Ecologist serves on FWS
Ecologist serves on FWS
On Oct. 27, 2022, Ecologist and Wildlands Advocate Dr. Siva Sundaresan was appointed deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) by the Biden-Harris administration.
Previously, Sundaresan served as the Yellowstone-to-Yukon program officer at the Wilburforce Foundation, where he worked for six months before taking over as director for FWS.
Prior to the Wilburforce Foundation, Sundaresan worked for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and as the Kenya program director for the Denver Zoological Foundation.
Today, Sundaresan is hard at work advocating for U.S. wildlife under FWS Department Head Martha Williams.
GYE work and career ascension
Originally from India, Sundaresan got his start in North American wildlife advocacy while working for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), according to a Feb. 28 WyoFile article written by Mike Koshmrl.
During this time, he also served on the board of directors at the National Wildlife Federation, where he made several connections which contributed to his quick career ascension. These include Williams and Senior Advisor for Conservation Policy Tracy Stone-Manning.
In an exclusive interview with WyoFile, Sundaresan noted he worked on several regional issues of national significance, which also contributed to his new position at FWS.
“This led me to get recruited to go to work for a philanthropic foundation, where I was working on Western conservation issues – all the way from Yellowstone, up into Canada and down the spine of the Canadian Rockies,” he said. “I guess my approach to conservation and how I think about these issues caught the attention of people at the Department of Interior, and I was asked to consider this position.”
Second in command
Now, as FWS deputy director, Sundaresan is second in command for the national organization. In this position, he will help guide the management of 560 national wildlife refuges and 70 national fish hatcheries.
Additionally, he will work to enforce the Endangered Species Act and other federal wildlife laws.
“At the director’s office, we have Department Head Williams, Director of Policy Programs Steve Guertin and Deputy Director of Operations Wendi Weber,” Sundaresan told WyoFile. “I’m a political appointee, which means I’m slightly different from the other two deputy directors.”
“I have a portfolio of issues – on birds, fish and wildlife – which I represent the director’s office on,” he further explained. “I try to help understand where and how we can be effective and further the cause of conservation. There’s rulemaking, conversations with stakeholders and meetings about issues with other federal agencies we are trying to move the agenda on.”
Sundaresan noted his time working in the GYE has influenced the way he approaches his job as second in command at FWS.
“Throughout my career, internationally in India and Kenya, there’s been a running theme of how I approach conservation, which I also employed when I worked in the GYE. The approach which animated my entire career is one of working with all partners,” he said.
“Looking to find common ground is something I feel we can all do, whether it’s through advocacy, working at a foundation or right now in my role at a government agency. There’s a robust and thoughtful group of people who care deeply about conservation, even if our specific position on a particular issue might vary,” he concluded. “In many parts of the West, we share a deep and abiding love for biodiversity, nature, the outdoors and protected lands.”
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.