Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DEC Names New Wildlife Biology, Fisheries Chiefs

It’s been a good year for DEC wildlife biologist Gordon Batcheller. In October, weeks after he received a top honor from the National Trappers Association, Batcheller was appointed DEC’s chief wildlife biologist. Batcheller succeeds John Major, who retired earlier this year. Batcheller had been serving as acting wildlife chief since Major’s departure.

Batcheller, an avid deer and turkey hunter, said one of his priorities will be getting more people, particularly young people, outdoors hunting, trapping and bird-watching. “We want to eliminate barriers, and that could be complicated by regulations or an inability to find places to go hunting or (finding) parking areas,” Batcheller said. “We need to try to work to unify our stakeholders so that we’re all pulling together for the same purpose.”

He said he would like to see the age for big-game and small-game hunting lowered to 12. He said he also wants to take advantage of the “citizen scientists” who are outdoors and can help the DEC in this time of limited resources, getting them working together for common goals.

Batcheller has been with the DEC since 1981, starting as a wildlife biologist in Region 9 and working his way up the ladder. He’s led a number of major studies in recent years and been an active participant on several DEC teams responsible for managing furbearers, big game, and game birds.

DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said Batcheller has helped develop policies to reform DEC’s response to nuisance wildlife problems, including coyote, deer and bear conflicts. And as a regional biologist, he led a study to assess the status and management needs of threatened common terns; monitored contaminants in waterfowl and mink; and mapped and regulated freshwater wetlands, she said.

DEC has also announced the appointment of a new Bureau Chief of Fisheries, Phil Hulbert. Hulbert received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maine at Orono in 1971 and 1973, respectively. His initial professional employment was as a Research Associate with the Migratory Fish Research Institute in the Maine Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit.

Hulbert started with DEC in 1977, working with the Coldwater Special Studies Unit in the Stamford sub-office. In 1986, he was appointed Coldwater Fisheries Unit Leader at DEC’s Central Office. Since 1996, he has served as Superintendent of Fish Culture, overseeing DEC’s 12 fish hatcheries and the Rome Fish Disease Control Unit (Rome Lab). He has worked on projects including evaluations of stream improvement structures, statewide creel and minimum length limits in trout streams, sea lamprey control, the statewide trout stream stocking system and manual, and the development and use of ultra-low phosphorus fish feed in DEC’s fish hatchery system.

A white paper Hulbert prepared on hatchery infrastructure needs in 2003 was instrumental in efforts to obtain Capital Budget appropriations for projects such as the reconstruction of broodstock ponds at Rome Lab and the construction of a new office/early rearing/visitor center building at Rome Hatchery.

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