Dan Pletscher — Wildlife Biology Program
For Dan Pletscher, a man with a penchant for the wilderness, it was not a hard decision to teach at a university surrounded by thousands of acres of just that.
“If you’re interested in wildlife and wild places, there is no better place in the lower 48,” says Pletscher, director of UM’s Wildlife Biology Program. “There’s no place I’d rather be than in Missoula and at The University of Montana.”
Pletscher, a past president of the Montana chapter of The Wildlife Society and the National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs, has been a professor at UM for 24 years and is one of the most respected names in wildlife biology education. He has written dozens of articles on wolves, cougars, moose and other animals and has extensively studied the ecosystems they inhabit. During his tenure at UM, he has built the University’s Wildlife Biology Program into one of the nation’s best.
Pletscher says that the legacy of the Wildlife Biology Program and its ideal location close to some of the last wild places in the country make UM one of the premier universities for studying wild animals and conservation. He points to the prestige brought by past professors, many of whom were among wildlife biology’s biggest names – people such as Dick Taber, John Craighead and Les Pengelly. Today the program continues to attract top educators and researchers through its Craighead Endowed Professorship and Boone and Crockett Endowed Professorship. Outstanding faculty members often choose to come to UM over other universities because of its history and wealth of research opportunities that lie just a short walk from campus.
“If you look at most wildlife programs around the country, they’re shrinking,” Pletscher says. “But if we at UM should excel at anything nationally or internationally, it’s wildlife biology.”