation with the Board and the membership that I plan to extend into my role as TWS Western Section President-Elect if you choose to elect me. What have I been up to over the last three years? Well, I co-conceived and co-organized the infamous Taxa Derby, about which we are now collaborating with a local developer to make it a “feature” in future rollouts of the iNaturalist app. I was one of the brains behind The Wildlife Confessional, an anthology of short stories by wildlife biologists, about wildlife biologists, for consumption by the public at large – an accomplishment we are eager to roll out in the next few months. I co-organized and presented at our first-ever WildC.A.T. (Wildlife Biologist Construction Awareness Training) workshop, a new training tool to make sure our members are safe and informed when working on construction sites. I organized the ever-successful 2015 Western Pond Turtle Workshop, one of my many passions. And I have served on the advisory boards for the annual meetings and The Wildlife Professional. But these accomplishments are water under the bridge already – you should be asking what I plan on doing if elected? With a dues increase on the horizon, I plan on working with the Board to realize our goal of giving back to the membership through more workshops and training opportunities. I am also excited to support new diversity initiatives to attract and retain minorities in our profession. And I have exciting ideas about the theme for the 2017 annual meeting, remembering not only the species we’ve lost, but also celebrating the rare and endangered species we are working so hard to protect.

And so today, as your candidate for TWS Western Section President-elect, I look forward to carrying forward my last three years of enthusiasm, problem solving, and engagement on the Western Section level. Having served on the Board these last three years alongside fellow society members I am today as proud to call friends as I am colleagues, I am reminded once again that our great society – The Wildlife Society – is a mirror of ourselves. Our Section’s successes are measured by those who participate and contribute with passion and professionalism. With your support, I hope to lead the Western Section to continued successes in the coming years.

Jeff Davis

Nominee for:  TWS Western Section President-Elect, 2017

Education:  B.S., Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, UC Davis (1992)

Present Position:  Principal Scientist—Colibri Ecological Consulting, Fresno, CA (since 2010) and Team Leader—Seabird Population Survey Program, UC Santa Cruz (since 1995)

Former Positions:  Senior Wildlife Ecologist—H. T. Harvey & Associates, Fresno, CA (2006–2010); Independent Ecological Consultant (1992–2006); Senior Museum Scientist and Curator—Environmental Studies Department, U.C. Santa Cruz (1994–2001); Research Coordinator and Operations Manager—Ventana Wildlife Society, Big Sur, CA (1992–1994); Sanctuary Manager—Paul L. Wattis Sanctuary, Audubon California, Colusa, CA (1991–1992).

Wildlife Society Activities: Co-President/Co-Representative—U.C. Davis Student Chapter (1991), President-Elect/President/Past President—San Joaquin Valley Chapter (2012–2014), Chapter Representative–San Joaquin Valley Chapter (2014–present).

Other Professional Affiliations:  Northern California regional editor—North American Birds; life member—Pacific Seabird Group, Western Field Ornithologists, and American Ornithological Society (the name of the recently merged American Ornithologists’ Union and Cooper Ornithological Society); member—Ecological Society of America, and many others.

Principal Professional Interests: Ecology, endangered species protection and conservation.

Views: I have been a student of wildlife ecology for as long as I can remember.  I spent much of my childhood exploring irrigation canals—the only semblance of wildlands in my suburban Fresno neighborhood—catching crayfish, carp, and bullfrogs; identifying tracks of skunks and raccoons; and marveling at herons and kingfishers.  Green herons and belted kingfishers in particular seemed otherworldly.  I couldn’t believe such exotic-looking creatures lived in my neighborhood.  I felt lucky and privileged to know they were there and bewildered that no one else seemed to notice or care.  I got my formal educational training at Fresno City College, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and University of Victoria.  Even as a college student I was continually distracted by wildlife, frequently seduced by the outdoors when I should have been sequestered indoors at the library.  And when I did hit the books, I sometimes scrutinized field guides to herps, birds, or mammals when I should have been cramming for chemistry, physics, or calculus.

