MISSOULA, Mont.–An award honoring the science-based conservation legacy of Olaus J. Murie, the late biologist remembered as the father of modern elk management, has been presented by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to Dr. Michael Wisdom of La Grande, Ore.
The recipient of the 2011 Olaus J. Murie Award is a wildlife researcher at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory, at La Grande.
An expert in North American ungulate ecology and modeling, wildlife biology, vertebrate species and wildlife-habitat relationships, Wisdom also is a noted leader as these topics relate to disturbance regimes and anthropogenic risk factors.
Wisdom’s contributions to the science of wildlife management are extensive. He has been an author or co-author of 364 invited papers and posters and of 44 offered presentations and posters. Wisdom has 17 formal consultations with scientists both nationally and internationally regarding use of technologies and methods in ungulate research. He also has 118 publications to his credit in scientific journals.
“Everyone who has followed professional elk management since 1986 has heard of the ‘Wisdom Model,’ which was one of the first definitive attempts to predict habitat effectiveness,” said Tom Toman, director of conservation and staff biologist for RMEF.
“Newer modeling efforts are a collaboration of many biologists but Mike remains one of the leaders and the objective has never changed: Develop a tool to measure dietary digestible energy, distance to roads, distance to cover and slope to help direct habitat enhancement and watershed restoration work. Mike remains on the cutting edge of these advanced techniques in elk management.”
Along the way, Wisdom’s efforts also benefit other wildlife species that prosper in early and mid-seral successional habitats.
During his career, Wisdom has been a wildlife assistant at Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, bird phase research leader, chemical lab technician and fisheries teacher assistant. He served as a wildlife and fisheries biologist and assistant district wildlife biologist for the Bureau of Land Management in Coos Bay, Ore. He also worked as a technology transfer scientist, a regional wildlife ecologist and a terrestrial scientist at the Forest and Range Science Laboratory in La Grande, Ore. Wisdom is now part of the Starkey Ungulate Ecology Team, Ecological Process and Function Program of the USDA Forest Service.
Wisdom’s academic achievements include a B.S. in wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, an M.S. in wildlife science from New Mexico State and Ph.D. in forestry, range and wildlife from the University of Idaho.
The 2011 Olaus J. Murie Award was announced in May at the Western States and Provinces Deer and Elk Workshop in New Mexico. Wisdom was unable to attend, however, so a formal presentation to him will follow later this year.
The award is based on five criteria:
1. Relevance of work to the conservation of wild, free-ranging elk
2. Application of work “on the ground” to benefit wild, free-ranging elk
3. Dedication to his or her profession
4. Commitment to the conservation of wild, free-ranging elk
5. Credibility and respect among peers
Murie was educated at the University of Michigan. He was the first to conduct elk and habitat research at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyo. His detailed work led to the classic book, The Elk of North America, published in 1951. He promoted sound stewardship and protection of wildlife habitat, receiving numerous honors and awards. Murie died in 1963.
The RMEF award honors Murie’s legacy while recognizing those who have become conservation leaders in their own rite. Past recipients include Jack Ward Thomas, Jim Peek, L. Jack Lyon, Valerius Geist, Robert D. Nelson and John Cook.