Cody Biologist Doug McWhirter named Wildlife Professional of the Year
McWhirter previously worked in Pinedale
by Wyoming Game & Fish
November 11, 2009
Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist Doug McWhirter was named Wildlife Professional of the Year by the Wyoming Chapter of The Wildlife Society at its annual meeting and banquet held Nov. 4, in Cody.
McWhirter is a 20-year veteran of the Game and Fish and currently serves as the wildlife biologist for the Cody area. He previously served in Cheyenne, Wheatland, and Pinedale.
"Doug is extraordinarily dedicated to his work. As anyone who knows him can tell you, he is universally respected and admired," said Arthur Middleton, researcher with the University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Research Unit. Middleton was one of four people to nominate McWhirter from the unit.
McWhirter’s nomination letter states that: "In all aspects of his work, perhaps most clearly in human interactions, he maintains the highest standards of integrity, thoughtfulness and respect toward others. Even when grappling with some of the Cody region’s most complex and contentious wildlife issues, from energy development on ungulate winter range to elk-wolf relationships around the Greater Yellowstone, Doug has a very rare ability to develop and maintain the long-term trust and engagement of all stakeholders."
In 2008 and 2009, McWhirter served as the chair of the Sunlight-Crandall Elk Working Group and provided important biological information on the differential reproduction, recruitment and population trends of migratory and resident elk in the Clark’s Fork herd unit.
Much of this information was available and highly reliable because of his foresight in initiating a large-scale research project in 2007 to obtain practical data on elk demography and movements in this area.
Middleton wrote: "During the 2009 Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting in Cody, these data and the management recommendations that were discussed through the working group’s thoroughly collaborative process played a key role in reaching a biologically sound decision to make difficult but important hunting season changes in the Clark's Fork herd unit."
The nomination letter also states that prior to his work in Cody, McWhirter played a key role in initiating and fostering important mule deer and pronghorn research in the Pinedale region that has set a high standard for the ecological understanding that underpins good wildlife management and conservation. Moreover, these studies now rank among the longest-term datasets available for the movements of these important migratory ungulate populations.
In addition he has spearheaded the recently-completed Clark’s Fork/Beartooth bighorn Sheep study and has served as co-chair of the WGFD Bighorn Sheep Working Group and has led the Cody Mule Deer Working Group effort. Cody area wildlife biologist Kevin Hurley said that McWhirter has been the driving force behind the Absaroka Divide Wildlife Working Group and has been involved in data collection on species of interest along the east boundary of Yellowstone National Park including migratory elk, mountain goats and wolverine.
McWhirter graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University in 1987 and with a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming in 1993.