U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces 2013 Endangered Species Recovery Champions

   05.19.14

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recognized 55 individuals for their exceptional efforts to conserve and protect the nation’s rarest fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2013 Recovery Champions. Among the award winners honored for their work this year were Service biologist Paul McKenzie of Columbia, Missouri, and Adrian Wydeven, a biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to these dedicated conservationists who are on the front lines fighting the battle against extinction,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Their spirit and determination is the application of Aldo Leopold’s counsel to ‘keep every cog and wheel,’ and they provide hope for all of us that our children and the generations that follow will be able to enjoy the same tremendous diversity of plants and animals that we do today.”

Adrian Wydeven was honored for his work to recover the gray wolf in the Midwest. The Service recognized Wydeven for establishing, documenting, and managing the Wisconsin gray wolf population, resulting in the recovery of the species in the Midwest. Wydeven was acknowledged for creating an environment that allowed the wolf population to grow from 34 animals to more than 800 in the state.

Through a combination of management practices and innovative outreach approaches, Wydeven increased public awareness and social tolerance of wolves on the landscape, conducting education forums, hosting listening sessions to address conservation concerns, and leading workshops for volunteers on wolf ecology and wolf track identification.

“The Midwest Region Recovery Champions are truly outstanding examples of the skill and dedication needed to recover endangered species,” said the Service’s Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “Adrian Wydeven and Paul McKenzie have made invaluable contributions to wildlife conservation in the Midwest.”

Paul McKenzie was recognized as a national expert in identifying birds, grasses, and sedges, as well as a renowned author and coauthor of more than 60 peer-reviewed published papers. He was honored for his work with a range of endangered and threatened species, including the endangered gray bat, Indiana bat and Topeka shiner, a small fish native to prairie streams. McKenzie’s efforts to protect gray bats and Indiana bats from the effects of unwanted visitors—including the possible spread of deadly white-nosed syndrome at Bat Cave in Shannon County—resulted in installation of a standing cave gate, one of the largest in the nation, at the cave’s entrance.

McKenzie shared his expertise with the Missouri Department of Conservation to develop the Topeka Shiner State Action Plan, a conservation tool that addressed the concerns of landowners, both public and private. McKenzie’s work facilitated the reintroduction of about 3,300 Topeka shiners in Little Creek Watershed and Big Muddy Creek.

The Recovery Champion awards began in 2002 as a one-time recognition for Service staff members for their achievements in conserving listed species. However, in 2007, the program was expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.

For information about the 2013 Recovery Champions, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/recovery-champions/

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