Game and Fish Wildlife Health Laboratory Supervisor Hank Edwards retires after 35 years


7/24/2023 4:00:46 PM

Cheyenne - Hank Edwards, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife Health Laboratory supervisor, is retiring after 35 years of service to the State of Wyoming. Edwards’ career is best known for his strong work ethic, communication skills and drive for excellence. 

“Hank’s positive impact on Wyoming's wildlife and his contribution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is impressive,” said Rick King, chief of the wildlife division. “Hank had the unique ability to condense complex disease-related issues into publicly digestible conversations in the most humble and humorous manner. His talents were pivotal through his participation in numerous working groups and committees.” 

Edwards began his career in the late 1980s at the University of Wyoming where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in molecular biology and pathobiology. During that time he earned a position as a clinical pathology and parasitology technician with the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, and later worked his way up to the position of necropsy laboratory manager. In 1997 Edwards earned his present role as Game and Fish Wildlife Health Laboratory supervisor, and the distinction of being its only full-time employee.

“When I started with the department the laboratory was pretty limited, and only performed tests for three diseases,” Edwards said.

Under Edwards’ supervision, the Wildlife Health Laboratory expanded its diagnostic scope and became the only National Animal Health Laboratory Network-certified laboratory run by a state wildlife management agency in the United States. 

“Today, the laboratory conducts testing on tens of thousands of samples annually, and that number grows every year,” King said. “The development and improvement of diagnostic techniques to identify wildlife diseases, as well as the work of monitoring and mapping their incidence, has directly informed and benefitted the management of Wyoming’s wildlife.”

Throughout his career, Edwards played a pivotal role in numerous working groups and committees including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Chronic Wasting Disease Working Group, Feedground Working Group, Bighorn Sheep Working Group, Domestic Sheep-Bighorn Sheep Interaction Working Group and chairman of the department’s Animal Care and Use Committee. Hank also served on the Brucellosis and Chronic Wasting Disease Committees for the United States Animal Health Association.  

Edwards is most proud of the body of projects he was able to take part in — for Wyoming and nationally. Most recent standouts include improved sampling techniques and diagnostic assays to better isolate and identify the agents that cause pneumonia in bighorn sheep.

“I’ve been lucky throughout my career to work with a lot of really talented and bright people,” Edwards said, “and we have been able to accomplish quite a bit in the world of wildlife disease over the years.” 

Edwards has contributed to the scientific body of knowledge through dozens of co-authored scientific journal articles and collaborative publications, including the Field Guide to Disease of Wyoming Wildlife in 2011. 

Edwards received numerous recognitions for his work and was recognized twice by the Wyoming Chapter of The Wildlife Society as their Professional of the Year in 2006 and 2020. He also received internal recognition this year for his long-lasting legacy with the department with the Game and Fish Lifetime Achievement Award. Most recently Edwards was awarded the 2023 Phillip W. Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled to be recognized by the Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award,” Edwards said. “This is quite an honor and a wonderful way to cap a rewarding career with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.”

Edwards’ last day with Game and Fish is Aug. 1. He intends to spend time in his woodshop and gardens when he is not in the mountains enjoying the outdoors.

(Breanna Ball, Public Information Officer - (

- WGFD -

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