WBWG Officers

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The Western Bat Working Group is governed by a board of elected officers and a board of directors. The officers include a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and four at-large representatives. Two of the at-large representatives are elected and two are appointed by the president. At least one at-large representative will be from Canada. The intent is to have a diverse mix of federal, state, provincial, and private entity representation on the Board with at least one of the Officers being associated with a state wildlife agency that represents Western Bat Working Group at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and associated groups such as The Trilateral Committee.

Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is made up of Directors that have been elected by the members of their state or province to represent them in the WBWG. More than one director may be selected per state or province although each state is allowed one vote within the function of The Board of Directors. It is up to the discretion of each state or province to determine their election procedure but according to WBWG Bylaws their term of office is two years and until he or she is re-elected, or his or her successor is elected and qualifies.
Officers are elected by the Board of Directors. Directors should get a consensus from the members of their respective state or province and then vote for officers based on that consensus. Term of office for Officers is two years, or until he or she is re-elected, resigns or is removed or is otherwise disqualified to serve, or until his or her successor shall be elected and qualified, whichever occurs first.
Elections and Voting
Elections for Officers will be conducted every two years. A nomination and elections committee will present a ballot of nominees to the Board of Directors and Officers for approval by October 1. The approved ballot will then be provided to the membership of each state or province by their Director by November 15. Members should send their votes to their respective state or provincial Director. Each Director, for their respective state or province, will record votes from their membership and then cast one ballot reflecting the consensus of votes from their membership to the nomination and elections committee by December 15. The nomination and elections committee will tally the votes and present the results to the outgoing Officers.

Current Officers and Directors

President | Ernie Valdez

I am a Research Wildlife Biologist at the USGS-Fort Collins Science Center, Arid Lands Field Station, located on the University of New Mexico (UNM) campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition to work-related duties for the USGS, I also serve as adjunct faculty and committee member of graduate students in the Biology Department at UNM. Some of my research interests include natural history, taxonomy, systematic relationships, feeding ecology, ectoparasites, and conservation of several taxa including some birds, arthropods, and small mammals, with an emphasis on bats. I have been working on bats while in the field and laboratory, as well as across the western United States and its territories for over 20 years. I specialize on vespertilionid bats with an emphasis on the genus Myotis, but also work on other families including Molossidae, Phyllostomidae, Pteropodidae, Emballonuridae, and others. My master’s research involved genetic work on Myotis occultus and M. lucifugus to better understand the taxonomic status of these bats, whereas my doctoral research involved the study of geographic variation in morphology, feeding habits, and ectoparasites of M. occultus. I am a member of the Western Bat Working Group, as well as other state working groups such as Arizona and New Mexico, and have served as co-chair for the New Mexico Bat Working Group. At present, I continue to work on bat-related projects that involve migration and feeding ecology of insectivorous bats, white-nose syndrome, and impacts of alternative energy to bats.

  • Arid Lands Field Station UNM Biology Department MSC03 2020 1 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001 Room Albuquerque, NM
  • 505 277 0284

Vice President | Laura Ellison

I am an Ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado. I was hooked on bats after capturing my first Antrozous pallidus at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, in 1992 with Dr. Mike Bogan. I’ve worked on bat research topics since then including acoustic monitoring in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, bat population status and trends in the United States and Territories, and population dynamics of big brown bats roosting in buildings in Fort Collins in relation to the rabies virus. I currently lead the Data Management Team of the national response to white-nose syndrome (WNS) and I manage the USGS Bat Population Data (BPD) Project, a web- based database that houses and serves bat colony counts, bibliographic citations, mist net and capture data, and acoustic data. I am also coordinating the North American Bat Population Monitoring Program (NABat), a multi-agency collaborative effort to develop a statistically rigorous and nationally coordinated program to determine the impacts of the many stressors on bat populations, especially WNS and wind- energy impacts. I earned a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from University of California, Davis, and a M.S. in Biology at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.
I began working with bat conservation efforts that led to the formation of the Western Bat Working Group in 1996 and attended the inaugural meeting in Reno in 1998. I’m an active member of the Colorado Bat Working Group and I served as Chair from 2000-2003 and as Co-Chair from 2010-present. It has been an honor to be a part of the WBWG; it is an inspirational and diverse group of very dedicated managers, scientists, and conservationists. I look forward to continuing to help with critical bat conservation issues into the future.
  • Fort Collins Science Center 2150 Centre Ave Bldg C Room 3110 Fort Collins, CO 80526
  • 970 226 9494