I’ve been employed in some capacity as a biologist since I was 16, pursuing every opportunity that came my way.  I have worked with plants, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.  I ran a research and education facility in Big Sur for three years and curated a natural history museum and helped teach wildlife classes at UC Santa Cruz for seven years.  I have led an oil spill response team since 1995.  In connection with that role, I conduct monthly aerial surveys of marine birds and mammals throughout California continental shelf waters through UC Santa Cruz under contract with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  I and other team members have responded to more than one dozen oil spill incidents along the Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coasts of the United States, providing response and natural resource damage assessment support to trustee agencies.  Since 2006, I have been a full-time ecological consultant, a profession that allows me to pursue my broad interests in plants and wildlife while promoting the protection and conservation of endangered species and other biological resources.

Sharing information, networking, providing professional development opportunities, and encouraging sound stewardship of wildlife resources are the cornerstones of the Western Section.  To that end, I particularly appreciate that the Western Section has fostered open communication between its members and others who study and manage wildlife resources in California, Nevada, and Hawaii.  If elected President, I look forward to furthering that communication through additional workshops, regular email updates, and other forms of outreach.  Section members and others who work in our area represent a rich repository of collective knowledge.  Mining, building, and effectively sharing that knowledge are key to achieving the Section’s objectives.

Proposal to Increase Member Dues

Membership last voted to update member dues in 1987 from $15 to $20 for standard dues. The Section Executive Board proposes to increase standard dues to $30 and adjust other dues categories according to the formula set in Bylaws. The Section officers have always held their fiduciary responsibilities to the members as a top priority. We have used a combination of volunteer board members and volunteer committees along with other measures to reduce costs, but these are not sufficient to offset the cost of supporting programs and other services requested by the section’s members. The increase in dues is needed because as the Section continues to grow and provide additional services to members we need to meet obligations for contract services such as Project Manager and Event Manager, Program Director, Workshop Coordinator, and other initiatives. In addition, the Section pays for the services of an Accountant and Web Master. The Section periodically negotiates the hourly rates for these contracts and services as contracts are established or renewed.  We have approved increasing them over time to keep pace with inflation to be fair to the contractors and service providers, who often provide services to us at below market rates. The Section generates revenue for operating funds from registration at the Annual Meeting and from Professional Development events but strives to keep registration fees low to encourage maximum participation by members. We are working to provide more professional development opportunities in the future, as members have requested, to also increase our annual revenues to support the Sections operations.

Proposal for Bylaws Amendment

The Western Section of The Wildlife Society last amended and approved changes to Bylaws on February 06, 2015. Bylaws describe the privileges and duties of members and set up the framework for the Section. Bylaws are amended by a majority vote of the Section members and are adopted when approved by the parent Society. In the course of operations, the Executive Board periodically identifies proposals for change. In the February Executive Board meeting and at the Annual Meeting Member’s Meeting, the Board identified the following proposed changes.

Summary of Proposed Bylaws Edits

(Full text of changes here)

Major Edits (requiring membership votes)

  • Article V, Sect. 5, Clause A. Added language for periodic adjustment of dues tied to CPI-U
  • Article V, Sect 5, Clause B. Added that dues are set by “up to” a percentage of Standard dues and added the ability to round dues up to the nearest dollar or amount specified when adjusting for CPI.
  • Article V, Sect 5, Clause B, Item 8. Add a new dues category for Supporting member set at 2 times the standard dues rounded up to the nearest 5 dollars.
  • Article V, Sect 5, Clause B, Item 9. Add a new dues category for Contributing member set at 3 times the standard dues rounded up to the nearest 5 dollars.

