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Published October 21, 2021
A University of Wyoming scientist whose research has provided new and extensive insights into one of the West’s iconic wildlife species has been honored by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).
Kevin Monteith, an associate professor and Wyoming Excellence Chair in the UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, received WAFWA’s O.C. Wallmo Award for outstanding contributions to knowledge and improved management of mule and black-tailed deer.
“This award and the namesake that it represents are worthy of a game changer. I have personally witnessed a changing of the guard as to how research and the gathering of information through science is being received by Dr. Monteith and his team’s work. This positive reflection is a direct result of the work that Kevin has done and continues to do,” says Josh Coursey, president and CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation. “I can attest, unequivocally, that Kevin and his abilities to gather research, communicate to others and petition further support for mule deer conservation efforts are a breath of fresh air for moving the needle forward. Monteith is certainly deserving of this prestigious recognition, and I am elated to see this honor bestowed upon him.”
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife Biologist Gary Fralick says Monteith’s research is the most relevant mule deer research ever undertaken in Wyoming.
“For the first time in the history of this iconic mule deer population, there will no longer be a reason for deer managers to offer the once ubiquitous ‘professional opinion’ on the annual population dynamic of the Wyoming Range mule deer herd,” Fralick says. “We can now provide an ecological explanation … to the public and to professional wildlife and habitat managers alike and, in the process, educate all concerned. We are beginning to comprehend what was once incomprehensible.”
“Over the past decade, Kevin’s contributions to mule deer ecology and management are unparalleled,” says Terry Bowyer, senior research scientist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and a previous Wallmo Award winner. “He has made important links in the mechanisms underpinning fitness and population dynamics of large mammals, especially mule deer.”
Before coming to UW, Monteith received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife and fisheries sciences from South Dakota State University, and his Ph.D. in biology from Idaho State University. He has worked with over 30 management agencies and resource groups, secured over 290 grants, and published over 80 journal articles and book chapters, while mentoring 17 graduate students -- five Ph.D. and 12 M.S. degree recipients.
Monteith and his team are focused on addressing big-picture issues associated with the management and conservation of large ungulates, often through individual-based research and intensive field studies to gain a mechanistic understanding of what influences large mammals and how they cope with a changing world. Some of their long-term, cross-generational work has been a focal point for understanding effects of human disturbance and changing environmental conditions on various aspects of the animals’ life history, including migration, resource allocation and reproductive chronology.
“Dr. Monteith’s work has gone a very long way in filling the gaps in our knowledge of mule deer,” says University of Alberta Professor Evie Merrill, who nominated Monteith for the recognition. “This is because Dr. Monteith is driven by an unsurpassed passion for his work and for the resource it serves.”
The Wallmo Award is named for the late O.C. “Charlie” Wallmo, whose pioneering research in the Rocky Mountains, Alaska, Arizona and Texas resulted in many of the fundamental and foundational concepts in wildlife management. The award is given every other year.
“I have been blessed to work with many generous and impactful mentors who provided numerous opportunities and support for my growth and development as a scientist,” Monteith says. “Along the way, I’ve had the sincere pleasure to work with a cadre of dedicated and skillful collaborators and graduate students, and receive support from a broad range of agencies, nonprofits, foundations and other partners that ultimately made our work possible. I’m incredibly honored to receive this award. I hope our efforts honor and further the legacy of Charlie Wallmo and the understanding and conservation of this highly revered species.”