ODNR logoCOLUMBUS, OH – As encounters between humans and wildlife continue to grow, it is imperative that these challenges are met to help create positive experiences moving forward. The process of creating these productive connections is the theme of the 31st annual Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference on Wednesday, March 11, at the Aladdin Shrine Center in Columbus.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Stephen Kellert from the Yale School of Forestry. Kellert’s work focuses on understanding the connection between nature and humanity. He has authored more than 150 publications, including his recent book, “Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World.” Other topics presented during the conference include lichens, surveying hunters and birdwatchers, the threat of the Asian longhorned beetle, resolving conflicts with urban wildlife, hellbenders, ladybeetles and swans.

Doors open for registration at 8 a.m., and the conference, titled “Wildlife Connections and Positive Challenges,” runs from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Aladdin Shrine Center is located at 3850 Stelzer Road, Columbus, Ohio 43219. The conference is sponsored by the ODNR Division of Wildlife and is open to the public.

Register now at wildohio.gov or call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543). Registration before Thursday, Feb. 26, is at a discounted rate of $25, and the cost will be $35 after that date or the day of the conference. A reduced-price student registration is also available for $10. People who pre-register will have the option of signing up for the sit-down luncheon at the conference.

Conference attendees who pre-register online may purchase the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp, featuring an eastern bluebird, at a discounted price of $12, a savings of 20 percent. The stamps will be available at the conference for the regular price of $15. Details about the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp are available at wildohio.gov. Proceeds from the sale of the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp will be used to support endangered and threatened native species, habitat restoration, land purchases, conservation easements, and educational products for students and wildlife enthusiasts.

The first Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference was held in 1985 with 40 people in attendance. The conference continues to grow, as approximately 900 people attended last year’s daylong event. Representatives from a wide range of conservation and natural resource organizations will offer displays and be available to answer questions. ODNR staff will also be on hand to answer questions from those in attendance.