Following Aldo Leopold’s death in April 1948, The Wildlife Society established an award medal in his memory to recognize individuals who have demonstrated “distinguished services of undoubted significance to the cause of wildlife conservation.” It is our highest honor. This year we were proud to recognize Dr. Daniel Decker as the 2012 Aldo Leopold Memorial Award winner at the 19th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Since Leopold’s time, our profession has struggled to understand and incorporate public opinion and human values into wildlife management without compromising the biological foundations of wildlife management. Dr. Decker has been an outstanding leader in integrating Human Dimensions into our field in an effective, practical manner and to a compelling result.
In recent years, Human Dimensions has become an integral component of wildlife curricula at more than 55 universities and countless professional training programs. He has published more than 130 papers including numerous seminal ones and several first-ever books in Wildlife Values and Human Dimensions. His practical workshops have been instrumental in helping state and federal agencies implement new knowledge into their management programs.
Since 1982 Dr. Decker has been co-leader or Director of the Human Dimensions Research Unit, a flagship research entity that has shaped the careers of many wildlife professionals. Although the Human Dimensions Research Unit dates back to the early 1970s and has employed many fine scientists, its growth and impact since 1982 were greatly advanced by Dr. Decker. The clear leader in Human Dimensions, the Unit enjoys an international reputation for training academicians, students, and nature resource agency staff.
Dr. Decker’s contributions have positioned the wildlife management profession for greater relevance in the future, tackling the human dimensions across a range of tough subjects from suburban wildlife to community-based management, and hunter retention to wildlife habituation in National Parks. These devoted efforts have also generated a cadre of exceptional graduate-student ambassadors who are moving the discipline forward. His visionary work has challenged professionals to become better leaders, decision makers, and overall stewards in trust of the natural resources.