Director, Turner Endangered Species Fund

Mike has served as the Director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and an advisor to Turner Biodiversity Divisions (TBD) since he established both with Ted Turner and his family in 1997.

Mike has played a key role in wolf conservation and recovery. From 1986–1994, he was the Field Coordinator for the Red Wolf Recovery Program. He was also instrumental in the return of gray wolves to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, serving as Project Leader for the wolf restoration effort from its inception in 1994 until 1997 when he left the National Park Service to establish TESF and TBD.

Mike received his B.Sc. in Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution from the University of Illinois in 1980, and his M.Sc. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Alaska in 1986. He has conducted wildlife research, with an emphasis on large carnivores, throughout the United States and Australia. Mike’s career focuses on imperiled species recovery, integrating private land and conservation, and the socio-political aspects of conservation biology.

Mike is an experienced writer and public speaker. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of reports and over 65 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, government reports, and popular articles. Mike has delivered over 200 public presentations to conservation organizations and professional conferences, including invited plenary, keynote, and banquet presentations.

As an endeavor separate and apart from his leadership of TESF and TBD, in 2006 Mike entered the political arena through election to the Montana legislature as the representative for House District 66, Bozeman. Shortly thereafter, Mike founded the Montana Legislative Climate Change Caucus. In 2009, Mike was elected as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. During this legislative session, Mike played a critical role in crafting and passing the nation’s most comprehensive law for sequestering CO2 in geological formations.

Mike was re-elected to the state House in 2010 and and to the state Senate in 2012. He will serve there at least through 2020. In addition to representing House and Senate districts, Mike served as a co-chair of Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee during 2007 and 2008. In the fall of 2009 Mike was recruited by the White House to join a coalition of state legislative leaders to work with the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate in an effort to pass clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.

By design, Mike’s career in conservation biology and politics is an atypical amalgamation of timely innovations based on strategic thinking, risk taking, and decisive and effective action to redress the extinction crisis. By leading some of the world’s most significant public and private efforts to restore imperiled species, directing important publications that advance the science and policies of restoration ecology, and serving in elected office to advance the usefulness of science and conservation to legislative matters, Mike’s work has been a determined response to an important challenge leveled years ago by Dr. E. O. Wilson: reweave the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds us.