Ombuds: About


History and Mission

In February 2021, the Western Section Board approved the Office of Ombudsperson Program. The purpose of this program is to maintain the Section’s standards for professional behavior regarding the practice, learning, training, publishing, and communication of science by outlining a process for reporting and addressing violations. The final charter and operating procedures of the Section’s Office of the Ombudspersons Program is available here.

The role of an Ombuds is “to hear and to respond appropriately to charges of unprofessional behavior (as defined by the TWS Code of Ethics) by any Section member or registered participant in Section activities, defined as Section events (i.e., annual meeting, workshops), Section-sponsored activities (i.e., field trips), or in the governance of the Section through its committee structure, whether in person, digitally, or through social media outlets.”  The Section’s Ombuds Program provides a mechanism for reporting concerns.

One or more Ombudspersons are appointed by the President. Selection of appointees and duration of appointment are the prerogative of the President. Selection criteria emphasize the possession of common sense, sensitivity to gender and minority issues, discretion, possession of the respect of the membership in general, and a willingness to serve. 

Creation of the Office of the Ombudsperson is intended to constitute a strong statement to our commitment that all aspects of our Section operate in an inclusive, professional, transparent manner. The Ombudpersons are entrusted to deal with each situation as they best see fit following procedures of the Office of the Ombudsperson. All issues brought before any of the appointed individuals will be resolved as discreetly as possible.

Code of Ethics

Professional conduct is expected of all Section members, of any individual representing the Section, and of all participants in Section-sponsored activities.  All Section members and non-member participants are expected to adhere to The Wildlife Society Code and Ethics Policy (available here) and The Wildlife Society Code of Ethics (available here). TWS maintains policies and procedures (hereafter referred to as our Code) that represent both the code of ethics and the code of business conduct for directors, officers, volunteers and employees.

While Section members and non-member participants must adhere to the above Code, additional measures are in place for Section operations. The Section has adopted a Harassment Prevention Policy (available here) that further defines the Section’s policies regarding preventing the “unlawful harassment” by an officer or agent of the Section, which includes “all persons involved in our operations… [including] any officer of our organization, as well as by any person doing business with or for our organization including independent contractors, suppliers, and volunteers.”

Recommended Resources

Resources are available for guidance and education on professional conduct.  Most universities and places of employment also offer sexual harassment and sexual violence training (in person training or online). We also strongly recommend Bystander Intervention training, which is becoming common among universities and in society. Finally, always feel free to contact your Ombudspersons for further assistance. We note that many of these links are focused on harassment and assault; however, we also believe these links could be useful for other types of nonprofessional behavior.


Report Alleged Misconduct