Game and Fish laboratory supervisor selected as Wildlife Professional of the Year

Award given annually by the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society


12/23/2019 5:54:33 PM

Cheyenne - Hank Edwards, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife Health Laboratory supervisor, was named the Wildlife Professional of the Year from the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society. The peer-nominated award is given annually to recognize professionals for their contributions to the wildlife field. 

Hank leads a talented team of wildlife disease professionals who are nationally recognized for being on the leading edge of diagnostic techniques for brucellosis, chronic wasting disease and bighorn sheep respiratory disease,” said Aly Courtemanch, Game and Fish wildlife biologist in Jackson and one of five who put forth Edwards’s nomination.

Edwards began work for Game and Fish in 1997, and has worked on numerous research collaborations with other state and federal agencies and academic institutions. He’s co-authored over 25 wildlife disease publications on topics ranging from brucellosis vaccines for elk to bovine viral diarrhea virus in deer. He also co-authored the “Field Guide to Diseases of Wyoming Wildlife” book in 2011. 

Most notably, Edwards and his laboratory have been instrumental in understanding the relatedness of various Brucella abortus organisms throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and performed serologic diagnostics on thousands of elk blood samples, helping to map the brucellosis endemic areas of Wyoming and track the progression of the disease in the state. He also helped lead a decade-long effort to comprehensively sample all bighorn sheep and mountain goat herds in Wyoming for respiratory pathogens. Edwards serves on numerous working groups and committees, and is known as the wildlife disease expert. 

His body of work has underpinned many of the highest profile wildlife management issues and decisions in Wyoming during the past two decades. From elk feedgrounds to domestic sheep-bighorn sheep disease transmission to the future of big game management in the face of chronic wasting disease, Hank has been and is integrally involved,” said Courtemanch.

This is the second time Edwards has received the honor of Professional of the Year - once before in 2006. He is the only person in the history of the chapter to be named twice.

“It’s humbling and a great honor to be recognized by my peers,” said Edwards. “I work with people who are incredibly dedicated to wildlife and go above-and-beyond to help study and prevent the spread of wildlife diseases. I am really proud to hang this award on my wall.”


(Rebekah Fitzgerald (307) 777-4594)

- WGFD -

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