Date of this Version
Consider the following question:
"A proposed development activity that promises substantial economic benefits will have significant adverse impacts on fish and wildlife resources in the area. What percentage of all your agency wildlife and fisheries professionals could develop and present a fully professional defense for the faunal interests in the area to an audience largely oriented towards commodity development?"
Before you become too uneasy with your answer to that question, let me pose another:
"Your wildlife and fish budget request to carry out a proposed program, regulatory activity, project or operation has been challenged. What percentage of all your agency wildlife and fisheries professionals could adequately defend the budget request to non-biologists?"
If your answers to both questions are personally discomforting, I will add to your dismay by saying that you are part of the majority. In a recent survey, these same questions were posed to a number of federal agency administrators of wildlife and fish programs who collectively represent nearly 3,500 wildlife and fisheries professionals. These administrators indicated that less than half of their staffs could effectively perform either task.
A consensus within the profession has been established (Cookingham et al. 1980) that the level of skills of biologists in essential non-biological areas should be upgraded. Functional specialists are not well-equipped to deal with broader aspects of their responsibilities. Here, we further explore the adequacy of the formal education of professional resource managers to understand and apply concepts of ecological, economic, and sociological analysis.