Secretary | Becky Abel

I am a Regional Wildlife Biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Pocatello, Idaho. The majority of my work is dedicated to improving knowledge of the distribution, diversity, and abundance of Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Idaho and providing on-the-ground conservation for wildlife through partnerships with other agencies and entities. I completed my B.S. in Biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2006. In 2011, I completed my M.S. in Integrated Biosciences from the University of Minnesota, where I studied habitat use of seven species of bats in boreal forests of northeastern Minnesota.
Prior to joining Idaho Department of Fish and Game in 2013, I was a bat biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. There, I co-authored the Strategic Plan for White-nose Syndrome in Wyoming, assisted the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region in conducting a risk assessment for WNS in caves and abandoned mines, and developed a long-term, statewide inventory of bats in cliff and canyon habitats of Wyoming. In Idaho, I continue to promote conservation of bats through monitoring, disease surveillance, and education and outreach. I always welcome opportunities to teach both professionals and the public about bats. I am the current Secretary of Western Bat Working Group, a member of Idaho Bat Working Group, North American Society for Bat Research, and Idaho Chapter of The Wildlife Society. I am observant, organized, an excellent communicator, and passionate about bats. I look forward to continue serving the Western Bat Working Group as Secretary.

Treasurer | Brad Phillips

I am employed as a Wildlife Biologist on the Black Hills National Forest (US Forest Service) in Custer, SD. I also serve as one of the contact persons for the Rocky Mountain Region (R2) on issues related to bats and bat habitat. I have a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management (1980) from Humboldt State University, CA. I also serve as Co-Chairperson for South Dakota Bat Working Group (1998-present). I have been the Treasurer for WBWG since 2004. My professional interests include bats, cave/karst management, abandoned mines, forest raptors, and reptiles/amphibians. Thank you for your consideration.

At Large Representative | Amie Shovlain

I’m originally from Nebraska where I obtained a B.S. in Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife in 1997. I quickly moved out west to explore the wilds of the Rocky Mountains while working on variety of wildlife projects along the way. I then received my M.S. degree from Oregon State University in 2005 where I studied Oregon spotted frogs. I am currently a wildlife biologist for the Forest Service on the Beaverhead- Deerlodge National Forest where part of my time is spent closing hazardous mines (bat- friendly of course) and general wildlife inventory and monitoring. Primarily though, I’ve been the Northern Region bat program lead since 2007. I am also an active member of several bat working groups, one of which has recently partnered agencies with local grottos and school groups to deploy microhabitat data loggers and collect soils samples (testing for Geomyces destructans) in known hibernacula across northern Idaho and Montana. Additionally, I’m co-coordinating a multi-agency, multi- state acoustic monitoring effort to collect year-round baseline bat activity data in light of the impending threat of WNS. Outside of work, I enjoy backpacking, river trips, snowboarding, music festivals, creating art, home improvement (strange but true), and playing music with my band.
  • Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

