Kurt Alt: Wildlife Conservation On Five Continents

Apr 8, 2015

Kurt Alt worked as a wildlife biologist for the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department of the State of Montana from 1975 till his retirement in 2010. As Wildlife Manager for Southwest Montana, Alt supervised work in the Gallatin and Madison drainages of southwest Montana, collecting and analyzing data on moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, deer, mountain lions, bears, antelope, and many other native species of the area.

Throughout his career, Alt advised his department on ways that proposed land uses like recreation, hunting and mining affect wildlife in Montana. But he also collaborated with biologists in Argentina, the Russian far east, Tanzania, Kenya, Germany, and beyond, witnessing hunting and conservation schemes that differ greatly from those of the American West.

Wildlife biologist, Kurt Alt
Credit National Science Foundation - National Teacher Enhancement Network

"I learned that there's a lot of history that has gone into where we are today in terms of management, science, and the social and political aspects of wildlife management. I was taught to think of my profession as applying the art of wildlife management, because it isn't just science. You have to convert it into understandable information for the general public, to translate into good programs on the ground, conserving populations and habitat...I think when people are given good information, I don't care if they're lawyers or ditch-diggers or anything in between, good decisions usually come from that information."

In his retirement letter, Alt wrote:

"Over the years I have been fortunate to see and feel the passion in our Montana sportsmen and women. It makes me smile when I think of a bunch of pissed-off sportsmen caring so much that they would come to evening meetings and let us know exactly what they think. I always have felt that we as a group of agency ‘guys’ are so lucky to have the opportunity to manage and conserve the habitat, hunting and trapping opportunities, and the wildlife resources that Montanans are so invested in. . . My parting words‚ don’t ever forget about the little guys, they are our bread and butter. What we do for them in providing opportunities, we do for conservation that has become a tightly woven cultural fiber in our Montana citizens."

(Broadcast: "Home Ground Radio," 4/5/15. Listen on the web, weekly on the radio at Sundays at  11:10 a.m., or via podcast.)