How to write a wildlife management plan

This article was co-authored by Michael Simpson, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD. Dr. Michael Simpson (Mike) is a Registered Professional Biologist in British Columbia, Canada. He has over 20 years of experience in ecology research and professional practice in Britain and North America, with an emphasis on plants and biological diversity. Mike also specializes in science communication and providing education and technical support for ecology projects. Mike received a BSc with honors in Ecology and an MA in Society, Science, and Nature from The University of Lancaster in England as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta. He has worked in British, North American, and South American ecosystems, and with First Nations communities, non-profits, government, academia, and industry.

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A wildlife management plan (WMP) is a document used by developers and landowners to outline and implement steps for increasing, preserving, or managing wildlife on a given property. Taking full account of the existing wildlife, jurisdictional requirements, and the objectives and goals of the landholder, the management plan usually contains maps, descriptive documents, and records of progress and change. Whether you’re seeking funding, tax benefits, accreditation, or simply first prize in a 4-H contest, you’ll need a WMP that is clear, detailed, and realistic in scope. [1] X Expert Source

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Woodlands can be managed for a variety of objectives, from timber production to a bird sanctuary; many times these diverse uses can be combined on the same property. Owners determine their own objectives for the land and their decisions are as dependent on economics or personal preferences as on the biologically productive capacity of the land. Woodland owners are encouraged to work with a professional forester in the care and management of their woodland and an important part of that relationship is the creation and implementation of a woodland management plan. Typically professional foresters write these plans after evaluating the current condition and potential of the woodland in relation to the owner’s goals and objectives.

If you have ever started out on a trip but did not know exactly how to get to your destination you quickly realized that you would need a map and directions. A woodland management plan is the road map and directions for your woodland. A woodland management plan provides you the following benefits:

  • A better understanding of what you have and capabilities of the land.
  • Connects woodland owners to technical assistance through working with forestry, wildlife, and other natural resources professionals.
  • Written woodland management plans are required to participate in many programs including government financial incentive programs related to woodland management.
  • All woodland certification programs require a woodland management plan.
  • Woodland management plans provides a “road map and reference” to facilitate the production of multiple benefits from the woodlands.

The written woodland management plan is an important document that provides a variety of attributes to help woodland owners care for and manage their woodlands. The plan will include the landowner’s goals and objectives, a map of the woodland with the various areas (stands) identified, a description of each area (derived from the inventory), an assessment of threats and opportunities, the action steps required to meet the landowner’s goals and objectives, and other information or references related to the plan.

Identifying the woodland management goals and objectives is a critical element of all management plans. At first, the goals and objectives may not be well formed or articulated. This is especially true if the property was just acquired or the owner has little knowledge of the number and condition of trees, plants, and animals present. By working with a forester or other natural resource professional an inventory of the property can be accomplished to better inform the owner of the current and potential of the woodland as well as identify issues that may need to be addressed such as invasive plants or trespass problems.

A good understanding of the answers to the following questions will help in the development of your goals and objectives for your woodland. A forester will also consider many of these questions during the inventory and plan development process.

Wildlife Management Plans

A Wildlife Management Plan gives information on your property’s historic and current use, establishes your goals for the property, and provides a set of activities designed to integrate wildlife and habitat improvements to meet your goals.

Management plans for ranches are designed to meet the needs of the wildlife as well as the needs and desires of you, the landowner. Whether managing for deer, game birds, or other species, the Wildlife Management Plan addresses the requirements of the species based on the habitat available as well as it’s potential availability. Depending on the goals you set for the plan, different practices may be prescribed.

Plans for the Wildlife Tax Exemption are likely to include elements of all seven listed wildlife management activities. All activities and practices are designed to overcome deficiencies that limit wildlife or harm their habitats. Each one of the activities should be practiced routinely or consistently as part of an overall habitat management plan. For example, sporadically scattering corn would not qualify as providing supplemental supplies of food under these guidelines.

The prescribed activities in your wildlife management plan will be specific to the particular region of the state your property is located. There are many practices that are appropriate in some regions of Texas that are inappropriate in others. For example, some areas of East Texas may not require providing supplemental water for wildlife. And there may be no need for supplemental cover in the brush country of South Texas.

Let us help you begin or enhance the current wildlife management on your property.

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Wildlife Management and Conservation Plan

The Wildlife Management and Conservation Plan is a keystone piece of work for our Council. It offers guidance and information to our Council members, governments, co-management organizations, environmental assessment bodies, Inuvialuit and other Indigenous organizations, and the general public. It also helps to inform research priorities and projects.

The Council is set to release an updated version of the Plan later this year (2021) that incorporates the results of many years of Inuvialuit knowledge and science studies. Much has changed since the first version – for example, the effects of climate change have become more pronounced, but we also have a better understanding of how change may occur in the future. Importantly, this Plan update will better reflect the conservation requirements of the Yukon North Slope.

We are currently working with the Parties to the Inuvialuit Final Agreement to complete this work. Over the past year, we have been traveling to communities, holding meetings, and presenting the updated draft Plan. Throughout this process we have received excellent feedback that has strengthened the draft Plan. We look forward to sharing this resource with everyone soon!

How to write a wildlife management plan

The First Plan

Along with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement came certain requirements and responsibilities, delegated to the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope).

