[MUNUC 36] Life Finds a Way: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2023 Copy CDFW

GROUP: Continuous Crisis



  • Emily Tong (she/her)
  • Virginia Wright (she/her)
  • Ruby Martinez (she/her)
Email Committee Chair

Responsible for the most biodiverse state in the country, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has its hands full fighting against the threats of endangerment and extinction on all ends. 2023 will bring a year that will challenge the capacity, vision, and power of the department in new, exciting, and existential ways: the department will have to navigate tensions between the California fishing industry and the threat of extinction, manage a public health crisis bubbling from rising diseases in animal populations, juggle the concerns of eco-activists regarding endangered animals, and  handle the economic, political, and social ramifications of some of the biggest agriculture industries in the state as they make waves across the country.

Beyond the day to day conflicts that come with overseeing a state with over 6500 species of plants and close to 750,000 total animals, the CDFW will also find itself at the center of political and bioethical debates regarding cloning, de-extinction and the utilization of biotechnology in ecological preservation. With animals facing extinction across the state and the obligation to mitigate these issues falling squarely on the CDFW, members of the department will need to grapple with multidimensional corporate, political, and policy implications of executing cutting-edge biotechnology, while considering outlash from the surrounding intellectual and political community. This body will be tasked with defining the future of the California de-extinction movement, placing the CDFW in the driving seat to support the development and implementation of state programs that conserve and recover federally threatened and endangered inland fish and wildlife species. Put another way, this committee will hold immense regulatory and governing power over the leading innovations in the de-extinction movement, many of them mechanizing cutting edge biotechnology to clone and revive extinct or near-extinct species. While members of the CDFW will be encouraged to dream big to define the future of de-extinction and ecological conservation, they will also need to carefully consider their interactions with the media and the rest of the country. After all, the eyes of every human (and probably a couple non humans) will be carefully trained on the CDFW to see how the state with the most native species in the country handles the problems thrown their way.