Minor Edits

  1. Changed term Annual Conference to Annual Meeting throughout.
  2. Changed name of Newsletter Content Editor to Communications Content Editor throughout.
  3. Article II, Sect 1, Num 3. Added support for Chapters as part of objectives.
  4. Article III, Sect 1. Added reference to Executive Board definition.
  5. Article V, Sect 5, Clause B, Item 2. Set Life Member dues at 22.5 times the standard dues (based upon the current life member to regular dues ratio) but allowing rounding up to the nearest 5 dollars.
  6. Article VI, Sect 1. Strike reference to a slate of two candidates and clarify in Clause C that a slate of two candidates is prepared for Section Representative and in Clause F that at least two candidates are selected for President-Elect.
  7. Article VI, Sect 1, Clause A. Move statement of only 1 elected position and clarify must be willing to resign from other elected position. Officers may, at the discretion of the President, serve in other non-elective positions on the Board.
  8. Article VI, Sect 1, Clause C and Clause E. Clarify that nominees will be solicited from membership at least 30 days prior to announcing the nomination slate and allowing at least 30 days for voting prior to the Annual Meeting. This reflects recent practices with voting open between 30 to 60 days depending on variations in the Annual Meeting dates.
  9. Article VI, Sect 2. Clarified member need to provide updated contact information.
  10. Article VIII, Sect 7, Clause B. Clarified that excess dues from Supporting and Contributing members are normally added to the Endowment Fund, as determined by the Executive Board.
  11. Article IX, Sect 2, Clause C. Changed name of Program Committee to Annual Meeting Planning and clarified focus is on programs, events, and logistics for the Section’s Annual Meeting.
  12. Article IX, Sect 2, Clause I. Changed name of Newsletter and Outreach Committee to Communications and Outreach.
  13. Article X, Sect 1. Changed Newsletter to Section News and clarified publications may be electronic or in print.
  14. Article XI, Sect 2, Clause A. Added Society’s Distinguished Service Award

Other Editorial Changes

  1. Minor formatting, no change in wording.
  2. Add descriptions for Clauses that were missing.

Proposal for periodic dues adjustments tied to the consumer price index.

The Bylaws require that changes in member dues are approved by a vote of membership. The last member vote on dues was made in 1987 when dues were approved to increase from $15 to $20 dollars. On the same ballot was an item to allow updates to dues based upon changes in the Consumer Price Index similar to how TWS allows adjustments. Through review of Section records, the fate of that vote could not be determined, however, the Bylaws were never revised to include those changes.

We are now re-proposing to amend Article V, Sect. 5, Clause A to add language for periodic adjustment of dues tied to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), the same index that TWS uses to calculate periodic dues adjustments. The Executive Board would have the discretion to periodically calculate the change in CPI-U since the last update and raise member dues without requiring a membership vote. To keep membership dues simple, dues would be rounded to the nearest dollar. When increases are proposed, they will be calculated in March and updated dues will be submitted to TWS by their April 30 deadline and will become effective on July 1. It is expected that the Executive Board would update dues every few years and not annually. When Standard dues are increased, dues for life, retired, student, youth, and early career professional dues categories can also be adjusted “up to” the stated percentage in Bylaws and rounded to the nearest dollar increment specified. This change allows the Executive Board discretion not to raise these dues categories automatically to the full percentage for these categories.

The Executive Board also retains the discretion to propose an increase in dues larger than the periodic update for the CPI-U, but any recommendation would be required to be put forward to the membership for approval as is the current practice.

Rationale for adding Supporting and Contributing Member dues categories

We are proposing to recognize formally two additional dues categories for Regular or Associate members that wish to provide additional financial support to the Section. A new Supporting member dues category would be set at two times the Standard dues. A new Contributing member dues category would be set at three times the Standard dues. These new dues categories convey no new member privileges beyond those of Regular or Associate members. Dues in excess of Standard dues will normally be contributed to the Endowment Fund unless otherwise allocated by a majority vote of the Executive Board. Members who contribute at these levels will receive special recognition by the Section for their support as determined by the Executive Board.


Four votes will be required for these actions. Vote 1, if approved by membership, will be effective as described below. Votes 2 through 4, if approved by membership, will be effective upon approval by TWS.

Vote by Membership

Vote 1: Increase regular membership dues from $20 to $30, and student/new professional/retired dues from $10 to $15. If approved, the new dues would be effective no sooner than July 1, 2017. In the event that dues changes cannot be implemented in the TWS membership system on that date, the dues increase will be implemented as soon as possible but no later than January 1, 2018.

Bylaws Votes

Vote 2: Amend Bylaws to Change Article V, Section 5, Clause A. to allow periodic adjustment of the dues according to changes in the Consumer Price Index – Urban Areas adjusted to the nearest dollar. Notice of periodic adjustments in dues will be provided to the membership and will take effect on July 1.

Vote 3: Amend Bylaws to add a Supporting Member and Contributing Member dues category set at rates two-times and three-times Standard dues, respectively. Confers the same privileges as a Regular or Associate member. Supporting and Contributing Members receive special recognition by the Section. If this vote is not approved by membership, related edits to Article VIII, Section 7, Clause B will not be made.

Vote 4: Accept Minor Edits and Editorial Changes to Bylaws.