Over the past 3.5 years, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has been working collaboratively with researchers in Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation to develop a state-wide Wildlife Viewing Plan. This Wildlife Viewing Plan is the first comprehensive plan for engaging with and supporting wildlife viewers (people who intentionally observe, photograph, feed, or collect data about wildlife or visit parks and natural areas because of wildlife) developed for the DWR. It was co-produced by an 18-member Technical Advisory Committee, composed of DWR staff, and a 20-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee, composed of individuals and organizational representatives with experience and interest in wildlife viewing in Virginia.
The resulting Virginia Wildlife Viewing Plan provides direction and priorities to orient the DWR's efforts related to wildlife viewing through 2031. Plan goals emphasize connecting diverse segments of the public to wildlife and wildlife viewing in Virginia; providing a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities accessible to all in the Commonwealth; promoting wildlife and habitat conservation through wildlife viewing; and connecting broader constituencies to the Virginia DWR through wildlife viewing.
Researchers at Virginia Tech are now working with DWR staff to collect broad public input on the draft Wildlife Viewing Plan to ensure that the plan reflects the values and interests of people throughout the Commonwealth. We invite you to visit https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife-watching/wildlife-viewing-plan/ to view the draft plan and to share your comments through a research survey, which will take approximately five minutes to complete. The draft plan will be available for public input through March 3rd. This input process has been approved by Virginia Tech?s Institutional Review Board (IRB) (Protocol #17-754). If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please contact Dr. Jessica Barnes by email at WildlifeRecreation@vt.edu.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Virginia Wildlife Viewing Plan!
Deputy Director, Outreach Division, DWR
Dr. Ashley Dayer
Assistant Professor, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech
Dr. Jessica Barnes
Research Scientist, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech