Game and Fish Wildlife Coordinator Doug McWhirter Retires

McWhirter crowns his distinguished career in wildlife with the director’s award!


After a distinguished 35-year career with the State of Wyoming, Doug McWhirter, Jackson’s Wildlife Management Coordinator for the Department of Fish and Game, will wear the iconic red uniform for the last time. And fittingly, at the recent Game and Fish Commission meeting in Evanston, Doug was honored with the prestigious Director’s Award from Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik.

“Doug has been an outstanding leader and mentor to many people over his career,” said Director Nesvik. “Doug has successfully navigated some of the state’s most contentious wildlife issues with his exceptional professionalism and credibility. I have worked with Doug in many capacities over the years and Doug has always been one of my mentors.

Throughout his career, Doug has played a vital role in many important wildlife management issues in Wyoming, ranging from problems with the mixing of bighorn sheep and domestic sheep to elk-wolf relationships in the ecosystem. from Greater Yellowstone, to energy development in mule deer wintering grounds. management of issues associated with elk foraging areas.

McWhirter is recognized as Wyoming’s leading bighorn sheep expert and one of the most knowledgeable and respected in the Rocky Mountain states. Doug has served as co-chair of the Department’s Bighorn Sheep Task Force since its inception in 1997. Doug has helped coordinate statewide research projects involving pneumonia surveillance in bighorn sheep. This ongoing research has involved large-scale capture, collaring, disease monitoring, and body condition measurements of several major bighorn sheep herds across the state.

Doug has also served as co-chair of the Statewide Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Interaction Task Force since 2010. The Interaction Task Force is a public group comprised of various stakeholders, including breeding license holders, the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, state legislators, the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, and partner federal agencies, among others. Under his leadership, this diverse group successfully solved many difficult problems involving both domestic and wild bighorn sheep in Wyoming.

McWhirter is originally from Kansas, and after earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Wichita State University, he earned a Master’s degree from the University of Wyoming researching bighorn sheep in the Cody area. Upon graduation, Doug was hired as a wildlife biologist by the Department of Game and Fish in Cheyenne. After short stints as a wildlife biologist in Cheyenne and Wheatland, Doug transferred to Pinedale where he served as a wildlife biologist for 10 years. He was then transferred to Cody where he worked as a wildlife biologist for another 15 years. Doug was then promoted to Wildlife Management Coordinator at Jackson, a position he has held for the past five years.

Doug has received numerous awards throughout his illustrious career. Within Game and Fish, in addition to the recent Director’s Award, Doug received the Outstanding Leadership Award, the Wildlife Division Employee of the Year Award and the Peer Recognition Award in the Cody and Pinedale areas. Additionally, Doug was honored as Wildlife Professional of the Year by the Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Wildlife Curator of the Year by the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Manager of the Year by the Wyoming Game Wardens Association and was inducted into the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Wall of Fame for Wild Sheep Biologists.

Additionally, Doug was also co-author of the recently published book The Ungulates of the Greater Yellowstone Mountains, A Contrast in Management Stories and Challenges on bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

I have always considered being responsible for managing Wyoming’s wildlife an incredible privilege and I have never taken it lightly,” McWhirter said. “And the support I’ve had at all levels of Game and Fish has been extremely meaningful to me and has made my career an enchanting one.”