At Large Representative | Roger Rodriguez

I am the owner of Zotz Ecological Solutions, LLC which I have operated for the past 9 years providing research and consultation on the impacts to bats from renewable energy developments. Over the past 15 years I have studied bats throughout North America, Central America, South America, Micronesia, and East Asia. In 2002, I received a M.S. from Angelo State University, Texas, studying the phylogenetic relationships and phylogeography of Myotis californicus and M. ciliolabrum in the southwestern U.S. Experience in the western U.S. has included conducting bat surveys throughout the majority of western states, such as surveys with the U.S. Geological Survey for the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program, as well as studies of endangered long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris species) in New Mexico and Texas. My current work in developing and conducting bat risk assessments at proposed wind energy sites has consisted of projects throughout the U.S. including western states and internationally (e.g., Honduras, Curaçao, and Canada).
I have been a member of the Western Bat Working Group since 2002 and currently serve as an At-large Representative. In this position, I am active in participating in monthly conference calls and am currently working with the WBWG president to update the range maps of western bat species for the USGS/University of Idaho GAP Analysis Program. I am a member of the Colorado Bat Working Group and have been working collaboratively with Michael Schirmacher of Bat Conservation International to incorporate an energy development section to the Colorado Bat Conservation Plan. I am a member of the Texas Bat Working Group and serve as the Co-Chair for the group. Lastly, I am active in the North American Society for Bat Research, the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative Wildlife Workgroup, and the Legislation and Regulations Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists.

Position Duties


Duties of a director include,

  • meet at such times and places as required by the Bylaws including participation in WBWG conference calls;
  • act as liaison and facilitate communication between WBWG and members of their respective state or province (e.g., solicit feedback from members when voting on WBWG issues);
  • provide summary report(s) of bat-related activity in their respective state or province for inclusion in WBWG Newsletters;
  • Assist the Board of Directors and Officers in carrying out the work of the WBWG.

Time required is approximately 5-10 hours per month.


Duties of the president include,

  • supervises and controls the affairs of WBWG and the activities of the Officers, subject to the control of the Board of Directors;
  • presides at all meetings of the Board of Directors and meetings of the members;
  • maintains the Action Plan and facilities implementation of the Action Plan;
  • signs contracts for WBWG meetings; and
  • serves as primary signatory, representative, and liaison for WBWG.

Time required is approximately 15-25 hours per month.

Vice President

Duties of the vice president include,

  • perform all duties of the President in the absence of the President, or in the event of his or her inability or refusal to act; and
  • assist the President in carrying out the work of the WBWG by completing tasks assigned by the President or Board of Directors.

Time required is approximately 10-15 hours per month.


Duties of the secretary include,

          • certify and keep the original, or a copy, of the Bylaws as amended or otherwise altered to date;
          • maintain a record of all formal communications and a book of minutes of all meetings of the Board of Directors and Officers including time and place held, attendees, and proceedings (this includes securing edits for meeting notes and submitting them to the webmaster within 5 days following the meeting);
          • maintain and update regularly a membership book containing names and addresses of members, and distribute membership rolls to Directors of each state or province at least every 6 months;
          • assist with writing and disseminating letters on behalf of WBWG;
          • serve on the Membership Committee; and
          • conduct roll call for meetings of the Board of Directors.

Time required is approximately 10-15 hours per month.


Duties of the treasurer include,

            • have charge and custody of, and be responsible for, all funds and securities of WBWG;
            • receive, and give receipt for, monies due and payable to WBWG from any source;
            • disburse, or cause to be disbursed, WBWG funds as may be directed by the Board of Directors;
            • keep and maintain adequate and correct accounts of WBWG’s business transactions;
            • provide an annual report to the Board of Directors on the financial status of the corporation;
            • render to the President and Directors, whenever requested, an account of any or all of his or her transactions as Treasurer and of the financial condition of WBWG
            • prepare and certify the financial statements to be included in any required reports; and
            • annually update the non-profit status of WBWG.

Time required is approximately 10-15 hours per month.

    At-large Representatives

    Duties of at-large representatives include,

              • participate in meetings of Board of Directors and Officers including conference calls; and
              • Assist the Board of Directors and Officers in carrying out the work of the WBWG.

    Time required is approximately 10 hours per month.

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