The Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Texas Tech University

by Nick C. Parker

The Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is one of 35 Co-Op Units established by Congress and supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state fish and wildlife agency, and the host university. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides the professional staff of three scientists; Texas Parks and Wildlife supports the Unit with operational funds; and Texas Tech University provides secretarial support, the physical plant, and other local support.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Program is designed to promote wise management of natural resources for all Americans concerned about the future of fish and wildlife. The mission of any Cooperative Research Unit is to perform research pertinent to the problems existing in the geographical area it serves. The Units provide a continuing source of professional managers well-trained in the complexities of modern resource management and serve an education function to the public that looks to it for guidance in wildlife and fisheries matters. University undergraduates reap benefits from the Co-op Unit, but the Unit is established primarily to support graduate study to prepare these students to assist in managing the nation's fish and wildlife resources. The Unit is also responsible for scientific publications and technical assistance.

The nationwide Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit Program was established in 1935 to meet the needs for trained personnel in the rapidly growing field of wildlife management. In 1960, Congress enacted Public Law 86-686, which extended statutory recognition to the Program and authorized the Secretary of the Interior to enter into cooperative agreements with universities, state fish and wildlife agencies, and non-profit organizations to coordinate fish and wildlife research and training programs. Later in 1960, Cooperative Fishery Research Units were authorized as companions to the existing Wildlife Units.

Research findings produced by the Units are used by other scientists and put into practice by state and federal conservation agencies. Results of Unit studies lead to better public understanding of fish and wildlife populations and habitats; better evaluation of proposed water, land, and energy projects; application of progressively modern methods of managing fish and wildlife resources; and enlightened appreciation of the natural environment, particularly fish and wildlife resources.

Unit-sponsored graduates are employed in natural resource fields in virtually every state and federal resource agency, universities, colleges, high schools, and industry. Unit-educated personnel continue to qualify and successfully compete for wildlife and fishery ecology positions,-even though competition for these positions is keen.

Although the primary cooperating organizations provide the basic personnel and facilities, most of the actual research is supported through special grants and contracts from a variety of sources. Money comes from the primary cooperators for projects of special interest to them. Growing support for research conducted within the Units is evident. Both the public and private sectors have come to depend on the Unit program for information about scientific management of resources.

Each Unit is guided by a coordinating committee of representatives from the participating university, the state's conservation department, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The coordinating committee reviews plans for research projects' budgets, and any necessary changes in policy and personnel. The Unit Leader manages the program under the direction of the coordinating committee.

The Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is located in the Department of Range and Wildlife Management in Goddard Hall. Dr. Nick C. Parker is the Unit Leader, Dr. Renaldo Patino is the Assistant Unit Leader-Fisheries, and Joyce Adams is the secretary. The position of Assistant Unit Leader-Wildlife has been advertised advertised. We expect to have this position filled in the near future.

Those interested in special projects or cooperative research with personnel of the Co-op Unit are encouraged to visit the Unit office in Goddard Hall. The Unit is here to serve the needs within the state and especially in the Southern High Plains. It has the potential to become the best unit in the program and we welcome the challenge to work toward that goal.

Reprinted from: Research Highlights - 1989. Texas Tech Department of Range and Wildlife Management 20:37