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Curtis Freese

Curt grew up on a farm in Iowa where, other than crop and livestock sales, the only payment for ecosystem services he recalls ever occurring was for muskrat pelts he once sold for a few cents each. Pheasant hunting was free for all comers. He subsequently parlayed those farm-based wildlife experiences into a B.S. in fish and wildlife biology from Iowa State University and Ph.D. in ecology from Johns Hopkins University. His career has oscillated since between independent researcher and staff positions with conservation organizations. Among various positions, Curt was a Peace Corps biologist for the fledgling Costa Rica National Park Service, coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Latin American program, vice president for global programs and conservation science at World Wildlife Fund, founding managing director of WWF’s Northern Great Plains Program, and co-founder of the American Prairie Reserve.

Much of Curt’s research has focused on the intersection of economics and biodiversity conservation, in regions ranging from the tropics to North America to the Arctic. Articles and books relevant to the topic of this conference include, among others, Wildlife Markets and Biodiversity Conservation in North America; Wild Species as Commodities: Managing Markets and Ecosystems for Sustainability; New Directions for the Prairie Economy: Connecting Conservation and Rural Development in the Northern Great Plains; and A Management Framework for the Transition from Livestock Ranching toward Biodiversity Conservation on Great Plains Rangelands. Curt recently conducted global reviews for WWF and IUCN of the role of trophy hunting in conservation and rural development, co-authored IUCN’s status survey of the American bison, and led preparation of American Prairie Reserve’s bison management plan.

 Curt will buy a drink for the first person to correctly guess what he’s pointing to in the photo (hint: the answer is not “a rock”).