George Wrakestraw

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011

George Wrakestraw was born June 16, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri.  He moved with his parents to Laramie, Wyoming at the age of 10 where he grew up and later earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming. He worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for 31 years from March 1950 to July 1981. George wore many hats for the Department, including Deputy Game Warden, Biologist, Central Flyway Biologist, Supervisor of Waterfowl Management and Migratory Bird Supervisor. George’s early work  involved research, inventory and restoration of big game species. His work with migratory birds from the mid-1950s to retirement was of statewide and regional significance and the department and hunters continue to profit from it to this day.
George was promoted to waterfowl biologist for the Central Flyway under the supervision of Game Bird Supervisor Bob Patterson. In April 1953 and 1954, George and his associates collected Canada goose eggs from nests along the Sweetwater River and incubated them at the Sheridan Bird Farm. Goslings produced from these eggs were released into suitable habitat statewide, including the Springer Wildlife Habitat Management Area near Yoder. During this same time period, George participated in coordinated duck and goose banding studies of international scope. George traveled to Canada to assist with the banding of waterfowl in addition to his work in Wyoming.
In 1953, 132 (give or take a few) Canada geese wintered in Goshen County. Bagging a Canada goose was like harvesting a bighorn ram in that era and George said lucky hunters would tie the goose on the hood of their vehicle and drive through Torrington to show it off. George established an objective of 10,000 wintering geese and set to work in the early 1960s.  To enhance the nesting success of Canada geese, George and his crews built and installed artificial nesting structures statewide.  In order to encourage more migrant geese to remain in Goshen county, George proposed a very controversial and innovative hunting strategy in 1969: half day hunting.  Approved by the Commission in 1970, half-day hunting continues today in Goshen and Platte counties. His goal of 10,000 wintering geese was first reached in 1978 and today Goshen County enjoys a wintering population of 30-40,000 Canada geese.
George’s work was not limited to game species.  In addition to aerial waterfowl surveys to determine species distribution and make population estimates, George organized and directed the first statewide eagle census in the state in the early 1970s at the request of his good friend and Governor, Stan Hathaway. George also was a key player in the department’s acquisition of the Table Mountain Wildlife Habitat Area in 1964 and segments of the Springer Habitat Area. Table Mountain is probably the most intensively used public waterfowl hunting area in the state.
In terms of wildlife law enforcement, George was unique. Hired as a Deputy Game Warden George was one of two biologists that were allowed to keep their law enforcement commission until their retirement. Due to all the time he spent doing surveys from a plane, George also learned how to fly, which proved beneficial in about 1952. One night as he was flying as a passenger from Rawlins to Cheyenne, the pilot became critically ill and George had to take the controls and pilot the craft safely to Cheyenne.
Many present day hunters knew George and remember his dedicated work to enhance migratory bird populations and hunting opportunities in Wyoming and consider him the father of modern waterfowl management in Wyoming.
George passed away on February 6, 2010 and is survived by his wife, Alma Wrakestraw, a daughter, Kay and her husband Richard Rose and a daughter, Marsha and her husband Gary Dolan.

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