The Aldo Leopold Award is awarded to a well-established individual who has made a lasting contribution to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. Aldo Leopold, the “father” of wildlife ecology and management, is well known for his famous land ethic philosophy and his influence on wildlife conservation, including his active membership on ASM Conservation Committees in the 1930s.
The 2012 recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award is Dr. Dean Biggins, of the US Geological Service, Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado. The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) would likely be extinct or limited to a few zoos if it were not for Dr. Biggins, but today black-footed ferrets have been reintroduced into 8 US States, Mexico and Canada due to his leadership. He pioneered new methods in captive breeding, mitigating pathogens, measuring prairie dog populations, and determining suitable habitat for reintroduction of ferrets in the wild. Although best known for his 30 years of conservation research on this secretive mustelid, Dr. Biggins’ contributions to conservation also extend across the North American prairie ecosystem to Asia and include a wide range of species.