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PGC earns national recognition

From Mirror reports

HARRISBURG — The Washington, D.C.-based Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has recognized the Pennsylvania Game Commission for excellence, presenting the agency with two national awards recently at its annual meeting, which is being held virtually this year.

The Game Commission and its grouse biologist, Lisa Williams, were named recipients of the 2020 Ernest Thompson Seton Award, and the Game Commission’s new Wildlife on WiFi program was named winner of the 2020 Stephen Kellert Award.

“Extremely dedicated to the roles they play in wildlife conservation, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s staff, on a daily basis, exhibits excellence in innovation, work ethic and efficiency,” Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said. “The results are apparent and easy to appreciate, and it’s not surprising some of our hard-working employees have been recognized on a national level with prestigious awards from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.”

The award is presented to the state, provincial or federal agency that best has promoted a public awareness of the need to support the science and practice of wildlife management. A companion award also is presented to the individual deemed by the agency as the one most responsible for its successful and award-winning program.

Williams was the first researcher to identify the connection between sharply declining ruffed grouse populations and West Nile virus. Previously, habitat loss was considered the primary driver of grouse population declines.

Her breakthrough discovery has led the way for work to address the problem head-on. Such work includes research to identify the mosquito species responsible for grouse losses; pinpointing where that mosquito most often is present, allowing habitat projects that benefit grouse to be directed to areas where populations will rebound quickest; and building support for adjustments to grouse hunting season lengths that better guide grouse through tough times.

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