Wildlife Biologist | Montana State Senator
Mike Phillips has played a key role in wolf conservation and recovery. From 1986–1994, he was the Field Coordinator for the Red Wolf Recovery Program. He was also instrumental in the return of gray wolves to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, serving as Project Leader for the wolf restoration effort from its inception in 1994 until 1997 when he left the National Park Service to establish TESF and TBD.
As an endeavor separate and apart from his leadership of TESF and TBD, Phillips entered the political arena in 2006 through election to the Montana legislature as the representative for House District 66, Bozeman. Shortly thereafter, he founded the Montana Legislative Climate Change Caucus. In 2009, Phillips was elected as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. During this legislative session, he played a critical role in crafting and passing the nation’s most comprehensive law for sequestering CO2 in geological formations.
Phillips was re-elected to the state House in 2010 and to the state Senate in 2012. He will serve there at least through 2020. In addition to representing House and Senate districts, Phillips served as a co-chair of the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee during 2007 and 2008. In the fall of 2009, Phillips was recruited by the White House to join a coalition of state legislative leaders to work with the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate in an effort to pass clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.
Phillips received his B.Sc. in Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution from the University of Illinois in 1980, and his M.Sc. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Alaska in 1986. He has conducted wildlife research, with an emphasis on large carnivores, throughout the United States and Australia. Phillips’s career focuses on imperiled species recovery, integrating private land and conservation, and the socio-political aspects of conservation biology.
Phillips is an experienced writer and public speaker. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of reports and over 65 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, government reports and popular articles. He has delivered more than 200 public presentations to conservation organizations and professional conferences, including invited plenary, keynote and banquet presentations.
By design, Phillips’s career in conservation biology and politics is an atypical amalgamation of timely innovations based on strategic thinking, risk-taking and decisive and effective action to redress the extinction crisis. By leading some of the world’s most significant public and private efforts to restore imperiled species, directing important publications that advance the science and policies of restoration ecology and serving in elected office to advance the usefulness of science and conservation to legislative matters, his work has been a determined response to an important challenge leveled years ago by Dr. E. O. Wilson: Reweave the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds us.