The Yukon North Slope Wildlife Conservation and Management Plan was one such requirement and considerable collaborative work went into the first edition of the Plan. Volume I was released in 2003.

How to write a wildlife management plan

A Guiding Document

An important resource for anyone interested in the Yukon’s North Slope, the Wildlife Conservation and Management Plan outlines goals, objectives, and concrete actions needed to conserve and protect this exceptional environment. It also highlights the important relationship between the Inuvialuit and their land. Realization of the Plan is dependant upon strong cooperation in the region – everyone must play their part.

You can download the current edition of the plan below, issued in three volumes: Volume I was produced in 1996, Volume II in 2003, and Volume III in 2012. Our Council is currently working on updating these materials to more accurately reflect the current situation on the Yukon’s North Slope.

The Land and the Legacy – Taimanga Nunapta Pitqusia: Volume I

How to write a wildlife management plan

Volume I provides an overview of the environment and its people.

The Land and the Legacy – Taimanga Nunapta Pitqusia: Volume II

How to write a wildlife management plan

Volume II outlines the six goals of the Plan and their objectives.

The Land and the Legacy – Taimanga Nunapta Pitqusia: Volume III

How to write a wildlife management plan

Volume III provides a species status report (as of 2012) for the wildlife of the Yukon North Slope.

We have worked with Texas landowners for years. The success of each one of our Texas wildlife management plans is an example of how we strive to provide the best product for Texas property owners. We believe the wildlife tax valuation is one of the single best conservation initiatives for private property owners in Texas.

The statutes governing agricultural property taxation of Section 1-d-1 open-spaced lands devoted to wildlife management purposes are set forth in Texas Tax Code, Chapter 23, Subchapter D, Appraisal of Agricultural Land. A property can only be assessed based on wildlife management use if at the time the wildlife management began the property was already being appraised as qualified open-spaced land under the Tax Code. TEX. TAX CODE §23.51(7)(A).

How to write a wildlife management plan

Planning for Wildlife Management

The statute referenced above means that a property was being appraised as open-spaced land because the land had been devoted for 5 of the preceding 7 years to producing agricultural products, such as row crops, livestock production, timber production, or the property was used as an ecological laboratory by a college or university The latter is a very special and very rare situation.

A property owner can convert agricultural property to wildlife management use, which is legally considered agricultural under state law, and can maintain ag taxes on that property in perpetuity under active wildlife management. It’s a great deal for property owners and wildlife!

An Example of Wildlife Management Use

Wildlife management for the purpose of maintaining an ag tax valuation on a tract of land is defined by the Texas Tax Code as actively using the land through at least 3 of 7 wildlife management practices to propagate a sustaining breeding, migrating, or winter population of indigenous wild animals for human use, including, food medicine, or recreation. TEX. TAX CODE §23.51(7)(A).

The 7 major practices that a property owner can carry out on their property for wildlife management use include:

  • Habitat control – Example: Brush control
  • Erosion control – Example: Establish ground cover
  • Predator control – Example: Feral hog control
  • Providing supplemental water – Example: Install wildlife guzzler
  • Providing supplemental food – Example: Food plot
  • Providing shelters – Example: Nest boxes
  • Performing census counts – Example: Point counts

Special Qualification for Wildlife Tax Valuation

Most property owners “switch” over to wildlife management as an agricultural practice directly from a traditional agricultural practice, such as livestock grazing. In additional to serving as a prior ecological laboratory, there is also another way property owners can move directly into a wildlife exemption.

Land can also qualify for appraisal based on wildlife management use if it is being used to protect a federally listed endangered species under a conservation easement or as part of a qualifying habitat conservation plan. TEX. TAX CODE §23.51(7)(B).

How to write a wildlife management plan

Benefits of Wildlife Management

Wildlife management is a qualifying agricultural practice that if done to the required degree of intensity, as defined by the statues, regulations and guidelines, qualifies land to be appraised as open-spaced land based on the land’s productive value rather than its market value as required by Section 1-d-1. TEX. TAX CODE §§23.51(1) and (2).

Agricultural lands are taxed based on production value in Texas. That makes a wildlife exemption/wildlife tax valuation very attractive for property owners, especially (new) small acreage landowners and those looking to transition out of ag production for a variety of reasons. Both wildlife and people benefit.

When a landowner elects to convert the primary use of their land from farming or ranching to wildlife management there is no change in the amount of property taxes assessed against the property, only a change in the qualifying agricultural practice, therefore, appraisal based on wildlife management use is revenue neutral.

Texas Wildlife Management Plans: Examples of Excellence

It does take some up-front planning for property owners looking to convert ag land to wildlife management. For landowners that have owned their property for a number of years, switching to a wildlife tax valuation is a matter of identifying suitable wildlife for which to manage for on the property (and region,) then developing a wildlife management plan that meets the aforementioned requirements.

In Texas, a property owner or anyone else is allowed to develop a management plan for a property. But like filing for federal taxes, not everyone feels comfortable doing so, especially with so much on the line. That’s where we come in, ready to offer high quality, personal and property-specific assistance at a reasonable cost. Our proven history of success serves as an example of the thoroughness of the wildlife management plans we’ve drafted across Texas.